APS News


Bicycling in Santa Barbara

Here is a further comment to Mark Jackson's letter published in the January 2005 issue of APS News: The famous picture of Einstein on a bicycle was taken on February 6, 1933. According to the Caltech archive, the picture was taken at the home of friends in Santa Barbara. It ended up in the Caltech archive through a gift by Evelina Hale in 1959. A book by Kenji Sugimoto contains this picture as well as another one with Einstein and friends Ben Mayer and Judith Magnes, all on bicycles. Presumably Einstein was visiting them in Santa Barbara.
Paul Lee
Northridge, CA

Time to Confront Political Asymmetry in Physics

The January "Inside the Beltway" column by Michael Lubell argued the case for building bridges to red- state America. This drove home the obvious fact that Republicans are an under-represented group in the physics community. My guess is that, percentagewise, Republicans are even more under-represented than women. The APS should do something about this. The APS has a very active Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP). It is time to establish a parallel CSRP, and to develop a pro-active strategy to recruit more Republicans. Surely the reason for the dearth of Republicans is cultural. Not even Larry Summers would argue that Democrats are innately more capable of doing physics than Republicans. We need to determine when young Republicans start leaking out of the pipeline, and take aggressive countermeasures. Do physics teachers naturally expect more from the nerdy unkempt Democrat than from the neatly dressed Republican? Do they steer such students away from science and toward more faith-based education? We must correct this. America cannot afford to deprive itself of half the potential talent pool in physics. A little marketing could go a long way. Students should be reminded that a force derivable from a potential is conservative. And anyone attracted to the Republican credo of smaller government should find the Principle of Least Action very congenial. Although parity is not conserved, the difference between left and right is weak in physics, but strong among physicists. If Nature is practically even-handed between left and right, shouldn't physicists be the same? By making the atmosphere in physics more Republican-friendly we can begin to address the imbalance and make the political demographics of the APS look more like America. Both the country and the physics community will be the better for it.
Andrew Warden
Loco Road, Colorado

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette