APS News

April 2002 (Volume 11, Number 4)

Preposterous Public Lecture Highlights Albuquerque Meeting

The latest scientific insights into the strange and wonderful mysteries that abound in our universe will be featured at the upcoming APS April meeting, April 20-24, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In addition to an array of invited and contributed technical sessions, there will be a special public lecture and three plenary sessions featuring talks on a broad range of astrophysics, nuclear and particle physics, as well as biological physics. The program will also offer historical sessions, tips on finding jobs in academia, and an insider's look at science policy.

Our Preposterous Universe

On Monday evening, the APS will sponsor a public lecture in connection with the April Meeting, featuring Sean Carroll of the University of Chicago. Carroll will summarize many of the most breathtaking discoveries of the nature of the cosmos uncovered in the 20th century: that the universe is over 10 billion years old, that it is still expanding, and that ordinary objects comprise less than 5% of the stuff of the universe. He will close by outlining the challenges researchers face in the 21st century as we struggle to develop a true understanding of the implications of these discoveries. A reception will follow, sponsored by the University of New Mexico.
[7:30 PM - 9:00 PM, Kiva Auditorium.]

Nutty Neutrinos and Other Physics Enigmas

In one of several planned plenary lectures, Helen Quinn of SLAC will describe the changing landscape of what is known, and not yet known, about CP violation, in light of both the B-factory programs at SLAC and KEK, and the ongoing accumulation of evidence that the mass eigenstates of neutrinos are different from the flavor eigenstates.

All solar neutrino experiments to date have observed far fewer neutrinos than theoretically predicted, according to John Wilkerson of the University of Washington, and the reason for this discrepancy is unknown. He believes that data gathered at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory has solved the mystery, providing direct evidence that the majority of electron neutrinos created deep within the core of the sun change to mu or tau neutrinos by the time they are detected on Earth. Other topics covered in the plenary sessions include a summary of the first results from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider; an update on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey; the impact of the cosmological constant on fundamental physics; high-resolution X-ray studies of globular clusters; and universal scaling laws in biology.
[Sessions A1, G1, and M1]

Physics Takes on Terrorism

Since September 11, defense against terrorist attacks has become a major national priority in the U.S., and speakers at a Monday morning session focused on the role of physicists in supporting national antiterrorist efforts. Anthony Fainberg, formerly with the Office of Technology Assessment and now with the DOT's Transportation Security Agency, outlined several ways for physicists to participate, including explosive detectors, sensors, security procedures, technical analyses and decision tools, as well as transportation . Of course, "The tactics of terrorists will change and develop, so it will become necessary to develop ever more sophisticated measures to fight them," says Fainberg. "Technology is part of the answer, but human factors, vulnerability analyses, threat assessment and security procedures are equally important." Building on this theme will be Richard Garwin of IBM and Lawrence Livermore's Donald Prosenitz (See page 8 ). Livermore's Jay Davis will close the session with a discussion of counter-terrorism contributions from the national laboratories.
[Session O2, Monday, April 22]

Copenhagen Redux

Recently released documents from the Niels Bohr archive shed new light on the issues raised in Michael Frayn's award-winning play Copenhagen - which details the fateful meeting in September 1941 between Werner Heisenberg and Bohr - and should have a significant impact on the debate over the German nuclear fission project during World War II, according to bestselling author David Cassidy, one of the featured speakers at a session on interpreting Copenhagen. He will be joined by Roger Stuewer of the University of Minnesota, who will offer his thoughts on Lise Meitner's and Otto Frisch's interpretation of nuclear fission "as an act of extraordinary creativity."
[Session E9, Saturday, April 20]

Remembering Wigner

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Eugene Wigner, and speakers in a special centennial symposium will pay homage to one of the 20th century's greatest theoretical physicists. George Marx of Eotvos University in Budapest, will talk about Wigner's early life and work in Hungary, where he wrote the now-famous book on symmetries that garnered him a Nobel Prize. John Wheeler (Princeton University and University of Texas at Austin) will discuss Wigner's changing view of the elementary quantum phenomenon, while Alvin M. Weinberg of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will detail how Wigner's background in chemical engineering was put to good use during World War II. "With his unparalleled understanding of chain reactors, and his skill and liking for engineering, Wigner can properly be called the founder of nuclear engineering," says Weinberg, pointing to the physicist's 37 patents on various chain reacting systems as evidence.
[Session I3, Sunday, April 21]

Los Alamos, Then and Now

Attendees interested in some local science history may wish to attend a Sunday afternoon session detailing the history of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Former APS President Val Fitch (Princeton University) will lead off with a description of the Special Engineering Detachment, created in 1943 to supply the technical assistance required to develop and construct nuclear weapons. LANL's Francis Harlow will describe the characterization of very complex small-scale processes at the lab, a major focus since its inception in 1943. Harlow's colleague, John Browne, will close with a summary of post-Cold War science and technology at the laboratory, included its much-touted stockpile stewardship program and other research.
[Session K2, Sunday, April 21]

Advise and Consent

Almost every action of modern government has some scientific or technological component, yet most senior officials who set policy and make decisions have little or no scientific training. Hence, science advising has become a career option growing in popularity with many physicists. In a Sunday afternoon session, Peter Zimmerman, chief scientist on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will offer insights from his experiences with science advising in the legislative and executive branches of government. He will be joined by Kenneth Heller (University of Minnesota), offering his thoughts on how university physicists can become involved with science policy, and APS Associate Director of Public Affairs Francis Slakey, who will relate some of the Society's battles waged on behalf on physics on Capitol Hill.
[Session K6, Sunday, April 21]

Tracking Down Tenure

Although many young PhD physicists have opted to pursue careers in industry and other more nontraditional areas, there are still opportunities available in academic environments, particularly in small liberal arts colleges, according to two speakers at a Saturday afternoon session on how to find and hold a faculty job. "Liberal arts colleges offer challenging and exciting opportunities for physicists with a commitment to teaching undergraduates at all levels of the curriculum," says Neal Abraham, a professor at DePauw University, who outlined several strategies for successful application for jobs in liberal arts colleges. Peter Sheldon, now a tenured professor at Randolph-Macon Women's College in Virginia, described his career path via a postdoctoral position as a visiting faculty member which, led to his current position.
[Session E5, Saturday, April 20]


Contact Congress

Saturday, April 20 through Monday, April 22
NE Exhibit Hall/ACC

Worried about the slashing of NSF, DoE and NASA funding?
Concerned about the dearth of science literacy in our high-schoolers?
Anxious about where the country's security is heading?

YOU can have an impact on national science policy!! Come write your representatives in Congress to let them know how you feel about science issue of interest to you. The most important letters that a Member of Congress receives are the ones from his or her constituents you elect them, and you matter.

The American Physical Society feels that it is incumbent on all of us to interact with the government, to offer technical assistance where we can, and to remind our Members of Congress that scientists have much to offer the country, in areas of basic science R&D funding, education, and energy policy. We have set up computers in the exhibit hall where you can send a letter to your Senators and Representatives - you can use our template or write own letter on issues that matter to you.

Special Events

Play Reading: "Copenhagen"
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Grand Pavilion,
Hyatt Regency

Meet the Editors
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Kiva Auditorium Foyer,
Convention Center

Welcome Reception
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Kiva Auditorium Foyer,
Convention Center

Forum on History of
Physics Reception
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Enchantment A/B, Hyatt Regency

Awards Session/Retiring
Presidential Address
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Ballroom C, Convention Center

Reception: Committee on
Minorities/Committee on Status
of Women in Physics
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Enchantment A, Hyatt Regency

CSWP Networking Breakfast
7:00 am - 9:00 am
Fiesta I and II, Hyatt Regency

Students Lunch with the
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Nambe/Navaho Rooms and
Isleta/Jemez Rooms

Student Social Hour
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
La Cienaga,
Convention Center

Public Lecture/Reception
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Kiva Auditorium,
Convention Center

Very Large Array Tour
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Buses depart from
Hyatt Regency lobby

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

April 2002 (Volume 11, Number 4)

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Articles in this Issue
Executive Board Expresses Concern Over Funding Imbalance In Bush Administration's Fy2003 Budget Request
Outlook On FY2003 Budget Bills
Task Force To Weigh Pros And Cons Of Topical Groups
APS Establishes Task Force On Countering Terrorism
Preposterous Public Lecture Highlights Albuquerque Meeting
APS Extends Free Journal Access And Membership To Argentina
"Copenhagen" Cast Meets Protagonists' Progeny
The Back Page
This Month in Physics History
Members in the Media
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
Inside the Beltway: A Washington Analysis
Focus on Committees