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Again, thanks to APS News for the encouragement and recognition offered to physics education at all levels. If physics is to be widely recognized as the basis for much of our understanding of the universe as well as the stimulus for much of our technology, we need to assure that all students study and understand our discipline. Recognizing our teachers is a crucial part of such encouragement.
Bernard V. Khoury
Executive Officer, AAPT
We thank the writer for pointing out this omission. Both the coaches and the dedicated AAPT staff were crucial to the success of the American team in this year's Physics Olympiad.
In Virginia Trimble's article on Astronomy's Greatest Hits, she lists as a scientific discovery, "There exist other universes." I had to check twice to make sure I was reading APS News and not Bob Park's "What's New." How could such scientific speculation ever find its way into an article on scientific discoveries?
As an assignment in my introductory physics class I have students look for examples of poor scientific reporting in the popular press. Now I have found my own example in APS News.
Michael G. Strauss
University of Oklahoma
In your October 2000 issue, Virginia Trimble lists the top ten astronomical triumphs of the last millennium. Fine; but under # 5, "the Universe is expanding", she mentions the most significant contributors thus: Hubble, Gamov, Alpher, Herman, Ryle & Scheurer, Penzias & Wilson, while missing, it seems to me, the top players, i.e., Friedman, de Sitter and particularly Georges Lema tre who invented the notion of "Primitive Atom", precursor of the Big Bang.
Incidentally, Lema tre was a Catholic priest who wrote his doctoral dissertation at MIT on the "Primitive Atom," showing that Einstein's "Cosmological Constant" was not required. In fact, in 1931, Lema tre, Hubble and Einstein met at Mount Wilson to discuss the problem, with the first two named having a hard time convincing Einstein that the Universe was in fact expanding. Only then did Einstein abandon his cosmological constant ("My most serious blunder"), which is now being resurrected by cosmologists.
Didier de Fontaine
University of California, Berkeley
Virginia Trimble Comments
The "top ten" list printed in a recent APS News was never intended for this venue. It started as a press release, prepared for the 100th anniversary of the American Astronomical Society in 1999 (and so very strongly emphasized observations over theory). It was then recycled as a press release at the April APS meeting (at the request of those organizing the press briefings there). And, finally, an APS News editor asked permission to excerpt the material. The editor did, of course, edit. And perhaps I should have said "no." But it is good to know that I have at least three readers - this exceeds the average readership of a technical paper in most physics and astronomy journals by a factor of roughly four (according to the late Sam Goudsmit). And if any of them should be interested in what I have said about some of the topics in contexts other than press briefings, please take a look at the following:
This web site has been developed by a displaced engineer and contains hiring information of US companies who have used imported labor in the past five years. Sources include direct data from the US Department of Labor. The site is very user friendly. Check out the comments made by members of the US House and Senate about how these elected officials feel about American technical talent. Read the stories of other displaced US and foreign workers' stories of being laid off and downsized in this "great, robust US economy."
Alumni, Brigham Young University
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