Physics, Power and Climate Change


Australian Institute of Physics Public Lecture

Start Date

17th May 2017 8:00pm

End Date

17th May 2017 9:00pm


Physics Lecture Theatre 1, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

E:; or T: 03 6226 7588


Presented by

Professor David Norman Jamieson

School of Physics, University of Melbourne

Although the human responses to climate change are volatile, the laws of Physics are not.  Since the 1905 Chemistry Noble laureate Svante Arrhenius first modelled the greenhouse effect on the temperature of our planet little has changed from his prediction of a 2.1 degree Celsius temperature rise for a doubling of the 1905 carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.  Today, with greatly improved physical models, the prediction is between 2 and 4.5 degrees under the same scenario.  Physics helps us understand the past, present and future scenarios for the climate of our planet.  Working out what to do about our emissions and climate change requires us to look at our present and future energy budget.  But it is power that drives our civilisation, not energy.  The paths from energy to power are constrained by the unbreakable laws of entropy.  This lecture explains entropy and the big challenges involved in charting the uncertain future.  Please bring your smartphone to participate in the online polling during the lecture!  

David is a Professor of Physics at the University of Melbourne.  He completed his PhD in physics at the University of Melbourne in 1985 and then spent 4 years working at Caltech (USA) and the University of Oxford (UK) as a postdoctoral research fellow.  He served as President of the Australian Institute of Physics from 2005 to 2006 and is a Fellow of the AIP and the Institute of Physics UK.  From 2008 to 2013 he served as the Head of the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. He has a long track record of presenting public lectures on fundamental issues in physics and his lectures on Galileo have been picked up by the ABC and the BBC.

His research expertise in the field of ion beam physics applied to test some of the key functions of a revolutionary quantum computer constructed in silicon in the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology where he is a chief investigator and program manager.  He has published over 280 papers on his research work with Australian and international collaborators. 

From 2010 to 2012 he convened a national working group to develop the Decadal Plan for Physics in Australia which was submitted to the Academy of Science in December 2012.  In 2013 he received an outstanding service to physics award from the AIP.