UNSW School of Physics Wins First Prize For 'Excellence in Acoustics'. A ground breaking research project involving flute acoustics was recently awarded First Prize in the inaugural 'Excellence in Acoustics Award' at the Westpac Conference in Melbourne.

The award, sponsored by CSR Bradford Insulation and the Australian Acoustical Society, aims to foster and reward excellence in acoustics. Entries are judged on demonstrated innovation from within any field of acoustics.

The winning project 'Flute Acoustics: New Understanding And New Tools For Musicians' involved research resulting from the discovery of a novel technique for the measurement of acoustic transfer functions with high accuracy, broad dynamic range and high speed.

The studies by the Music Acoustics Group from the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales led to an expert system to rank all possible notes on the flute, according to their degree of difficulty. A flexible 'musician friendly' web service was then developed to provide the world's flutists and composers with easier, better ways of playing difficult passages and chords. The web service has achieved great success already, receiving constant hits from both local and international musicians.

RTA Road and Bridge Technology were awarded second prize for the project 'Engineering Methods Of Noise Control For Modular Bridge Expansion Joints'.

Their project investigated a number of methods for controlling the noise created as vehicles travel over bridge joints, when an annoying environmental noise can be produced. It found that the use of a specially designed Helmholtz absorber tuned to the dominant acoustic frequencies and installed in the void spaces of the bridge provided a reduction of 10 dB(A).

The judging panel of representatives from the Australian Acoustical Society and CSR Bradford Insulation were presented with massive challenge to select the winner. "All projects were of extremely high quality and it was a difficult decision to make," Mr Guy McGrath, Group Marketing Manager, CSR Bradford Insulation. "The winning project exhibited a very high standard of overall excellence and clearly demonstrated innovation and creativity in acoustics. It also has a breadth of future applications," he concluded.

Accepting the major prize of $2,500 on behalf of the Music Acoustics Group from the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales, Associate Professor Joe Wolfe announced that the money would be used to create a one-off vacation scholarship to assist a final year honours student in research for their science degree.