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Featured Speakers
2005 Winter Meeting — Albuquerque, NM
Jan. 8-12, 2005

AAPT’s 2005 Winter Meeting features an exciting line-up of speakers. Information about plenary speakers and award lecturers is given below.


Plenary Speakers

Alan Friedman, New York Hall of Science
Alan FriedmanFriedman has been Director of the New York Hall of Science since 1984. Under his direction, the institution has become a leading science-technology center, with special recognition for its work in encouraging new technologies, new models for teacher training, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of informal science learning. The American Association for the Advancement of Science recognized Friedman's work in developing the Hall by naming him the 1996 winner of the AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology. He is an AAAS Fellow and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Before coming to New York, Friedman served as Conseiller Scientifique et Museologique for the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie, Paris and was the Director of Astronomy and Physics at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley for 12 years.

Friedman received his B.S. in Physics from Georgia Tech and his Ph.D. in Physics from Florida State University. He served as President of the International Planetarium Society for 1985 and 1986 and is a past member of the board of the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

Friedman Plenary:
Monday, Jan. 10 - 5:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.

Physics Influences Art: Evidence in Surreal Painting of Remedios Varo
Spanish exile Remedios Varo (1908-1963), working in Mexico City from 1942 until 1963, painted precisely detailed fantastic worlds that have intrigued art critics and scientists alike. The first major shows of her work in the United States took place not in art museums, but at the New York Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. While art critics have typically described her work with references to magic and surrealism, many of her most famous paintings are accurate metaphoric portrayals of 20th century science. Her favorite science writer was astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, and his popularizations of contemporary physics and astronomy serve as keys to appreciating Varo’s achievement.

Michel Janssen, University of Minnesota, Tab Lab of Physics
Michel JanssenJanssen is in the Program in History of Science and Technology and in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota. His areas of special interest include the history of modern physics, relativity and quantum revolutions, Einstein, and philosophy of science.

Janssen has a B.S in Physics and a B.A. in Philosophy, and M.S. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Amsterdam. He received his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1995. His dissertation focused on the transition from classical to special relativistic mechanics, and he worked for several years for the Einstein Papers Project annotating various documents that are important for understanding Einstein's route to general relativity.

He would like to use the same techniques that he used studying the history of relativity theory (with a strong emphasis on the conceptual analysis of both published and unpublished material) on the study of the development of quantum theory in the first few decades of the 20th century.

Janssen Plenary
Tuesday, Jan. 11 - 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Einstein: From Unification to Relativity and Back Again
Einstein found his way to special relativity through the unification of electric and magnetic fields. Electric and magnetic fields are not two separate fields but part of one field, the electromagnetic field. Likewise, space and time are part of one structure, space-time. In the work that led to general relativity, Einstein made a similar move. According to the equivalence principle space-time and gravitational field do not exist side by side but are part of one entity, nowadays called the inertio-gravitational field. The unification of electric and magnetic field led Einstein to the relativity of all uniform motion. For more than a decade he believed that the unification of space-time and gravity would lead to the relativity of arbitrary motion. Around 1920 he realized that this is not true and he embarked on a new project, the grand unification of electromagnetic and inertiogravitational fields.

Virginia Trimble, University of California
Virginia TrimbleTrimble, a former winner of AAPT’s Klopsteg Award, has spent half of each of the last 30 years as professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, and the other half as visiting professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland. Her current research interests include the structure and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the universe, and of the communities of scientists who study them, though she has also published a few papers in Egyptology, Jewish law, and archaeoastronomy. The total number of papers now amounts to something like 500. Trimble received her B.A. from UCLA in 1964 and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the California Institute of Technology in 1965 and 1968 respectively. She joined the UCI faculty in 1971, after a year's teaching at Smith College and two postdoctoral fellowship years at Cambridge University (M.A. 1969). At a sort of nadir in her career, Trimble was on the governing bodies of six different professional organizations, including the American Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society.

Trimble Plenary
Wednesday, Jan. 12 - 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

The Dark Century: Matter, Energy, and the Future of the Universe
Dark matter is a sort of shorthand for an enormous body of evidence indicating that most of the stuff in the universe neither emits nor absorbs its fair share of light. Some of the data go back more than 80 years, and there are hints its even earlier. Dark energy, also called quintessence, the cosmological constant, and even worse things, is both an integration constant in Einstein’s equations and a similar shorthand. The database here is not quite so extensive or so deeply grounded in history, but still very persuasive, implying that the universe is as flat as general relativity allows and that its expansion is accelerating. There are droves of candidates for both dark matter particles and dark energy fields, though so far no laboratory detections of any. Something can, however, be said about their properties, which, in turn, determine the long-range future.

Ceremonial Speakers

Carlos Bustamante, University of California, Berkeley
Barlos BustamanteBustamante, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of California, Berkeley, came to the United States from Peru 26 years ago as a Fulbright scholar.

Bustamante’s research interests include the development of novel methods of single molecule manipulation and detection (such as Optical Tweezers and Single Molecule Fluorescence microscopy) and their application to study the behavior of DNA-binding molecular motors and the mechanical unfolding of globular proteins and RNA's. In addition his research group uses the Scanning Force Microscope (SFM) to investigate the structure of chromatin and the global structure of protein-nucleic acid complexes relevant to the molecular mechanisms of control of transcription in prokaryotes.

Bustamante received his B.S. degree from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru; his M.S. in biochemistry from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos; and his Ph.D. in biophysics from University of California, Berkeley.

Bustamante is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He also is an American Physical Society Fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, was named New Mexico Eminent Scholar in 1989, and is a Searle Scholar (1984).

Richtmyer Memorial Lecture
Monday, Jan. 10, 9:45 a.m.

Measuring the Torsional Rigidity of DNA: An Old Problem with a New Twist
Knowing the elastic properties of DNA is essential to understanding DNA: protein interactions and the structural dynamics of cellular processes such as replication, transcription, and chromosome condensation. As a first step towards studying transcription in topologically constrained molecules, we have developed a single molecule assay to determine the torsional mechanics of DNA. We have used a technique based on optical trapping and video microscopy to measure torque as a function of twist for stretched DNA tethers. Torsional strain in over- or underwound molecules was used to power the rotation of submicron beads that served as calibrated viscous loads. We tested the linearity of DNA’s twist elasticity, directly measured the torsional modulus (finding a value 40% higher than widely used), characterized torque-induced structural transitions, and established a framework for future assays of torque and twist generation by DNA-dependent enzymes. In addition, our observations of continuous DNA-powered rotation have implications for the construction of nanomechanical devices: We have demonstrated that cooperative structural transitions in DNA can be exploited to construct a constant-torque windup motor and a force-torque converter.

Eugene D. Commins, University of California, Berkeley
Lawrence Krauss

Commins is an emeritus professor at University of California, Berkeley. He previously specialized in atomic molecular experiments. After approximately 15 years of effort, he and his colleagues completed a lengthy experimental search for the electric dipole moment (EDM) of the electron.

Commins now would like to take up some new research, in the field of astrophysics. In particular, he is interested in the recent remarkable observations of distant Type 1A supernovae, and would like to study some of the many interesting physical problems associated with these observations.

Commins received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1958. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, AAAS, APS, and received the Berkeley Campus Distinguished Teaching Awards in 1963 and 1979.

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

Those Who Inspire Me
I am profoundly grateful to the AAPT for awarding me the Oersted medal. Although I have taught physics at Berkeley for over 40 years, I know essentially nothing about formal pedagogical methods, and I still think that "teaching" and "learning" are mysterious and elusive processes. Inspiration—whatever that may be—is all-important. I want to speak about some of those persons who have inspired me, directly and indirectly, from high school to the present.