Acting Chargé d’Affaires Mike Heath Speech: Canberra International Physics Summer School – Canberra

 (As prepared for delivery – January 15, 2018)

Ladies and gentlemen: welcome and thank you for having me here today. We’re now one week into the 24th Canberra International Physics Summer School and I hope you’re all well and truly engrossed in the facets of topological matter.

The U.S. Embassy is very proud to be a supporter of this year’s Summer School. The ANU’s own Professor Brian Schmidt—a lauded Nobel laureate in his own right—puts a ready face and accent to U.S.–Australian cooperation in this country, but the full extent of our scientific partnership is broad and deep, and we’re only too happy to help nurture this relationship here at the student and faculty level.

For those here who are visiting Canberra to attend the Summer School, this is actually a great place to be to see more of our collaboration in action. The astrophysicists among you will know that the ACT is home to the CSIRO-run Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. This facility is integral to NASA’s Deep Space Network and—together with the now decommissioned Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Tracking Stations nearby—has supported some significant space missions over the past fifty years. The first footage of Neil Armstrong’s steps on the moon and the final dying signals from Saturn’s Cassini satellite were both received right here in the ACT.

Late last year, the U.S. and Australia signed an agreement to continue the use of these vital facilities for the next quarter of a century.   The year before that, we again extended our agreement on scientific and technical cooperation to support our continued partnership in these fields. And in March of this year we will hold the fourth U.S.–Australia Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation right here in Canberra, which will bring together some of our top scientists to share research and discuss how we can deepen scientific collaboration between our two countries.

This is a core component of our countries’ relationship, and it’s beneficial for science at large. I mentioned the CSIRO, for instance—the U.S. is CSIRO’s biggest international partner, which is part of why they chose to open up shop in Silicon Valley in 2017. In their own words, the new office “helps put Australian science at the centre of the world’s research and technology frontier”. Together, we’re better able to interpret, apply and deliver new discoveries for the world.

Of course, crucial to scientific discovery is the ready sharing and access of information—and that’s why you’re here. Last year was the 10th consecutive year of growth in the number of Australian students studying abroad in the U.S. and I would encourage you all to seriously consider pursuing some or all of your future studies in America. It’s an experience that will not only help establish your professional networks, but also provide exposure to a new culture, new people, and new fields of study.

And history has shown that great things can happen when we put our heads together. The U.S. Embassy is a proud supporter of this bilateral innovation and scientific discovery and I look forward to hearing about your insights and takeaways from this year’s Summer School. Even more so, however, we look forward to hearing about your collaborations and achievements for many years to come.

In the meantime, I now have the great pleasure of introducing a visiting Professor of Physics from Princeton University to speak with you today. Duncan Haldane obtained his Bachelor’s degree and Doctorate from Cambridge University and has since worked at institutions including the Institut Laue-Langevin [lanch-e-vihn], Bell Laboratories and the University of California. He is, among many others, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics with David J. Thouless and J. Michael Kosterlitz for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”. Please welcome Professor Haldane.

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