Graph on Journal Growth Was Misleading

The lead article in the May 1995 issue of APS NEWS included a chart depicting the growth of Physical Review and Physical Review Letters. A quick glance at the graph without carefully reading the numbers on the y-axis would give an incorrect message. Visually, the papers submitted by non-U.S. authors appear to have increased over 800 percent in the time period shown. The U.S.-authored papers show a modest increase of about 10-20 percent over the same time period.

However, when the actual values on the y-axis are read, the appropriate percentage increases are closer to 75 percent and 5 percent, respectively. This kind of graphical exaggeration is what I have come to expect when my daily newspaper reports on the Dow-Jones average. Surely as scientists we should be more careful and precise than that.

Richard Bowman
Bridgewater College

APS Should Not Be a Forum for Partisan Name-Calling

With regard to the Back Page editorial by Dana Rohrabacher (APS NEWS, July 1995), I was appalled by what passes for discourse and debate these days. What I read was an attempt to pass off partisanship and name-calling as reasoned debate. I realize that this argumentum ad hominem style is sometimes effective in political campaigns and in Congress, but in an APS forum? Please!

A few points appeared legitimate and might have made a good debate had they been backed by sound arguments. However, there were so many flawed arguments and non-arguments that it would take a very long epistle indeed just to list them all. Here are a few points and counterpoints by way of example.

First, Rohrabacher's argument that some proposals are duplications, or do not have "an ounce of science in them," is legitimate in that the proposals are misplaced and their placement jeopardizes funding for true R&D projects. On the other hand, it is common practice in Congress to append unrelated projects to bills, which may be tolerable in circumstances where they are important but have no other avenue to be heard.

Second, Rohrabacher's suggestion of leaving commercialization and production to the marketplace sounds like a reasonable policy, except for the fact that the market does what is good for the market in the short term, and not necessarily what is good for the country in the long term. It is a legitimate role of government to educate the public and structure legislation to favor the development of technology which benefits society.

Finally, Rohrabacher says that long-term research should be terminated if "no scientist (will say)_ that we will reach the goal in less than 40 more years." That may be a reason to increase funding rather than decrease it. Furthermore, requiring a prediction of short-range success as a condition for funding may favor projects which have proponents with less integrity than others; besides, SDI has been richly funded without any non-vested scientist predicting short-range success.

Douglas Verrett
Texas Instruments, Inc.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Barrett H. Ripin

October 1995 (Volume 4, Number 9)

Table of Contents

APS News Archives

Contact APS News Editor

Articles in this Issue
Meeting To Rotate Sites
Inside the Beltway: Supporters Rally To Save NIST From Congressional Budget Ax
Dear Members of Congress
Accelerator Research and Applications Featured at PAC 1995
Physicist To Be Honored at ILS-XI
APS Names Bertsch as New Editor of RMP
Latest Developments in Computational Physics Showcased at PC 1995
In Brief
Physicists and the Eternal Struggle for Human Rights
House to Downsize the Solar System
APS Views
The Back Page