Daily report

Monday 7-8-17

The last day.

Arnout, Daniël, Erik, Mirjam, Jelle and Wilfred gathered in the lobby at 05:30 to say goodbye to Hanneke and Victoria and catch the train to Brisbane Airport.

There, the group split up to take flights to New Zealand (Daniël and Jelle), Cairns (Wilfred) and Sydney (Arnout, Erik and Mirjam). The check-in of the luggage went very smooth thanks to the nice Qantas employees at the baggage drop off and after a quick break we were off to Sydney. There we had a 4-hour layover followed up by a 9-hour flight to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong we suffered another 3-hour layover and an hour delay in departure because of strange Chinese airspace restrictions (apparently the few allowed international flight paths were congested) after which we took off to Düsseldorf where we touched down at 7:30  local time (15:30 Australia time). After collecting our luggage we took the train from Düsseldorf Airport Station to Arnhem Centraal where we split up again. The total travel time was 38 hours door to door.


~ Arnout, Mirjam and Erik

Sunday 6-8-17

The second last day of the study tour was to be filled in by choice, just a nice day to see the city or do whatever you like. A lot of the students jumped out of bed early to go surfing at Point Lookout or Gold Coast. Other students used the opportunity to see some more from the city and some even visited the open day of the Queensland University. The upcoming story will be a report of my own day of surfing at Gold Coast.

After brekkie at 9 a.m. and having the booking for a surfing lesson confirmed, we hopped on the train heading to Varsity Lakes and transferred to the bus to Seaworld from where we would be picked up by the surfing instructors. The bus to Seaworld had such a delay that one of the participants took some time to dribble upon the Facebook profile of our surfing instructor.

Once arrived, we started off with a small practise on the sand. What we learned is that you can step on a board in four steps when you have caught a wave.

  • From a lying position with your feet just over the edge of the board, push up and place your dominant foot in the rear of the board as close as possible to the centre line.
  • Now place your other foot in front on the centre line.
  • Turn your feet sideways, keeping balance with your hands and remaining vision in forward direction.
  • Stretch your legs and try to stand like a real surf dude (or dudette)!

Of course, as all the applied physicists tried to calculate the most efficient ways to achieve high speeds and stability, in practice they all fell within a few meters after being pushed away by the instructor. At least nobody had to worry about taking up too little sodium chloride this day.

After the surfing, we went back to the hostel and got ready for the last diner with all the students from the study tour and the supervisor we had in Brisbane. The committee had given some clues about the fanciness of this place. After a short walk, we arrived at a majestic building, with an entrance pathway through the Queen’s Gardens. The waiter lead us to a restaurant called The Lab.

In the large and open space were three reserved tables for the group. The entrée, main and dessert were all greatly satisfying. Not a single day of the past three weeks we have had such a nice diner.

Completely by surprise, the participants came up with a with a lovely speech and quiz to the committee who organised it all. Also, the supervisor gave a very long and entertaining speech. He told us his perception of the trip and gave some nice last words for every participant individually.

After the diner, most of the group travelled on to a pub called the Gresham Bar. It was a great end of the evening and a nice way to end the study tour.



Saturday 5-8-17

We had to rise early this morning since it would be a long day. We would be of to the springwood rainforest with a local tour organization called adventure dudes. We got our breakfast at the hostel after which we quickly departed.

Our trip went past many terrific sites, under which one was called “Best of all lookouts”. And what a lookout it was, we could see all of the gold coast in the distance. But the best part was saved for last, during our two hour walk through the forest we came by this little pool at the end of a waterfall. Luckily for us we all had our swimming clothes packed in order for us to dive in the cold water. With a temperature of about eight degrees the water was freezingly cold. But at times like these you can clearly separate the man from the boys. After a quick dive we would continue our tour through the forest to walk the last bit of our tour.

Once we were back in Brisbane we would dispatch for dinner, once again we would all have dinner together. This evening we concluded at the Beach House restaurant where we had a delicious meal.


~ Jari

Friday 4-8-17

We started the day with a delicious breakfast at the Coffee Club. Next, we took the bus to the St. Lucia campus of the University of Queensland (UQ). There we started the programme of today with an introductory talk by the head of the school of physics, Prof. Matthew Davis. He gave us a brief introduction about the UQ. The university was founded in 1910 and was originally based in the city centre of Brisbane at the place where the Queensland University of Technology currently located. In 1926 the UQ moved to the St. Lucia campus along the Brisbane River, which is its current location.

The physics department is one of the schools that was established during the foundation of the university in 1910. Nowadays there are about 20 academic staff members, 35 postdocs and 50 PhD students associated to the school of physics. Research is conducted in the following areas: Astrophysics, Biophotonics and Laser Science, Condesed Matter Physics and Quantum Science. Quantum sciences is the biggest area of research at the physics department, with almost two thirds of the staff being concerned with research in Quantum Science. The school is also participating in ARC centres of Excellence in Quantum science, ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Communication and Computing Technology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Future Low-Energy Electronics (FLEET). The research in the FLEET centre is in close collaboration with the University of New South Wales and RMIT in Melbourne, which we visited earlier this trip. The ARC centres of Excellence guarantee the research at UQ with funding once every 10 years, thus providing a steady income during these 10 years.

Every year about 250 students start their bachelor programme at UQ. Approximately 70 students will finish their Bachelor in physics in the third year. 25 students continue their study in a postgraduate honours programme, which is a one year programme of doing subjects and research, comparable to a shortened version of the master programmes in the Netherlands.

After the introductory talk we started with the lab tours. First, we visited a quantum optics lab. The focus in this lab was on single photon sources and single photon detection.

In the next lab they showed us some setups where they were making and studying qubits.

After a small walk to the basement of the library we entered the expansion tube lab of the Centre for Hypersonics. In this lab they had 2 large expansion tubes where they conducted experiments with supersonic flows. They created shockwaves in the tubes with speeds of 10 km/s and temperatures of 10,000 K. These pulsed shockwaves last for only 100 microseconds. The researchers in this lab conduct experiments on three different topics. The first topic is the simulation of conditions which occur when spaceships enter the earth’s atmosphere by testing materials used in spaceships under these harsh conditions. The second topic is spectroscopy, and the third topic is rocket launches, in which they collaborate with, i.e. NASA.

After the expansion lab we split up and went to a lab where they used nanodiamonds as temperature sensors and as a marker in microfluidic evaporation experiments. The nanodiamonds allow them to measure gradients inside cells.

The other half of the group went to see a potential Ig Nobel Prize winning research. The goal of this research is to make AMOLED’s as efficient as OLED’s.

After these lab tours it was time to have a lunch barbecue with various physicists in the lovely Brisbane winter sun. During this lunch we also had the possibility to take a look at the pitch-drop experiment, the longest running experiment in the world.

When lunch time was over we went to see more labs which in some way had to do with quantum mechanics. In the first lab they conducted research on optical tweezers, allowing them to change the angular momentum of a fluid by using lasers. In another lab they showed us a very accurate rotation sensor which is made with a Bose-Einstein Condensate. These Bose-Einstein Condensate were cooled down to 100 nK with lasercooling. In these labs they showed us more applications of the Bose-Einstein Condensates.

After the lab tours some students of the physics club showed us around campus. We saw nice and old buildings on the campus and even some wildlife with turtles and eels swimming in the lakes.

After the campus tour the physics club did some funny demonstrations of physical phenomena similar to Science on Tour in Twente.

We concluded the day with a pizza in the restaurant at the campus and with some drinks at the bar at the campus.


~ Mark and Sander

Thursday 3-8-17

Today we visited the Queensland Centre of Advanced Technologies (QCAT), one of the many R&D labs CSIRO has located throughout Australia. The research focus at this facility lies on all sorts of autonomous systems with varying purposes, from data collection to cyberphysical applications. There are currently 400 researchers employed at this facility. QCAT has a lot of big customers (e.g.: Boeing, Lockheed Martin and NASA) that make good use of its autonomous systems.

Because QCAT is a CSIRO facility, its main purposes are the creation and stimulation of industry in Australia and conducting research for companies. The facility was founded in 1995 to develop new technologies for the mining industry since that is one of Australia’s largest economic sectors.

Examples of these developed technologies are the automation of the dragline swing, a giant excavator for surface mines and the development of an autonomous LHD caterpillar. They also have developed applications for aerospace industry and agricultural purposes.

From 2005 onwards, QCAT started to develop systems that do not replace people but instead aid them in their work. This has also improved the public opinion on the company and allowed them to operate outside of the ethical debate on the automation of jobs.

After an introduction on QCAT by the product manager, we had some talks by researchers of the Cyberphysical systems group. They focus in persistent robotics that can survive for decades without maintenance, reconfigurable robotics for data collection in confined spaces, reality capture and reality display for humans. The talk was followed by another talk from the distributed sensing systems group which focuses on data collection in large areas through vast networks of sensors that communicate with one another. Examples include monitoring biodiversity in the Amazon using camera networks and tracking bee populations by placing microchips on their backs.

Up next on the schedule was a demonstration of their Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping (SLAM) system. The system works by optically sweeping a laser horizontally and simultaneously rotating the system, which creates a 270 degree cone in which distance to the nearest object is measured. Walking around with this system at approximately 1 m/s allows the user to make a 3D mapping of a room in just a few minutes.

After that we went to see Max, a hexapod spider-shaped robot that was built to be ultra-light compared to other robots of its size. Weighing around 60 kg, it can reach objects up to 4 meters above the ground and carry around a 20 kg payload. Currently, Max can walk around at a speed of 8 cm/s (for 10 hours straight) which is limited by vibrations and shockwaves in the nonrigid body. For reference, the Curiosity rover on Mars can only travel at a maximum speed of 4 cm/s. Other work was on the development of machine learning in robots to optimise their motion with respect to either range, speed or energy.

For the last tour, we had to go outside, where two small unmanned helicopters were placed. These helicopters are designed for completely autonomous flights, to reduce crashes by human errors. Currently, legislation prohibits professionals to do autonomous flights, but that is also an area that QCAT is working at. The advantage of helicopters is that they have a larger range and payload capabilities than drones, while being cheaper and possibly more accessible than airplanes. The two models at QCAT had a similar time of flight of about 1 hour, but a payload of 1 kg and 20 kg respectively. The challenge in this research is to develop a reliable sensing system for the helicopters, so they can operate autonomous in every situation.

After the tour at QCAT, the whole group made a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It is a zoo-like park with a lot of domestic species. Next to the unique experience of cuddling with a koala, we went on to see kangaroos, platypuses, dingoes, and many more animals. From there on, the group split of for some evening activities with one group visiting the Brisbane Jazz Club to see a vocalist’s jam. The other group walked around in the city centre.


Arnout and Erik

Wednesday 2-8-17

Today we started the day good by having a luxury breakfast at the coffee club just around the corner from the hostel. Here we could eat bacon and eggs, pancakes, nice smoothies and much more.

After breakfast, we walked to the campus of the Queensland University of Technology. Here we visited the Cube building. The Cube is the heart of QUT Science and Engineering Centre and offers learning and research opportunities for the community. In the building are many learning spaces comparable with our library in Twente.  In the middle of the learning spaces are some digital projects where we had a look at.

At the ground floor are three projects. In the physics observatory project physics phenomena and physicist are displayed on an interactive wall. Wooden blocks can be thrown while changing the gravity from the on earth to for example on the moon to feel the difference.

In the next project, the Dino zoo, a lot of information about dinosaurs can be found. Also, the development of the earth is visible on a timeline of the earth. More playful things like digging out a dinosaur bones was possible.

In the virtual reef project fish and other see animals living in the Great Barrier reef could be catch to receive information about it. Since many of us are travelling up to Cairns after the study tour, this was a nice opportunity to learn about the ecosystem of the reef before snorkelling/ diving in it for real.

At the second floor were two more interactive walls to play with. The building also has a solar terrace. The solar panels across the courtyards and the roofs of the centre generate a power enough for running 12 standard homes for a day.

After the Cube we went to the art museum which is also located on the campus. In this museum paintings from Louise Hearman were exhibited. Louise Hearman is known for her dark, dream-like paintings where things may or may not be as they seem. The paintings were indeed not what you expect and you have to imagine what you see by yourself. On most paintings, a nature view was visible but then with some animal or human head somewhere hidden in the picture. At the end, we watched a movie with an interview with the painter, explaining her thoughts about the paintings.

Only a few steps away from the art museum we enjoyed a walk through the botanic gardens. We bought some food and ate our lunch sitting on the grass in the sun on the beautiful campus.

For the afternoon no visit was planned so we could do what we wanted to do. Most of us walked to Southbank to go either to the Gallery of modern art and later to the boat pool or directly to the boat pool to enjoy our first really warm day in Australia. Even though the water was quite cold everybody took a dip into the pool in the middle of the city and dried up on the grass.

After the sun was gone we walked back along the river with nice view on the high buildings behind it. We ate dinner in the bar in the hostel and stayed to drink beer and play trivia.


~ Lisette

Tuesday 1-8-17

Yesterday evening we said goodbye to Floris after the great week we had together in Sydney. This meant a great loss for us, but also a start to a new part of our journey. Today was our flight to the last city we will see on our study tour, namely Brisbane.

A few days ago, there have been some anti-terrorist raids, which discovered a group of people which seemed to be planning a bomb attack on an airplane from Sydney airport. This resulted for us in highly sharpened security at the airport. So, an early departure from our hostel to be sure of our flight. In the end, we did not really notice much of the tightened security and we had an hour and a half to kill.

The flight gave a great view of Sydney during takeoff. The clear boarder between land and sea could be seen during the whole flight. Some Tim Tams were shared to keep up the good spirits with everybody being sleepy of the short night. After an hour of flight, we could see Brisbane out of the airplane windows during our quick descent.

Brisbane is a sub-tropical climate, so nice and warm and everybody was still dressed for Sydney. Although Sydney is already quite warm compared to our winters, Brisbane’s winter is as warm as our summer. So, the first thing everybody did when we stepped in the sun was take off their jacket.

The nice bus driver gave us a short view of Brisbane during the 20 minutes’ drive from the airport to our hostel. The hostel is located just on the border of the city center and has great access to the train station. Everybody was checked in the hostel and got a “go card” to travel with public transportation (comparable to our OV-chipcard).

For the afternoon, everybody was free to do what they wished. One group decided to enjoy the sun in a local park with native plants and another group took a ferry ride over the river to discover the city. In the park lizards were spotted of approximately 50 cm and many weird smelling plants.


~ Victoria

Monday 31-7-17

Today we visited two institutions. The first was the AINST, Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology. AINST is located behind the school of physics on the terrain of the university of Sydney. The 150 million Australian dollar costing building has only been finished in April 2017. Therefore, they are still busy setting up all the equipment and labs. The nanohub hosts three themes headed by professor Xiaoke Yi, associate professor Andrew Minett and doctor Wojciech Chrzanowski. Corresponding to Communications, computing & security, energy & environment and health and medicine respectively. All the performed research falls within four domains: materials on the nanoscale, molecular nanoscience, nanophotonics and quantum science. To do cutting edge research the scientists are supported by a state-of-the art nanohub. The nanohub has 900 m2 of cleanroom, the air in the cleanroom is circulated once every 68 seconds by laminar airflow. The cleanroom is 100 times cleaner than a surgical operating room. The nanohub is built into a wall of rock to reduce vibrations, furthermore there are three different types of labs each with their own specifications including (active) cancelation of electromagnetic interference and one of the most stable environments in the world. The humidity and temperature in the labs need to be incredibly stable to maintain the integrity of all the experiments. The temperature only deviates 0.025 degrees centigrade from its 21 degree average. The humidity is 40% with a deviation of 5%. To prevent pressure differences while opening the doors, the doors slide open like in star trek. The nanohub has two different classes of cleanrooms, one is ISO 5 the other is ISO 7. The building hosts different sorts of characterization equipment, of which two transmission electron microscopes. One of these is an aberration corrected TEM with which biological samples can be characterized.

At the nanohub we went on a lab tour lead by doctor Eric Magi from Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) labs. He took us to three labs. In the first lab, he showed us an experiment which tried to get single photon beams. In the second lab stimulated Brillouin scattering experiments were performed. Here they tried to turn optical waves into acoustic waves and back to optical waves after adapting the acoustic signal. Optical and acoustic waves both have different advantages, by efficiently changing between one and the other these advantages can be put to their best use. To this end the group investigates the different behaviors of these waves and transitions. The third lab was doing research in topological optics, which makes use of the topological properties of materials to make nonlinear waveguides. This concluded the morning program.

In the afternoon, we went to the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation (ANSTO) nuclear reactor, the only nuclear reactor in Australia, where we were enthusiastically welcomed by Robin. Together with Marian they gave a tour of the facility which is used mainly for research and making medical isotopes and producing phosphorus doped silicon. The facility produces >40 % of the world supply on this silicon which is 98.9% on time and 100% on specifications and they produce about 5% of the world’s demand of medical isotopes.  During the tour, we saw the place where 95% of the work-related injuries occur: the soccer field. Contrary to many people’s believes, the nuclear reactor site is completely safe with only 1 uSv/h of emitting radiation which is about equal to the average radiation a person receives in Europe. Besides that they work with uranium which is only enriched to about 20%, where one needs at least 3% to power a nuclear power plant but 93% to create an actual weapon. Therefore, the chance of a big boom is very low. The security was very tight, even the chauffeur needed to join in on the tour. The facility has a 20 MW reactor which is roughly 10 years old and is expected to last for another 55 years. They produce 7000 drums of radioactive waste annually. The reactor is operated by only 28 people working in 12 hour shifts 24/7 for the 30 days straight after which they shut down the reactor for 5 days to do maintenance. The facility is internationally available for scientist to do research. Only 50 % of the applications are approved, this is because the reactor is cannot cope with the amount of proposals. The tour then brought us to a facility where they look at the impact of their radio isotopes on the environment. Such that no harm will be caused to the fish- and wildlife. This lab is far away from the reactor to minimize background radiation and to be able to perform accurate measurements. At this lab they also have a machine to analyse soil samples of maximum 180 cm. The machine makes an image with a resolution of 20 microns. It also uses a radio graph to image the sample and it uses x-ray fluorescence to determine metal concentration in the sample. This research is all done to study the human impact on the environment.

As this was the last day together with Floris as well as our last day in Sydney, we all went out to dinner. We ate at a restaurant near to the place Floris used to live and we all had a round of drinks; tomorrow our flight leaves for Brisbane, so we need to wake up! Early!


Max vd B. and Mylan

Sunday 30-7-17

Our day started later than usual since this was our first day off in Sydney. However, for whoever wanted there was still a program to follow. Since the forecast promised us really nice weather we would start our day at Cogee Beach where would meet up with Floris. Upon arrival at Cogee Beach Floris was already there, however the weather was still rather cold. From here we would start the coastal walk towards Bondi Beach where would take a dive into the ocean. With time passing the temperature increased towards the promised 27 degrees. During the tour we had a great view of the coastal line in all its glory. When we eventually arrived at Bondi Beach the sun was shining and it was time for us to get into our swimming attire.

The ocean was rather quiet relative to when we were here some days ago. Everyone quickly established itself on the sand and from there on it was a race towards the sea. The water felt cold at first but when accustomed it was rather nice, way warmer than the gray mass next to the Netherlands. The group rode along the blue waves of the ocean only to end up on the sand and repeat the process. But like any day a that a Dutchman visits the ocean we had to show these foreigners some Dutch craftsmanship, namely dikes. Quickly setting up our fortresses we were ready to defend ourselves against the forces of the ocean. Getting some curious looks from passing Asian tourists and the occasional picture our castle withstood the waters, probably because the tide slowly turning in our favor. With time passing our desire for a cold snack grew larger, it was by now we decided to get some ice cream. Enjoying our chilly cone the sat down, only to bump into an familiar. Not paying attention to the world around us we heard a voice “The Duchies” it said. Our heads lifting we recognized the man, it’s was the tour guide from CSIRO astronomy. After some small talk about the weather we parted our ways for the second time.

From here we decided to get a ferry back to the hostel and made our way towards the point of departure. The ferry however was not quite what you expected from a ferry, it wasn’t you everyday slow moving big boat, it is better described as a huge speedboat. With a maximum speed of 30 knots we rushed from stop to stop, with an incredible view of the Sydney skyline. After this unforgettable trip everyone went of to dinner and that about concluded our day.


~ Jari

Saturday 29-7-17

Today we had another culture day, we stood up early this morning to catch an early train to the blue mountains. This was a relaxing ride that took around 2 hours. Some took this time to get some extra sleep, others looked out the windows and enjoyed the fast passing views of Sydney. After this ride, we arrived in a small city called Katoomba.  From there we divided into smaller groups to explore the different tracks we could choose from.

Most of us walked straight towards the three sisters, there an information point was present and my group departed to explorer the blue mountains tracks. First stop was a close-up on the three sisters. This was quite a view and a bit crowded. The view was even better than on the top of the global three sisters view.

The next stops were some more viewing points close to the border of the valley, the view was literally amazing. On this walk we saw different beautiful birds and even a crashed car. After walking down this trial we started to walk down another one which ended near an amazing stepped

waterfall. Then it was time to turn back towards the civilized world and catch a train back to the center of Sydney.

Here everyone cleaned themselves up to go towards a rooftop bar. We found one on kings cross but sadly it was too crowded to fit all of us. We decided we were all too hungry to search further and went to the ground floor where we had a good dinner, consisting of a lot of burgers, steaks and even pulled pork. Some of us decided it was time to sleep to get ready for the next day. Others drank some more beers and enjoyed the start of our second weekend of the study tour.


~ Harco