APS News

January 2003 (Volume 12, Number 1)

White Papers Highlight Opportunities for Counter-Terrorism Research

By Bob Guenther

Earlier this year, APS President Bill Brinkman created a Task Force on Countering Terrorism and asked me to be its Chair. Other members are: Mark Coffey (TRW); Harold Craighead (Cornell); Leonard C. Feldman (Vanderbilt); Gerard P. Gilfoyle (University of Richmond); Martin V. Goldman (Colorado); Beverly K. Hartline (Argonne); Al Romig (Sandia); and Paul Wolf (Air Force Institute of Technology). [See APS News, April 2002 and November 2002].

The objective of the Task Force has been to survey the current activities in the area of counter-terrorism, identify technical issues where physics might play a role and to make the physics community aware of these issues.

The most important mission of the task force is to stimulate the physics community to contribute to homeland security by devoting a small portion of the community's research activity to the solution of these highlighted technical issues.

The Task Force reviewed the counter-terrorism efforts that were underway at government agencies and at some professional societies, and after further discussion narrowed possible technology issues to areas where physics would make the greatest contribution: Sensors; Materials; and Data Systems.

Task Force members have prepared brief white papers on technologies that fall within these broad topical areas. In furtherance of the mission of the Task Force, these white papers are summarized below. It is our hope that APS members will seriously consider ways in which they might contribute to the research areas that are outlined in these articles.

Another way for physicists to learn about counter-terrorism is to attend a special workshop that will be held on Sunday, March 2, just before the APS March meeting in Austin, Texas. Titled "The Role of Physicists in Countering Bioterrorism", the workshop will review the bioterrorism threat, describe current biological detection techniques, and explore the role of spectroscopic techniques in species detection and recognition.

Bob Guenther is Professor of Physics at Duke University.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

January 2003 (Volume 12, Number 1)

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Articles in this Issue
APS Expands and Updates Ethics and Professional Conduct Guidelines for Physicists
DPP Meeting Features High Magnetic Fields, Lab-Based Astrophysical Jets
Microfluidics, Jovian Climate Change Highlight DFD Meeting
Philadelphia Will Host 2003 APS April Meeting
APS Council Approves Statement Protesting Boycott of Israeli Scientists
Sarachik Outlines Priorities for Society in 2003
White Papers Highlight Opportunities for Counter-Terrorism Research
APS Council Approves Study on Humanitarian De-Mining
The Back Page
This Month in Physics History
Members in the Media
Inside the Beltway: A Washington Analysis
PRL Top Ten: #8
Focus on Committees