H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

Science soars in Boston
Last week in Boston, AVS held its 55th International Symposium and Exhibition, which attracted more than 2500 attendees. Although AVS's roots are in the science and technology of producing and using vacuum, the society has greatly expanded its topical interests since its founding in 1953. That evolution is tied to the importance of science at interfaces—from the original concern for solid-state matter exposed to vacuum, to the interface between two solids that form the critical junctions in a transistor, to the biological interface essential to the functioning of a protein. Those seemingly diverse scientific areas all require an interdisciplinary approach involving knowledge of and expertise in physics, chemistry, and biology. In addition, measurement techniques that have been developed for one interface problem can be adapted to a different environment. AVS, with its mix of academic and industrial members from many disciplines, has become a fertile ground for applying scientific instruments to many different problems. That cross-fertilization is evident in the application of modern microscopic techniques that are used to image a surface. AVS has been a popular home for practitioners of scanning probe microscopy. The scanning tunneling microscope was created by Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig at IBM Research labs; that development earned the two scientists the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. The microscope, whose functionality is essential for modern microelectronics, produced the first images of individual atoms on semiconductor surfaces. In the quarter century since the original IBM development, new microscopes have been designed that can image and measure the properties of almost any type of material.

AVS symposia have showcased the developments and applications of new microscopic techniques that provide breathtaking views of the world at molecular dimensions. Last week's symposium in Boston provided a visual feast of those microscopic images along with a wealth of content that enticed attendees to remain inside the Hynes Convention Center and forgo sampling the culture of Boston. More than1300 talks covered topics from fundamental studies to commercial applications, and the unique annual exhibition featured state-of-the-art instrumentation.

nano Program highlights included a lecture by 2007 Nobel laureate Albert Fert, who described the progress that has been made in designing molecular electronics based on small carbon structures, and the 50th annual Industrial Physics Forum. Themed "Frontiers of Imaging: From Cosmos to Nano," the forum was co-hosted by AVS and three other AIP Member Societies: AAS, AGU, and OSA.

AIP's Media Group provided press coverage for both the AVS symposium and the Industrial Physics Forum. AIP offers this service to all our Member Societies to promote their scientific programs to the press and nonspecialists.



Calling for renewals
With subscription rates declining, this year Fulfillment and Marketing Services turned to a telemarketing firm that specializes in STM (scientific-technical-medical) to assist in a renewal campaign. The campaign was designed to renew subscriptions, gain market intelligence about subscribers who canceled subscriptions, verify and update contact information, and address any customer concerns. We are analyzing preliminary reports to determine the next steps. So far, the majority of the contacted subscribers appreciated our follow-up about their subscriptions. Most stated that stagnant budgets and price increases had affected their purchasing decisions. It appears that at least one-third of the lapsed subscriptions are slated for renewal.

This 1944 University of Michigan pamphlet describes its famous Summer School in Theoretical Physics. The photo shows Enrico Fermi and Emilio Segrè on campus. Saving the histories of physics departments
The development of academic physics departments and other physics, astronomy, and geophysics programs is an important part of the history of our field, but often their stories are never written down, and when they are they're often hard to find. Departmental histories mostly appear as "gray" literature: mimeographed or carbon copies of speeches, locally published pamphlets, articles in alumni magazines, and in PowerPoint, Word files, and other transient formats. These materials offer revealing snapshots of the institutional development of science and changing educational philosophies.

The Niels Bohr Library and Archives preserves and catalogs such materials so that interested researchers can find them. We have accumulated hundreds of histories of institutions from around the world, an invaluable resource for historians, and we are currently expanding the collection, thanks to an initiative of the APS Forum on the History of Physics. The forum is currently contacting chairs of physics departments across the country and asking for copies of their histories if they have them. This can also stimulate departments without a written history to look into writing one. Implemented by forum officers George Zimmerman and Robert Arns, the contacts have already brought in 10 new histories with more to come.

Fringe TV series logo On the forefront of Fringe
AIP's Inside Science News Service brings the latest real science information to reporters across the country. Recently, AIP spoke to the writers of the Fox TV show Fringe, a prime-time crime series about fantastic science topics. The news story was immediately picked up by various websites and received the following compliment: "Thank you for the science research. This is great stuff."

halloween Scary!
It's time to put on your most original costume and wear it to work! This Friday, Melville and College Park offices will be celebrating Halloween. In Melville, everyone is encouraged to stop by Human Resources before noon to have a picture taken and enter a raffle for some great prizes; at 2:00 pm, everyone is invited to the lunchroom for the drawing and a group picture. At the American Center for Physics, there will be the traditional party and costume contest at noon in Conference Room A; all are invited to indulge in some treats and to strut scary, creative, or comical stuff in front of the judges in a competition with your ACP coworkers. Pictures from both the NY and MD celebrations will be posted on the Human Resources website. See you on Halloween!

We need your help - ACP People Search
The ACP Child Care Center will be celebrating its 15th anniversary on Saturday, November 15, and would like to invite all "alumni" back to join in the celebration. We need your help in tracking down past employees who had children enrolled in the center at some point. If you can assist, please e-mail the director, Audrey Pabs-Garnon.


We invite your feedback to this newsletter via e-mail to aipmatters@aip.org.

For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.