In this issue of Physics and Society we begin by highlighting the major activities of the Forum. The Joseph A. Burton Forum Award is given yearly to recognize outstanding contributions to the public understanding or resolution of issues involving the interface of physics and society. The Leo Szilard Lectureship Award is given to recognize outstanding accomplishments by physicists in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of society in such areas as the environment, arms control, and science policy. Please join me in congratulating the 2014 recipient of the Burton award, Michael M. May of Stanford University and the co-recipients of the Szilard award, M.V. Ramana of Princeton University and Ramamurti Rajaraman of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Also, congratulations go to our newest FPS Fellows, Jan E. Beyea from Consulting in Public Interest and Charles D. Ferguson II from the Federation of American Scientists. You will find citations for both awards and our Fellows in the “News of the Forum” section of the newsletter.
The 2014 March meeting in Denver has several Forum-sponsored sessions including talks on secrecy and science, public access to satellite data, and physics and the economy. At the April meeting in Savannah, FPS has sessions on future transportation, energy efficiency, innovation, popularizing physics, and the life of Leo Szilard. Details on all of these sessions, including dates and times, session speakers, and titles of the talks can be found later in this issue.
Finally, as I’ve written in a previous issue, we have started to focus on using social media platforms as a tool to get the Newsletter into the hands of those that are interested in our activities but not yet a member of the Forum. Matthew Parsons, our social media coordinator, has his first status update on his recent initiatives in this regard.
As I sit down to write this message, Congress had just passed the omnibus spending bill for the 2014 fiscal year. Our first article, by Richard Wiener, is timely in that it reminds us that it is not simply the amount of federal funding appropriated, but what type of research is funded. He asks whether we are still willing to fund proposals that may be groundbreaking, but do not necessarily have a definite probability of success.
In our second article, Jerry Marsh responds to an essay in the December 2013 issue of Physics Today on the relevance of the B-61 bomb, by explaining the physics behind an earth-penetrating warhead. Then, Al Cavallo updates for us his recent article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on the role of OPEC in setting oil prices and the impact on carbon emissions. Finally, we have book reviews on the Manhattan Project by my predecessor Cameron Reed and Al Gore’s latest book.
We are always looking for interesting topics and authors willing to write about the latest advances at the intersection of physics and society. Please contact me with your ideas and consider submitting an article for publication in a future edition of the newsletter.
These contributions have not been peer-refereed. They represent solely the view(s) of the author(s) and not necessarily the view of APS.