Summer 2004 Newsletter

Edited by S. R. Nagel

In This Issue

Important Deadlines

*DCMP Invited Symposia
Friday, September 10

*Vote: DCMP Executive Committee
Friday, September 10

*Los Angeles Contributed Abstracts
Wednesday, December 1

Program goes on-line
Friday, January 7

Early Registration Deadline
Friday, January 14

*APS Fellow Nominations
Friday, January 14

Late Registration
Tuesday, February 1

Post-deadline abstracts
Monday, February 7

Los Angeles, CA Meeting
March 21-25, 2005

*See below for more details.

Letter from the DCMP Chair

Unity in physics

Condensed matter and materials physicists are part of a larger physics and scientific enterprise. Even if our research of the moment is specialized, we nevertheless have strong ties to other areas of physics. Our inherent competitiveness and our ever-increasing anxiety over funding must not lead to destructive infighting between fields that can jeopardize our common scientific goals. I have written at more length about this in Physics Today and FermiNews (Sept. 2002). As the largest APS Division and the one most responsible for stewarding the March Meeting, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the physics community with a more unified front. Such cohesion is not only crucial for approaching the public for funding but, more importantly, is essential for enticing the next generation of eager and talented students into science.

During the past two years, the DCMP has led such a effort. In both the Austin (2003) and Montreal (2004) meetings, the Monday night plenary sessions were devoted to what have been called Unity Sessions. These Symposia, which have attracted enormous crowds, have brought different areas of physics – from string theory and cosmology to atomic and biophysics – into the March Meeting. The aim has been to emphasize that condensed matter physics is only one branch of a much larger subject and that the intellectual interactions go both ways – ideas emanate from condensed matter physics and influence other fields as well as enter our field from elsewhere. In the Austin meeting five speakers were invited to give their dreams for the future of their branch of physics. Steve Girvin (Yale) presented his dreams for condensed matter physics. The transparencies of his presentation are reproduced on the DCMP website: At the Montreal meeting, the lecturers were scientists who have crossed the boundaries between different branches of physics and have made significant contributions in more than one area. Many in the audience were inspired by the presentations. I hope that such efforts will continue within the DCMP and will also be taken up by other Divisions at other APS meetings.

The Montreal March Meeting

The graph below shows the steady growth of the March Meeting over the past five years. While concerns over visas did decrease the number of USA residents, especially students, the number of overseas participants increased. The net result was that, aside from the Centennial Celebration in 1999, the 2004 Montreal meeting was the largest March meeting yet in terms of the number of registrants (6035), contributed talks (5502) and invited speakers (737).

the steady growth of the March Meeting over the past five years

The program, Students Lunch with the Experts, which was initiated at the Minneapolis Meeting in 2000, has continued to be successful. The DCMP sponsored a dozen tables, each one with an established scientist who is knowledgeable in some area of condensed matter physics. Students sign up to have (a free) lunch at a table of their choice and chat informally (no overheads and no computers) with the "expert". The other participating Divisions and Topical Groups also sponsor tables so that a total of approximately 30 tables have been sponsored in each of the last two years. The students as well as the experts have been enthusiastic about the interactions.

Funding and Lobbying

Funding for physical science remains a concern for all of us. In order to improve our chances of increasing the science budget, more effort has to be spent on telling the public and Congress why it is important to keep funding healthy for all of science. We need to convey what we need, why we need it and why such funding is a good use of public money.

For the past three years, the DCMP has taken the lead in organizing a letter-writing campaign at the March Meeting. During the meetings computers were set up in conspicuous places near the entrance where passers-by could sit down and email or write a letter to their representatives in Congress. To make things easier, the APS Office of Public Affairs (Michael Lubell, Stephen Pierson, David Cooper, and previously Susan Ginsberg) wrote sample letters that could be used as templates to address the points that the APS thought were most pressing. During the Montreal meeting, 3,557 letters, a record number, were sent to Congress. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who helped convince so many of their fellow March Meeting attendees to sit down and write these letters. Mike, Steve, David, and Sue assure us that these letters help.

During the year, when the DCMP Executive Committee members have met in the Washington, DC area, the APS Public Affairs Staff has organized a visit to Capitol Hill. After being briefed by the APS about current concerns and given glossy leave-behinds about the public value of physics, we met with a number of Congressional staffers from our own districts. We are told that these face-to-face meetings with the Congressional staffers are even more valuable than letter writing for getting our message across. I can attest that working with the APS Public Affairs Staff is easy, informative and rewarding - I encourage all of you to become more involved.

Finally, I think that we all owe a debt of gratitude to John Wilkins for having fought so effectively in the interests of DCMP in his tenure as DCMP Chair.

Sidney Nagel


Vote for new members of DCMP Executive Committee

To vote for new members of the DCMP Executive committee, go to the DCMP website:

The DCMP Executive Committee performs several functions. Among it most important responsibilities is to be in charge of organizing the APS March Meeting. It is the body that chooses the Invited Symposia from those nominated by the DCMP membership. Keeping a proper balance on the Committee is thus essential for producing a well-run meeting. It helps to lobby Congress on science policy issues. Also, the DCMP Members-at- Large select those names to be forwarded for consideration by the APS Fellowship Committee and Council.

The current (2004-2005) membership of the DCMP Executive Committee is:

(Date following name indicates end of service on Committee, though title may change.)

Sidney R. Nagel (3/06)
University of Chicago

Chair Elect
Susan N. Coppersmith (3/07)
University of Wisconsin

David B. Tanner (3/08)
University of Florida

Past Chair
John W. Wilkins (3/05)
The Ohio State University

Joseph W. Serene (3/05)
Georgetown University

Moses H. W. Chan (12/07)
Pennsylvania State University

Eva Andrei (3/05)
Rutgers University

Stuart S. P. Parkin (3/05)
IBM Almaden Research Center

Zhixun Shen (3/05)
Stanford University

Andrea J. Liu(3/06)
University of Pennsylvania

Paul L.McEuen(3/06)
Cornell University

Arthur P. Ramirez (3/06)
Bell Laboratories

Matthew P. A. Fisher (3/07)
Inst. for Theoretical Physics, UCSB

Caroline A. Ross (3/07)

Clare C. Yu (3/07)
UC Irvine


The March Meeting

Invited Symposia Nominations

The deadline for Invited Symposia nominations is Friday, September 10.
In order to nominate an Invited Symposium for the March Meeting go to:

The entire Executive Committee selects invited talks only from those proposals nominated by DCMP members. It cannot substitute speakers of its own choosing.

Suggestions for Creating a Successful Proposal

  1. Propose a Symposium on a timely idea with 5 strong talks. In general, the DCMP favors symposia, and uses single speakers sparingly.
  2. Choose a good Symposium Title. This and the Symposium Justification gives the overview of the Symposium.
  3. Choose titles of individual talks carefully and provide informative abstracts to underpin the idea of Symposium. The speaker can change them later.
  4. Provide recent references published in refereed journals. These are helpful to the Committee to make sure work is current.
  5. Include alternate speaker in abstract to provide an excellent substitute if first choice is unavailable.
  6. Use correct sorting category (given below) to ensure that the correct subcommittee examines proposal. Multiple submission of a proposal is ineffective and counter productive.

List of Invited Symposia Categories

  1. Metals
  2. Semiconductors
  3. Insulators and Dielectrics
  4. Polymeric and Organic Materials
  5. Superconductivity
  6. Magnetism
  7. Complex Structured Materials
  8. Fluids
  9. Phase Transitions & Strongly Correlated Systems
  10. Biological Physics
  11. Chemical Physics
  12. Statistics and Nonlinear Phenomena
  13. Artificially Structured Materials
  14. Surface, Interfaces and Thin Films
  15. Instrumentation and Measurements
  16. Applications
  17. General Theory (Theoretical Methods)
  18. General
  19. High Pressure Physics
  20. Quantum Fluids and Solids
  21. Atomic, Molecular & Optical (AMO)
  22. Physics Education

Contributed Abstract Submission

The deadline for receipt of abstracts is Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 5:00 p.m. EST.
Complete abstract submission instructions can be found at:
Note that the Sorting Categories for abstracts (which is not the same one as for Invited Symposia) can be found at:


Nominating APS Fellows

Each year, no more than one-half of one percent of the then current APS membership may be elected to APS Fellowship. The number that DCMP may select is similarly determined by the size of its membership. Keeping your DCMP membership active and encouraging your colleagues to join can help to increase the number of APS Fellowships in Condensed Matter Physics.

Nominations may be made at any time, but only those received by the APS deadline, January 14, will be considered for action in that year. Nominations should be sent to:

Executive Officer
The American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
ATTN: Fellowship Program

Nomination forms may be obtained by:

  • writing the above address
  • sending an email message to:
  • telephoning: (301) 209-3268 or faxing: (301) 209-0865
  • downloading forms from:

Unsuccessful nominees are automatically reconsidered in the second year after nomination. Update information from sponsors is recommended.

In March, the DCMP Fellowship Committee, comprised of the DCMP Members-at- Large, reviews the nominations referred to the DCMP by the APS. It then forwards its recommendations to the APS Fellowship Committee and Council.

Tips for Successful Nominations

The selection process is very competitive; when preparing nominations, sponsors should ensure that the achievements of their candidates are genuinely reflected by the material submitted. In general, the guidelines for the Fellowship Committee are to look for sustained contributions to the field over a period of time and successful nominees generally have over 10 years of professional experience beyond the Ph.D. Inclusion of a complete list of publications, and lists of invited talks, awards, committee service, and organization of conferences is highly recommended. A detailed statement by the sponsors and supporting letters which evaluate the candidate's work and discuss which of the candidate's achievements are "exceptional" aid the committee considerably.
Reprints of papers are generally not useful.

Congressional Interactions

Facing large war costs and a rising deficit, Congress is under pressure to hold down domestic spending, including federal agency research budgets. So far, a House committee has drafted bills that would increase the DOE Office of Science budget by 3.4% but cut NSF by 2% from their FY 2004 levels. Physicists have used the APS Write Congress website to send over 7,000 letters and emails this year to members of Congress emphasizing the importance of a strong federal investment in science. About 60 physicists have conveyed a similar message through personal visits with their legislators coordinated by APS. This constituent pressure helped the scientific community gather the signatures of an impressive 55 senators on a letter supporting a 10% increase for the Office of Science and 157 representatives on a letter supporting NSF. Significant increases for either are unlikely to become reality this year, but the letters sent a strong message. APS will ask its members to help reinforce this message when Congress returns from its August recess and attempts to complete the annual appropriations process. Please check the APS website ( or contact the Office of Public Affairs (202/662-8700, for more information.


DCMP Web Site

The DCMP web site at allows members (1) to find general information and announcements of potential interest and (2) to vote for new members of the DCMP Executive Committee. This site also informs the general public of the role and value of condensed matter physics in our lives.

We solicit contributions to the site from the DCMP membership for any subject matter that may help to achieve these goals. Please send your comments and suggestions to Ms. Irina Bariakhtar, who maintains the site, at

The World Year of Physics

The World Year of Physics, timed to coincide with the centennial celebration of Albert Einstein's "miraculous year", is a worldwide celebration of physics and its importance in our everyday lives. Physics not only plays an important role in the development of science and technology but also has a tremendous impact on our society. The World Year of Physics aims to raise the worldwide awareness of physics and physical science. For more information go to:

APS Town Meetings - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics

During the March Meeting in Montreal, The American Physical Society, working with the Divisions of Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP) and Materials Physics (DMP), held the first town meeting to discuss issues in condensed matter and materials physics. In order to continue this discussion, the APS (with DCMP and DMP) proposes to organize five additional regional town meetings in different geographic locations. The purpose of these town meetings is to provide community input for the decadal study that has been proposed by the Solid State Sciences Committee of the National Research Council. Community buy-in is crucial to the success and acceptance of the next decadal study.

The town meetings will provide a venue for the community to discuss exciting developments in condensed matter and materials physics, to ensure that constituencies are not overlooked, and to help articulate a vision for the next ten years. In addition, we anticipate that these town meetings will lead to a full discussion of many of the issues facing this community - What are the important and exciting questions in the field? How can they be understood by the lay public? What is an appropriate balance between applied and fundamental work and between large and small research? What are the priorities for instrumentation and large facilities? These are very large and difficult questions, which the condensed matter and materials physics community has not yet discussed in an organized way. The Town Meetings are an endeavor to initiate such a discussion.

The locations and times of these meetings, once they are known, will be posted on the DCMP website and sent via an email notice to the DCMP membership.


The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Division of Condensed Matter Physics Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.