Monday, September 13, 2010

Randy Nanna Director's Matters

Guest column by Randy Nanna, Publisher, Physics Today

Physics Today, an extraordinary hybrid

Magazines, whether special- or general-interest, whether about parenting, bird watching, news, or virtually any other topic imaginable, are meant to entice readers. While piquing readers' interest, a magazine might also educate or entertain them. By contrast, journals are special-interest publications intended solely to advance scholarly knowledge. Often peer-reviewed, journals are filled with specialists' research, and the presentation of that research is often daunting, hardly enticing.

Physics Today, the best known brand of AIP and arguably the best known physics publication in the world, is an extraordinary hybrid. Clearly a magazine with its stunning covers, engaging layout, and liberal use of colorful design elements, PT nevertheless has peer-reviewed feature articles and sets a gold standard for authoritativeness in scientific coverage. PT's mantra is to "get it right" and still be appealing and interesting to the readers—all 125,000 of them in 151 countries. And those readers span a huge range in scientific pursuits, from acoustics and astronomy to Zeeman splitting and zone plates. PT's website provides many other interesting and original features sure to entice an even wider audience. PT's job is to cover it all, on Earth or beyond, in a lab or a theorist's mind, pushing frontiers of knowledge or social relevance. Physics Today has something for every reader. Its editors, reporters, writers, and artists get their ideas and material, articles and stories, reviews and updates, from myriad sources within the community of which they are themselves a big part. The raw material is then translated into engaging pieces aimed at capturing the interests of wildly disparate readers, and uniting them around a common appreciation for the power of science. For them, it is both a pleasure and an honor to thus serve the global community.

PT cover Feature articles in the September issue of Physics Today:

  • "The Freedom of Confinement in Complex Fluids" by Amy Q. Shen and Perry Cheung
  • "The Discovery of Superconductivity" by Dirk van Delft and Peter Kes
  • "Imaging with Ambient Noise" by Roel Snieder and Kees Wapenaar

Cover: This image from a simulation of wind blowing past a building (black square) reveals the vortices that are shed downwind of the building; dark orange represents the highest air speeds, dark blue the lowest. As a result of such vortex formation and shedding, tall buildings can experience large, potentially catastrophic forces.

Publishing Matters

AVS publications migrate to digital library on C³ platform

AVS Publications Digital Library

AVS united all of its journals' publications under a digital library umbrella as they migrated to Scitation's C³ platform. Researchers can now find innovative new highlights and functionality, such as views of session-specific search and browsing history, alerting services such as RSS, and subscriber-only tools like downloadable article figures, tables, and multimedia. The site provides easy access to content, C³'s powerful MarkLogic-faceted search capability, and mobile views, and it will soon deliver access to all journal content through iAVS—AVS's iPhone/iPad app.

AVS logo The Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology and Biointerphases also debuted the AIP Peer X-Press online submission tool that speeds time to publication by streamlining peer-review functions. Authors can conveniently upload article text, graphics, and supplemental and multimedia files.

Check out the fresh new look of the AVS journals by visiting

Physics Resources Center Matters

The 25th International Conference of Physics Students

SPS members Anya Burkart, Joshua Fuchs, and Daniel Glass presented their research and represented the US at the 2010 ICPS. Four hundred physics students from 47 nations gathered August 17–23 in Graz, Austria, for the International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS)—an annual event, organized by the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS), which includes student lectures, lab tours, distinguished speakers, excursions, and social events. Each year the Society of Physics Students sends the recipients of the SPS Outstanding Student Awards for Undergraduate Research to the conference. The US delegation included 2010 awardees Anya Burkart of Creighton University in Omaha, NE, and Daniel Glass of Elon University in Elon, NC, and SPS member Joshua Fuchs of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Fuchs won the 2009 award and returned on his own dime to attend the ICPS for a second year.

The ICPS opens at the University of Graz, the second-oldest university in Austria. Students give the majority of the presentations at the ICPS. Burkart reported that she heard talks on black holes, time, lasers, radiation, astrophysics, electric car design, and even the politics involved in the advancement of solar energy in Turkey. Students also organize the All Nations Party, a perennial ICPS favorite. The US delegation shared foods and drinks such as buttered popcorn, root beer, and s'mores at the gathering, and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Joshua Fuchs takes in a panoramic view of Graz, Austria; its "Old Town" is one of the best-preserved city centers in Central Europe. Burkart and Glass represented US physics students at the IAPS general meeting. Fuchs was selected as an editor of the Journal of the International Association of Physics Students for the coming year. Fuchs summed up his experiences by saying, "The two most fun weeks of my life have been at ICPS. It is such an amazing experience [and] I feel very fortunate."

Around AIP

ACP school supply drive is a huge success

The ACP Events Committee thanks everyone for the generous donations of school supplies and brand-new school uniforms. Amy Stout, Principal of Langley Park–McCormick Elementary School in Hyattsville, MD, wrote in her thank-you letter, "This kind gesture has very much warmed my heart. Our students and families will greatly appreciate these supplies. They will definitely come in handy this fall."

This week at AIP

Events at the Publishing Center (Melville, NY)

Thursday, September 16

  • CPR/AED review class, 9 am – 1 pm.

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