Quarks to the Cosmos

Ten great discoveries in modern astronomy and physics

Helen Johnston (convenor)

Spring 2019


Visit the Continuing Education site to enrol.

The schedule is shown below. The last columns provide links to the lecture notes (either PDF or powerpoint format), a recording of the lecture, plus suggestions for further reading.

Short biographies of the speakers are available here.

DateSpeakerTitleLecture notesLecture recordingFurther reading
Sep 19Tim Bedding Using stellar oscillations to probe their interiors PDF recording (165 Mb)
Sep 26Tara Murphy Breakthrough! The detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star merger powerpoint (800 Mb) recording (189 Mb)
Oct 10Barnaby Norris Planets beyond our solar system -- how to find them and the search for life PDF recording (131 Mb)
Oct 17Shelley Wickham The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics: optical tweezers and ultra-fast lasers powerpoint (760 Mb) recording (166 Mb)
Oct 24Arne Grismo Taming quantum mechanics PDF (9 Mb) recording (127 Mb)
Oct 31Jesse van de Sande What do galaxies and shadow puppets have in common? PDF (40 Mb) recording (131 Mb)
Nov 7Joss Bland Hawthorn Supermassive black holes in galaxies PDF (37 Mb) recording (180 Mb)
Nov 14Kevin Varvell The Higgs boson, its discovery, and what we have learned since PDF (25 Mb) recording (175 Mb)
Nov 21Tristram Alexander Nonlinear physics: from misbehaving springs to rogue waves PDF (2.3 Mb) Two recordings this week: slides (133 Mb) and demonstrations (173 Mb)
  • The Nonlinear Universe by Alwyn Scott. This book contains many of the examples I mentioned in the lecture, and includes the associated mathematics.

  • Sync by Steven Strogatz. While I didn't directly cover the content, it is related to the topics I discussed.
Nov 28Helen Johnston Astronomy: what next? PDF (65 Mb) recording (209 Mb)


Upon request, here is my "Spectacular Pictures" powerpoint (180 Mb). These are astronomical images I've collected over the years, mostly from Astronomy Picture of the Day", but also from other sources. I've put the site where I filched borrowed the images from in the "Presenter notes" for each slide. Feel free to use it -- make your own!


Last updated 7 December 2019

Please let me know of any problems with these pages: helenj@physics.usyd.edu.au