AIP | Matters
-- -- July 22, 2013

Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

What we hear from Bose

On Friday, July 12, the world lost Amar G. Bose, but we will be hearing his contributions for many years to come. Professor Bose had a remarkable 45-year teaching career at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, where he undoubtedly influenced the careers of hundreds of students who took his courses or admired his contributions to acoustics, electronics, and business. Beyond the MIT community, Bose is a familiar and admired brand name, reflecting the name of the company he founded and led through its entire history. The Bose Corporation improved the way we hear music, from the solitude of an individual headphone shutting out background sounds, to mimicking near-concert-hall acoustics in your home, to a crisp broadcast of the town bandstand.

I was fortunate to be a student at MIT starting in the mid-1960s when Professor Bose was just analyzing how we hear and appreciate music in the concert hall. He found that our ear and auditory senses process a complex mixture of sound coming directly from the source and reflecting from nearby surfaces.

Amar Bose

Amar G. Bose, 1929-2013. Image courtesy of Bose Corporation.

From this discovery came the first Bose product—the 901 speaker system that used an array of small and relatively inexpensive speakers, arranged to both beam sound directly at the listener and reflect sound from the walls of the listening environment. The Bose Corporation grew to a billion-dollar class enterprise that has sustained a globally trusted brand for sound systems of all sizes. Indeed, they are expensive, but Bose products lead the market in performance and quality. I still own and use every Bose product I ever bought.

In the interest of full disclosure, I confess that I didn't exactly buy my first Bose product. As an undergraduate at MIT, I started a modest science project in my sophomore year that three years later turned into my Master's thesis. The project involved very sensitive acoustic measurements that had to be done in a special room surrounded on all sides by meter-long sound-deadening cones. Such "anechoic chambers" are needed for accurate measurements of microphone and speaker performance. Given the need for this special facility by Bose and the other well-known acoustics researchers at MIT, my use of the chamber was delegated to the proverbial graveyard shift. Despite being largely isolated during these overnight hours, I got to know a number of MIT students who produced reasonable sketches of their own version of the famous 901 speakers with the intent to construct one. With the help of the local electronics parts shops and the MIT woodshop, a few enterprising students succeeded in building pretty good copies. (I imagine that the best of these copycats were hired by Bose for the real thing.)

According to Bose, his company has been able to maintain its strong market position by investing continuously in new product-related research and development. He believed that his company's level of R&D spending would not be possible if his corporation were publicly held, as such expenditures are subject to the whim of the daily review of the stock markets for short-term returns. One has to ask, is this an important lesson for corporate innovation? Certainly, not having to answer immediately to market pressures gives innovators with their own financial resources more freedom to invest in R&D as they see fit. On the other hand, the markets can substantially reward a company for its investments in product innovation, if subsequent earnings are real, positive, and sustained. Apple, in its second phase of leadership by Steve Jobs, is a well-known example. A common feature of both companies is their visionary leadership in product innovation and corporate management alike.

We remember Amar Bose for his visionary leadership as a scientist, teacher, inventor, and businessman. He touched many through his life's work—his students, the research and business communities, and all of us who enjoy listening to music in the way that it's meant to be heard.

Physics Resource Matters

AIP Publishing at SSP

AIP Publishing staff attended the 2013 Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA. SSP is a society that includes publishers, librarians, and service providers in the scholarly publishing community. More than 850—a record attendance—convened for this 35th annual meeting, which carried the theme, “Surviving (and Thriving!) in Our Multi-Access World: Navigating the New Publishing Paradigm.”

Evan Owens, CIO of AIP Publishing, spoke on the topic of NISO JATS (Journal Article Tag Suite) in an educational seminar on emerging standards, guidelines, and recommendations. The keynote was presented by Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media. Plenary sessions addressed Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), the international landscape of policy and research, and a panel presentation from SSP’s Scholarly Kitchen blogging team on the latest hot topics in scholarly publishing. Sessions covered a very wide range of publishing-related topics: remixing content, mobile apps, metrics, market research, metadata management, open access, responsive design, content discovery, product development for global markets, rights and permissions management, dynamic data, research metrics, accessibility, digital textbooks, mobile technologies, peer review, new business models, book content discovery, and HTML5 versus XML.

Physics Resource Matters

SPS recognizes inspiring physics outreach with Blake Lilly Prizes

Scene from e-expo

University of Louisville undergrad Austin Gornet explains the properties of magnets to guests at E--Expo with iron filings and a Gaussian gun.

The University of Louisville (UofL) SPS chapter has a long history of being active in the community when it comes to outreach activities. With a box load of physics toys, a display case of interactive demonstrations, and an outreach coordinator to organize volunteers, their chapter is ready whenever an opportunity arises. From campus preview days for graduating high school seniors to children just beginning their academic careers, UofL's SPS has something for people of all ages. As such, they are one of six schools recognized with a 2013 Blake Lilly Prize. These annual awards, established by the parents of the late Blake Lilly and given in his memory, recognize SPS chapters and individuals who make a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of schoolchildren and the general public about physics. The other 2013 recipients are Abilene Christian University, Central Washington University, Hartnell Community College, Rhodes College, and the College of Wooster.

Inside Science's popular draw

Graphic form intelliegence story on ISNS

An Inside Science News Service story, Physicist Proposes New Way to Think About Intelligence, written by staff member Chris Gorski, is the highest-viewed story on the Inside Science website in the year to date, with over 200,000 views. Covering an article in Physical Review Letters, the story garnered over 3,600 Facebook likes, 693 tweets, and 850 Google Plus mentions to date, as well as 89 comments on the Inside Science website.

Coming Up

July 20-24

  • ACA Annual Meeting (Honolulu, HI)

July 23

  • Quarterly Ice Cream Social (Melville, NY)

July 26

  • Learning together: Business article review (Melville, NY)

July 29-30

  • MMM Conference (College Park, MD)

July 30

  • Melville staff: 2013 Marcum Workplace Challenge (Jones Beach, NY)

August 4-8

  • AAPM 2013 Annual Meeting (Indianapolis, IA)

August 6

  • SPS Interns Closing Program (College Park, MD)

August 7

  • ACP brown bag lunch lecture. “LANL’s 70th Anniversary—Looking Back, Looking Forward,” given by Charlie McMillan, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory (College Park, MD)