Public Release:  From Mars to Maryland: 2005 AAAS Annual Meeting spotlights

Space news, world health, family fun and more

American Association for the Advancement of Science

From Mars to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, and from whales of the world to Iraq's once-lush marshlands, the 2005 AAAS Annual Meeting -- America's largest general science conference -- promises breaking-news headlines on a wide range of topics, plus free family science activities.

Set for February 17-21 in Washington, DC, the AAAS Annual Meeting offers an unsurpassed technical program for scientists, educators, policymakers and reporters, as well as public events for families and job-seekers. The Meeting is expected to draw some 10,000+ individuals from 60 countries, including 1,200 press registrants.

On Saturday and Sunday during the AAAS Meeting, free Family Science Days will include a rolling rainforest, gooey slime demos, updates on hairdo science throughout the ages, beat-the-clock building games for young engineers and many other fun, hands-on learning activities. Open to everyone, the AAAS Family Science Days will take place in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel's exhibition hall, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., both days.

In addition, more than 150 scientific sessions for general registrants and reporters at this year's AAAS (Triple-A-S) Meeting will focus on space science, medical breakthroughs, sustainable development, Albert Einstein's "miraculous year," marine science news, advances in understanding life's genetic blueprint and much more. Highlights of the 2005 AAAS Meeting will include, for example, a special World Year of Physics gala, co-sponsored by AAAS and the American Physical Society.

"One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein's most influential discoveries revolutionized our understanding of energy, light and time," explained AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of the journal Science. "It is thus particularly fitting that the 2005 AAAS Annual Meeting will feature many of the world's most prominent physicists, including the AAAS President, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson."

This year, Leshner added: "The 2005 Meeting also promises the latest updates from the Cassini-Huygens space probes, from deep-sea explorations, and from cutting-edge efforts to personalize medical treatments based on individual genetic variations. In this way, the 2005 Meeting will once again illustrate how AAAS and its members are working to advance science and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people."

Reflecting the theme, "The Nexus: Where Science Meets Society," highlights of the 2005 Meeting will include the following events and luminaries:

AAAS PRESIDENTIAL LECTURE

Shirley Ann Jackson, the first African-American elected president of AAAS, the world's largest general science society, will kick off the 2005 Meeting with her Presidential Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 17, in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel's Ballroom Salon 2 and 3.

Jackson has been an outspoken advocate for strong and continued support for fundamental research in science and engineering to assure that the United States maintains its national capacity for innovation. She advocates accessing and developing the full science and engineering talent pool -- including groups which traditionally have been underrepresented. She has a keen interest in interrelationships between science and the society it serves, and she encourages expansion of linkages with the global scientific community.

Jackson is president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She served as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-1999). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Jackson was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1998 for her significant contributions as a distinguished scientist and advocate for education, science, and public policy, and was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science by Discover magazine.

Jackson is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. In 2001 she received the "Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award" from the American Association of Physics Teachers, and in 2003 she delivered the William Carey Lecture of the AAAS. Among other achievements, she is the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the first two in the United States to receive a doctorate in physics.

Her research specialties are: optical and electronic properties of two-dimensional systems; theoretical, quantum, and solid-state physics; science and technology policy; and nuclear energy and regulation.

WORLD YEAR OF PHYSICS

A hundred years ago, young Albert Einstein published a trio of papers that completely reordered the human conception of the physical world. The storm of creative inspiration was so profound that 1905 is now widely known as Einstein's annus mirabilis-his miracle year. A century later, the world is commemorating Einstein's discoveries with the World Year of Physics. The U.S. celebration will begin at the AAAS Annual Meeting on February 20, with a day-long series of symposia and speeches that will reach from the dawn of the modern age of physics to the questions of quantum mechanics and string theory that seem certain to dominate the future. A special international gala reception at 6:30 p.m. Sunday will draw look-likes of Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Marie Curie!

CELEBRITY SPEAKERS

In addition to Shirley Ann Jackson, a host of other luminaries, such as Mars Rover researcher Steven W. Squyres, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, will offer free plenary lectures at the AAAS Meeting. Squyres is expected to share the latest analysis of data from the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Mamphela Rmphele, a medical doctor and civil rights leader who was appointed one of four managing directors of The World Bank in 2000, will discuss science-based strategies for improving human welfare. S. James Gates, Jr., the John S. Toll Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland, will discuss string theory and efforts to describe all four forces of nature and all of matter within a single, all-encompassing framework. Julie Louise Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will offer the CDC's view on where science meets society.

Plenary lectures by Jackson, Squyres, Ramphele and Gates will take place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, respectively, at 6:30 p.m., in the Marriott's Ballroom Salon 2 and 3. The lecture by Gerberding is planned for Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the same location.

CAREER SUPPORT

On Saturday and Sunday, February 19-20, the AAAS Meeting will include free career-skills workshops, a short course on interviewing skills and networking opportunities, culminating with the Science Magazine Career Fair for job seekers on Monday, February 21. See http://www.aaas.org/meetings/ for details. These events will take place in the Marriott Wardman Park, exhibits hall.

BREAKING RESEARCH NEWS

For reporters, the 2005 AAAS Annual Meeting promises 30 press briefings, plus additional press breakfasts and networking opportunities. Specific headlines from the AAAS Meeting will remain strictly embargoed until the time of each event. But, in general, broad topics to be addressed during press briefings will include, for example:

  • The latest updates on Cassini-Huygens space exploration, from Steven Squyres and other top space scientists, all of whom will be assembled in one spot at the AAAS Meeting -- just a few days after the latest fly-by of Saturn's moon, Titan.
  • Reports on efforts to define "male" versus "female," and to better understand the one in 4,000 to one in 5,000 babies who are classified as "intersex" at birth because of conditions that affect their chromosomes, genitalia, reproductive systems and other traits.
  • News on rapidly disappearing fish species, and how best to protect various forms of marine life, from fish to endangered whales, before it's too late.
  • Information from genomics researchers that may someday help improve health-care, or speed the development of new "personalized" treatments, based on individual genetic traits.
  • Cutting-edge scientific results on ocean warming and its relationship to human activities.
  • New information on how best to nourish children in developing regions of the world following natural disasters or war.

MEDIA NOTE: Additional information on AAAS Annual Meeting news can be provided in advance to reporters who ensure adherence to the embargo policy. Reporters, please contact Earl Lane, (202) 326-6431, elane@aaas.org; or Ginger Pinholster, (202) 326-6421, gpinhols@aaas.org, before February 15. After February 15, call (202) 745-2112 to reach the AAAS Annual Meeting Newsroom on-site at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Taft Room. Embargoed news is available to registered reporters via the AAAS virtual newsroom online at EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org.

HISTORY: The first AAAS Annual Meeting took place in 1848 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Past meetings have featured such notables U.S. Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton; Microsoft's Bill Gates; author Michael Crichton; the science ministers of the European Commission, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Hungary; Nobelists Ralph Cicerone, Sherwood Rowland, Leon Lederman, Wolfgang Ketterle; and others.

This news release contains only general, publicly available information about this year's program, and is therefore appropriate for immediate release.

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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