News From the Center for History of Physics

By Greg Good

The History Center is sponsoring an international, intergenerational conference on “Continuity and Discontinuity in the Physical Sciences since the Enlightenment.” We expect as many as 100 historians of science will attend, and we are aiming this mainly at graduate students and early-career professionals. This will last from July 28 to 31st, 2011, and will be held here in the ACP. This conference is in the hands of the next generation of historians of physics. The organizing committee includes the half dozen young scholars named in a separate article, chaired by our unpaid intern, Amy Fisher. Amy recently successfully defended her PhD dissertation at the University of Minnesota! Other members are located in Berlin, Brazil, Beijing, France, and the US. There is also an advisory committee of senior scholars.

We are making headway on two additions to our internet “Exhibit Hall”: “The Edge of Space” and “Rutherford’s Nuclear World.” We hope that these will be up and running before the Summer 2011 newsletter is received. We are completely revamping the History Center’s side of the website to serve three main constituencies: K–12 education, the “curious,” and professional scholars who work in history of physics and the allied sciences. We are adding some fun features for the first two groups and several useful tools for the “CHP-Scholars.” You may recall that the Niels Bohr Library & Archives completely redesigned its side of the website in 2009.

A unifying initiative of the Center is to reach out to historians of physical science everywhere and to strengthen the sense of community among them. To that end, I visited Brazil for two weeks in August and gave lectures to graduate programs in history of science at two universities. I spoke about some of my research in history of geophysics and about the resources available at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. I recently heard that as many as 15 Brazilian graduate students will be proposing abstracts for the 2011 “Continuity” conference! This was a wonderful opportunity to speak one-on-one with young scholars and to pull them a little closer to the Center and NBL&A. This newsletter includes an article on graduate study in history of science in Brazil by two Brazilian colleagues.

Hellos and Goodbyes: The Center has been lucky this year to have SPS summer intern Raina Khatri (a double major in Physics and English at Hope College, Michigan) working with us on the new web exhibit “Edge of Space.” Raina is now back at school. We also have had Dr. Amy Fisher working closely with us on the redesign of the Center’s web presence and on the 2011 “Continuity” conference. Lastly, for three years our post-doc Will Thomas has called AIP home, but he has moved on to Imperial College, London. The new biographical resource “Array of Contemporary American Physicists” is Will’s product. We greatly appreciate the energy and hard work all three of them brought to us. Although Raina, Amy, and Will are now elsewhere, we will continue to collaborate closely with them.

Will’s departure also means that the History Center will soon be looking for a new post-doc historian of science. The new post-doc will begin in 2011 and continue for three years.

In the Hello category, we welcome Richee-Lori Smith, AIP’s new Chief Development Officer. Richee will be very important to the History Center and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives, as well as to Education and other units in the Physics Resource Center. We’re glad to have you on board, Richee!

« Back to Table of Contents