August 1997 Physics Today Contents


Geophysical Dynamics at the Center of the Earth

The Earth's iron core and its boundary with the rocky mantle are very active regions. Now we can see what's going on down there with unprecedented clarity -- Raymond Jeanloz and Barbara Romanowicz

How Nature Harvests Sunlight

Specialized molecular aggregates in purple bacteria exploit subtle quantum physics to collect and convert light energy for photosynthesis -- Xiche Hu and Klaus Schulten

Temperature Scales Below 1 Kelvin

Efforts are under way to develop a temperature scale that would reach as low as 0.001 kelvin and extend the present international scale, which is compromising many experiments conducted below 0.65 K -- Robert J. Soulen Jr and William E. Fogle


Reference Frame

A beginner's guide to the atom laser -- Daniel Kleppner

Search and Discovery

Earth's upper mantle: How low can it flow? Does material in Earth's mantle circulate within the upper and lower regions separately, never mixing, or is the entire mantle stirred as one? The latest evidence indicates that convection involves at least some deep mixing of the upper mantle.

Quantum state reconstruction of squeezed light.

Accelerator magnet with brittle superconductor sets a record.

Washington Reports

Question of government leadership in science policy is answered, surprisingly, by Wisconsin congressman

Peña breaks ground at Livermore laser-fusion facility but construction awaits Federal court ruling on project

Washington dispatches

National Research Council studies operate under new openness rules

Physics Community

With new governments in power, changes in science policy are expected in France, and hoped for in the UK. France's new science minister Claude Allègre promises action; in the UK, where John Battle is the new science minister, things look less promising.

CERN plans to reduce costs through voluntary pay cuts

Bell Labs names Murray to head physical research lab

Goldston is named director of PPPL

Sagan on Mars

Postgraduation plans of the class of 1996

Web Watch: Specialized databases


Concert and Opera Halls: How They Sound, L. Beranek (reviewed by D. Hougland)

The Peenemünde Wind Tunnels: A Memoir, P. P. Wegener (reviewed by H. G. Hornung)

Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century, B. H. Kevles (reviewed by C. A. Kelsey)

Before Big Science: The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics, 1800-1940, M. J. Nye (reviewed by E. N. Hiebert)

Superconductivity of Metals and Cuprates, J. R. Waldram (reviewed by A. M. Goldman)

The Origin of the Concept of Nuclear Forces, L. M. Brown and H. Rechenberg (reviewed by E. M. Henley)


Our regular sections: Physics Update, Letters, New Products, We Hear That, and Information Exchange.

Part II: Fourteenth Annual Buyers' Guide

This 212-page supplement to the August issue of Physics Today contains a product index, a guide to suppliers (listing more than 2000 companies), a guide to products (listing more than 1900 products and services), and a list of guides to instruments, materials, and services in allied fields.

In addition there are two articles:

The Fundamental Physical Constants

Recommended values of the basic constants and conversion values from the 1986 adjustment -- E. Richard Cohen and Barry N. Taylor

Guide for Metric Practice

Internationally recognized conventions for standard usage of SI units -- Robert A. Nelson
       ** Information on SI units available on-line at NIST

 ** For more information on the Physics Today Buyers' Guide, e-mail

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