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The Nominating Committee of the Forum on History of Physics has chosen a slate of candidates for the 2008 elections. You will soon be asked to vote for Forum Vice-Chair and two at-large members of the Executive Committee. The person elected to be Vice-Chair normally becomes the new Chair-Elect in 2009 and Chair of the Forum in 2010.
If you have an email address registered with APS, you will receive a message inviting you to vote electronically. If you do not have such an address, you should have received a paper ballot by mail. If you want a paper ballot but have not yet received one, please either email your request to the Secretary- Treasurer Thomas Miller, or contact him postally (Boston College Institute for Scientific Research, Air Force Research Laboratory/VSBXT, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731) or by telephone (781-377-5031). The closing date of the election for online voting is 16 March 2008; the final date for receipt of paper ballots is March 21.
American Physical Society and Brookhaven National Laboratory
Martin Blume is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the American Physical Society and Senior Physicist Emeritus at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He received his A.B. degree from Princeton in 1954 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in physics in 1959. He was a Fulbright Fellow at Tokyo University in 1959-1960, and Research Associate at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, UK in 1960-1962. He came to Brookhaven in 1962 where his research centered on condensed matter theory, particularly on the theory of magnetism, phase transitions, neutron scattering, and synchrotron radiation. He held many research and management positions at Brookhaven, including head of condensed matter theory, Deputy Chair of the Physics Department, Chair of the National Synchrotron Light Source Department, and Deputy Director of the Laboratory. In addition he was Professor of Physics at Stony Brook University from 1972-1980. In 1996 Blume took a leave of absence from Brookhaven to become Editor-in-Chief of the APS, with responsibility for all of the Society’s journals. He served two five year terms as Editor-in-Chief, retiring in March of 2007. During his service as EIC he oversaw the transition of the Physical Reviews to electronic distribution, including putting all of the journals on-line, back to the origins of Physical Review in 1893, and reworking the operation of the editorial process to completely electronic form, with a virtually paperless office.
Blume received the 1981 E. O. Lawrence Award in Physics of the Department of Energy for his research on Neutron Scattering and Synchrotron Radiation, and the Argonne National Laboratory Advanced Photon Source A. H. Compton Award for his theoretical research on resonant X-ray scattering in 2003. In 2005 he received from the Council of Science Editors their highest award for his innovations and accomplishments in scientific publication. He has served on many committees of the APS, including election to the Council and Executive Board as well as Chair of the Nominating Committee. He has served also on committees of the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Institute of Pure and Applied Physics, and on many visiting committees of institutions around the world. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the British Institute of Physics.
My interest and involvement in the history of physics goes back to my administrative positions at Brookhaven, which required justification for locating research efforts at national laboratories, and the history of the national laboratories provided such justification. My interest intensified during my terms as Editor-in- Chief: The on line availability of all of the content of the APS journals is a treasure trove of historical information both about the Society and about the physics of the 20th (and now 21st) century. During the 2005 celebration of the World Year of Physics I gave a well attended invited talk on Scientific Publication Since Einstein at the German Physical Society meeting in Berlin, where Einstein’s involvement with the Physical Review was highlighted. The often “Standing Room Only” status of invited sessions of Forum shows the great interest in the history of our science, and we should take advantage of this, first to increase membership in the Forum, and then to arrange more such sessions at the smaller meetings of the Society, focusing on historical developments relevant to the location and topics of the meetings. Also of importance is the relationship between the history of physics and the policy, international, and educational programs of the Society, so joint sessions with the other forums in those areas should be promoted, and an aggressive campaign to obtain more nominations for APS Fellowship through the Forum, separately and with other Society divisions, is in order. Finally, 2008 will be the 50th anniversary of the start, by then Editor-in-Chief Sam Goudsmit, of Physical Review Letters, the first— and widely imitated—“Letters” journal. Both Goudsmit and many of the articles published in PRL have been of considerable importance in the history of physics in the 20th century and, in addition to invited talks (already planned) at the APS March Meeting, an electronic collection of those articles could be promoted.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Daniel Kleppner received the B.Sc. degree from Williams College, B.A. Degree from Cambridge University and Ph.D. degree from Harvard University. He joined the physics faculty at MIT in 1966 and in 2003 became Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics Emeritus. His research has been in atomic physics including high precision measurements, quantum optics, and ultracold atoms. He helped to found the MITHarvard Center for Ultracold Atoms where he is currently Co-Director. His awards include the Davisson Germer Prize, Lilienfeld Prize and Leo Szilard Lectureship Award of the APS, the Meggers Award and Frederick Ives Medal of the Optical Society of American, the Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Wolf Foundation Prize and the National Medal of Science. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academies of Science (Paris), and the American Philosophical Society. In the APS Kleppner served as Counselor (1986-89) and member of the Executive Committee (1986-1988), Panel on Public Affairs (1989-1992) and the Physics Planning Committee (1989-96, chair 1992-96). He was Chair of the Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (1983-84), and member of the Editorial Boards of Physical Review A (1982–88) and Reviews of Modern Physics (2004–). He was cochair of the APS Study on Boost-Phase Intercept for National Missile Defense (2002-04). His AIP activities include the Development Committee for the Center for History of Physics, which he has chaired since 2004. He is the co-author of two textbooks and writes occasional essays for Physics Today.
The history of physics is invaluable for teaching physics at every level and for communicating the process and values of physics to a society that increasingly depends on science but appears to be increasingly mistrustful. The Forum has a unique opportunity to stimulate the creation of histories, disseminate historical information on physics, and assist the physics community in transmitting its values to the public.
Robert G. Arns
University of Vermont
Bob Arns is an experimental physicist with a background in nuclear and particle physics whose professional interests have turned in the last few years to the history of physics and the history of technologies based in physics. A B.S. graduate of Canisius College, he received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Physics from the University of Michigan. He has served as a physics faculty member at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Ohio State University, and the University of Vermont, where he is currently Physics Professor Emeritus. At Vermont he also served as a Dean and as Provost. He is a member of The American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the History of Science Society, the Society for the History of Technology, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. In 1998 he was awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Life Members’ Prize for the “best research reported in any journal in 1997 on any aspect of the history of electrical/electronic technologies.”
My current research has involved the painfully slow rate at which special relativity and other modern physics concepts have made their way into the teaching of introductory and intermediate physics; and the life and scientific legacy of Ettore Majorana, who was born in 1906 and disappeared mysteriously in 1938. Recent publications include studies of the role of resonant cavities in acoustics; of J. E. Lilienfeld and the development of high-vacuum x-ray tubes; of the history of the field-effect transistor; and of the early history of neutrino detection. As might be inferred from the foregoing, my interests include not only physicists and their accomplishments, but also the evolution of scientific thought, and factors affecting the processes and rate of acceptance of new concepts. These efforts in the history of physics have provided an historical perspective that has enriched both my physics teaching and my own awareness of the complexity of scientific change. If elected I will endeavor to bring these qualities to my work on the Forum Executive Committee.
Ramanath Cowsik is a Professor of Physics and Director, McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Bombay in Mumbai, India. His current research interests include astroparticle physics, experimental gravitation, cosmology, high-energy astrophysics and seismology. Professor Cowsik was formerly the Distinguished Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (1996–2001) and the Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (July 1992–December 2003). He has received the Vikram Sarabhai Award for Space Sciences (Hari Om Prerit) in 1981, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Physical Sciences in1984, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Public Service Group Achievement Award in 1986, the Third World Academy of Sciences Award in Basic Sciences (Physics) in 1995, and the Padma Shri Award by the Government of India in 2002. Professor Cowsik is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (as a foreign associate), a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences and a Life Member of the American Physical Society. He also served on the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics in 1999–2002.
Research activities in Physics, as in all other intellectual endeavors, are influenced by the nature of society and the historic conditions that are prevalent at the time major advances are made in the field. Though this interconnection is extensively explored in other fields such as art, music, or technology, there exist only a few studies that bear on this in the context of the progress in fundamental physics. Through the Forum on the History of Physics in association with other units such as the Divisions of Particles and Fields, Condensed Matter Physics, and the Forum on Physics and Society, I plan to stimulate such investigations.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Michael Demkowicz received B.S. degrees in Physics and in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000. He also received a B.A. in Liberal Arts through UT’s Plan II Honors program, where he was first introduced to the history of science.His undergraduate senior thesis entitled “An undergraduate’s research experience in physics”—supervised by M. P. Marder—contrasted experimental work as it is taught in undergraduate laboratories with how it is practiced by professional physicists. It received a Plan II model thesis award in 2000. Demkowicz joined the Mechanics of Materials group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 as a National Science Foundation fellow and MIT Presidential Fellow. He received his M.S. in 2004 and Ph.D. in 2005 for his research on plasticity of amorphous silicon, done with A. S. Argon. He is currently a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory working with R. G. Hoagland on radiation damage in solids.
I believe there is currently an important gap in the typical curriculum of undergraduate and graduate education in physics: although students are given extensive technical training in experimental and theoretical methods, they do not study the intellectual processes by which observations were interpreted to form theories. As a result, in addition to being poorly prepared to critically evaluate equally plausible alternative interpretations of their own work, they also lack the “big picture” perspective on the development of science that would help them to plan their careers. Furthermore, a physicist educated in the current curricula finds it difficult to defend scientific perspectives to skeptical nonscientists. I propose that the history of science—and of physics in particular— can play a decisive role in filling this educational gap: situations drawn from the history of physics illustrate the processes of theory formation, cast individual research projects in the broader context of physics as a coherent discipline, and provide examples of “physics in action” that make the intellectual processes of scientific research accessible to non-scientists. As a member of the executive committee of the APS Forum on History of Physics, one of my goals would be to encourage ideas on how the study of the history of physics could enhance the typical course of a physicist’s education by filling the gaps described above. Since my own undergraduate and graduate studies are still fresh in my memory, I stand to bring to this question a perspective that bridges that of a student and a professional researcher. By the end of my term, I would like to make available a document presenting the gathered suggestions, examples of their implementation, reflections on their impact, and recommendations for future action. Furthermore, as a researcher in the solid state/materials science side of physics, I plan to lobby for increased interest in the Forum on History of Physics among the traditional attendees of the APS March Meeting by organizing Forum sessions at the March Meeting and encouraging participation in ongoing projects such as the Niels Bohr Library and Archives.
C.W. Francis Everitt
Francis Everitt did his undergraduate and graduate work at Imperial College, London (Ph. D., 1959, with P. M. S. Blackett and J. A. Clegg). His thesis was on paleomagnetism of the Carboniferous period (~ 300 million years ago), establishing among other things with J. C. Belshé that during that period Britain was 10 degrees south of the equator, a key result in the emerging field of continental drift and plate tectonics. Changing fields in 1960 to cryogenics, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where, with K. R. Atkins and A. Denenstein, he was responsible for the discovery of third sound in superfluid helium. Since 1962 at Stanford, he has maintained two separate, sometimes overlapping, interests, fundamental physics in space, and the history and philosophy of physics. He is Principal Investigator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Gravity Probe B and Satellite Test of the Equivalence Principle programs. His historical writings have included a biography of James Clerk Maxwell and studies from various viewpoints of Fritz and Heinz London, Leonard Schiff, William Fairbank, and, most recently, the complex transition from classical to modern physics in the thinking of Kelvin, Maxwell and Einstein.
One of the strengths, but also one of the problems, of the evolution in studies of the history of science over the last few decades and, in particular, the history of physics, is that the field has become a profession in its own right. Historians address their discourse to each other rather than to us physicists, and to us that discourse often seems remote. It is a loss to both sides. History matters, and the collection of myths that we physicists too often suppose to be the history of our field is profoundly misleading. My hope, as a Forum member, would be to aid in constructing bridges across this divide and to enable APS members to realize how enlightening a truer history of physics can be, culturally and in the actual contemporary practice of our field.