AIP | Matters
-- -- October 15, 2012

Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

The famous and infamous Nobel

Scientists love the first full week of October. Those among us in the Western Hemisphere wake to the news of the Nobel Prize announcements for medicine/physiology, physics, and chemistry, which hail from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet. At AIP, our attention is principally focused on the physics prize, and we pride ourselves on our weeks of preparation before the announcement that enable us to quickly dispense to the world’s news agencies essential information about the newly named laureate(s) and their prize-winning research. The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics was given to two remarkable physicists: David Wineland of NIST in Boulder, Colorado, and Serge Haroche from the Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Perhaps not so surprising, Wineland is a fellow of The Optical Society, and both prominent scientists are fellows of the American Physical Society.

David Wineland and Serge Haroche

These gentlemen are being rewarded for remarkably inventive achievements that span many years of their respective careers, with significant collaborations with their colleagues and students. The days of the “lone inventor” in frontier science are long gone. Both scientists are recognized for their experiments that explore the quantum world through the manipulation of individual quanta of light, single atoms, and ions. Their studies built on our century of understanding of the theory of quantum mechanics, and reconfirmed our understanding through their design and execution of very elegant experiments. Within the usual march of science, their discoveries have led to new technologies, including the development of the most accurate atomic clock in the world. Atomic clocks get us from place to place with GPS, enable cell phone communication, and even keep electronic power grids running because they are synchronized with accurate time. These breakthroughs in quantum physics may also one day be at the heart of quantum computers. Such computers will take years to be practical but point the way to much faster and more complex calculations than can be done with our current generation of computers.

AIP’s press release and supporting resources were distributed just as the workday started on the East Coast. By perusing the resources, you will find more details on Wineland’s and Haroche’s work, biographies, photos, and reference lists to their most significant publications, many of which have been published by APS, OSA, and AIP. It is not always easy to generate excitement among the public about physics or the work that physicists do. We therefore make the most out of every opportunity to educate and inform! The Nobel Prize announcements command global attention, so in order to get accurate information out quickly, our communications crew is up and working well before dawn. Preparation, however, begins weeks before. Our science writers compile a private list of some likely winning discoveries and awardees. This list is almost as closely guarded as the Karolinska Institutet list…I have toyed with the idea of establishing a new revenue line in AIP with a “top 10” betting pool, but I am compelled to exhibit proper decorum for such an august prize. For our best guesses, we flesh out lay-language descriptions of the work, line up biographical information (often stored in AIP’s Niels Bohr Library and Archives), identify key references in the scholarly literature, and strategize how to reach our most important stakeholders. This homework pays off with the press using these materials as background, for links to experts, and sources of direct quotes, including Popular Science and Kurzweil news. Also worth reading is Physics Today’s story about this year’s physics prize.

AIP offers supporting resources for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry as well, but to a lesser degree depending on how the year’s award relates to our discipline. Inside Science has produced three scholarly and engaging stories, covering each of the science Nobel announcements, and has been cited by the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, known for excellence in reporting.

The Nobel announcements afford the opportunity to relay significant science stories based on remarkable discoveries and inventions that can change how we live. The science that has enabled X-ray medicine, the genetic code, the transistor and the laser—just to name a few—are all now part of the Nobel legacy.

Most of the AIP Nobel Prize communications crew. From the left, Christine Greeley, Jennifer Chiacchiaro, David Baker, Angela Donnelly, Deborah Frost, Melissa Patterson, Ben Stein, Jenny Lee, Charles Blue, Catherine Meyers, Chris Gorski, Ada Uzoma, Chris Nicollini, and Liz Dart Caron. Missing are Bill Burke, Bridget D'Amelio, Charles Day, Lindsey Gumb and Mary Griffin.
Publishing Matters

AIP Publishing strengthens Chinese connections

Building on successful visits from the past three years, AIP Publishing again made an appearance at the annual meeting of the Chinese Physical Society (CPS), held September 20–23, 2012, in Guangzhou, China. The meeting is the largest gathering of physicists inside China. AIP staff handed out flyers and interacted with scientists and students at two booths located in the conference venue. At the AIP Afternoon event on September 21, Biomicrofluidics Editor Leslie Yeo and AIP Advances Editor A. T. Charlie Johnson spoke about their own research. Johnson also addressed how to publish in AIP Advances. Rounding out the scientific talks was Chinese physicist Yu Lu, who presented on emergent phenomena in condensed matter physics.

AIP Publishing in China

That evening AIP sponsored a movie screening and raffle that attracted nearly 500 students. In a talk on September 22, Publisher Mark Cassar guided audience members through AIP's general publishing process. Following the CPS conference, AIP representatives took to the road to meet and share information with researchers at institutions around China, including Peking University and the South China University of Technology.

Physics Resources Matters

Preserving the history of AGU

The Niels Bohr Library and Archives (NBL&A) has completed processing, organizing, and describing the historical records of the American Geophysical Union. The collection documents begin with AGU's founding in 1919 through 2008, with the majority of the records created by the office of A. Frederick Spilhaus during his term as executive director from 1970 to 2009. Topics covered in the collection include research trends in geophysics, publishing matters, AGU membership, administration and governance, and the founding and incorporation of AGU. In addition to the paper records, AGU donated many books to the library and added over 600 photographs to our online visual catalog. Senior Archivist Melanie Mueller led the accessioning project, with assistance from Archives Assistant Chloe Raub. Materials can be searched through the online finding aid, which includes a detailed description of the scope of the collection, a summary of the history of AGU, and a folder-level inventory of the contents of the entire collection.

Preserving the history of AGU

From the left: AGU records arrive/Melanie Mueller and Chloe Raub sort and organize the records/Archives preserved in the temperature- and humidity controlled archives.

The AGU records are an exciting complement to NBL&A's existing documentation of geophysics, which includes the records of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, History of Geophysics Surveys, as well as oral history interviews and archival collections for more than 330 geophysicists described in our online catalog, the International Catalog of Sources.

Around AIP

Open enrollment

Every fall AIP holds its annual open enrollment meetings to announce its benefit plan offerings for the upcoming year. All staff members are strongly encouraged to attend these meetings (Melville—October 18; College Park—October 19) to learn about the 2013 plans and ask any questions that they may have. If you are unable to attend the meetings or have additional questions, feel free to meet with a representative of the Human Resources department.

Coming Up

October 14–18

  • OSA 96th Annual Meeting (FiO) (Rochester, NY)

Tuesday, October 16

  • Ice cream social to recognize “Wow” program monthly winners (Melville)

Thursday, October 18

  • ACP flu shot clinic (College Park)
  • Open enrollment meetings, 10 am and 1:30 pm (Melville)

Friday, October 19

  • Open enrollment meetings, 9:30 and 11:00 am (College Park)

October 21–22

  • AIP Journal Editors Conference (College Park)

October 22–26

  • ASA 164th Meeting (Kansas City, MO)

Tuesday, October 23

  • ACP Art Reception

October 28–November 2

  • 59th AVS International Symposium & Exhibit (Tampa, FL)

Monday, October 29

  • Brown-bag lunch talk by Rachel Ivie, associate director of the AIP Statistical Research Center, “The Effects of Limited Resources and Opportunities on Women’s Careers in Physics: Results from the Global Survey of Physicists.” (College Park)