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Charles Townes
Charles Townes

Townes Receives Annunzio Award
In October, the second annual $100,000 Frank Annunzio Award was presented by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation to Charles Hard Townes, inventor of the laser. Townes is a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. Townes, a fellow of the APS, received the APS Plyer Prize in 1997 and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964. The laser was developed out of his microwave work on molecules at Bell Telephone Labs in the early 1950s. He was trying to produce a wavelength shorter than a few millimeters in order to extend his spectroscopic studies. The concept on how to accomplish this came to him early one morning in 1951 while sitting on a park bench. Townes envisioned using radiation to stimulate a molecule or atom to give up energy, thus increasing the radiation intensity. This was the invention of the MASER, Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, which was the basic idea behind the LASER which uses light amplification.

The Frank Annunzio Award is presented to a living American whose innovative thinking has had a significant and beneficial impact on society. It is named for the Honorable Frank Annunzio who served as a Member of Congress from the State of Illinois for 28 years, and was the visionary behind the establishment of the Columbus Foundation. The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is an independent Federal government agency established by Congress to encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind.

DNP Establishes Junior Investigator Program
The APS Division of Nuclear Physics and the DOE have announced the initiation of an Outstanding Junior Investigator Program to support the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers. Grant applications for support are invited from tenure-track faculty currently involved in experimental or theoretical nuclear physics research falling within the full range of activities currently supported by the Division of Nuclear Physics and the DOE. The deadline is November 16, 1999. For complete information see the web page at the URL www.er.doe.gov/production/grants/fr99_25.cfm or contact Dr. Dennis G. Kovar, Division of Nuclear Physics, SC-23 (GTN), U.S. Department of Energy, 19901 Germantown Road, Germantown, Maryland 20874-1290. Telephone: (301) 903-3613, Fax: (301) 903-3833.

APS Division Gets Off Its "High" Horse
The APS Division of High Polymer Physics - the second-oldest division within the Society, having been established in 1944 - has voted to change its name to the APS Division of Polymer Physics (DPOLY). According to Andrew Lovinger (National Science Foundation), the division's councillor, the use of "High Polymer" in the division's name stemmed from the original German terminology for those new materials whose high molecular weight was responsible for their unique properties. [A low molecular weight polymer would have the properties of a liquid or a wax.] However, over the last few decades, the high molecular weight aspects of polymers have been taken for granted, and a new term, "oligomer," is used to describe low molecular weight polymers, making the modifier "high" redundant. Also, the terminology "led to the natural question of whether polymers have high physics and low physics, or variants thereof," says Lovinger. "A majority of the division members felt that a change of name would not only more accurately reflect the interests of the division, but would attract additional membership." The division members voted for the name change and the APS Council has approved it last May.

Physics In Popular Culture
Physics has been making cameo appearances in mass media culture during the APS Centennial year. In September, an episode of Jeopardy! included a category of questions on "A Century of Physics," which even mentioned the APS by name. And novelist Thomas Harris' new thriller, Hannibal - the sequel to his best-selling Silence of the Lambs, the film version of which won several Oscars in 1991 - contains a surprising reference of its own. On page 263 of the hardcover version, FBI agent Clarice Starling is attempting to track serial killer Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter by cross-checking new subscriptions to various cultural journals Lecter has subscribed to in the past. The only one mentioned by name? The Physical Review.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette