March and April meetings

By David C. Cassidy, Chair, Program Committee

The Forum Program Committee is conducting an experiment this year. At the suggestion of Forum Chair Bill Evenson, we divided the program committee into two subcommittees under the overall direction of the Program Chair: an April committee chaired by Cassidy, and a March committee co-chaired by Vice Chair Gloria Lubkin and George Zimmerman. So far the experiment has succeeded quite nicely. Since each committee can now devote full attention to its specific meeting, the result has been a more carefully selected and broadly based program of invited sessions at each of the two meetings.

An overview of the March and April invited sessions is given below. Among the many highlights of these two meetings is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Physical Review Letters. A session on PRL is planned at each of the two meetings with a series of outstanding speakers who will explore the past, present, and the important issue of the future of research publication in the electronic age. Another highlight will be a unique session at the April meeting celebrating the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the Manhattan Project and the work at Los Alamos. Ben Bederson, who worked on the Manhattan Project and organized the session, has invited all physics alumni of the project to attend the meeting and participate in an extended panel discussion following the presentation by Val Fitch, also an alumnus of the project. In addition, the April meeting will have two back-to-back sessions on the “Triumphs of 20th Century Astrophysics,” one focusing on instrumentation and the other on discoveries. There will also be an April invited session in recognition of 80 years of quantum mechanics, in which members of a new international project on the history of quantum mechanics will present their latest work. And during the March meeting, a session on the history of physics in industrial settings will occur.

In addition to these invited sessions, Gerald Holton, winner of the 2008 Abraham Pais Prize for the History of Physics (see p. 1), will speak on April 14 in a joint award session co-sponsored with the Forum on Physics and Society. Sessions for contributed papers are also scheduled in both March and April meetings; travel grants are available for students presenting contributed papers in these sessions. Some of the titles of the papers given below are still tentative.

March 10–14, 2008
New Orleans, Louisiana

50th Anniversary of Physical Review Letters, March 11.

  • Saad Hebboul, Physical Review Letters, “PRL at 50: A History of Physics Moving Forward”
  • H. Eugene Stanley, Boston University, “Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena”
  • Marvin L. Cohen, University of California, Berkeley, “Condensed Matter Theory: From Models to First Principles”
  • Charles P. Slichter, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “NMR and the BCS Theory”
  • Jack Sandweiss, Yale University, “The Future of Scientific Publishing”

Industrial Physics History, March 13.

  • Paul Horn, IBM Watson Research Center, “Industrial Research at IBM”
  • James Hollenhorst, Agilent Labs, “Reflections on Three Corporate Research Labs: Bell Labs, HP Labs, and Agilent Labs”
  • Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University, “Application Oriented R&D: Aphorisms & Anecdotes” (The John Bardeen Lecture)
  • David J. Bishop, Bell Labs, “The History of Science and Technology at Bell Labs”
  • Robert Doering, Texas Instruments, “50 Years of ‘Scaling’ Jack Kilby’s Invention”

April 12-15, 2008
St. Louis, Missouri

Triumphs of 20th Century Astrophysics, April 12, co-sponsored with DAP.
Chair of both sessions: Ramanath Cowsik, Washington University

I. Observatories and Telescopes.

  • Joseph Miller, Lick Observatory, UC Santa Cruz, “Lick Observatory and the Shift of Astronomical Power to California”
  • Mario Livio, Space Telescope Science Institute, “Hubble Space Telescope: Images that Go Around the World”
  • Elizabeth Barton, University of California, Irvine, “Data by the Terabyte: Large, Versatile Telescopes and Upcoming Technology”

II. We Master the Stars.

  • Matthew Stanley, Michigan State University, “How We Learned the Stars Run on Nuclear Energy”
  • Stirling A. Colgate, Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Stars at the Highest Energy”
  • Mark McCaughrean, University of Exeter, “Star Formation as Seen in the Early Years of the Overwhelmingly Large Telescopes” (The Kenneth Greisen Lecture)

Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project: 65th Anniversary, April 13, co-sponsored with FPS.
Chair: Benjamin Bederson, New York University

  • Cynthia C. Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, “The Manhattan Project: A History Worth Preserving”
  • Val L. Fitch, Princeton University, “Life on and off the Mesa”
  • David C. Cassidy, Hofstra University, Moderator, “Panel Discussion with Physicist Alumni of the Manhattan Project”

80 Years of Quantum Mechanics: A New International Project, April 14.Chair: Clayton A. Gearhart, St. John’s University, Minnesota

  • Michel Janssen, University of Minnesota, “Van Vleck and Slater: Two Americans on the Road to Matrix Mechanics”
  • Christoph Lehner, Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin, “Creative Confusion: Quantum Theory on the Way to Wave Mechanics”
  • Alexei Kojevnikov, University of British Columbia, “‘Knabenphysik’: The Birth of Quantum Mechanics from a Postdoctoral Viewpoint”

50th Anniversary of Physical Review Letters, April 14, co-sponsored with DPF.Chair: R. Sekhar Chivukula, Michigan State University

  • Robert J. Garisto, Brookhaven National Laboratory, “Half a Century of PRL”
  • Michael S. Turner, University of Chicago, “title to be announced”
  • Michael E. Peskin, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center “PRL and Experimental Particle Physics”