Firstly, thank you for inviting me to come on this special occasion. Before I give out the MAD prize in physics, MAD standing for Motivation, Achievement and Dedication, I'd like to say a few words on what to me Physics is really all about.

        It is about solving problems. Not just technical problems but ALL problems. It is about how you live your life. Do you feel empowered to solve the problems that come your way or do you run from them?

        When I teach physics to my students I do so to give examples of solving real-life problems. The skills they gain are applicable to ALL problems that may come their way, from technical through to the more difficult social problems. I work them hard, and they do so willingly because they know that I care for their future as I do for that of my own kids. Life is hard; don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It is by solving the hard problems that we gain the confidence to tackle the even harder ones. This is why I believe that Physics is the ideal training ground for life generally.

        In many ways learning physics is like participating in sport. Everyone benefits, the more effort you put in the greater the benefit. It is certainly true that natural aptitudes help to reach higher levels, but all participants benefit.

        One thing that physics, and science generally, teaches us is not too take life too seriously. Ideas come and ideas go. Belief systems that one generation holds as absolute truths are shown by the next to be incorrect or at least incomplete. The key is to keep asking questions and to have fun searching for the answers. Above all, PAY ATTENTION to all that is around you. So, in that spirit I thought to give you a little demonstration.

        Now, how many of you thought to yourselves, when I came to the podium, that I had a wheel in my hand (show the book)? Well, you are correct. I don't have a wheel in my hand, I have three wheels in my hand! What do wheels do? They spin stably on an axis. This book has three axes of rotation. How many of them are stable? (demonstrate that only the longest and the shortest axes lead to stable rotations). So remebmer, if you ever feel the need to use a book or a box as a wheel, use only the longest or the shortest axis of rotation or else you will quickly wear-out the bearings! Try and challenge your friends to make a stable rotation about the middle axis! See if you can work out why this axis leads to unstable rotations. Hint, university advanced mathematical physics would be helpful!

        At Murdoch Uni we know what it is like to succeed on the World stage. We have been world-leaders in the theory of atomic collisions for the last decade, been awarded three prizes for best Australian Physics, and have been invited to give presentations at the world's best universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Caltech and many more. Atomic collisions go on all around and inside us. Their understanding is crucial to many sciences and technologies, including nanotechnology, quantum computing and even biotechnology.

        We work with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the United Nations, and the Lighting industry giant Osram-Sylvania, utilising some of the world's fastest supercomputers that have up to Tflop performance! Our graduates find diverse careers in Medicine, Finance, Defence, Industry, and the very best often remain in Physics. The power of modern computers has made computational physicists be some of the most sought-after scientists in the world.

        This prize was initiated by the physicists at Murdoch to encourage you to consider further study in Physics. In addition, tax-free $4,000 scholarships are available for best starting students. It gives me great pleasure to award the MAD for physics prize, which is Stephen Hawking's book The Universe in a Nutshell, to ...

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Last modified: Tue Feb 25 14:53:34 HKT 2003