AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Featured Speakers
128th National Meeting — Miami Beach, FL
Jan. 24-28, 2004

AAPT’s 128th National Meeting features an exciting line-up of speakers. Information about plenary speakers and award lecturers is given below.


Plenary Speakers

Seth J. Putterman, University of California at Los Angeles
Seth J. Putterman

Putterman is a researcher in nonlinear fluid mechanics and acoustics. Recently, he has been responsible for the renewed interest in energy focusing phenomena like sonoluminescence, which is the phenomenon where by sound is channeled into light.

Putterman and his co-workers have developed the theory of universal power spectra in wave turbulence, and participated in the discovery of fifth sound, superfluid two-phase sound and resonant mode conversion in 4He. He also participated in the discovery of kink solitons and envelope solitons in various elastic media.

Putterman, who has been on the UCLA faculty since 1970, is a student of George E. Uhlenbeck (Rockefeller University, 1970). He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and the American Physical Society and a past recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

Putterman Plenary:
Monday, Jan. 26 - 5:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.

Sonoluminescence: The Star in a Jar
Sonoluminescence is an amazing marker for the extraordinary degree by which ultrasonic energy can be focused by a pulsating bubble of gas. Local heat production exceeds Kirkhoff's law by 15 orders of magnitude and the ambient acoustic energy density concentrates by 12 orders of magnitude to create picosecond flashes of broadband ultraviolet light. Sonoluminescence is primed by the supersonic collapse of a bubble that has been previously expanded by the rarefaction phase of the sound field. At the minimum bubble radius where the contents have been compressed to solid densities, the acceleration exceeds 10^11 g, and a shock wave is emitted into the surrounding fluid with a strength that can approach 1 MegaBar. Sonoluminescence is extremely robust having been observed, in sound fields with frequencies ranging from 8 KHz to 11 MHZ, in flow through a Venturi tube and with a water hammer. The SL mechanism and its robust parameter space confound all theories. From an educator's perspective, we do not know which key principle of physics it demonstrates. Nevertheless, it has already been put to use as a surgical device. At 30KHz it is used for internal lipectomy, and at 1MHz it is used for externally assisted lipectomy. At 11 MHZ the maximum bubble radius is less than or about 1 micron so that the collapsed bubble is measured in 10's of nanometers. The unusual properties of the light—sonoluminescence is nature's smallest blackbody—suggest that SL originates in a new state of matter.

Maya Tolstoy, Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Maya TolstoyTolstoy is a marine geophysicist with a long list of publication and research credits. She is the first scientist to observe a volcanic eruption on an ultraslow-spreading mid-ocean ridge, an event that rarely occurs. She also has determined that there is a correlation between hundreds of micro-earthquakes on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and the ocean tides.

Her major research interests include design, execution and analysis of marine seismic experiments (both active and passive sources), using ocean bottom seismographs (OBSs), ocean bottom hydrophones and multichannel streamers, mid-ocean ridge structure and tectonics, ocean bottom tiltmeters, scientific uses of submarine cables, and applications of hydroacoustic data to monitoring of the comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

She has extensive sea-going experience, primarily in OBS work, but including multichannel, electromagnetic, tilt, DSL-120, Argo, dredging, and rock coring.

Tolstoy was born in New York City, but grew up in Scotland and comes from a family of academics. Her father and two sisters are also scientists and her mother is a theologian. She received her Ph.D. in 1994 at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA, and joined Columbia University in 1998.

Tolstoy Plenary
Tuesday, Jan. 27 - 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Listening to the Ocean
The ocean covers two-thirds of the surface of our planet, and hides long chains of seafloor volcanoes, bizarre and magnificent life forms, and many dynamic geological processes. Changes in the physical properties of seawater with depth result in a low-velocity waveguide known as the SOFAR channel (Sound Fixing and Ranging). This waveguide allows relatively quiet sounds to travel great distances without losing much energy. In this way we are able to record many noises that occur within or on the boundary of the ocean, giving us insight into geological, biological and man-made activities in the ocean. Using hydrophones, low frequency sounds are monitored in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean, picking up seafloor earthquakes, iceberg creaks, whale calls, shipping noise, and other sounds traveling through the ocean. Examples of these and other sounds, and their implications, will be discussed.

Jayanth R. Banavar, Pennsylvania State University
Jayanth R. BanavarBanavar is a condensed-matter theorist whose research focus is application of statistical physics techniques on interdisciplinary problems including such diverse topics as protein folding, fluids in confined geometries, ecology, river-network formation, and spin glasses.

Banavar joined the Penn State faculty as a professor of physics in 1988 and became department head in 1998. He earned his doctoral degree in physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978 after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at Bangalore University in India in 1972 and 1974. He was awarded a Faculty Scholar Medal from Penn State in 1977 and a Fulbright Fellowship in 1995.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Association for the Advancement of Science.

Banavar Plenary
Wednesday, Jan. 28 - 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Geometry and Physics of Proteins
A framework is presented for understanding the common character of proteins. It is shown that the notion of a tube of non-zero thickness allows one to bridge the conventional compact polymer phase with a novel phase employed by Nature to house biomolecular structures. We build on the idea that a non-singular continuum description of a tube of arbitrary thickness entails discarding pairwise interactions and using appropriately chosen many-body interactions. We suggest that the structures of folded proteins are selected based on geometrical considerations and are poised at the edge of compaction, thus accounting for their versatility and flexibility. We present an explanation for why helices and sheets are the building blocks of protein structures.

Ceremonial Speakers

Robert B. Clark, Brigham Young University
Robert Beck ClarkClark received his college education at Yale. He has spent 32 years teaching physics in Texas, first at the University of Texas at Austin and then at Texas A&M where he is Regents Professor. During his years in Texas, he has had the opportunity to work with many involved in physics and science teaching as the A&M teaching field advisor for the physics, physical science, and science composite teaching fields and through CAST, summer AP physics workshops and the NSF AAPT/PTRA, PEP, TIPS from TTOPS, PEPTYC and Quantum Optics programs. He has been the recipient of the Robert N. Little Award and the Oersted Medal. In 2000 he joined the faculty at Brigham Young University.

Melba Newell Phillips Award
Monday, Jan. 26, 9:30 a.m.

Some Lessons Learned
Over the years the speaker has had the good fortune of working with many physics students and physics teachers. In this talk we will discuss some significant lessons learned from those interactions.

Lene Vestergaard Hau, Harvard University
Lene Hau

Lene Hau, the scientist who first slowed light to bicycle speed and then stopped it completely, is a MacArthur Fellow.

In 1989 she accepted a two-year appointment as a postdoctoral fellow in physics at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Aarhus in Denmark in 1991. Her formalized training is in theoretical physics but her interest moved to experimental research.

In 1991 she joined the Rowland Institute for Science in Cambridge as a scientific staff member. In 1999 she was appointed the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Physics at Harvard.

Hau’s scientific contributions have been recognized through honors that besides the MacArthur Fellowship include the NKT award, awarded by the Danish Physical Society, 2001; the Ole Romer Medal, awarded by the president of the University of Copenhagen, 2001; an Honorary Degree, Aereshandvaerker Kjobenhavns Handvaerkerforening, awarded in the presence of Her Majesty, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Copenhagen, 2001; recipient of the Samuel Friedman Rescue Award, awarded by the Friedman Foundation, University of California, Los Angeles, 2001; recipient of the Year 2000 Award from the Top Danmark Foundation, Copenhagen Denmark, 2000; recipient of the J.C. Jacobsen 200 Year Anniversary Award, awarded by the Carlsberg Foundation, Denmark, 1989.

Hau recently was awarded an honorary appointment to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences.

Richtmyer Memorial Award
Monday, Jan. 26, 10:00 a.m.

Light at Bicycle Speed — and Slower Yet!
We have slowed a light pulse to 38 miles/hour in an ultra-cold cloud of sodium atoms. The atoms are laser cooled to temperatures of a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero, at which point they form a Bose-Einstein condensate. The condensate is manipulated with precisely tuned laser beams, and the laws of quantum mechanics are utilized to obtain the enormous slowdown of light. Associated with the dramatic reduction factor for the light speed is a spatial compression of the pulses by the same large factor. A light pulse, which is 1-2 miles long in vacuum, is compressed to a size of 0.002 inches, and at that point it is completely contained within the small atom cloud. This further allows us to completely stop and park the light pulse in the atomic medium, and—at will—we can subsequently regenerate the pulse and send it back on its way. With the most recent extension of the method, the light roadblock, we can compress light pulses to only 0.0001 inches. This system has been used to generate Quantum Shock Waves in Bose-Einstein condensates. These dramatic excitations result in the formation of quantized vortices: the superfluid analogue of tornadoes.

Lawrence M. Krauss, Case Western Reserve Univ.
Lawrence KraussKrauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist and author. The public may recognize him as author of the best-selling book “The Physics of Star Trek.”

He also has won acclaim for his book “Atom,” for which he was awarded the 2002 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.

Krauss has wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, where his studies include the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics. He has investigated questions ranging from the nature of exploding stars to issues of the origin of all mass in the universe.

He was born in New York City and moved shortly thereafter to Toronto, Canada, where he grew up. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1982), then joined the Harvard Society of Fellows (1982-85). He joined the faculty of the department of Physics and Astronomy at Yale University as assistant professor in 1985, and associate professor in 1988.

In 1993, he was named the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and Chairman of the department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University. In 2001, the American Physical Society awarded him the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize "for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the early universe, and extraordinary achievement in communicateing the essense of physical science to the general public." Krauss also has received AIP's Andrew Gemant Award. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Oersted Award
Monday, Jan. 26, 10:30 a.m.

A State of the Universe Address
I believe that much of the excitement that should come from the teaching of physics arises from the actual excitement associated with learning how wild the universe can be. I will thus begin by talking about the recent revolutionary discoveries in cosmology. The standard model of cosmology of the 1980's is now dead. Its replacement is far more bizarre! Next, I will talk about the other thing that should make physics interesting to a broad audience, which is how much predictive power you can get for so little. I will then review how, using some basic concepts in physics—without reference to the details of biology—we can argue that life cannot persist forever in our universe.