March 3, 2003

Washington, DC

Present: Ahearne, Berry, Bienenstock, Block, Cahn, Clark, Marvin Cohen, Eisenberger, Evenson, Fetter, Levi, Plapp, Primack, Sarachik, Shotts, Stephan, Tsang, Zinck

Absent: Morrel Cohen, Cox, Goldman, Quinn, Richter, Schuller, von Hippel

APS Staff: Franz, Lubell, Park, Slakey, Victoria


  • September 21, 2003

Ahearne called the meeting to order at 8:00 AM. The minutes for the January 12, 2003 meeting were approved.

Washington Update: Lubell updated the committee on the FY03 and FY04 budget appropriations. The budget for FY03 was finally enacted in January. NSF and NIH were well funded. The Defense Department 6.1 and 6.2 were treated reasonably well earlier in the appropriations process. NASA budget remains unknown after the shuttle accident. The DOE budget was flat funded. The bottom line, Lubell said, is that the 2003 budget could have been worse.

FY04 presidential request was based on FY03 request levels, with a substantial increase for science. However, Congress had passed a more generous allocation for FY03, so what appeared to be a 10% increase for FY04, was actually only a 1% increase.

The House recently took the first step in the budgetary process and passed a budget resolution. The budget is not done by agency but by function. Science (Function 250) does not cover NIH, NIST, or other number of agencies. It does cover NASA, NSF, DOE Office of Science, and Homeland Security Science and Technology programs. The House allocated $22.8 billion for that function, of which $5.5 billion goes to NSF; $14.5 billion to NASA and $2.8 billion to the DOE Office of Science and the Office of Homeland Security. The presidential request for DHS-ST is $273 million, which leaves the DOE Office of Science 20% below FY03 numbers.

The Senate also passed its budget resolution with $800 million more for Function 250 than the House. In conference, though, that amount will likely come down to $400 million, which will leave the Office of Science with a 10% cut.

Visas Statement: Sarachik went over the suggested changes to the APS statement on Visas. She and the Executive Board met with Jack Marburger, Ray Orbach and Norman Neureiter, who suggested that an official APS statement would be very helpful.

Members discussed the statement, with some objections to the wording; more specific language was suggested. It was also suggested that the statement should include recommendations on foreign students traveling in and out of the U.S. Lubell said that the likelihood of anything happening on this issue is remote, and that a statement cannot be very specific if it is meant to have a lasting effect. It was also proposed that background information be added to the statement to substantiate the urgency in finding a solution to the problem . The committee stressed the importance for the science community to participate on visa procedures and rules. Bienenstock, Levi, and Eisenberger worked on the statement during lunch break, to incorporate members? input.

In the afternoon, after new discussions on the wording, the statement was approved unanimously.

Restrictions of publications of ?sensitive? material and possible update of statement 83.2: It was later decided that Tsang, assisted by Block and Stephan, will report on the issue of classified and unclassified material at the September meeting.

Statement on nuclear testing: The committee discussed the wording on the nuclear testing statement. After minor editing, the statement was approved unanimously.

Fuel cell report: Evenson discussed the hydrogen fuel cell report (distributed at meeting). He clarified that it is not a report supporting fuel cells as a policy for the future, but a discussion report. Primack proposed a statement denouncing the Administration?s current fuel cell policy.

Action: Members will send comments to Evenson. Evenson and Davis will revised the report and place the corrected version on the web.

Energy and Environment Subcommittee work: Eisenberger discussed the subcommittee?s agenda. He said that the subcommittee should focus on policy issues and pay attention to the energy conservation issue. He listed the following possibilities:

  • greenhouse gases
  • renewables
  • conservation
  • photovoltaics
  • nuclear power
  • efficient use of energy
  • scenario analysis

Slakey suggested working on one or two issues picked from a list of possible legislative topics:

  • renewables budget-- Washington Office could work with the renewables caucus on the Hill. Every year the Caucus makes recommendations to appropriators on what the allocations should be;
  • greenhouse gases-- work on the language on the current reauthorization of the Global Change Research program;

Action: The subcommittee will take recommendations into consideration and work on an agenda, and on a policy statement on hydrogen fuel cells.

Report on PPC: Tsang reported that PPC, along with Washington Office, is working intensively on a statement on the visa issue. He said that PPC is also concerned with the budget for DOE Office of Science.

Revised version of Physics for Everybody statement: Evenson shared with the committee a memo from Robert Clark, chair of APS Committee on Education, in which Clark suggested the addition of one sentence to emphasize the fact that students are more likely to study physics if the subject is incorporated early in high schools? curriculum. Primack voiced concerned with the lack of data supporting this claim. Franz said that more schools are implementing Physics First, and data should then follow.

Block proposed to reject the addendum requested by the Committee on Education, and to change the wording to reflect support for all science, not specifically for physics.

Ahearne asked Evenson to revise the statement so the committee could vote after lunch.

The revised statement was approved after extensive discussion.

Physics and the Public Subcommittee: Evenson discussed the subcommittee?s agenda. He said that, in the past, the agenda included advancing the general public?s appreciation of physics. Also, the subcommittee kept informed about physics policies in areas such as energy, arms control, or pseudoscience. Evenson would like to develop a more focused agenda, exploring ways to work with science journalists to update their background in science, and trying to make connections with science journalism schools and the National Association of Science Writers.

POPA members commented on the ways they contribute to the public knowledge of physics through their teaching.

Review of Actions on Ethics Statements: The APS Council passed the revised version of the statement 91.8, as well as the statements on research misconduct and education.

Bienenstock reported on the session on ethics during the March meeting. The speakers were P. Hohenberg, G. Trilling, M. Beasley, and Bienenstock himself. They were followed by audience discussion.

Hohenberg emphasized the early role of Health and Human Services in responding to research misconduct. He also discussed the role of the Office of Research Integrity. Bienenstock reviewed actions taken by APS on research misconduct. Trilling and Beasley summarized the Berkeley and Lucent experiences on the subject. Bienenstock was surprised that there was little discussion on developing programs to educate scientists on the subject of research ethics.

Sarachik added that, although education had not been adequately addressed, there were other important issues raised, such as improper referencing or relations between thesis advisors and students, and POPA will have to deal with these issues eventually. A discussion on the issue of co-authorship followed.

An APS Council task force on ethics will present a report at the September meeting.

Revised Perpetual Motion Statement: The statement was revised to clearly reflect what kind of energy the statement should refer to and to emphasize the fallacy of free energy. This was approved

Old and New Business

Levi shared with the committee a letter from Andrew Sessler on the importance of funding future APS studies and the role POPA should have in this process.

Ahearne said that G. Trilling has suggested an update of the APS statement on NMD, now that the Administration has voiced its intention to initiate a missile defense system even before tests are completed. Slakey said that it was premature since the system hasn?t been deployed, although the Administration says they will have a system in place by 2004. Congress has been debating over restrictions, and some senators will continue to argue against deployment.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 PM.