AIP | Matters
-- -- February 6, 2012

Gregory Good Director's Matters

Guest column by Greg Good, Director, Center for History of Physics

History never sleeps

Hutchisson (right); man on left unidentified. Credit: AIP Emilio Segrč Visual Archives In the early 1960s, AIP's director, Dr. Elmer Hutchisson, made sure that the heritage of physics became part of AIP's regular operation. He established the Niels Bohr Library and Archives (NBL&A) because "we should have a library concerned with physics people" (interview of Elmer Hutchisson by Charles Weiner on October 22, 1970, NBL&A, AIP, College Park, MD). Hutchisson recognized the danger to the historical record posed by the passing of physicists who developed relativity and quantum mechanics. AIP, he thought, needed to help preserve the manuscripts of these physicists. From this kernel has developed the great collections in NBL&A: the records of the Member Societies, archives of physicists involved in AIP, and the invaluable International Catalog of Sources. This catalog came to life on 3 x 5 cards, and it now provides researchers with a quick way to learn where to ask for some particular scientist's papers from anywhere in the world.

Another function of AIP's history programs has been to seek out important physicists to collect their stories on tape—or now, digitally. The oral history program at AIP is world renowned. Altogether we have over 1000 interviews with physicists, astronomers, geophysicists, etc. Over half of the transcripts are online and within a few months, we will have almost all of the interviews available on the web.

We cannot, however, sit on our laurels. The oral history program continues. Indeed, the History Center and NBL&A are extending the collection with interviews of industrial physicists, physicist entrepreneurs, and Member Society leaders. We also are exploring new ways of making oral interviews happen. In 2012 Greg Good, director of the Center for History of Physics, will conduct oral history "bootcamps" at APS and AAPT meetings. Historian and APS Fellow Catherine Westfall will conduct one APS workshop. This method will enlist and train graduate students and physicists to conduct interviews with people important in their societies. These new oral historians will provide us with the ability to document the stories of AIP and its Member Societies.

History of physics did not end with the deaths of Einstein, Heisenberg, and Oppenheimer. To preserve the heritage of late-20th-century physics (and allied sciences), we in AIP's history programs know we must continue to add more interviews, more photographs, etc., to our collections. Without the historical record, history cannot be written. Lest we forget, many clever people have preceded us. We can still learn from them.
Charles Weiner, Helen Wright Greuter, and Joan Warnow. We have learned with deep sadness of the death of Charles Weiner, the first director of the Center for History of Physics. It was Charlie who produced the interview with Elmer Hutchisson cited above. He last visited AIP in 2008 to speak at the retirement celebration for Spencer Weart. His pioneering work set the History Center on the path we have followed ever since. MIT, where Charlie taught history of science for many years, has published an obituary.
Physics Resources Matters

Inside Science Television launches its first videos

Inside Science TV logo The AIP News and Media Services Division has released the first videos for Inside Science Television (ISTV), the successor to the 11-years-running Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science. Now part of the Inside Science family of products, the new video program will feature the same 90-second news format with an updated look and feel, and with a greater emphasis on the physical sciences as well as other research sciences.

The videos may be viewed on the recently redesigned Inside Science website, in the television tab of the top navigation bar. The first video, "Cleaning Up Construction Runoff," features a non-toxic chemical used to clean muddy stormwater runoff from construction sites before it reaches drinking water supplies. The second video, "StarCAVE Pushes 3-D Virtual Reality to New Frontiers," features a virtual-reality tool designed for scientists to help them visualize their research. The tool has applications not only for scientific research, but also potentially for the general public.

StarCAVE The videos will be offered to local television stations for syndication on their news programs and then released on the web, where the videos may be easily shared among members of the general public and by Member Societies for their outreach efforts. The program is supported by AIP and a group of underwriters that includes multiple science, technology, engineering, and mathematics organizations.

Two new videos are slated to be released every week, including a new one on football fields by the time you read this.

To receive future Inside Science video content, feel free to set your bookmark to, or you may also subscribe directly to our Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel. And please tell your friends! PT News Picks

PT's News Picks taps FYI

Physics Today Online is a great website to place content directed at physical scientists. In January 2012, the FYI science policy news bulletin, written by Dick Jones of PRC's Government Relations Division team, was added to Physics Today's online home page under "News Picks," a daily feature. This is a fine example of cross-posting AIP resources that are of high interest to the community. As a result, FYI's traffic has increased by 6% after only three weeks of these postings.
Off the Press

Winter 2011–2012 Issue

Physics Today, February 2012 issue. This 1884 painting by Ivan Fyodorov depicts the 1764 meeting of Empress Catherine the Great, seated in the foreground, and renowned Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov, at left. To learn more about Lomonosov and his crucial role in the emergence of Russian science, see the article by Vladimir Shiltsev on page 40.
Around AIP

Tax time . . . already?

taxes AIP staff members: By now you should have received your 2011 W-2 in the mail. Those who have not received it can obtain a copy from iPay online. In addition, you should have received an email notification from iPay, alerting you that W-2 forms are electronically available through your online account. If you did not receive this communication, please visit and update your notification options under "Things You Can Do" in the Resource Center list on the right. While you are there, it is a good idea to verify your email address. Please feel free to contact Tammy Ferris in Payroll if you have any questions.
Coming Up

February 4–8

  • AAPT Winter Meeting (Ontario, CA)

Wednesday, February 8

  • February birthday breakfast socials (College Park, MD & Melville, NY)

Friday, February 10

  • AIP State Department Fellowship interviews (Washington, DC)

Wednesday, February 15

  • AIP Member Societies CEOs meeting, hosted by AGU (Washington, DC)