Monday, December 7, 2009

H. Frederick DyllaDirector's Matters

Physics and physicists for innovation

If there’s one thing AIP hopes to get across to the public, it’s that physics is relevant to everyday life. Physics can be seen in natural phenomena all around us, but it also is central to most technological advancements. Just consider the 2009 Nobel Prize winners and you’ll have several concrete examples—Charles Kao was recognized for his development of low-loss fiber optics, which enabled global broadband communications, and Willard Boyle and George Smith were honored for inventing the charge-coupled device (CCD), which is used in digital imaging and found in most cameras today. Physics is often seen as an esoteric academic pursuit, so AIP attempts to dispel this perception by promoting the importance of physics in industry. One of the ways in which we do this is through the AIP Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics. Begun in 1977 with continued commitment from General Motors, the $10,000 prize recognizes outstanding contributions by an individual or individuals to the industrial applications of physics.

Until 2008, the prize was biennial. Since then, GM increased its contribution to fund a prize awarded by the APS in alternate years. While the AIP award recognizes scientists who have developed proven technologies, the complementary APS award recognizes scientists whose research has excellent potential for future success. Since the inception of the AIP prize, 16 awards, honoring 20 industry-employed scientists, have highlighted a variety of proven technologies in many areas, including xerography, MRI, semiconductor lasers, integrated circuits, and laser eye surgery. In most cases, the scientists’ employers reaped significant financial rewards from commercializing these technologies. In all cases we, as a society, have benefited.

The 2010 AIP Industrial Applications of Physics Prize was awarded to Robert A. Street of Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), “for pioneering contributions to the science and technology of hydrogenated amorphous silicon, and the development of flat panel x-ray medical imaging.” In layman’s terms, Street’s work is behind the digital x-ray detectors found in hospitals and clinics across the country. These detectors have replaced traditional film x-ray machines and assist doctors in diagnosing diseases such as breast cancer.

Bob Street and Rudy Ludeke

Bob Street (right), recipient of the 2010 AIP Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics, with Rudy Ludeke at the AVS International Symposium.

Jason Bardi of AIP Media and Government Relations explains Street’s contribution in a recent press release: “the secret to Street's flat-panel digital X-ray detector is a dense glass-like material known as amorphous silicon that can be vacuum deposited onto surfaces and formed into electronic devices. Today, it is a standard material used in the manufacture of $100 billion worth of electronics sold each year—devices like laptop displays and flat panel TV sets.”

Street realized the potential application to medical imaging, and proved its worth. PARC created a spin-off company called dpiX, LLC to complete development and commercialize the product. About half of all mammography systems in the United States today are digital, and the fraction grows each year. Digital imaging is initially more expensive than film; however, it has advantages in image quality, electronic storage, and manipulation. Moreover, digital images can be easily transmitted electronically to specialists in other locations.

AIP is proud to honor Bob Street. He was presented his award by AIP Governing Board member Rudy Ludeke during the prize ceremony at the AVS International Symposium & Exhibition on Wednesday, November 11, in San Jose, CA. By drawing attention to Bob Street’s contributions, AIP promotes the awareness of physics applications to human welfare, both to the public and to industrial, academic, and governmental leaders—helping them to recognize that investing in physics-based research has been and will continue to be a rewarding investment.



Publishing Matters

Physics of PlasmasPhysics of Plasmas charges up the APS-DPP meeting

In early November, plasma scientists from around the country convened in Atlanta at the 51st annual meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) of the American Physical Society. Physics of Plasmas staff continued their tradition of attending, and also ran a table where authors could discuss the journal submission process, the new features at the journal website, and recent improvements to the manuscript submission site, or simply pick up a Physics of Plasmas poster―hot off the press.

As an expression of appreciation to the community, Physics of Plasmas hosted a reception for its valued authors and reviewers. The journal’s editors and associate editors also took the opportunity to meet and discuss the progress of the journal, and consider how Physics of Plasmas could better serve the needs of the plasma physics community. AIP's executive director and CEO Fred Dylla and product manager Alison Waldron were on hand to discuss the new AIP products―AIP UniPHY and iResearch―as well as the soon-to-open AIP office in China. Visit the Physics of Plasmas website for the latest news and research highlights.

Physics of Plasmas editor Ronald Davidson and assistant editor Sandra Schmidt Physics of Plasmas editor Ronald Davidson and assistant editor Sandra Schmidt

Physics of Plasmas editor Ronald Davidson and assistant editor Sandra Schmidt discussed the journal with DPP meeting attendees.

Resident associate editor Stewart Zweben joined assistant editor Sandra Schmidt at the Physics of Plasmas reception―an annual event sponsored by the journal to celebrate the contributions of its author and reviewer community.
PRC Matters

Niels Bohr Library and Archives, a popular draw

Have you wondered who uses the Niels Bohr Library and Archives and what they do while here? Researchers who visited during the second half of November reflected the breadth and diversity of our users. Dr. Michael Eckert of the Deutsches Museum, Munich, spent several days reviewing Arnold Sommerfeld correspondence in the William Meggers papers; doctoral candidate Peter Susalla conducted dissertation research in the American Astronomical Society records and other sources; Professor Gino Segrè conducted background work for a book on George Gamow and Max Delbrück; and Lauren Shenkman, an APS intern, used the book collection to illustrate a Physics Buzz blog.

Michael Eckert

Michael Eckert reading a travel diary from the Meggers papers.

Add in other visitors and the e-mail requests for photographs and information and you get a good sampling of the rich mix of our users and uses. For example, photo researchers included a retired physics teacher in India looking for photos to illustrate Tamil-language books on physics Nobel laureates; a filmmaker searching for images of J. Robert Oppenheimer and others for a documentary on nuclear weapons; a staffer at McGraw-Hill researching pictures for a college textbook; and the art editor of Nature Nanotechnology seeking a photo of Richard Feynman for the December issue.

Another long-distance researcher, a reporter writing about the history of boxing in Lawrence, MA, requested material on boxer and career criminal Harvey Bistany, who corresponded with APS editor-in-chief Samuel Goudsmit to seek help in publishing an autobiography. At the same time we received inquiries from a historian at Roskilde University, Denmark, who plans to visit the library to use the Hermann Minkowski papers, and from a US Forest Service archaeologist who will come here to do research in the Meggers collection on the Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site in Kentucky.

Around AIP

What’s in your wallet?

Well, more importantly, what’s on your W-2? It’s time to verify your vital information for your 2009 W-2. Please check your address and any other personal information on your December 3 pay stub. It is vital that your employer have accurate information on file. If you find any incorrect information, please contact Human Resources. Also, log into the Employease Network to update your personal information such as home address, phone numbers, e-mail address, and beneficiaries. Check your pay stub through the "iPay – ADP" link under "Company Guide." By following these easy steps, you will know that your W-2 is correct and will be mailed to the correct address after the first of the year.

Who we are – Web-based Editorial Services

The Web-Based Editorial Services group (see the organizational chart, page 49) is responsible for managing AIP’s online manuscript submission and peer-review service, known as Peer X-Press or PXP. Available since 2002, PXP, which automates and streamlines the peer-review process, is used by authors, reviewers, and editors around the world. PXP is the first stop along a manuscript’s journey through AIP’s Publishing Services.

Under the direction of Stuart Wortzman, the Peer X-Press group has overall responsibility for the service, which includes launching new journals, providing first line customer support, developing and implementing custom software changes, working with the software vendor, and writing reports. The PXP group also works with the Publishing Technology and the Business Systems and Operations groups to manage the hardware and software that make up the PXP system. All of AIP’s journals, as well as 22 other journals belonging to AIP Member and Affiliated Societies, use PXP to process more than 45,000 submissions each year.

Peer XPress Team

Peer X-Press staff, from the left: Sindhya “Cynthia” Thomas, Brian Goss, Stuart Wortzman, Paul Dlugokencky, and Brian D. Widman.