H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

Communicating science
If I were to condense all we do at AIP, I would say that AIP is in the business of scientific communication. AIP was founded in 1931 to provide publishing services for its founding member societies but soon also began publishing its own journals on science subfields not covered in other journals. The editorial management of scientific journals remains one of the most important AIP functions. For more than three centuries, since the first journal was published by the Royal Society in 1665, scientists and engineers have used journals as the primary means of communicating new scientific findings. The scientific integrity of these journals has been assured based on a peer-review system developed and maintained by publishers. And the longstanding relationship among authors, readers, libraries, and publishers has allowed for the best journals to weather significant changes in delivery methods—most notably the transition from print to online that resulted in increased access to scientific communication and lowered cost per reader. With the continuous expansion in research and development activities, the number of scientific journals and their specialization into various subfields grew in direct proportion to the number of researchers. A study showed that the current number of professional journals in the scientific, technical, and medical (STM) fields is about 23,000, and it has been growing at a rate of approximately 3% per year for the last century—approximately the same rate as the number of practitioners in STM fields (Michael Mabe, "The Growth and Number of Journals," Serials 16(2), 191-7, 2003). To facilitate access, publishers provide standard bibliographic data available in accessible databases for most journals, allowing the reader anywhere to access the titles, authors, and abstracts of these publications. The downside is our inability to cope with such an explosion of scientific information. That's where other communication forms (from AIP as well as from our Member Societies) come in handy.

For 60 years, AIP has published Physics Today (PT), which provides communication that traverses all fields of the physical sciences as well as the related technical fields. Feature articles are written by experts in a well-honed style, enabling a scientifically literate nonspecialist to learn about different fields. Other departments in PT, such as Search and Discovery, deliver extended summaries of breaking news in frontier research and the physics community—again in a style accessible to a nonspecialist. The Physics Update section delivers brief summaries of articles appearing in journals that might capture the attention of general science readers, and the We Hear That column online brings news from Member Societies to the PT readers. Recent new features enhance the connection of basic science to applied science and commercial product development, the Quick Study department provides tutorials in a wide range of topics, and the front cover image and the Back Scatter image inside the back cover dazzle the eye with the beauty of science. All of these features are delivered each month in print and online to the more than 130,000 members of our 10 Member Societies, in addition to being available to more than 2500 institutions worldwide.

Our periodic reader surveys and our annual review by the Physics Today Advisory Committee confirm that PT is well liked. But they also tell us that much more can be done with the PT website—Physics Today Online (PTOL). Over the next year, AIP will do a major upgrade of PTOL to improve its effectiveness for Member Society members, the general science community and the interested public. Stay tuned to this newsletter for news of these improvements. As always, we will want your feedback.

Sincerely,
Fred

 

A new JRSE makes a splash in the international scene
World Renewable Energy Congress X
AIP's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE) was on exhibit at the World Renewable Energy Congress X (WREC), which took place July 20-25, 2008, in Glasgow, Scotland. The meeting brought together an international collection of researchers, students, and other interested parties at Glasgow's beautiful and unique Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre JRSE booth at WREC (affectionately known as "the Armadillo") to discuss recent developments and research in renewable and sustainable energy technologies. This year, session organizers included one of the JRSE coeditors, John A. Turner—the other coeditor is P. Craig Taylor. Sessions covered broad topics touching on policy and worldwide economic issues, as well as more specific and local ones, such as the first thermal solar power plant in Iran.

The date of the event kindly fell near the launch of JRSE's website, of high interest among attendees. More information on the debut of AIP's newest journal will be forthcoming.

AAPM AIP congratulates AAPM
AIP extended warm wishes to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine at its 50th anniversary celebration during the annual meeting in Houston. AIP staff attended several committee meetings and gave reports on the many areas where AIP and AAPM interact. AIP Publishing Services addressed areas influencing AAPM's journal business and relayed information on AIP publishing initiatives that will enhance and promote AAPM's flagship publication, Medical Physics. The AIP media team heavily promoted the meeting.

SPS internsO Canada!
Dorm life isn't so bad. Just ask the three Society of Physics Students (SPS) summer interns and a number of AIP staff members who trekked up and over to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in late July for the 2008 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Meeting. The summer meeting is traditionally held on a college campus, so many attendees get a real taste of student life by sleeping in the dormitories, eating at the student union, and walking to classrooms. The meeting started off with a lively and well-attended student poster session. Interns Logan Hancock, Mary Mills, and Justin Reeder presented their projects, along with students from a number of other institutions. The session also featured a competitive game of Future Faces of Physics Jeopardy!

Other highlights of the meeting included the unveiling of AIP's high-school report, "Reaching the Critical Mass," from the Statistical Research Center, and a thought-provoking plenary lecture by Eric Mazur, entitled "Physics Reality Distortion: Why the World of Physics and the Real World Are Different in Students' Minds."

MGR team member interviewed live on TV
Media and Government Relations (MGR) team member Emilie Lorditch wrote a news story for Inside Science News Service about an experiment during the Beijing Olympics that would measure air quality when the city's one million cars were taken off the roads. As the Olympics approached, the story gained interest. On August 7, Emilie was interviewed live about her report and its science by the broadcast meteorologist on the DC FOX station. Her three-minute appearance during the weather segment reached approximately 5,770,000 viewers.

Bring your children to work
We remind you of a cost savings benefit available to employees that went into effect on January 1, 2007. AIP implemented a childcare subsidy program with the hopes of making our Melville and College Park childcare centers a more feasible option for those employees in need of childcare assistance. Families earning a total annual income of less than $50,000 are eligible for a subsidy determined according to a sliding scale. The families with the smallest amount of combined income receive the most assistance. The AIP subsidy program may also be integrated with other government agency programs. Participation in these programs is confidential. For more details on the childcare subsidy program, contact Linda Castellanos of the Melville Center or Audrey Pabs-Garnon of the College Park Center.

Always have a backup plan
Business continuity planning is a vital part of any business. A solid framework for addressing potential risks enables an organization to respond efficiently to business disruptions and to minimize effects of potentially damaging events. Business Systems and Operations (BSO) staff have started conducting business continuity sessions with staff at AIP. College Park staff recently attended a session, and the Melville office will hold sessions in September. AIP has a well-developed business continuity program and a plan in which each of us has an important role, and in which we are collectively responsible for overall success or failure. Visit the BSO intranet for more information and for tips on what you can do to help. Please feel free to contact Stephanie Finnegan with any questions or comments.

 

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