April 7, 1953

Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics

Minutes of Meeting

Present: George R. Harrison, Karl K. Darrow, Frederick V. Hunt, George B. Pegram, Mark W. Zemansky

Absent: Brian O’Brien, Frederick Seitz

AIP Staff: Henry A. Barton, Wallace Waterfall, Betty H. Goodfriend

Chairman Harrison called the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m.

1. Minutes:

On motion made and carried, the minutes of the meeting of March 13, 1953 were approved as circulated.

2. Election of Associate:

The Secretary presented the application of the Outboard, Marine and Manufacturing Company for Associate Membership. On motion made and carried, the application was accepted.

3. Bureau of Standards:

Mr. Harrison read the following telegram which he had received from Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks:

“I have requested Dr. Detlev W. Bronk, President of the National Academy of Sciences to appoint a chairman of a committee to evaluate the present functions and operations of the Bureau of Standards in relation to the present national needs. Dr. Bronk has already appointed Dr. M. J. Kelly, a member of the Academy of Sciences and President of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. They join me in my request to you as Chairman, Governing Board, American Institute of Physics, to appoint a member of your organization to represent your field of science on this committee. As I am most anxious to have this study made at the earliest possible time, I shall appreciate your advising me as soon as possible of your selection so that I may promptly make the appointment and arrange with Dr. Kelly for an early meeting of the committee. I am also asking for membership from the American Institute of Mechanical Engineers, American Institute of Mechanical Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Chemical Society, American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers.”

There was considerable discussion regarding the relation of science to government. The recent resignation of A. V. Astin as Director of the Bureau of Standards was discussed but it was pointed out that the Kelly committee mentioned in Secretary Weeks’ telegram will have nothing to do with the Astin resignation. Several members of the Executive Committee inquired whether the regular Visiting Committee of the Bureau should be asked to make this investigation rather than an ad hoc committee. It is understood that the Visiting Committee may not be properly constituted to perform the function intended and may not have time to devote to the problem.

A number of suggestions were made for the AIP representative on the Kelly committee. After discussion, it was unanimously agreed that, subject to his acceptance, Dr. Leo A. DuBridge be appointed the AIP representative on the Kelly Committee to investigate the Bureau of Standards and that appointment of our representative be contingent upon Secretary Weeks’ agreeing to make public the findings of the committee promptly after it reports.

By telephone it was established that Dr. DuBridge is willing to serve. The following telegram signed by Chairman Harrison was accordingly sent to Secretary Weeks:

“Replying to your wire of April 3, the American Institute of Physics appoints Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, President of the California Institute of Technology, to represent our field of science on the Kelly Committee to evaluate the present functions and operations of the Bureau of Standards in relation to the present national needs. This appointment is made with the understanding that the report of this committee will be made public promptly after submission.”

Because of the great interest expressed by many Institute members, it was the feeling of the Executive Committee that the Institute owed it to its members to ask for clarification of the Astin resignation. Accordingly, the following telegram signed by Chairman Harrison was prepared to be sent to Secretary Weeks on the day following the meeting:

“I have been instructed by the Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics to dispatch to you the following statement. Quote. Published reports regarding the resignation of A. V. Astin as Director of the National Bureau of Statistics have caused profound disquiet among American physicists. Rightly or wrongly, the impression has got abroad that the resignation was forced for political or arbitrary reasons. Such an impression, unless corrected, will greatly impair the morale of scientists now working for the government, and will make it increasingly difficult to draw other scientists into careers in government service. In the hope of dispelling this impression we respectfully urge that the matter be publicly clarified. End quote. For the information of our members we plan to release this statement publicly two days hence.”

4. Contract with Optical Society:

The Secretary presented a communication from the Optical Society containing a proposed new contract between the Institute and the Member Societies providing not only for publication but also for other services. The Optical Society proposes that these editorial and other services be performed on unit prices set six months prior to the beginning of each year. Such prices could be and in fact have been established for some jobs such as dues collection but would be very difficult to establish for certain other services and would further complicate accounting procedures. None of the members of the Committee present felt that the proposed contract was any better than the existing contract or the revision proposed by the Institute but it was the consensus that no action should be taken in the absence of Committee member O’Brien who is the President of the Optical Society.

The following action was taken by the Committee in executive session (number 5 only).

5. Administrative Salaries:

The Director’s salary has not been adjusted since 1947 and the Executive Secretary’s salary is the same as at the time of his appointment in 1949.

It was voted to increase the annual salary of the Director by $750 and that of the Executive Secretary by $500, both effective April 1, 1953.

6. Housing:

The Secretary reported that the Committee on Future Housing, Messrs. Campbell, Fisk, and Klopsteg, had met and concluded as follows:

  1. While there is a certain amount of danger in a Manhattan location due to the possibilities of war, this should not be a major consideration in determining the location of the Institute. We should take proper precautions to safeguard our important records but otherwise we should take our chances along with equally important enterprises.
  2. The Institute should continue to have its headquarters in some large city convenient to possible visitors. Either New York City or Washington, D.C. would be preferable locations.
  3. The possibility of separating the Institute staff into two or more groups was not recommended as a way to meet the housing situation because of management and communication difficulties.
  4. Selling the Institute building and buying more spacious quarters elsewhere in Manhattan does not look promising because the cost of making the change would probably be too high. The area in which our present building is located is excellent and property values here are good. Another area might not be so good. The possibility of loss of value because of encirclement of our relatively small footage by large buildings is not considered serious. There is always a possibility that there may be a change in our tax exempt status which would influence the decision to stay where we are but this is not considered very likely at the present time.
  5. The staff presented figures indicating that internal remodeling and additions, at a cost of approximately $25,000 to $30,000 would assure adequate space for approximately 5 years. With more extensive remodeling and additions, the present building could probably be made adequate for 10 to 20 years. The committee agreed that more information should be obtained about the cost of more extensive remodeling and concluded that we should remain as long as possible at our present location if the cost of providing adequate facilities is not excessive and funds can be provided.

The Secretary indicated that it is planned to proceed with minor modifications immediately as suggested at the last meeting but to delay more extensive changes or additions pending further studies in which we will seek the aid of an architect. The immediate alterations planned will not be such as to interfere with future possible changes and will not mar the beauty of the second floor.

The Committee expressed approval of these plans and, on motion made and unanimously carried, the report of the Committee on Future Housing was accepted with thanks.

7. National Science Foundation Proposal:

At the last meeting, the staff was authorized to investigate further the proposal of the NSF to cooperate in maintaining up to date records on the scientific manpower of the country. The Secretary reported that he and the Director had met with representatives of the NSF and that NSF would like to have the AIP present a request for a grant to cover the maintenance of records on physicists. There was some discussion about the desirability of undertaking this responsibility. It was the consensus of the Committee that any grant should be for a period of at least three years. It was agreed that a subcommittee should be appointed to work with the staff in preparing a proposal. This proposal will be reviewed at the next meeting unless there is some reason for haste in which case a mail ballot will be taken.

8. AIP Support by Member Societies:

At the last meeting of the Governing Board, the Director explained that the Executive Committee had appointed a committee to formulate a resolution regarding the basis of support but that a meeting of the committee had not been called because discussions with the governing bodies of the Member Societies indicated that the proposed change would not be particularly favored. The Governing Board ruled that the action taken at its meeting of March 1952 should stand, leaving the matter in the hands of the Executive Committee to be explored further with the Member Societies. The Secretary read letters from officers of the AAPT pointing out that the AAPT probably would be forced to increase dues if the $1.00 per member floor were adopted. It was also pointed out that the one Society which would benefit financially from the proposed change did not particularly favor it. After some discussion it was moved, seconded, and carried that since there seems to be some disquiet among the Societies regarding the proposed change, the staff should solicit alternative proposals.

9. Amendment to the Constitution re Chairman:

At the last Governing Board meeting, action was taken recommending a change in the present Constitution of the Institute to provide that the Chairman of the Institute need not be a member of the Board. The Director read a statement which he had drafted to be sent to the Member Societies explaining the action. The statement was approved and the Secretary was instructed to transmit the statement and recommendation to the Member Societies.

10. NSF Policy Questions:

The Secretary read a letter (dated March 25, 1953) from Paul E. Klopsteg, Associate Director of the National Science Foundation, in which he listed a number of broad policy questions facing NSF regarding the financing of research and he asked whether the Institute was in a position to help find the answers. There was some discussion of the questions and it was left to the staff to inquire further into what Dr. Klopsteg had in mind.

11. Editorial Scope of RSI:

The Director presented some complaints received from the Editor of the Journal of the Optical Society regarding papers which had appeared in RSI and which, in his opinion, should have been referred to JOSA. This conflict has been the subject of correspondence between the editors of JOSA and RSI on several occasions and is not a new problem. It was the consensus of the committee that the Director should discuss the matter with the Editor of RSI.

12. Closer Cooperation with the National Research Council:

The Director reported that Dr. Bronk had talked with him about closer cooperation between the AIP and the NRC. There was some discussion and it was the consensus of the Executive Committee that the AIP would welcome closer cooperation in all cases where it appears to be mutually beneficial.

13. Dues in the American Council on Education:

The Secretary reported that for several years the AIP has been paying dues for the AAPT as a member of the American Council on Education. This has been done because the AIP asked the AAPT to represent the Institute on this body. Dues in the council have recently been increased from $100 to $200 a year and the Committee asked whether they felt the AIP should continue to pay these dues. It was the feeling of the Committee that if that AIP pays the dues, the AIP should be the member, perhaps asking the AAPT to suggest representatives to the Council. It was finally agreed that the AIP should pay the $200 dues for the AAPT for this year but that in the future if the AIP pays the dues the AIP should be the member.

14. Committee appointments:

The following committees were reappointed for another year:

Committee for Election of Associate Members

  • Henry A. Barton
  • Wallace Waterfall

Committee on Future Housing


  • J. Campbell
  • J. B. Fisk
  • P. E. Klopsteg

Finance Committee


  • O. Buckley
  • J. Campbell
  • C. Haskins

Committee on 1956 Meeting


  • K. K. Darrow
  • F. A. Firestone
  • W. Willets
  • Hugh Wolfe
  • 1 to be appointed by Optical Society
  • Wallace Waterfall, Chairman

The following committees were appointed:


Committee to Study Organization of Students

  • R. S. Shankland, Chairman
  • Henry O’Brian
  • Byron Cohn
  • R. M. Sutton
  • Harry Kelly
  • H. S. Knowles
  • Mary Warga

Nominating Committee for Member-at-Large


  • M. H. Trytten, Chairman
  • Andrew Lawson
  • Serge Korff
  • John A. Simpson
  • F. N. D. Kurie
  • Richard K. Cook
  • Walter Nielsen

Subcommittee on National Science Foundation Proposal


  • George B. Pegram
  • K. K. Darrow
  • M. W. Zemansky

It was agreed that the personnel of the Committee on Physics Abstracts should be appointed in conference with the American Physical Society since the Society has a committee on this subject.


15. Next Meeting:

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Executive Committee should be held before June 10, probably June 4, 5, or 6.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.