[ASC-media] Vic Prize awarded today

niall at scienceinpublic.com niall at scienceinpublic.com
Wed Aug 18 16:36:44 EST 2004


Media release
                     From the Minister for Innovation

Wednesday, 18 August 2004

PHYSICIST WINS VICTORIA’S TOP SCIENCE PRIZE

A physicist whose work is set to revolutionise the way astronomers view objects
in space will tonight be named by Governor, John Landy AC, MBE, as winner of
the $50,000 Victoria Prize.

Professor Keith Nugent, aged 45, is one of Victoria’s most distinguished
physicists and an international leader in phase imaging and x-ray optics.

His work is being used to monitor wear in car engines and to check corrosion of
metal and concrete building materials.

An unintended consequence of his research has seen the development of an x-ray
telescope with 360-degree “lobster eye” vision, which will be used by NASA to
view space objects from the International Space Station.

The Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, said the telescope’s 360-degree sweep
would for the first time allow astronomers to monitor the whole sky for space
events such as pulsars, black holes and exploding stars.

“Pulsars and exploding stars happen suddenly and without warning and are often
missed because conventional telescopes only target sections of space at a
time,” Mr Brumby said.

“Professor Nugent’s work has the potential to help unravel the mysteries
surrounding such events by allowing astronomers to witness them as they occur.

“The project highlights the world leading R&D being undertaken in Victoria by
Victorians and strengthens our international reputation as the innovation
capital of Australia.”

The telescope, which uses a series of mirrors to achieve the lobster-like
vision, is due to be installed on the International Space Station in 2007.

Mr Brumby said the annual $50,000 Victoria Prize is funded by the Bracks
Government to promote Victoria’s leadership, determination and creativity in
science, engineering or technology.

For the third year, the Victoria Prize is complemented by the $100,000 Anne &
Eric Smorgon Memorial Award from the Jack and Robert Smorgon Families
Foundation. The award will go to The University of Melbourne for supporting
Professor Nugent’s work.

Governor Landy will also name Micah Atkin, Richard Barber, Tamara Boyd, Dr
Serryn Eagleson, Daniel Scott and Dr Flora Wong as the six winners of the
Victoria Fellowship. Each Fellow receives an $18,000 travel grant to undertake
a short-term international study mission, to receive specialist training, or to
develop commercial ideas.

For the first time, Victoria Fellows are eligible for supplementary awards – the
$5000 AFAS FEAST-France Fellowships, which will tomorrow be announced by the
Australian French Association for Science and Technology (Victoria). The awards
have been supported by AFAS and the Embassy of France.

Media contact: Tom Laurie 9651 5799 or 0418 362 409  www.vic.gov.au





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