APS News

In Brief

At its November meeting, the APS Executive Board agreed to let the Society's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Chinese Physical Society (CPS) lapse. The agreement was originally intended to promote broader collaboration between the two scientific communities. The conclusion was that such a document is no longer needed. The original agreement, signed in October 1994, contained a stipultation that its provisions be reviewed after two years to give both societies an opportunity to evaluate the need for a formal agreement or to determine if any of its conditions should be modified. The document's goals were four-fold: (1) to broaden interactions via the Internet; (2) to provide for ongoing contact between selected research groups with advanced workshops; (3) to develop a mutually satisfactory mechanism to ensure CPS members access to the Physical Review; and (4) to affirm that the rights of authorship will be respected.

In a letter to CPS President Chia-erh Chen, 1996 APS President Robert Schrieffer (Florida State University) praised the vigor and quality of Chinese science, evidenced by the numerous international conferences hosted by the CPS, and the healthy representation of Chinese students and scientists in U.S. universities and laboratories. However, he noted that few Chinese institutional libraries have enrolled in the APS Library Outreach Program, funding difficulties on the part of the APS have delayed plans for a follow-up workshop to a successful Nanking workshop in April 1996, and the telecommunications program has not met with much success due to its members' busy schedules. He also reiterated the APS Council's ongoing concerns about human rights violations in China. Schrieffer and 1997 APS President D. Allan Bromley (Yale University) each plan to meet with the CPS leadership this February in Beijing to discuss future collaborative efforts.

The APS Texas Section held its annual fall meeting October 10-12 at the University of Texas at Arlington, in conjunction with the Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers and Zone 13 of the Society of Physics Students. Following opening remarks by university president Robert Witt, Friday morning's plenary session featured talks on the origins and applications of slow neutron spectroscopy, and on supramolecular spectra and sonoluminescence. Friday afternoon featured a special session on collaborations between universities and industry, with an invited lecture by APS Associate Executive Officer Barrett Ripin. Following the banquet on Friday evening, Geoffrey March of San Francisco State University gave a lecture on the recent discovery of planets orbiting solar-like stars. Recent advances in Bose-Einstein condensation were presented during Saturday morning's plenary session, while Saturday afternoon's session focused on the recent creation by NIST researchers of a state analogous to that of Erwin Schrodinger's famous cat, first postulated in 1935.

The 1996 Gian Carlo Wick Commemorative Medal was awarded to Sidney Drell, professor of physics at Stanford University and deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The award is from the World Federation of Scientists and a formal ceremony took place at the World Laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland on November 22. Drell is honored for his "outstanding contributions to particle physics and for his unceasing efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons." He expressed his pleasure that the award notes his achievements in physics as well as world peace, remarking, "We can derive genuine satisfaction from recent progress with the overwhelming approval of a true comprehensive test ban treaty at the United Nations General Assembly just two months ago."

Drell, who was APS President in 1986, served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and has been a consultant to the National Security Council, the Arms Control Board, and has served as chair of the JASON study on nuclear testing. Wick, for whom the award is named, conducted research on atomic theory and taught at several universities: Carnegie Tech, UC Berkeley, and Columbia. Wick was fired from Berkeley in 1950 for refusing to sign a loyalty oath that had been imposed on the faculty, an oath that was later found to be unconstitutional. Past recipients of the award are physicists Freeman Dyson (Institute for Advanced Studies); Victor Weisskopf (MIT), and Yoichiro Nambu (University of Chicago). In his remarks accepting the award, Drell stated that Wick's "elegant studies have provided the language fundamental to essentially all subsequent theoretical work in quantum field theory and scattering processes."

The National Science Foundation (NSF) continues to move toward electronic communication for proposal submission, processing and review through a service called FASTLANE. FASTLANE already provides information about awards with the Atomic and Molecular and Optical (AMO) physics program, as well as general information about the status of a proposal or award. Since November, the theoretical and experimental AMO programs have been using FASTLANE as an option for submitting mail reviews, a first step in what is intended to become full utilization of electronic communication in the agency's AMO programs. Further information can be found online at http://www.nsf.gov.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin