The APS New York State Section held its 76th topical symposium 11-12 April at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Focusing on lasers in science, the program featured 12 invited lectures on recent developments in novel lasers and a rich variety of scientific studies based on lasers. Friday morning's session covered new laser sources, such as x-ray free electron lasers, high power fiber lasers for communications systems, and the current status of blue-green and violet-UV semiconductor laser diodes. On Friday afternoon, the discussion turned to such laser- originating topics as quantum effects in laser cooling, nanofabrication and anti-viral testing, and subatomic microscopy and micromanipulation. The use of lasers in other areas of science was featured at Saturday morning's session, covering such topics as lasers in surface science, laser vision correction, laser chemistry, and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
The APS New England Section also held its spring meeting 11-12 April at the University of Maine in Orono, organized jointly with the New England zones of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Society of Physics Students. Friday afternoon's plenary session provided an overview of the area of tribology. While most physics courses treat friction simplistically, in a way that often does not correspond to reality, recent advances in theoretical and experimental methods have led to renewed interest in the fundamental aspects of friction. Friday evening's banquet featured a keynote address by Edward Tenner on the perils of technological security. Tenner is the author of the book "Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences." Saturday morning featured a special plenary address by Lillian McDermott of the University of Washington on bridging the gap between teaching and learning, followed by talks on recruiting and retention of minority physics graduate students, and on recent developments in the large scale structure of the universe.
In March, the APS Texas Section held its annual Joint Spring Meeting with the American Association of Physics Teachers and Zone 13 of the Society of Physics Students and the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to sessions on nuclear and particle physics and atomic and molecular physics, the conference also featured two sessions on surface physics. Topics in Friday morning's session included scattering and recoiling imaging spectroscopy, ion beam synthesis of silicon nitride, and computer simulations of coupled piano strings. Saturday morning's session focused on modern techniques for looking at surfaces, including magnetic resonance force microscopy, cross-section tunneling electron microscopy, spin polarized electron spectroscopy, and secondary ion mass spectroscopy. The keynote speaker at Friday evening's banquet was John Hubisz.
The APS Division of Laser Science is currently accepting applications from host schools for the next round of awards for its Distinguished Traveling Lecturer program, intended to bring distinguished scientists to predominantly undergraduate colleges and universities for two-day visits, which may include lectures and informal meetings with faculty and students. Lecturers for the 1996-1997 academic year and their topics are Geraldine Richmond (University of Oregon), surface nonlinear optics; Jagdeep Shah (AT&T Bell Laboratories), quantum optics; Stephen Leone (University of Colorado), chemical physics; Philip Bucksbaum (University of Michigan) high-field laser physics; and Bill Phillips (NIST), atom cooling and trapping.
According to a report published in the New York Times (4 March 1997), the names of elements 104 through 109 have finally been accepted by nuclear scientists and certified by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. The delay over the names was caused partly by rival claims to priority; the pertinent experiments rendered mere handfuls of atoms. Physics and chemistry students worldwide will now have to memorize the following additions to the Periodic Table: Rutherfordium (abbreviated Rf, element 104), Dubnium (Db, 105), Seaborgium (Sg, 106), Bohrium (Bh, 107), Hassium (Hs, 108), and Meitnerium (Mt, 109).