The history of our bi-annual Topical Symposia was described in our 2011 Newsletter. Since Fall 2009 the web site for each past meeting has been archived. In the following we report on the Spring and Fall 2013 meetings.
Our 108th Topical Symposium was hosted by the Department of Physics at Wells College in Aurora, NY on April 19 – 20, 2013. The meeting was organized by Scott Heinekamp (Wells College) and Sunil Labroo (SUNY Oneonta), outgoing section chair. The adopted theme of the meeting, "Recent Advances in Physics," was in part a reference to the then preliminary evidence for the "Higgs boson" from detectors at the LHC accelerator at CERN, Switzerland. The keynote speaker and one invited speaker addressed this topic. Other recent advances described by invited speakers included the detection of numerous "exoplanets" orbiting nearby stars and breakthroughs in materials science and biophysics. In recognition of the importance of communicating such advances to a wider audience, several of the invited talks were concerned with outreach.
This was the first NYSS-APS Topical Symposium to be held at Wells College. The college is located on a beautiful hillside campus on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake about midway between Ithaca and Auburn. The institution has a rich history that dates back to its founding as a women's seminary in 1868 by Henry Wells, a pioneering 19th-century businessman who founded the American Express Company and Wells, Fargo & Company. The college was developed on land adjacent to Wells' estate Glen Park. In 2004, after 136 years of leadership in women's education, the college became co-educational. The college currently has five residence halls, four academic buildings, 75 faculty and an average student body of 550. Students can cross-register for courses at Cornell and Ithaca College.
Most of the meeting was held in an atrium and lecture hall in Stratton Hall. The Friday morning Executive Committee meeting took place in the Henry Wells room in Long Library, which overlooks Cayuga Lake. The Friday evening banquet and lecture was held in the Sommer Center, which makes up the larger part of Smith Hall, one of many beautiful campus buildings with a rich, diverse history. Originally the campus gymnasium, Smith Hall was renovated extensively as a student center in 1995. The meeting was marked by not only many inspiring, engaging and often entertaining talks but also lots of enthusiastic informal discussion, as illustrated in these pictures. Total attendance at the meeting was 80, of whom exactly half (40) were students.
Conference attendees included a large group (16 in all) from SUNY College at Plattsburgh, who drove over five hours each way to attend. The group led by newly-elected Executive Board member Ken Podolak included eleven undergraduate and three high school students; the students presented five posters, several of which were recognized with cash awards. (Photos courtesy Ken Podolak.)
Our 109th consecutive biannual Topical Symposium was hosted by Pace University (Westchester) in Pleasantville, NY on Saturday, November 16, 2013. The meeting was organized by NYSS-APS Executive Board members Abigail Flower (Philips Research North America), Harold Hastings (Hofstra University and Bard College at Simon's Rock) and John Noé (Stony Brook University). The Organizing Committee decided to experiment with a one-day format for this meeting. It was hoped that this would allow increased participation by students and educators and avoid an overnight stay for most participants. The meeting opened at 10:00 AM with welcome remarks by Sandra Flank from Pace University and Abigail Flower, and concluded at about 4:00 PM. There were eight invited talks and a lunchtime poster session. The complete program as well as biographies of the speakers is archived on the nyss-aps.org web site. The Executive Board meeting took place on Friday evening at Philips Research in Briarcliff Manor.
The adopted theme of the Symposium, “Physics in Nature,” was intended to recognize the many ways that physicists study and learn from natural phenomena. The goal was to inspire an interest in this theme and to inform the audience about the variety of careers open to physicists, rather than to present the most recent results. Several of the afternoon talks were devoted to physics education. Keith Sheppard gave a fascinating description of high school physics education in New York State from the inception of the Regents Exams in the mid 19th century. Sheppard and several other speakers are affiliated with Stony Brook University. The diverse audience included many high school and undergraduate students, and various science educators and science education graduate students.
The interesting long history of Pace University dates from 1906, when accounting classes were first offered by Homer Pace in lower Manhattan. The school was coeducational from its inception. Pace opened its Westchester campus in Pleasantville in the early 1960's and became a university in 1973. The School of Education, among others, is currently located on the Westchester campus, which is a few miles from the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge. The meeting took place in an auditorium in Lienhard Hall on the western edge of the Pleasantville campus. Posters were displayed in a nearby classroom and adjoining hallways.
This was the second NYSS-APS meeting hosted by Pace University (Westchester). The first was on April 10-11, 1981 on the theme "Energy: Physics of Alternate Sources and Storage Systems." The meeting ran from Friday morning until Saturday noon. The program is an interesting historical document. (Your editor thanks Jill Linz at Skidmore for providing it.) There were 13 invited talks of 30 minutes each by leading scientists. Three of the speakers were from BNL and five in all from various industrial research labs run by RCA, Bell Telephone, and GE. There were no posters or contributed talks.