APS News

AIP Offers New Web Site for History of Physics and Astronomy

A site featuring the history of physics and allied sciences is now available on the Internet's World Wide Web, mounted by the AIP Center for History of Physics. The address (URL) is http://www.aip.org/history.

Use of the Web was originated by physicists but is spreading explosively among the general population. The most eager users are young people with an interest in technology and the future -- exactly the sort of people who should be exposed to the real story of science as a human enterprise, according to Spencer Weart, the Center's director. "The Web is an outstanding new way to advance public understanding of the physical sciences and their relationship to society, and the AIP Center has moved aggressively to take advantage of the opportunity," he said.

Users entering the site will find a number of options:

  • Pages about the Center for History of Physics with information on the programs and services, for example grants-in-aid and advice on oral history interviewing.
  • Information on the Niels Bohr Library, including general descriptions of the holdings, a sample of finding aids to archival materials and abstracts of oral history interviews in the Library's collections, and information on how to get access to the materials (in person, mail or email).
  • An introduction to the Emilio Segre Visual Archives, including a sample of photographs -- some of them enlivened with quotes or vignettes -- and forms that can be submitted to request copies of pictures.
  • A variety of Web links to other sites useful to anyone interested in the history of physics and allied sciences such as astronomy, geophysics and optics. There are sites for societies, organizations, exhibits, institutional histories, and so forth.
  • Pages for the Friends of the Center for History of Physics, including plaques honoring past donors, and information on programs such as the donation of bookplates to honor or memorialize colleagues.
  • The AIP History of Physics Newsletter with information on current work, bibliography of books and articles, reports of new archival deposits in the field, photographs, etc.
  • A featured Web exhibit: "Einstein: Image and Impact," using photographs, quotes, and text to present highlights of Albert Einstein's life. By the end of the year this will be expanded to a major site including over 80 photographs and 70,000 words of text.

Besides expanding the Einstein exhibit, during the coming year Center staff will mount a number of additional finding aids to collections and hundreds of additional photographs from the Visual Archives. Under development is a major search engine to support on-line access to abstracts of all the Library's archival holdings (published in the 1994 Guide to the Archival Collections in the Niels Bohr Library, but including more recent accessions), the Library's catalog of books, and -- not least -- the entire International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences.


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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin