News Conference Schedule

Coming Soon

###Embargo notice###

For more information contact Phillip Schewe at the American Institute of Physics, 301-209-3092,, or David Harris at APS, 301-209-3238, At the meeting, as of March 3, the pressroom phone number will be 512-404-4740. The virtual pressroom is at

February 20, 2003-------The following press conferences will be offered at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) at the Convention Center in Austin, Texas, where the press operation is located at the Room ML1. All the press conferences and briefings below will take place in Room ML2:

Monday, March 3, 10.30-11 AM briefing
How do you know what sort of comet hit millions of years ago? Geophysicists must rely on relatively little data, such as crater shapes, to work backwards and reconstruct these high-energy collisions. New experimental studies on impact craters are revealing more about the collision process by using scale models. The craters formed by dropping steel balls into microscopic glass beads are able to reproduce the features of comet and asteroid impacts. New results about what craters can tell us about past impacts will be reported John de Bruyn and Amanda Walsh, Memorial University of Newfoundland; and Douglas Durian, UCLA (papers A13.2, A13.3)

Monday, March 3, 11.00-11:30 AM briefing
Modern cars often use catalytic converters to remove carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes. This is done by passing the gas over a platinum surface that encourages (or catalyzes) the chemical reaction turning carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, a safer emission. However, understanding the process of the catalysis is challenging because it happens on a small physical scale over very brief periods, but is important because of potential environmental impacts. New techniques involving ultrafast laser pulses have been used to observe the catalysis and the results of experiments studying reaction timescales of femtoseconds. Tim Lei, Margaret Murnane, Henry Kapteyn, et al., JILA, University of Colorado at Boulder (A11.6)

Monday, March 3, 1:30-2:30 PM press conference
Speakers will announce new experimental and theoretical results concerning "left-handed materials" (LHMs). LHMs bend microwave and light beams the opposite way to normal lenses and have the potential to make the "perfect" lens and whole new classes of electronic and optical devices. There has been much debate over whether or not these theoretically possible devices could actually be created, but the new experimental results put part of that debate to rest. Other topics include how new technologies for electronics and imaging may result from recent advances. Andrew Houck, Jeffrey Brock and Isaac Chuang, MIT Media Lab; Clifford Krowne, Naval Research Laboratory; Alexandre Pokrovski and Alexei Efros, University of Utah (session K22).

Monday, March 3, 3.00-3:30 PM briefing
Recent experiments have substantially slowed and even stopped light. Combining this process with experiments in Bose-Einstein condensates, the coldest matter in the universe, researchers will be able to create quantum information processing devices such as quantum computers, one of the hottest topics in physics. The details of how this amalgamation of techniques and ideas might usher in the next generation of computing devices will be discussed. Zachary Dutton, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Lene Hau, Harvard University

Tuesday, March 4, 11 AM press conference

Which molecule is responsible for the origin of life? An increasingly popular candidate is RNA, which, like DNA, is found abundantly in living cells. But unlike DNA, RNA is a two-pronged biomolecule. Not only can it carry genetic instructions, but it can also fold into protein-like molecules that catalyze important biochemical activities. Researchers will discuss how the folding patterns of RNA molecules as they assume their final 3D shapes support the idea that RNA is connected to the origin of life and may even explain why nature chose four letters for the genetic code. Moreover, RNA folding has supplied insights into much harder-to-test questions on how proteins fold into their final shapes; better understanding protein folding promises to improve drug design significantly. Ranjan Mukhopadhyay (609-951-2662, of NEC Laboratories in New Jersey; Ralf Bundschuh of Ohio State (614- 688-3978,; and Erik Schultes of the Whitehead Institute of MIT (617-258-6373, (Session G10).

Tuesday, March 4, 1 PM press conference

Conventional refrigerators work by compressing and expanding a gas as it flows around the cooling unit. However, this process is not especially efficient and has used environmentally unfriendly gases in the past. Refrigeration currently accounts for 25% of residential and 15% of commercial power use in the United States. A new type of refrigerator, based on "magnetocaloric" materials, has been under development for some time but progress has been hampered by the need to use extremely strong magnetic fields. Recent advances to be discussed include improvements in the magnetocaloric materials being used and their incorporation into working prototypes suitable for everyday use. Steven Russek, R&D Director of Astronautics; Carl Zimm, Astronautics Corporation; Karl Gschneidner, Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University; Naoki Hirano, Chubu Electric Power Company, Inc., Japan (session K7).

Wednesday, March 5, 1:30 PM press conference

Microfluidics is to fluids what electronics is to electronics or photonics is to photons. Fabricated with many of the lithographical tools used to make electronic integrated circuits, microfluid "labs on a chip" manipulate tiny bits of fluids, sometimes only picoliters in volume, around networks of channels, where they are combined in useful ways and probed with diagnostic laser beams. Stephen Quake of Caltech has devised the most complex microfluidic testbed yet, with thousands of micromechanical valves and hundreds of addressable chambers. He will report on huge batch processing of protein crystal growth and other biomolecule studies (, 626-395-3362; paper T10.1). Jochen Guck of the University of Leipzig has invented an "optical stretcher," a device in which cells moving through fluid channels are sorted and studied by squeezing the cells. The process can tell healthy cells from sick ones and can differentiate ordinary cancer cells from mestastasizing cells (, 49-341-973-2578; papers K10.5, P9.15). David Grier of the University of Chicago will report on "optical fractionation,"which is a sort of electophoresis process in which light is used to sort mesocopic objects instead of an electrostatic field. Grier creates multiple "optical tweezers" through holographic means, and is able to sort cells, DNA, and chromosomes (773-702-9176,; papers K1.5 and S13.11).