Physics and the practical world
Physicists (including me) are very proud of our chosen profession, and we have no hesitation explaining our passion for the field. We are fascinated with fundamental questions of the universe, from its birth and evolution, to the inner workings of an atom. Many articles in AIP journals and AIP Member Society journals deal with such fundamental questions of nature. The majority of the articles, however, deal with more practical subjects—the application of physical science to diverse needs, from designing and understanding the properties of new materials, to pushing the limits of computation in microcircuit and nanocircuit electronics, to discerning understandable patterns in the behavior of complicated systems such as Earth's climate.
Once a year for the last 50 years, representatives from AIP Corporate Associates have organized a special meeting to spotlight the practical applications of physics. This meeting, renamed several years ago the Industrial Physics Forum (IPF), used to be held at an industrial laboratory to show off the host company's R&D enterprise. Three years ago IPF was moved to the fall AVS symposium. (AVS is an AIP Member Society with a significant fraction of members from industry.) This expanded and broadened the attendance at the forum. This year's IPF will also be held during the fall AVS symposium, October 19–22. Three additional AIP Member Societies—AAS, AGU, and OSA—are cosponsors. All contributed to the IPF's 2008 multidisciplinary theme: "Frontiers in Imaging: From Cosmos to Nano." The forum's sessions will cover the science and technology of imaging of astronomical, terrestrial, biophysical, and microscopic subjects. Over the last 25 years, I have had the pleasure of organizing and attending many IPFs, where I have witnessed some of the most memorable presentations of my career. The AIP website archives many of the talks in the post-PowerPoint era, in addition to summaries and blogs from AIP reporters, so that the experience can be shared beyond the attendees. Check out the IPF website for the full program of this year's meeting and a sampling of the archives.
Scitation partners, meet in Boston
The 2008 Scitation Partners Meeting was held September 25 at Boston's historic Omni Parker House. Each year, the Scitation team gathers with its publishing partners to discuss new trends in online publishing and new developments with the Scitation platform. This year's meeting focused on building momentum toward the ultimate goal for Scitation—the new C3 platform of Connections, Context, Content—to improve users' experience and publishers' flexibility and offer new products such as online books, semantic publishing, and micropublishing. Guest speaker Geoffrey Bilder, Director of Strategic Initiatives at CrossRef, gave a noteworthy presentation sharing his vision of the future, focusing on semantic publishing.
The meeting was designed to be in keeping with AIP's green initiative. The Scitation team reduced the carbon footprint of the meeting's printed material by 85% by providing an electronic program instead of a printed one. The presentations are available online with plans of adding video of the presentations. Forgoing bottled water and using only recycled paper materials also complimented the meeting's green tagline: Grow with Us.
SPS Council explores creative meeting solutions
A few weeks ago, the Society of Physics Students decided to find out just how many bells and whistles a WebEx meeting could handle, when an incredible 45 people throughout the US connected simultaneously in cyberspace. (WebEx can actually accommodate a meeting up to 100.) The 2008-09 SPS National Council would have normally met face-to-face in September, but will instead hold their meeting in conjunction with the Sigma Pi Sigma Congress in November. As these student and faculty leaders are responsible for coordinating local and regional SPS events, they could not wait until midsemester to get up to speed. The Council discussed national programs and funding support opportunities available to local members and voted on motions and polls in a central "meeting room," presided over by SPS President Earl Blodgett. They then broke into small groups to plan regional meetings and to work in various committees, including digital resources, underrepresented groups, scientific citizenship, revitalizing chapters, careers, and international issues. Although the webinar could not match the benefits of having an actual meeting, the virtual medium "got the ball rolling" early in the academic year. For questions about holding your own WebEx meeting, contact the helpdesks in MD or NY.
By now you should have received the yearly memo from Human Resources announcing the 2009 health insurance plans, which includes a schedule of open enrollment meetings. We encourage you to attend these sessions (College Park—October 16; Melville—October 20) to learn more about your plan choices. You will also have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with representatives from all of AIP's benefit carriers.
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For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.