APS News

In Brief

The APS New England Section held its annual fall meeting October 18-19 at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Two plenary sessions on biophysics featured lectures on optical tweezers and molecular motors in muscle, detecting the motion of living cells, and the separation of white from red blood cells in a microfabricated lattice. The session on nanostructures included talks on quantum-dot molecules and semiconductor nanocrystallites, while single-electron devices and a proposed Mott transition field effect transistor were the topics at the quantum devices plenary session. Friday evening's banquet featured a keynote address by Robert K. Adair of Yale University on the limits of the biological effects of electromagnetic fields.

The APS New York State Section held its annual fall meeting October 11-12 at Cornell University, featuring its 75th Topical Symposium on the subject of space science. These symposia are aimed at a general interest level and intended to be tutorial in nature for non-specialists. Thirteen lectures were given by leading researchers in space science, on such topics as: solar neutrinos, the existence of habitable extrasolar planets, results from NASA's Galileo mission to Jupiter, comets and asteroids, the complexities of massive star formation, an update on the LIGO experiment, the cosmic microwave background, and halo microlensing in galaxies. Friday evening's banquet featured a keynote address by renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, who gave his reflections on the field of astrophysics and space science in general.

The APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics unveiled its AMO Physics Handbook at its meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan in May. Published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and nearly four years in the making, the project was intended to provide the key ideas, techniques and results of AMO physics in a concise and authoritative manner, and in a style that is accessible to people new to the field and to workers in related fields such as engineering, chemistry and materials science, according to editor Gordon F. Drake, University of Windsor, Canada. The nearly 1,100 pages are organized into 88 chapters covering mathematical methods, atoms, molecules, scattering theory, scattering experiment, quantum optics, and applications, together with extensive references as a guide to the literature. There is also a CD-ROM version with full search capabilities. Copies may be ordered directly from the AIP Order Department, P.O. Box 20, Williston, VT 05495-0020, or by calling 1-800-809-2247; Fax: 1-800-864-7626. The cost is approximately $104.

Many physics postdocs do not consider themselves "underemployed," unless their appointments extend beyond three years, according to a new report from the American Institute of Physics Education and Employment Statistics Division. Within six months of graduation, 63 percent of all U.S. physics Ph.Ds in 1994 held postdoctoral appointments. Approximately 30 percent of fourth-year postdocs classified themselves as "underemployed"; the figure is less than 5 percent for first-year postdocs. (The 213 postdocs who responded to the AIP survey were left to define the term "underemployment" for themselves). But postdocs at all stages responded that their physics education is being put to good use: over 95 percent of first year postdocs and 80 percent of the fourth-year postdocs responded that they consider their current jobs "professionally challenging." For more information, and a free copy of the report, contact Raymond Chu of AIP, (301) 209-3069.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin