From the Editor

Welcome to our Spring 2014 Newsletter. In this issue you will find information about our upcoming Topical Symposium at SUNY-Oswego and reports on our 2013 Symposia at Wells College and Pace University (Westchester). Other articles relate to two outreach programs supported in part by our Section, to an annual meeting of NYS companies involved in superconductivity R&D and to a recent conference for female undergraduate physics students. We hope that you will take the time to read through the newsletter and that the material in it will prove informative and useful. Unless otherwise noted the photos included were taken by your editor. Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions, comments, or items for inclusion in the next newsletter. Last but not least, I wish to thank the many colleagues who provided material for the newsletter or otherwise assisted with its preparation. As usual, I am wholly responsible for its content.

Best regards,

John Noé
Stony Brook University

John Noé

From the Section Chair

It is a pleasure to be writing to you in my role as the Chair of the New York State Section of the American Physical Society. I assumed this role at the end of the executive board meeting during the spring 2013 symposium hosted by Wells College. I am fortunate to follow the excellent leadership of Sunil Labroo who served a double term as chair from spring 2009 to spring 2013. Please give Sunil a big thank you when you see him for his excellent leadership of the section. During the past four years, the section membership has remained steady around 2,500 members, making the New York State section one of the largest APS sections. Of course, we always have room for more members and current APS members can join the section for free during their membership renewal or by following the membership link on our website.

The NYS section is dedicated to promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics. As part of this mission we encourage undergraduate and graduate students to attend our symposia and present their research in poster format. Student registration and banquet costs are subsidized and students can apply for up to $150 each toward the cost of travel and housing. During my tenure as chair I'd like to see the number of student attendees increase; so please encourage your students to attend and present at upcoming symposia.

The NYS section also funds outreach activities. The executive committee recently voted to increase the amount of each outreach award to further support our mission of increasing public understanding and appreciation of physics particularly for K-12 students. Proposals (for up to $2,000 each) will be accepted from individuals associated with non-profit institutions who intend to carry out educational activities within the NYSS-APS area. The number of grants funded will depend upon funds allocated to the Outreach Program during that funding cycle. An additional $200 may be granted to each grantee for travel to present his/her results at a meeting of the Section.


Michael “Bodhi” Rogers
Ithaca College

Michael “Bodhi” Rogers

Upcoming Meetings

Astrophysics for the News Century

Our 110th Topical Symposium will take place on Friday and Saturday April 25 and 26, 2014, at the SUNY College at Oswego. (Oswego is located at the south-eastern end of Lake Ontario, about an hour by car north of Syracuse.) The theme of the meeting is Astrophysics for the New Century. This will be a joint meeting with the Astronomical Society of New York (ASNY). The meeting is hosted by the SUNY Oswego Department of Physics and has been organized by Shashi Kanbur and department chair Dale Zych. The meeting venue is the recently completed Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering, and Innovation.

The Friday afternoon portion of the meeting will feature talks on a wide range of cutting-edge astronomy research performed at various institutions in New York State. Invited speakers will discuss the Cassini mission, extra-solar planets, interstellar dust, space-borne observatories, multi-wavelength observations of planetary nebulae, and cosmology. Prof. Adam Frank of the University of Rochester will deliver the Friday evening public lecture on Computational Astrophysics. The meeting activities on Saturday will include two sessions of contributed talks by faculty, postdocs and students and a poster session.

The Symposium organizers especially encourage undergraduates to attend the meeting and submit posters on their work. Students at any level can attend the Symposium at no charge and the banquet at half the usual charge. Students presenting posters can attend the banquet at no cost; posters judged best will receive cash awards. Following the ASNY tradition, the Saturday portion of the meeting will include a light lunch and will conclude about 4:00 PM.

Please visit the meeting web page to see the complete program and related information. All participants are encouraged to register through the web site very soon if they haven't already done so.

Other Upcoming Meetings
The Fall 2014 Symposium will be held at SUNY College at Plattsburgh on September 26th and 27th. At this time the theme of the meeting is still under discussion. Contact organizer Ken Podalak for further information. Plattsburgh is in the north-east corner of New York State, 2.5 hours drive north of Albany.

Meetings in 2015 and beyond could take place at Vassar College and Sarah Lawrence College in the Hudson Valley and/or at SUNY College at Fredonia in western NYS, on Lake Erie.

Past Meetings

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.

Recent Advances in Physics

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.


PresentationReviewing PresentationJudges chattingSymposium organizers Sunil Labroo and Scott HeinekampGroup Presentation

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.)

Presenter next to their PosterPresenter next to their poster

Presenters next to their posterPresenter showing their poster to a judgePresenters and their Poster

Physics in Nature

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 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.


PresentationPresentationReview PosterPair of PresentersGroup of Presenters Poster awardees with poster judging committee

Outreach Programs

Have you ever thought about how you might contribute to building the physics community by sharing your curiosity and enthusiasm for science with others? How you might better retain your present students and recruit future students? What you and your students might do with $1,000 or more in support towards such an effort? If so, please note that an important NYSS-APS activity is the support we provide for projects that "increase public understanding and appreciation of physics" particularly for K-12 students. Grants are now available up to a maximum of $2,000 with some additional funds available for personal expenses. Grant applications are considered at the semi-annual Executive Committee meetings and are due one week in advance of these meetings. For furher information visit the APS web page for our unit.

In the following we describe two outreach programs that have been supported in part by grants from our Section. The first program was led by Gilad Barach and Steven Lowinger, undergraduate physics majors at Yeshiva University in New York City. The second program is the Long Island Science Center in Riverhead, New York, which was established with help from two physicists at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

START Science at Yeshiva University
Project START Science is a Yeshiva University student-led program that brings college students into public school classrooms to lead hands-on lessons in science. The program, begun in 2011, has involved over 150 students to date. START currently runs weekly science modules (lessons) in eight classes spread throughout four K-8 public schools in the predominantly Latino-American Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The modules cover topics in a wide variety of STEM-related fields. START volunteers emphasize the hands-on activities which develop students' intuition of the scientific principles taught. A typical module has 7-8 undergraduate volunteers. The volunteers develop the weekly lessons and bring them to classrooms with 25-30 students. Each lesson starts with a short powerpoint presentation by the module leader and then moves to small groups of 3-4 students per volunteer for demonstrations. This format allows considerable personal attention for the students and affords them the ability to ask many questions.

Gilad and Steven have been involved in the START program since its inception and have taught a variety of subjects. They applied for an outreach grant to enhance the physics lessons of the program. The equipment they were able to purchase (eg, a stroboscope to demonstrate vibrating strings) will be used indefinitely. They further explain:

With the help of the APS Physics Outreach Grant, we spent a semester in an eighth grade class in IS 143, running six expanded modules dedicated to physics. Our first module discussed conservation of energy, and the students built marble roller coasters to study how potential energy and kinetic energy can be converted. Our next three modules introduced electromagnetism by beginning with electrostatics (how a balloon rubbed against hair will attract paper), then advancing to electric circuits (electrons will move along conductors, but only if the circuit is closed), and culminating with electromagnetism (showing how electric currents can produce magnetic fields and changing magnetic fields can induce electric currents). We then had a module on sound waves, in which students made their own rubber band guitars, saw vibrating tuning forks under a stroboscope, and visualized their speech and whistling on an oscilloscope. Our final module covered optics; students experimented with the effect of converging and diverging lenses, and learned how their glasses work. The students anticipated the module each week and learned a lot about physics and the world around them over the course of the semester.

Group of Students watching teacher demonstrate an activityStudents Presenting

Girl looking through Magnifying Glass

Long Island Science Center
The Long Island Science Center (LISC) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting the knowledge and love of science, technology, engineering and math in K-12 students on Long Island. LISC started as a small classroom science museum in the Shoreham - Wading River school district near Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in 1992. About ten years later, with help from senior BNL physicists Peter Wanderer and Peter Z. Takacs, funds were raised to purchase a three-story storefront building at 11 West Main Street in Riverhead, NY, to serve as a permanent home for the Center. (Wangler and Takacs remain involved with the LISC and are currently Board Vice President and Board Secretary, respectively.)

Riverhead is located midway between the North and South Forks of eastern Long Island, where the Peconic River empties into Peconic Bay. The town is about 15 miles (20 minutes drive) east of BNL. After decades of decline Riverhead is experiencing a revival, with a popular aquarium and nearby wineries drawing many visitors. LISC is flourishing as well, and now has a full-time Executive Director, a staff of about 15 paid part-time assistants and educators, and a wide variety of programs, both "in-reach" and "out-reach." Some of these programs involve student interns from nearby high schools. The Science Center's exhibits and programs "bring science to life" through exciting, interactive, hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities. Visit the LISC website to learn more about the Center's staff, educational philosophy, and programs.

Over the last eight years, three grants from our APS Section have contributed to the growth of the LISC by supporting the development of physics-related programs for 6th grade students related to Maglev and Newton's Laws.

Group of students testing out a projectStudents creating their projectstudents measuring length of an object

Superconductivity Summit Meetings

Industrial R&D related to superconductivity has a long history in New York State, particularly in the Albany area. The keynote speaker at the Fall 2011 Topical Symposium at SUNY-Oneonta, Nobel laureate Ivar Giaver, performed his pioneering research on electron tunnelling in superconductors at General Electric Research Laboratory in 1960. NYSS-APS Executive Board member Michael Hennessy was chief scientist at Intermagnetics General Corporation (Guilderland, NY) for several decades. IGC (originally a spin-off from GE and now part of Philips) develops superconducting magnets for MRI applications and superconducting power transmission lines, among other things.

Currently there are a number of New York State companies active in this field. They have launched an annual meeting, the NYS Superconductor Technology Summit, to provide an informal forum for discussion of the science, engineering and business aspects of superconductivity, particularly in NY State. The organizers hope that these meetings will provide an opportunity for individuals in the academic, government and business communities to meet informally to plan and discuss present and future projects and foster collaboration.

The Third Annual Summit was held May 6-7, 2013 at CNSE in Albany. The next summit will be held in Fall 2014 or Spring 2015. Contact Dr. Hennessy at MTECH Laboratories (Ballston Spa, NY) for further information.


Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory recently co-hosted the 2014 East Coast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) from January 16th to 19th. The event was organized by Abhay Deshpande (SBU) and Noel Blackburn (BNL). Thirty-eight of the 99 student participants were from a wide variety of schools in New York State: the SUNY Colleges at Albany, Brockport, Geneseo, and Orange; Adelphi University; Colgate University; Columbia University; Cornell University; CUNY Hunter College; Fordham University; Hofstra University; Le Meyone College; Macaulay Honors College; NY Polytechnic; Siena College; Stony Brook University; and York College. The conference included a student poster session, a tour of BNL facilities, panel discussions, and talks by a variety of physics professionals.

The goal of CUWiP is to encourage undergraduate women to continue in physics by connecting them with their peers and established female scientists and other mentors and role models. CUWiP was founded in 2006 at the University of Southern California and has since expanded to include eight locations nation-wide that host the annual conference simultaneously. The recent SBU-BNL meeting was the second time a school in New York State was selected as the East Coast host. (Cornell hosted the event in 2013.) The corresponding 2015 meeting will take place in late January at Yale University.

For more information, visit the CUWiP website. CUWiP is supported by the American Physical Society, the Office of Science in the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. The following photos from the BNL portion of the event were provided by BNL.

Keynote speaker Sally Dawson describes the long search for the Higgs bosonStudent participants at the Friday poster session

Accelerator physicist Silvia Verdú-André leads a tour of the RHIC control room

This newsletter has been compiled and edited by John Noé (Stony Brook University), who is solely responsible for its content.