Volume 25, Number 4, October 1996


Forum Executive Committee Session at the Indianapolis APS/AAPT Meeting

The Executive Committee of our Forum met on May 4, 1996, and took care of the following business:

The results of our Forum election were accepted by ExComm. Considering the very low turnout for the election, the committee's acceptance of the results may essentially represent some kind of electoral redundancy.

The nominating committee is having trouble finding a sufficient number of nominees for our elections. Just think: If we continue in this vein, plus impose term limits on the ExComm, then a future roster of Forum officers might consist of {The Null Set}.

A short course entitled "Military Technologies in the Post Cold-War World" is being planned for the time of the Washington, D.C. meeting in April 1997. More details later.

Budgets are a' tightenin' all over: This year, for the first time, APS billed our Forum $236 for EACH certificate for the Szilard Award winners. As Szilard's friends and admirers used to say, "What would Leo think?"

It was agreed that electronic messages should be sent to the entire Forum membership only on rare occasions. Phewph!

The editing that Art Hobson used to do single-handedly for P&S is now being done by a committee. (This should go a long way to explaining the coherence [or lack of it] of our latest issues of P&S.)

Both invited and contributed sessions at the St. Louis APS meeting were viewed as successful, so both types of sessions will be continued. The program committee is looking into the possibility that P&S will sponsor sessions at APS meetings other than the two spring meetings.

We are in the black! In fact, FY 1995 showed a net gain of over $5k on our books, which comes to $1.29/member. However, there was no discussion whatsoever of decreasing our annual Forum membership fee by $1.29, or even just a measly buck. Instead, the minutes indicate that "The committee agreed to retain the surplus". Aha! Now we know the real reason why so many physicists make trips to Switzerland!

Forum members have worked substantially on questions of jobs and education and have collaborated with others in APS, AIP, and AAPT to identify where action was required. Forum members have worked to develop a tutorial for faculty on how they can help students better prepare for diverse careers as well as help locate specific job opportunities.

The minutes of the meeting indicate that the meeting was stopped 4 hours after it started, but that adjournment didn't occur until an additional half-hour passed(??). During that half-time, decisions were made to continue compiling a joint program of titles and papers for all invited sessions of all the Forums, and to e-mail this well before the spring meetings to the joint membership of all Forums.

(N.B.: The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the Executive Committee, and probably shouldn't be. For anybody who wants to read the REAL minutes of our ExComm meeting, you can access it via our home page on the WWW. These minutes are here. Marc Sher has done an outstanding job of creating a terrific Web site for our Forum.)

AIP Corporate Associates Meeting

The annual Corporate Associates meeting of the American Institute of Physics will take place October 28-29, 1996 in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The meeting is being hosted by Schlumberger-Doll Research in Ridgefield, and the theme of the meeting is "Energy for the 21st Century". All are welcome to register for attendance. The first day of the program includes a theme session on energy (with talks entitled "Energy and Development in a Greening World", "Climate Friendly Energy Technologies", "Seismic Exploration and Reservoir Characterization", and "Borehole Applications of Magnetic Resonance"), a talk by DOE's Director of Energy Research, Martha Krebs ("The Role of DOE Energy R&D in the Nation's Future Energy Supply"), a tour of Schlumberger-Doll Research Laboratories, and an evening banquet/award/anniversary ceremony.

The second day includes a policy session on industrial research and product development in a global environment, with participants from Schlumberger, Xerox, NEC, and General Motors. There will also be presentations on the frontiers of physics including talks on granular systems, organic semiconductors, newly-discovered planets, and geological patterns.

Registration by October 4, 1996 should be sent to AIP, Executive Director's Office, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, including $225 for all the sessions and all the food events, or $150 for just the sessions. Call the AIP at (301)-209-3131 for further details regarding fees, hotel reservations, reservations for the Schlumberger-Doll tour, etc.

Your organization might also want to consider applying to join the AIP Corporate Associates, annual dues for which are between $600 and $6000 depending on how many physicists are employed in your organization. The phone number given above should be used for membership inquiries.

Forum Participation in APS Centenary Program

The Centennial Meeting of the American Physical Society is scheduled for March 1999 in Atlanta. APS has set up a committee, chaired by Brian Schwartz, to plan the celebration; Heinz Barschall of the University of Wisconsin has been designated as the liaison person of our Forum with the Centenary Program Committee. The Committee would like: (1) suggested names and topics for a Centenary Speakers Bureau Booklet, to be distributed widely to colleges, labs, high schools, teachers groups, etc.; (2) suggested titles for Centenary Symposia, with the names of possible speakers; (3) suggested "major speakers" for (a) talks on the "international significance of physics from an intellectual, cultural, industrial, economic, etc., perspective", (b) dinner speakers, (c) speakers at a special dinner on "the role of basic and applied physics in the development of communications", (d) plenary sessions on "Major contributions of physics of the 20th century".The Forum would like to be a major presence at the Centenary celebration and requests its members to make suggestion in the above (and other) categories. (Possible speakers are not to be contacted at this time.) Forum members input would be most efficiently made via Heinz.

Statement of the Council of the American Physical Society, 6 May 1996

"Energy: The Forgotten Problem"

Our nation's complacency about the energy problem is dangerous. While the understandable result of currently abundant supplies of energy at low prices, such complacency is short-sighted and risky. Low-cost oil resources outside the Persian Gulf region are rapidly being depleted, increasing the likelihood of sudden disruptions in supply. Energy-related urban air pollution has become a world-wide threat to human health. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide,other greenhouse gases and aerosols are climbing; this will cause changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and weather patterns that may damage both human and natural systems.

The introduction of non-fossil-fuel energy sources, new ways of producing and using fossil fuels, and a myriad of energy-efficient technologies have helped to improve our energy security and to reduce environmental stress. In an era of growing global energy demand, such innovations must continue.

The Council of the American Physical Society urges continued and diversified investments in energy research and development, as well as policies that promote efficiency and innovation throughout the energy system. Such investments and policies are essential to ensure an adequate range of options in the decades ahead. Our national security, our environmental well-being, and our standard of living are at stake.

Suggestions for Job Hunters in the Energy/Environmental Fields

Daniel M. Kammen, who is Assistant Professor of public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Co-Chair of their Science, Technology and Public policy Program, and a member of the Forum's Executive Committee, has written an interesting an informative article entitled A personal introduction to opportunities and resources for research and activism in energy and environmental science and policy. The article is available (and periodically updated) on the WWW at: http://www.wws.princeton.edu/faculty/kammen.html/energy- jobs

Click here to connect.

In the article, Kammen attempts (and, I think admirably succeeds) to answer the question: How do I go about getting involved in environmental work? His answer to this question contains wisdom (e.g., "...study what you enjoy over what [you] think will afford you some idealized credential..."), lots of practical tips (e.g., "Start talking to people."), and some juicy humor (e.g., "Regardless of whether you regard neoclassical economics as a crucial too, or as a means to obfuscate the truth, it has an important role in current thought..."). The article ends with a long listing of program and organization names, addresses, and phone numbers related to environmental science.

Kammen's article has much useful information for anybody trying to break into any field, not just environmental work.. For example, he recommends that "...a cover letter and resume are useful in advance of a phone call....The letter is useful both because it gives you the opening line of your phone conversation ('My name is Jill Johnson, I sent you a letter a couple of weeks ago') and [because] it will have already forced you to figure out your fit with the organization you are contacting." Clearly such advice is as good outside as inside the field of environmental science.

Last, but not least from the standpoint of this editor, Kammen's article is an example of fine writing. Kammen is to the point, his prose is crispy and spicy, and he gives the impression of being passionate about his subject. I recommend it to anybody looking for a job, particularly if their interest is in environmental work.

NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators

The NSF tracks resources, demographics, and trends of the nation's R&D efforts. Such information is periodically transmitted to the President of the United States via a document called Science & Engineering Indicators. According to the AIP's Bulletin of Science Policy News Number 125 ("FYI", by Audrey T. Leath), the lastest Indicators contains chapters on Elementary and Secondary Science and Mathematics Education, Higher Education in Science and Engineering, Science and Engineering Workforce, Research and Development, Academic Research and Development, Technology Development and Diffusion, Public Attitudes and Understanding, and Economic and Social Significance of Scientific and Engineering Research. "Science and EngineeringIndicators-1996" is for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402 (stock number 038-000-00592-8).

Jeffrey Marque