GEM 2004 Report
Gaseous Electronics Meeting (GEM XIII) was held again at the luxurious Murramarang
Ecotourism Resort this year during 1st to 5th of February. The resort
is located in the pristine Murramarang National Park 18kms north-east
Bay on the south coast of New South Wales.
The CPL crew (Brian James, Neil Cramer,
Sergey Vladimirov, Alex Samarian, Kostya Ostrikov, Darren Engwirda, William
Tsang, and I), along with 13 other staff and students from the University
of Sydney (USYD) plasma group, departed from the university on the Sunday
morning and arrived at the resort after 4 hours drive.
The natural environment of the conference
resort was breathtaking. The resort was surrounded by seemingly endless
beaches and bush-walking trails. Our staff and students were individually
taken to their accommodations. Since the resort was situated inside the
national park, our accommodations were surrounded by some of the unique
flora and fauna of Australia. The atmosphere was really relaxing and comfortable.
And unlike last GEM conference where we had constant raining, this year
the weather seems nice and fine.
Fig. 1 & 2: Alex getting to know some of the locals living at
the national park.
Morrow of Morrow Corona Solutions, Richard
Mildren of Macquarie University, and Tony
Murphy of CSIRO were the organizers for the GEM conference this
year. At 6pm, the welcoming reception for the conference commenced.
Beer and soft drinks were served and everyone caught up with everyone. USYD and Australian
National University (ANU) were the two larger plasma groups which
attended this year. Internationally, people from USA, Italy and Japan
This year the official GEM conference
package given included 2 program booklets, name tag, a pen, a notepad,
a calendar and some promotional pamphlets.
Alex told me in the morning that he caught
a fish on the beach last night. So he planned to cook the fish at night.
On the other hand, William managed to catch an eel so that was encouraging.
Fig. 3 & 4: Alex caught a ling and William
caught a sea eel.
The conference started early at 8.30am
right after breakfast. Our chairman Dick
Morrow gave his opening remarks for the GEM conference. This was followed
by presentations of a number of speakers including our invited speaker, Mark
Kushner from the University of Illinois, on "Optimizing plasma
processing from $0.05/sq m to $1000/sq cm. There were 16 talks today.
I was the first one from CPL to give a talk on "Dust cluster rotation
in magnetised plasma" which was in the late noon session.
Fig. 5 & 6: Our invited speaker Mark Kushner gave
his talk in the morning. I gave mine in late noon.
Unfortunately, sad news came before the
late noon session commenced. Dick
Morrow informed us that our invited speaker, Raoul
Franklin from the Open Oxford University, was not able to make it
to the conference because his wife died in a car accident. When the news
broke, everyone was shocked and Dick was especially moved. Flowers have
been sent to Raoul as an expression of our sympathy to the tragedy.
Despite the sad news, my talk was well
received from the audience. When the talks were over at 6pm, Alex and
William went fishing. This time they did not catch anything as it started
to rain. But anyhow Alex got hold of some olive oil, aluminum foil and
table salt so he went to cook the fish he caught yesterday night.
Fig. 7 & 8: Alex and William got together with
other colleagues to cook fish and sausages for dinner.
The whole day today was dedicated to the "Italian
- Australian Specialist Workshop on Plasma Treated Materials".
So the talks were mainly on plasma processing. Some of our staff went
to explore the nearby coastline and did bush walking instead (I won't
name names). At night, we were given a formal conference dinner in the
Chelluanna Restaurant inside the resort. Local Australian red and white
wines were served.
After the conference dinner in the evening,
the ANU people put up a spectacular show for us. Dick
Morrow gave a short introduction speech which initiated the show for
the night. And then the funny John
Lowke from CSIRO gave an entertaining speech on the “history
Charles (keyboard), Orson
Sutherland (violin) and Rod
Boswell (guitar) formed a band of trio and performed 2 musical pieces
called "Blue Bossa" and "Autumn Leaves". Vicky Au
performed 2 very sexy songs for us – “My Favorite Things” from
the Sound of Music and “Fever”. “Le
Magicien du Lac” - Albert
Meige, the French magician, then performed a live magical show for
us. Everyone was impressed by the magic show as it is rare to see professional
magician who does plasma physics as well. Christine then performed another
solo and sang a french song called "La Boheme". Just when
we thought the show has reached its climax, Rod dressed in scuba-diving
gears and women stockings returned while Christine applied lime jelly
on him (yes, it looked as strange as it sounds). The show was very well
organized and was filled with fun and surprises.
Fig. 9: Rod Boswell in his women stockings and
scuba diving gears.
We had another busy day today. 18 talks
in total were given. Both Alex
Samarian and Darren Engwirda gave
their talks in the morning while Kostya
Ostrikov gave two talks in the afternoon and another in the evening.
Fig. 10, 11, & 12: Our CPL crew Alex, Darren
and Kostya gave their presentations on wednesday.
The most memorable and intriguing talk
was by our invited speaker, John
Lowke from the CSIRO, on "The physics of lightning". In
his talk, he explained physical phenomena such as "stepped leaders", "ball
lightning", and the optimum placement of lightning rods. For people
who are not familiar with the idea, "ball lightning" is a glowing
sphere of light occasionally seen during thunderstorms which lasts up
to 10 seconds and moves at about walking speed a few meters above the
ground. There have been several observations within airplanes in the air
during thunderstorms as well.
Lowke proposed that such phenomenon is
similar to electric corona. For ground-based ball lightning, the plasma
is sustained by electric fields produced from dissipating electric charges
in the ground after a lightning strike. Within an airplane, similar corona
phenomena could be produced due to the very high electric fields within
thunderclouds penetrating the radome of the cockpit. Alex suggested to
Lowke that in reality, we have water droplets and particulates in the
air. So maybe the use of classical plasma physics is not sufficient to
understand the origin of the ball lightning. Models using complex plasma
maybe more appropriate.
In the evening, Aussie barbeque with an
array of sausages, steaks, pork chops and chickens were served. Our international
guests got the opportunity to experience the authentic taste of Australian
Fig. 13: The USYD plasma group got together for
the evening BBQ.
The first talk in the morning was very
interesting as our invited guest, Leon
Allen from Davies Collison
Cave Solicitors, gave us a talk on innovation patent (IP) in plasma
technology. The basic idea he expressed was that scientists should protect
their intellectual property assets and implement programs to secure their
rights in various stages of discovery and development. Since we compete
in a global market, international IP would be the obvious way to ensure
the monopoly in the business market. However, the cost involved is high
and the time needed for the technology to become commercially available
might be relatively long compared to the 15 years of patent protection
granted. Moreover, the patent applicants must share their know-how by
providing a full description of how their invention works to the public.
Therefore whether a certain technology should be patented or not is largely
dependent on its profitability. Moreover the geography of the international
patent should be market-oriented.
Kostya gave his fourth talk in the morning
and William Tsang gave his in
the afternoon. There were 13 talks in total today.
Fig. 14: William gave his presentation despite his
injuries from his bike accident.
The best student presentation prize was
awarded to our student, Darren
Engwirda. He was given a certificate and $250 prize money proudly
supported by Coherent Scientific.
The judges also gave special mentions to three other students Luke
Ryves (University of Sydney), Katherine
Newton-McGee (University of Sydney), and Vicky
Au (Australian National University).
Fig. 14: Luke from USYD received special mentions
from the judge panel for his presentation.
The conference was ended with an announcement
that our Head of School, Brian
James, will be the organizer for the next GEM conference in 2006.
Everyone gave their last minute farewells and congratulations to the people
they got to know from the conference. Our Sydney crew then left the resort
at approximately 1pm.
Fig. 15: Brian James will be the organiser for the
next GEM in 2006.