H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

We’ll hear a lot in this presidential inaugural week about new beginnings. The new president’s science statements and science-related appointments have been exciting, so in science we have high expectations for the coming years.

It’s probably wise to dampen those expectations a bit. But let’s not do that just yet. Instead, let’s look back to consider the vision of Vannevar Bush, a scientific advisor during the Roosevelt Administration.  It’s a good original example of the basic vision that we share concerning science in American life, including some well-established principles.

Vannevar Bush
Vannevar Bush, ca. 1940-44. This portrait is credited to "OEM Defense", the U.S. Office for Emergency Management during World War II. 

Vannevar Bush was a Ph.D. engineer from MIT who coordinated U.S. scientific research during World War II as director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. He’s often remembered for his imaginative outlining of how we could manipulate, share, and capitalize on human knowledge if only we had enormously better information technology. In fact, you can still read his article, “As We May Think,” that appeared in The Atlantic magazine in 1945. Decades later, like-minded researchers demonstrated V. Bush’s prescience by inventing first the Internet and then, at CERN, the World Wide Web. By then they had the benefit of physics-derived technological advances, such as microelectronics, high-density storage, and optoelectronics.

But V. Bush is remembered even more, of course, for how we go about achieving scientific and technological advances generally. At the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he produced a report, “Science: The Endless Frontier,” which became important for the subsequent development of U.S. science.  A few excerpts reveal that many of the seemingly new prospects for U.S. science actually go back nearly two-thirds of a century:

Scientific progress is one essential key to our security as a nation, to our better health, to more jobs, to a higher standard of living, and to our cultural progress.

Progress in the war against disease depends upon a flow of new scientific knowledge. New products, new industries, and more jobs require continuous additions to knowledge of the laws of nature, and the application of that knowledge to practical purposes. . . . This essential, new knowledge can be obtained only through basic scientific research.”

 …Most research in industry and Government involves application of existing scientific knowledge to practical problems. It is only the colleges, universities, and a few research institutes that devote most of their research efforts to expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

These principles of national scientific advancement have been discussed a lot lately as reported in last week’s FYI #3. That FYI also quoted Barack Obama’s recent speech at George Mason University, in which he called for “investing in the science, research, and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries.”

This science-focused vision is exciting, and it’s also well-established and proven.


Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

Hong Kong kickoff
In early January, the bustling port city of Hong Kong was the site of the first annual Conference on Advances in Microfluidics and Nanofluidics—an interdisciplinary conference focused on research activities in the Pacific Rim.  AIP’s international research journal Biomicrofluidics proudly served as the affiliated journal for this inaugural conference, hosted by the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.  During the conference, editor Hseuh-Chia Chang of the University of Notre Dame, who presented the conference’s opening remarks, convened a well-attended meeting of the journal’s editorial board, at which the board discussed future directions for this growing journal. 

Julie Zhu at the Biomicrofluidics booth

Journal publisher Mark Cassar and Julie Zhu of Online Services Development represented AIP and enjoyed interacting with the conference attendees, presenters, and board members.  Planning has begun for the second annual conference, to continue to promote closer networks and collaborative ties among researchers in this interdisciplinary subject area.  Keep in touch with Biomicrofluidics at the journal’s blog, The Flow.

2008’s “Top Ten” in science news
Seeing a flash of light from seven billion light years away, superconducting with iron and arsenic, and deploying the world’s largest particle accelerator are among the big physics stories of 2008. For the past several years, science writers at AIP and the American Physical Society have published their picks for the most significant scientific advancements of the year, and 2008 does not disappoint.

Photo from the CERN multimedia gallery

The top ten list is produced by Phil Schewe of AIP Media and Government Relations and has been a big hit with science writers, garnering coverage in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, and other media outlets. Making the top ten has also helped some physicists achieve well-deserved recognition. Due to the growing popularity of the list, we are looking for ways to more formally honor the prominent researchers and teams behind the science.

Physics Today works to maintain advertising niche
For two years now, Physics Today production specialist Ken Pagliuca has been sending packets of candy, coffee, and biscotti to his top 50 display advertisers several times each year. Each client represents thousands of dollars in annual business, so he wants to maintain a personal relationship with every one to stave off the large declines inprint classified advertising occurring throughout the rest of the publishing industry. After the first year, display classified revenue for Physics Today increased by $60,000 from the previous year.

Recently, Ken sent a clock/photo cube to those top advertisers and encouraged them to guess which of the two photos inserted was of Ken. Out of the 20 people who responded, only five guessed correctly, probably because they didn’t expect to see someone named Pagliuca wearing a Scottish kilt (see photo).

Who we are – Treasurer’s Office
The Treasurer’s Office is responsible for the financial affairs of AIP, including cash and investment management, financial reporting, budgeting, and risk management.  Richard Baccante, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, is also the staff liaison to the Audit, Investment Advisory, and Governance Committees of the Governing Board.

Oversight and management of the Accounting, Business Systems and Operations, and Facilities Services in both College Park and Melville are also within the purview of the treasurer.  Check page 34 of the org chart to see what roles the people featured below play at AIP.

Gigi Swartz, Richard Baccante, Brenda Jones and Debbie Dillon

Deborah Frost, Wendy Marriott, Thea Cohen

MD Maintenance crew: Victor Garrett, Elsa Morales, Paulino Ramos (employees of Tishman Speyer) NY Maintenance crew:  Peter O’Hara, Philip Caccioppoli

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.