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-- -- October 10, 2011
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Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director

A "Nobel" Week

Each year leading up to the first Tuesday in October the worldwide physics community eagerly awaits the announcement from Stockholm, naming the winner(s) of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Closely following is the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, named the next day. The Nobel Prize is the most prominent, and perhaps the most coveted honor that can be awarded to a scientist, granted only to those whose discoveries have substantially changed or contributed to our knowledge of science and have charted entirely new directions for study.

This year was particularly exciting for the AIP community because the seminal works for both prizes were reported through AIP Member Societies. For the physics prize, the

Saul Perlmutter, Adam Riess, and Brian Schmidt share the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe, which has been attributed to the forces of dark energy. the winners (pictured here) announced their discovery at a 1998 meeting of the American Astronomical Society and published their key findings in the AAS journals (Astronomical Journal and the Astrophysical Journal). For the chemistry prize, laureate Daniel Shechtman revealed to the world the existence of quasicrystals in the American Physical Society's journal Physical Review Letters in 1984.

AIP takes our role in the announcement of these prizes very seriously—especially the physics prize. We are in the business of promoting physics to the community at large and use this opportunity to educate the public and to generate excitement and appreciation for science. Our team of researchers and writers set to work weeks before the announcement to prepare a cache of resources on each of those we had guessed to be "top contenders" for the physics prize, to share with the community on broadcast day. The morning of October 4 started at 5 a.m. for many members of our promotion team, to receive the news and get the science out far and wide.

The Media Services team sent a message to reporters last month, informing them that AIP would be available to field questions about the prize after the announcement. When a phone call came in from the Associated Press (AP) within 30 minutes of the announcement, we were prepared with plenty of background material. We were also fortunate to be able to refer reporters to astrophysicist Michael Turner, APS vice president, who has worked closely with laureate Adam Riess, and to Kevin Marvel, AAS executive officer.

Charles Blue discusses the science behind the physics prize.Meanwhile, AIP staff in Melville (a team of staff from the Editorial Development, Publishing Operations, and Online Services) and in College Park (from News and Media Services, the History Center and Library, Web Management, visiting staff from the Publisher's Office, Physics Today, and SPS), and even a publishing staff member in the Czech Republic were tweeting, drafting press releases, and compiling a list of articles in AIP journals related to the new laureates' work. To celebrate their achievement and to help promote further research, we have made every AIP-published work of Perlmutter, Riess, and Schmidt freely available through our website. The AAS has done the same. For a solid understanding of the science behind the award, read the articles in Physics Today and Inside Science News Service, and watch the brief video clip by Charles Blue, manager of Media Services. The entire collection of AIP resources for the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics can be found on the AIP website.

Physics Resources Matters

Acknowledging the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The week's excitement continued with the announcement of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry at 5:52 am (EDT) on Wednesday morning. The Nobel Committee awarded the prize for chemistry to Daniel Shechtman of Technion University in Israel for his discovery of a unique form of matter called quasicrystals.

Image: Electron micrographs 
of 3D photonic quasicrystals. From A. Ledermann et al., AIP Conf. Proc. 959, 97 (2007) Our community often focuses its attention on the physics prize announced the previous day, yet there is significant overlap with chemistry, and advances in chemistry directly influence research directions for the physical sciences. So for the second day in a row, the team was poised and ready before the crack of dawn for round #2. You can learn more about the research through the Inside Science News Service story and the AIP news release. For the full list of resources, including a listing of the AIP-published journal articles and related stories in Physics Today we have made freely available, visit the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry resources on the AIP website. APS has also made Shechtman's key paper in which the discovery was announced, "Metallic phase with long-range orientational order and no translational symmetry," available to the public free of charge. Additional papers related to this discovery are also available on the AVS website.

Adriana Acosta joins AIP

Adriana Acosta Last week AIP welcomed Adriana Acosta to the Publishing Center's leadership team. As chief marketing and sales officer, Acosta will carry out AIP Publishing's commercial strategy worldwide and develop effective channel strategies for each market segment and product type. Her broad experience in international sales and customer service in the science, technology, and math (STM) publishing industry will support AIP's efforts to expand its connections with those who can benefit from AIP published content. Acosta comes to AIP from the Economist Intelligence Unit, where she directed the sales operation for the Americas. Prior to that, Acosta held various leadership positions with Elsevier, where she developed cohesive sales and marketing strategies for a host of products valued by the scholarly publishing community. Acosta remarks, "I am very excited about this new role. We have tremendous opportunities to create value for our customers in the academic, government, corporate, and professional communities. My priority will be to continue to build our business vision and understanding of our customers' needs."
Physics Resources Matters

The 2011 SPS Council meeting: Connecting worlds and cosmic cafés

governing body The SPS National Council, governing body for both the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and Sigma Pi Sigma (ΣΠΣ), the physics honor society, convened for its annual meeting in the Washington, DC, area September 22 – 24. The Council is made up of a student representative and a faculty representative from each of SPS's 18 zones, along with the SPS Executive Committee.

Much of the first day of business focused on a continuing partnership between SPS and NOVA to host a series of "Cosmic Cafés" in conjunction with the release of NOVA's documentary "The Fabric of the Cosmos" later this fall. Following up on the summer work of SPS intern Anish Chakrabarti, NOVA/WGBH staff members Rachel Connolly and Graham Veth led a training workshop during which Council members received guidance on hosting cosmic cafés in their communities and recruiting other SPS chapters to do the same. The council also participated in its own cosmic café at Kora, a restaurant in Arlington, VA, with guest speaker Ed Gillaspy from NIST, who spoke on his work in quantum precision measurements. "The Fabric of the Cosmos" premieres on four consecutive Wednesday nights in November 2011 at 9:00 pm ET/PT on PBS: "What is Space?" (Nov. 2); "The Illusion of Time" (Nov. 9); "Quantum Leap" (Nov. 16); and "Universe or Multiverse?" (Nov. 23).

Associate zone councilors Caitlin Heath (left) and Amanda Steck (right) demonstrate the properties of lasers during the SPS Council outreach event at Spark!Lab. Another major focus was continuing preparations for the next Quadrennial Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma, being held in Orlando, FL, in November 2012. The Council adopted the Congress theme "Connecting Worlds" as the 2012 theme for the Society of Physics Students (SPS) as well, customizing it for SPS with the tagline "Physics for All: Science Without Borders."

SPS associate zone councilors elected Peter Nguyen (University of Florida, Gainesville) as the student representative to the Executive Committee. Council members also participated in an outreach event at the Smithsonian Institution's Spark!Lab facility.

Coming Up

Sunday, October 9

Monday – Friday, October 10–14

  • Scholastic ACP Childcare Center hosts Scholastic Book Fair, 12 – 1 pm daily in conference room A (College Park, MD). The fair will feature specially priced books and educational products, including newly released works, award-winning titles, children's classics, interactive software, and current bestsellers from more than 150 publishers for infants, toddlers, and pre-K up to 8th graders. You may also participate in the online book fair which runs through Friday, October 21. The center will receive free books based on sales from its book fair.

Wednesday – Sunday, October 12–16

  • Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurt, Germany)
    AIP will exhibit at this important event for the international publishing community.

Thursday, October 13

  • Flu shot clinics for staff at both AIP locations (College Park, MD, and Melville, NY)