Emeritus Professor Colin Pask

+61 2 6268 8686
+61 2 6268 8786

LOCATION

School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, PO Box 7916, Canberra BC ACT 2610, AUSTRALIA

  • ABOUT
  • PUBLICATIONS

Colin was born in Great Gonerby, a little village just outside the town of Grantham in Lincolnshire, England. His father was a dairy farmer and he grew up interested in the countryside and farming. At age 11, Colin started at the King's School in Grantham following in the footsteps of Sir Isaac Newton, who was born (rather earlier) in the village of Woolsthorpe, also just outside Grantham.

Colin developed a great interest in natural history and especially ornithology, an interest that remains strong today, and probably should have had a career in biology. However, little biology, especially at the higher levels, was done at the King's School presumably because it was a boys school! On the other hand the grammar school for girls had more biology and less physics. (That school too has had its notable pupils: Margaret Thatcher and more importantly Johanna, who became Colin's wife.)

So Colin's final years at school were devoted to studying Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics, plus German and other odd bits and pieces. Then it was off to the University of London where he entered Queen Mary College's physics program with an emphasis on theoretical physics and mathematics.

Colin then decided to come to Australia!  People at Queen Mary College said he was insane - nobody goes to Australia.  However, they relented when Colin told them he was coming to work with Professor John M. Blatt. (His 1952 book with Victor Weisskopf, "Theoretical Nuclear Physics" was the bible in that subject and was even reprinted in 1979, and he was also famous for work on superconductivity.) So it was that Johanna and Colin sailed for Australia late in 1964.

Colin gained his PhD from the University of New South Wales and after a brief time at Duke University, he became a lecturer in the Department of Applied Mathematics at UNSW. Some of his first lectures were in numerical analysis, classical dynamics and fortran programming. 

In 1971, Colin took up a Queen Elizabeth Fellowship in the just established Department of Applied Mathematics in the Research School of Physical Sciences at ANU. He stayed on there in the Institute of Advanced Studies as a Fellow and progressed to Senior Fellow in 1978. His research interests developed in optics and vision, especially in waveguide theory and fibre optics, with various offshoots into coherence theory and things like numerical analysis and nonlinear classical dynamics. The whole family enjoyed a stay in Germany while Colin was on leave to work on insect vision at the Max Planck Institute in Tubingen.

In 1986, Colin became Professor and Head of the Department of Mathematics (later the School of Mathematics and Statistics) in University College, that part of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. So once again, he was working for UNSW and interacting with undergraduate students which he greatly enjoyed after spending a long time in a purely research environment. In 2000, Colin became Presiding Member of the University College Academic Board. He has also done a stint as Deputy Rector.

Some of the many areas of research Colin has worked in include

  • Theoretical nuclear physics - especially the effects, derivation and mathematical forms of three-body potentials
  • Waveguide theory and the design of optical fibres
  • Methods for characterising optical fibres and their measurement
  • Geometric optics and the concept of leaky rays
  • Coherence theory and representations of optical fields
  • Coherence effects in fibre optics, diffraction theory, image formation, inverse source problems and measurement methods in vision science
  • Chaos in ray theory and optical circuits
  • Potential shapes and properties, regular and irregular motion in classical dynamics
  • Images and super-resolution
  • Insect photoreceptors and their waveguide properties
  • Tapering dielectric waveguides and their applications in fibre optics and to insect lens systems
  • Inverse problems and methods for measuring preforms and biological lens properties
  • Human vision - photoreceptor properties and their influence on the visual process and on measurement techniques
  • Nonlinear optics - waveguide mode mixing, frequency mixing and generation, the spectral theory on pulses, momentum in nonlinear optics

Colin gave up being Head of School after 12 years so he could concentrate more on some things Professors like to do - research, teach and write.  Colin has written three books - Math for the Frightened (2011), Magnificent Principia (2013) and Great Calculations (2015).

Books

Pask C, 2015, Great Calculations, Prometheus

Pask C, 2013, Magnificent Principia Exploring Isaac Newton's Masterpiece, Prometheus Books

Pask C, 2011, Math for the Frightened: Facing Scary Symbols and Everything Else That Freaks You Out About Mathematics, Original, Prometheus Books, USA

Journal articles

Pask C, 2014, 'Newton's Principia', PHYSICS WORLD, vol. 27, pp. 20 - +, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000343279500037&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a

McIntyre PD; Pask C, 2013, 'The Stiles-Crawford effect: A theoretical revisit', Journal of Modern Optics, vol. 60, pp. 266 - 282, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500340.2013.770575

Pask C, 2003, 'Mathematics and the science of analogies', American Journal of Physics, vol. 71, pp. 526 - 534, http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1545761

Pask C, 2002, 'Answering junior ant`s `why` for Phythagoras` Theorem', International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, vol. 33, pp. 661 - 669, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207390210162476

Ansari NA; Pask C, 2001, 'Energy balance in linear and nonlinear waves', Journal of the Optical Society of America B - Optical Physics, vol. 18, pp. 36 - 44, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.18.000036

Ansari NA; Pask C; Rowland DR, 2000, 'Momentum in nonlinear optics', Journal of Modern Optics, vol. 47, pp. 993 - 1011, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500340008233401

Pask C, 2000, 'Discussing a Puzzle as an Introduction to Ideas in Mathematics and its Applications', Australian Mathematical Society Gazette, pp. 96 - 103

Rowland DR; Pask C, 1999, 'The missing wave momentum mystery', American Journal of Physics, vol. 67, pp. 378 - 388, http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.19272

Pask C; Stacey A, 1998, 'Optical properties of retinal photoreceptors and the Campbell effect', Vision Research, vol. 38, pp. 953 - 961, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0042-6989(97)00291-5

Pask C, 1998, 'The monkey and the coconuts puzzle: Exploring mathematical approaches', Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, vol. 17, pp. 123 - 131, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/teamat/17.3.123

Pask C; Rowland DR; Samir W, 1998, 'Constant of motion for modal interactions in nonlinear dielectric waveguides', Journal of the Optical Society of America B - Optical Physics, vol. 15, pp. 1871 - 1879, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.15.001871

Stacey A; Pask C, 1997, 'Spatial-frequency response of a photoreceptor and its wavelength dependence. II. Partially coherent sources', Journal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision, vol. 14, pp. 2893 - 2900, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAA.14.002893

Tran HT; Sammut RA; Pask C, 1994, 'TE01 waves in nonlinear optical fibers and their device implications', Optics Communications, vol. 106, pp. 278 - 287, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0030-4018(94)90336-0

Tran HT; Sammut RA; Pask C, 1994, 'Polarization stability of TE and TM waves in nonlinear planar waveguides', Physical Review E, vol. 49, pp. 3524 - 3527, http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.49.3524

PASK C, 1994, 'OPTICAL WAVE-GUIDE MODELING', OPTICAL AND QUANTUM ELECTRONICS, vol. 26, pp. R5 - R5, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:A1994ND76500001&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a

Samir W; Pask C; Garth SJ, 1994, 'Signal switching by a control beam in a nonlinear coupler', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 11, pp. 2193 - 2205, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.11.002193

Stacey A; Pask C, 1994, 'Spatial-frequency response of a photoreceptor and its wavelength dependence. I. coherent sources', Journal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision, vol. 11, pp. 1193 - 1198, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAA.11.001193

Samir W; Pask C; Garth SJ, 1994, 'Nonlinear optical switching in birefringent gratings', Optics Letters, vol. 19, pp. 338 - 340, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OL.19.000338

Samir W; Garth SJ; Pask C, 1994, 'Interplay of grating and nonlinearity in mode coupling', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 11, pp. 64 - 71, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.11.000064

Samir W; Pask C; Garth SJ, 1994, 'Design parameters for two-mode-interference couplers with varying nonlinearity', Optical and Quantum Electronics, vol. 26, pp. 405 - 413, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00304245

Sammut RA; Pask C, 1993, 'Erratum: Analysis of planar waveguides formed by nonuniform nonlinearity: (Electron. Lett. (1993) 29(3) (266–268) (10.1049/el:19930182))', Electronics Letters, vol. 29, pp. 569, http://dx.doi.org/10.1049/el:19930383

Sammut RA; Pask C, 1993, 'Analysis of planar waveguides formed by nonuniform nonlinearity', Electronics Letters, vol. 29, pp. 266 - 268, http://dx.doi.org/10.1049/el:19930182

Samir W; Garth SJ; Pask C, 1993, 'Theory of fused-tapered nonlinear optical fiber couplers', Applied Optics, vol. 32, pp. 4513 - 4516, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/AO.32.004513

Sammut RA; Pask C; Li QY, 1993, 'Theoretical study of spatial solitons in planar waveguides', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 10, pp. 485 - 491, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.10.000485

Garth SJ; Pask C, 1992, 'Nonlinear effects in elliptical-core few-mode optical fibers', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 9, pp. 243 - 250, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.9.000243

Sammut RA; Li QY; Pask C, 1992, 'Variational approximations and mode stability in planar nonlinear waveguides', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 9, pp. 884 - 890, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.9.000884

Li QY; Sammut RA; Pask C, 1992, 'Variational and finite element analyses of nonlinear strip optical waveguides', Optics Communications, vol. 94, pp. 37 - 43, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0030-4018(92)90402-D

Sammut RA; Pask C, 1991, 'Group velocity and dispersion in nonlinear-optical fibers', Optics Letters, vol. 16, pp. 70 - 72, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OL.16.000070

Li QY; Pask C; Sammut RA, 1991, 'Simple model for spatial optical solitons in planar waveguides', Optics Letters, vol. 16, pp. 1083 - 1085, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OL.16.001083

Sammut R; Pask C, 1991, 'Gaussian and equivalent-step-index approximations for nonlinear waveguides', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 8, pp. 395 - 402, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.8.000395

Garth SJ; Pask C, 1990, 'Polarization behaviour in lossy non-linear birefringent optical fibres', Optical and Quantum Electronics, vol. 22, pp. 37 - 53, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02189710

Sammut RA; Pask C, 1990, 'Variational Approach to Nonlinear Waveguides-Gaussian Approximations', Electronics Letters, vol. 26, pp. 1131 - 1132, http://dx.doi.org/10.1049/el:19900731

Garth SJ; Pask C, 1990, 'Polarization Rotation in Nonlinear Bimodal Optical Fibers', Journal of Lightwave Technology, vol. 8, pp. 129 - 137, http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/50.47861

Garth SJ; Pask C, 1989, 'Nonlinear polarisation behaviour on circular core bimodal optical fibres', Electronics Letters, vol. 25, pp. 182 - 183, http://dx.doi.org/10.1049/el:19890132

Pask C; Bertilone D, 1989, 'Evidence for a new optical element in insect visual systems', Journal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision, vol. 6, pp. 139 - 141, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAA.6.000139

Skinner IM; Pask C, 1988, 'Simple Bounds On Modal Propagation Constant For Arbitrarily Shaped Optical Fibres', Electronics Letters, vol. 24, pp. 1435 - 1436, http://dx.doi.org/10.1049/el:19880980

Pask C; Garth SJ, 1988, 'Comparison of focal and afocal optics in insect eyes', Biological Cybernetics, vol. 58, pp. 337 - 344, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00363943

Garth SJ; Pask C; Sammut RA, 1988, 'Single-mode fibres operating at few-mode wavelengths', Optical and Quantum Electronics, vol. 20, pp. 301 - 312, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00620247

Bertilone D; Love J; Pask C, 1988, 'Splicing of optical waveguides with lossless graded-index tapers', Optical and Quantum Electronics, vol. 20, pp. 501 - 514, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00635751

Pask C; Stacey A, 1988, 'Optical coherence and Wolf’s theory for electromagnetic waves', Journal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision, vol. 5, pp. 1688 - 1693, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAA.5.001688

Garth SJ; Pask C; Rosman GE, 1988, 'Stimulated four-photon mixing in bent few-mode optical fibres', Optical and Quantum Electronics, vol. 20, pp. 79 - 86, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02069697

Bertilone D; Ankiewicz A; Pask C, 1987, 'Wave propagation in a graded-index taper', Applied Optics, vol. 26, pp. 2213 - 2221, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/AO.26.002213

Bertilone D; Pask C, 1987, 'Exact ray paths in a graded-index taper', Applied Optics, vol. 26, pp. 1189 - 1194, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/AO.26.001189

Garth SJ; Pask C, 1986, 'Properties Of Modes On Perturbed Fibres', Electronics Letters, vol. 22, pp. 27 - 28, http://dx.doi.org/10.1049/el:19860019

Pask C, 1986, 'Application of Wolf’s theory of coherence', Journal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision, vol. 3, pp. 1097 - 1100, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAA.3.001097

Pask C; Vatarescu A, 1986, 'Spectral approach to pulse propagation in a dispersive nonlinear medium', Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics, vol. 3, pp. 1018 - 1024, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.3.001018

Garth SJ; Pask C, 1986, 'Four-photon mixing and dispersion in single-mode fibers', Optics Letters, vol. 11, pp. 380 - 382, http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OL.11.000380

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