Volume 23, Number 4 October 1994
Minutes of the Forum's Executive Committee Meeting
We met at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Crystal City, VA, on April 19, 1994. Attendees: Marc Ross, Anthony V. Nero, Alvin M. Saperstein, Carol Herzenberg, Ed Gerjuoy, Barbara Levi, Anthony Fainberg, Art Hobson, Lisbeth Gronlund, Tina Kaarsberg, Robert Lempert, Marc Sher, Gerald Epstein, Dave Hafemeister, Ruth Howes, H.H. Barschall, Judy Franz (APS), Margaret Vassilikos (APS). Executive committee members present: Ross, Nero, Saperstein, Herzenberg, Levi, Fainberg, Hobson, Gronlund, Kaarsberg, Lempert. Executive committee members absent: Schwarz, Thompson, Wittels.
Ross call the meeting was called to order at 9:05. The minutes were adopted.
Herzenberg presented and distributed a treasurer's report (reprinted below). Because of a reduction in funding from the APS, FPS expenses exceeded revenues during the past year. Vassilikos discussed subunit finances for the APS, indicating that FPS is "in the same boat" as other APS forums. The financial shortfall experienced by FPS was due largely to our not receiving registration revenue from the March and April APS meeting for which FPS organized sessions; Ross was concerned that FPS should have received income from APS meetings last year. Vassilikos said that forums are now excluded from getting money from APS meetings in which they participate. We discussed alteration of the formula that sets the amount of FPS funding. Vassilikos suggested that Elizabeth Higgins could help FPS save money on newsletters. We discussed the possibility of outside fundraising, and voluntary APS contributions for forums. Levi will discuss funding with Lustig and others at APS.
Treasurer's Report Income Account Balance 4/1/93 $21,303 Revenues Dues Equivalent $12,871 Interest Income 375 Registration Equivalent 0 Other Subunit Income 100 Allocated Inv. Income-Subunits 532 Revenues Total: $13,878 Expenses Newsletter $11,096 Other mailings 1103 Stipends 150 Conference Call 157 Committee Meetings - Travel 2210 Travel Grants 171 Consultants - Remote (Newsletter prep) 1008 Miscellaneous 2730 Expense Total: $18,625 Excess Expense Beyond Revenues: $4,747 Balance 4/1/94 $16,556 Award Account Balance 4/8/94 $6,504
Herzenberg presented the election report. Ed Gerjuoy is the new Vice Chair, and Marc Sher and Gerald Epstein are the new members of the executive committee.
Program chair Nero reported on past and future FPS programs at APS meetings. At the March 1994 meeting, there were 2 sessions, with good turnout. At the April meeting, there were numerous FPS sponsored or jointly-sponsored sessions. Hobson congratulated Nero on the contributed session, and discussion ensued as to whether to arrange a contributed session on a regular basis. Nero suggested that we try as an alternative a panel with initial speakers followed by discussion from the floor on broad issues in physics. Nero recommended a more active program committee; Saperstein and Gerjuoy were named to membership.
Concern was expressed about the planned melding of the March and April APS meetings. Vassilikos indicated that a meeting of all units to discuss the combined meetings is to take place; combining the March and April meetings is expected to be about 3 years off; it has been planned to start about 1997 and to be tried for about 3 years. Levi will represent us in discussions of APS meetings changes, but a specific FPS representative will still be needed. Jerry Epstein and Barbara Levi will cooperate to be sure that someone attends these meetings to represent FPS interests. Upcoming APS meeting business includes both the centennial meeting, and combining the March and April meetings.
Hobson presented and distributed a report on the Forum newsletter, Physics and Society. He requested articles from the symposia, and reviews of books and reviews of articles. Gronlund suggested consultations to improve the newsletter layout.
Hafemeister gave the awards committee report. There is a 1 September deadline for nominations; nominations are needed. Gronlund suggested instituting an approval process from FPS for the awards following committee recommendations, and Nero suggested better communication between the awards committee and the FPS chair. Saperstein suggested that the award sculpture be awarded permanently rather than circulating; Hafemeister will look into the permanent award. We discussed endowment of awards.
Saperstein reported on the fellowship committee. FPS is entitled to nominate 25 fellows (0.5% of membership) per year. The committee had 4 nominations; requests for nominations were out on e-mail.
Gronlund reported for the membership committee. For the March and April meetings, she prepared flyers that were well received. She suggested that in the future arrangements be made to have flyers inserted in the APS packet handed out at meetings. Gronlund requested physics department members to distribute them with a personal note. Sher suggested e-mail recruiting.
Levi reported on APS council matters. A report on previous Council activity was in the last issue of the newsletter; the main concerns were jobs and public perception of physics. The current council meeting had not yet taken place. Levi circulated two proposals from the young scientists network that were to be discussed at the Council meeting. She requested suggestions for APS officers. She noted that when organizing symposia, FPS should try to consult with divisions and forums about cosponsoring.
Hafemeister reported on the Panel On Public Affairs. POPA had two studies seeking funds: alternate electric power sources, and reexamining the Patriot missile study. They are looking for $0.6-0.7 M per study; there will be a pro bono mini-study of 60-Hz power risks.
Howes reported on the Forum on Education. They will hold a meeting on graduate level study, in which FPS and FED may be involved. Levi indicated that Franz wants to hold a conference to assess the graduate physics program. Al Saperstein and March Sher were appointed to a committee on graduate education and will attend a meeting to plan further meetings.
We discussed publicity for FPS. Herzenberg suggested coverage of FPS in Physics Today and APS News. Hobson suggests someone in the group should write up an article on FPS, Ross would review it and submit it. Saperstein suggested that FPS should have input into Unity of Physics day.
Saperstein and Ross have prepared a brochure on alternative careers. An op-ed piece for Physics Today is near final draft. We discussed graduate education and alternative jobs, and Ross and Saperstein's opinion piece and brochure; consensus was that there should be a review committee. Saperstein will send out the brochure on e-mail to those concerned, including Franz. Franz suggested that the piece be submitted to the back page of APS news rather than to Physics Today. Gronlund and Nero pointed out that there are different issues in producing a brochure and paying for it; that there should be a budget; Gronlund suggested that APS should fund the brochure on alternative careers. Saperstein pointed out that FPS approval and APS approval are two separate questions, and suggested that the incoming chair appoint a committee. Gronlund suggested that the authors get the opinion of other parts of APS (including Franz and Brian Schwartz), and then revisit the executive committee. Franz indicated that the Forum on Education should be consulted. Franz will send the brochure back with comments to the whole executive committee, and asked that the budget be sent to her. Nero, Saperstein, and Ross will constitute a subcommittee on this.
We discussed the establishment of electronic bulletin boards and off-line groups; some of these activities are being considered by the APS now. Franz said Ben Bederson is organizing a meeting on bulletin boards for in mid-June. Nero has been trying to establish an electronic membership directory for FPS; Franz indicated that APS is moving toward this for APS.
Lempert and Kaarsberg are developing an internet discussion of the organization and funding of physics research. The format would be: a set of provocative questions sent to eminent members of the physics community; their answers would be posted; questions and comment would be sent back; moderators would sort these and put them back, eventually publishing in electronic and print form. Consensus was to move ahead on this.
Herzenberg distributed copies of a scoping paper on standards for demilitarization of weapons grade plutonium prepared by Alex DeVolpi, and suggested that FPS propose that the POPA undertake a study on the physics and policy of plutonium disposition. Epstein will review the paper for FPS and contact DeVolpi, and it will be referred to POPA.
In the next FPS election, additional candidates will need to be identified, including candidates for secretary/treasurer. Herzenberg suggested that FPS consider setting up two separate positions (secretary and treasurer) because of the work load.
Gronlund has launched the FPS speakers bureau. She hopes for 25 speakers to list and mail out. She requested volunteers, wants 1-paragraph talk abstracts, and referred to article in the April 1994 issue of Physics and Society. Marc Ross will help organize this.
Nero discussed a proposed committee to plan future FPS studies, and spoke about planning future studies, including motivation, discussion, and approval. Volunteers will be needed to propose and lead studies.
The final topic addressed was debunking antiscience and pseudoscience. The consensus was that FPS, and the physics community, should take this more seriously than we do. Ross will write a Physics and Society article on this.
The meeting adjourned at 13:00.
C. Herzenberg, Secretary/Treasurer
As Councilor for the Forum on Physics and Society I attended the spring meeting of the APS Council. It was held on 23 April 1994 in conjunction with the dedication of the new American Center for Physics (ACP) in College Park, Maryland, which is a lovely building in pleasant surroundings. It's nice to have APS, AAPT and AIP under one roof.
Funding of forums. One agenda item of great concern to the Forum on Physics and Society--and other APS forums--is a proposal to change the basis of our funding. Currently APS gives us a flat fee of $1000 plus $2.50 to each forum or section for every APS member who signs up for that subunit. With the proliferation of such subunits APS has proposed a scheme that gives less money per member as the total membership of a subunit increases. Specifically APS would give $1000 basis plus $4 for every member up to 3% of the APS membership and $1.50 for every member over that. According to that formula funding for FPS (with nearly 5000 members ) would decrease by $1000 (from about $13K to $12K). The Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society is concerned about any proposal that might adversely affect the Forum's budget, which has grown tighter since APS stopped its practice of having the Forums share in the profits of the meetings at which it organized sessions.
The general meeting. This topic has been brewing for some time. APS would like to have a single meeting that brings the entire society together. The spring meeting, with its unity day, tries to do that, but in recent years attendance has dropped and revenues from it have sunk into the red. The other meeting that is officially a general meeting is the March meeting, although most perceive it as being devoted to condensed matter physics. (Several other divisions such as biophysics and high polymer physics participate in the meeting.) The APS thought it had reached a consensus by which APS would merge the March and April meetings, inviting all subunits to a truly general meeting held at a variety of locations that are cheaper than D.C. Various subunits might center their topic programs around different hotels to keep the feeling of a smaller meeting, but participants could convene at a central location for plenary sessions.
But this consensus has started to unravel and the decision has been postponed until next spring. On behalf of the Forum on Physics and Society I support a general meeting because we try to appeal to members across disciplines, but I prefer the Washington, D.C. location, which gives us access to many speakers. Many of our members find it convenient to combine a trip to Washington with a visit to funding agencies. APS has asked Ernest Henley (University of Washington) to form a task force to meet in June and build some kind of consensus. The earliest we could hold a general meeting is 1997.
Electronic publishing. Look for Physical Review Letters to be on-line on an experimental basis by January 1995.
Forum on industrial physics? Abbas Ourmazd, current head of the Committee on Applications of Physics, reported on a survey that his committee had conducted of physicists in applied or industrial work. He made a pitch for APS to enhance its services to this segment (46%) of APS membership. One likely outgrowth is the proposal of yet another forum, one on industrial and applied physics.
Equal professional opportunity. Because APS has never had a policy statement on this subject, the Council approved one that had been formulated with the help of the Committee on Minorities in Physics and the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.
The job market for physicists. Two Council members who are also members of the Young Scientists Network brought before Council a statement dealing with the education of physicists. After some discussion, the Council adopted the following statement: "Historically, students with degrees in physics have succeeded in a wide range of academic and non-academic careers. Therefore it is incumbent on physics departments and their individual faculty members to make all their undergraduate and graduate students aware of the realities of the job market and to encourage them to prepare for a broad range of careers. Academic physics departments are urged to reexamine their programs in the light of changing opportunities." To follow up on the latter charge, APS is organizing a conference to reevaluate graduate physics training. Two members of the Forum executive committee (Saperstein and Sher) will serve on the conference planning committee.
Council statement on Colorado. In the April newsletter I reported that APS had passed a resolution not to "sponsor any further meetings in Colorado or any other state or locality which prohibits protection from discrimination, or explicitly discriminates, on the basis of sexual orientation." APS had received a number of very strong letters objecting to its passage of this resolution. POPA has been asked to consider how to respond to these letters.
Fermi as a spy?? Former Soviet spy, Pavel Sudoplatov, has recently published a book claiming that physicists such as Fermi, Szilard and Oppenheimer were spying for the FSU. The APS Council passed a statement expressing its "profound dismay at undocumented allegations in the 'memoirs'. The cloud of suspicion created by these allegations is injurious to the trust that must exist between the public and the scientific community and painful to the families and colleagues of these great scientists." Bob Park has provided more detail on this issue in his "What's New" column.
Academic-industrial-government roundtables. APS and AAPT have been planning a series of five roundtables around the country to foster coordination among universities, industries, and government to promote economic development and industrial competitiveness. One goal is to explore changes in graduate physics and related science curricula to better prepare young scientists for work in industry. The first one was scheduled for early May at the University of Virginia with Senator Charles Robb as host. Other possible roundtable locations are Arizona, California, and Washington.
POPA's renewable energy study. This study is still in search of funding. POPA has also submitted to DOD a proposal for a study of the Patriot Missile and its capabilities.
Centennial celebration. APS is preparing for its 100th birthday party, highlighted by a general meeting in the spring of 1999. The Forum should be thinking about how it might contribute.
Barbara G. Levi
Executive Workshop on Industrial Technology & Greenhouse Gas Emission, April 4-5, 1995, San Francisco. Contact Dr. Sinyan Shen, Global Warming International Center, SUPCON International, 7501 Lemont Road, Woodridge IL 60517-0275, phone 708-910-1551, fax 708-910-1561.
Sixth Global Warming International Conference and Expo, April 3-6, 1995, San Francisco.
Contact Dr. Sinyan Shen (address given above).
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