Public Release: 

Physics press conferences at upcoming American Physical Society/American Association of Physics Teachers meeting

American Institute of Physics

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2010 -- The following press conferences will take place during the 2010 joint meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), to be held from February 13-17 in Washington, D.C. Journalists are invited to attend the meeting free of charge. Registration information can be found at the end of this release.

All press conferences will be held in Room 8222 of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington, D.C., 20008. Contact Jason Bardi (, office: 301-209-3091, cell: 858-775-4080) for help dialing in to the press conferences remotely. The dial-in number is 1-800-944-8766 and the password 21425.


11:00 a.m. -- LHC: High Energy Frontier (Session A1)
12:30 p.m. -- Art & Physics (Session A5)

11:30 a.m. -- The Sustainable Energy Challenge (Session K6)
2:00 p.m. -- Proton High-Intensity Frontier (Session K1)

9:30 a.m. -- Melting Protons (Sessions P7, Q7)
11:00 a.m. -- Supernova Remnants (Session S3)
12:45 p.m. -- Sakurai Prize Session (Session P1)
2:00 p.m. -- Dark Matter on Earth (Session S1)

10:00 a.m. -- Nuclear Threat Detection (Session Y13)


Saturday, Feb 13, 11:00 a.m.


In December 2009 the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) attained the highest beam energy in history, 1.2 TeV, for each of two counter-circulating proton beams. The collision energy obtained, 2.4 TeV, is scheduled to be increased as the year goes by. The goal of this high-energy frontier is to uncover some of the crucial ingredients in our current thinking about the fundamental nature of matter. These phenomena predicted by theorists include the Higgs boson, supersymmetric particles, and possibly even mini-black holes or evidence for extra dimensions. Learn what will happen next at LHC in the coming weeks and months.

Speakers: Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at CERN; Andrew Lankford, University of California, Irvine, representing the ATLAS group; and Joseph Incandela, University of California, Santa Barbara, representing the CMS group.

Saturday, Feb. 13, 12:30 p.m.

ARTS & PHYSICS (session A5)

Standing in front of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia is a sculpture that inspired portions of Dan Brown's latest novel -- a curved wall of red and green slate covered with four ciphers (unsolved at the time of its construction). The artist who created this work of art, Jim Sanborn, is now crafting a reproduction of the first experiment to fission uranium, which will appear in June at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. Sanborn, Felice Frankel of Harvard University, and Pupa Gilbert of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will discuss such intersections between art and physics in this press conference, introduced by Charles Ferguson of the Federation of American Scientists.

Speakers: Jim Sanborn, artist, will discuss his latest works. Felice Frankel, a senior research fellow at Harvard University, will discuss her photographs and how visual representations of scientific concepts break down the boundaries around science. Pupa Gilbert, a biophysicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will tackle the relationship between physics and art from the opposite perspective, in a discussion of her book "Physics in the Arts" that explores how a deeper understanding of the physics of color and sound can enhance the way we experience art and music.

Sunday, Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m.


"We need to encourage American innovation," President Obama told the nation in his first State of the Union Address. "And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy," he added, going on to describe the need for a new mix of coal, nuclear, and alternative energy sources. The balance between energy and environment and the role of technology in tapping new sources of energy will be the focus of Session K6.

Speakers: Introduced by Claudio Pellegrini of the University of California, Los Angeles, speakers at this press conference will include: George Crabtree, director of the Material Science Division of Argonne National Laboratories, who will lay out three criteria for sustainable energy and evaluate the alternatives to oil and carbon dioxide emissions -- clean coal, nuclear, wind, and solar. E. Michael Campbell of Logos Technologies, who will address the role of advanced fission reactors and future fusion reactors in sustaining the United States' present share of the world's energy. Bhakta Rath, associate director of research at the Naval Research Laboratory, will present the perspective of the Department of Defense, which buys 13 million gallons of fuel per day and will explore alternative fuels, including energy derived from the ocean.

Sunday, Feb 14, 2:00 p.m.


Particle collisions carried out at the highest possible energies might produce particles never before seen. But other equally important interactions, things such as very rare decay modes for exotic particles, can only be studied using the highest possible beam intensities. The figure of merit in this case is beam power, defined as the beam energy times the number of particles per second. High beam intensity right now is close to a megawatt. Physicists would like to do several times better than this. At one proposed machine, Project X, the Fermilab proton beam would be greatly enhanced in intensity in order to make much richer beams of secondary particles (muons, neutrinos, mesons) by shooting the protons into a target. One goal is to look for new physics in certain particle decays that occur at the level of one part in 10^16.

Speakers: Stephen Holmes of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Christopher Walter of Duke University; and Jack Ritchie of the University of Texas.

Monday, Feb 15, 9:30 a.m.

MELTING PROTONS (sessions P7, Q7)

At an APS press conference five years ago, physicists from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) announced the observation of a novel nuclear fluid, one consisting of the intermingling of hundreds of quarks and gluons ( This odd state of matter, lasting for only about 10^-22 seconds at a time, was the result of smashing powerful beams of gold ions into each other. Instead of a gas of quarks, as theorists had predicted, the fireball from the collisions acted more like a liquid. Now, RHIC scientists, knowing much more about their fiery substance -- a good approximation to what much of the universe might have looked like only a microsecond after the big bang -- will report new unprecedented features for nuclear matter.

Speakers: Steven Vigdor, Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL); Barbara Jacak, Stony Brook University, and spokesperson for the PHENIX collaboration at RHIC; Jack Sandweiss, Yale University, speaking for the STAR collaboration at RHIC; and Dmitri Kharzeev, a theorist at BNL.

Monday, Feb 15, 11:00 a.m.


The power released when a star goes supernova is impressive. In just a few minutes, one can expel as much energy as our sun puts out in tens of thousands of years. What remains after this dramatic burst is an expanding shell of ejected material known as a supernova remnant. Astronomers have known for years that these expanding remnants smack into interstellar gasses and create extremely high-energy cosmic rays -- subatomic particles and ions that zip through space at nearly the speed of light.

Now a wealth of new observations of X-ray and gamma-ray emissions coming from these remnants are being collected by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope and other observatories. Coupled with new theoretical investigations, these observations are leading to important insights into the process of particle acceleration at high-speed shocks in supernova remnants. Session S3 will be devoted to these latest observations, which can now resolve the "hotspots" of particle acceleration in our galaxy and are shedding new light on long-standing questions in astrophysics, such as the processes within supernova remnants that accelerate cosmic rays to extremely high energies.

Speakers: John Hughes (Rutgers University) will review observational results largely from the X-ray band. Stefan Funk (Stanford University) will review the current observational status of gamma-ray emission in supernova remnants. Carles Badenes (Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel-Aviv University) will review our present understanding of the explosion mechanism and progenitors of Type Ia Supernovae.

Monday, Feb 15, 12:45 p.m.


Finding the Higgs boson is currently the biggest goal of experimental particle physics. Indeed researchers experiments at Fermilab's Tevatron and CERN's Large Hadron Collider eagerly comb through particle collisions hoping to find evidence for the Higgs. The particle is the manifestation of an all-pervasive field which, according to the standard model of particle physics, confers mass and to many other particles. The theoretical effort behind the Higgs hypothesis, work that began almost forty years ago, is being honored this year. At the meeting, six physicists will receive the prestigious J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Physics (named for Japanese-American scientist J.J. Sakurai), given each year by the American Physical Society.

Speakers: These following scientists will recall their work at this briefing Carl R. Hagen (University of Rochester), Francois Englert (Universite Libre de Bruxelles), Gerald S. Guralnik (Brown University), Peter W. Higgs (University of Edinburgh), Robert Brout (Universite Libre de Bruxelles), and T.W.B. Kibble (Imperial College).

Monday, Feb 15, 2:00 p.m.


Dark matter is the presumed non-luminous material whose existence was signified by the puzzling movements of and interactions among galaxies. What does this matter consist of? Some physicists believe some of the matter might exist in the form of weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs). Evidence for these particles might have shown up, according to some, in the apparent excess of positrons, as recorded in space by orbiting telescopes. Here we will look at efforts to spot dark matter particles here on earth.

Speakers: Angela Reisseter (University of Minnesota), a member of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) team will discuss two recent candidate events (in which a WIMP particle might have nudged the nucleus in an atom within a cooled semiconducting material) recorded in the CDMS apparatus and the prospects for more events. Sarah Eno (University of Maryland), a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) team at the LHC, will discuss how dark matter particles will be sought in high-energy proton collisions.

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 10:00 a.m.


In 2008 the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that "the number of incidents reported to the Agency involving the theft or loss of nuclear or radioactive material is disturbingly high." To guard against this threat, governmental and academic laboratories across the nation are developing new technologies -- devices that use beams of energy to detect nuclear and explosive materials. Introduced by Laurie Waters of Los Alamos National Laboratory, speakers from Session Y13 will discuss some of these applications.

Speakers: Richard Vojtech, program manager of the Transformational and Applied Research Directorate (TAR) established by the Homeland Security's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, will provide an overview of TAR's mission and discuss the current status of its R&D efforts. Christopher Morris of Los Alamos National Laboratory will discuss the results of recent experiments there and at Brookhaven National Laboratory that used proton beams to detect signs of shielded and unshielded nuclear materials. Barry Pass, a professor at Howard University, will present a new way of detecting surface contaminants from nitro explosive using short laser pulses.

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 12:00 noon (AAPT Symposium)


The Fourth Annual Symposium on Physics Education, titled "Educating Physics Teachers: A Call to Action for Physics Departments," will examine the national landscape for physics teacher preparation and address the questions: what can be learned from the exemplary programs that prepare physics teachers for the 21st century, and what should universities, states, federal agencies, funding agencies, and policy makers do to use these models as a basis for meeting the urgent national need?

At a press conference before the symposium, a panel of experts will discuss these questions and announce the findings and recommendations of the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP). The T-TEP report describes how all of the most active physics teacher education programs in the country have individual champions who are personally committed to physics teacher education and that with few notable exceptions, these program leaders have little institutional support. The report makes numerous recommendations, including recommendations that would position physics departments to assume a major role in preparing the next generation of physics teachers, working collaboratively with schools of education.

Speakers: Mary Ann Rankin, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin; Sheila Tobias, co-author of the book "Science Teaching as a Profession: Why It Isn't How It Could Be;" and Stamatis Vokos, physics professor at Seattle Pacific University who chaired the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics. Panel moderator Philip Hammer, the Associate Executive Officer of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), will also attend the press conference. For more information, see the AAPT Press Release:



Science writers intending to go to the meeting should contact Jason Bardi ( or 858-775-4080 about free registration. Onsite registration is possible in the pressroom throughout the meeting, but to speed the process journalists are encouraged to register in advance. Press badges can be picked up in the pressroom and will allow you to attend any session at the meeting as well as the press conferences.


A dedicated and staffed pressroom will operate throughout the meeting in the Marriott Wardman Hotel. Phones, computers, printers, and free wireless Internet access will be available to reporters using the pressroom.

  • Location: Park Tower, Room 8219
  • Hours: Feb 13-15, 2010, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16, 7:30 a.m. to noon
  • Phone numbers: (202) 745-2134, x2135, x2136, and x2137
  • Fax number: (202) 745-2138
  • Food service: breakfast and lunch will be provided each day except for Tuesday (breakfast only)


Press conferences will be held daily in Park Tower Room 8222, which is adjacent to the pressroom.


Journalists at the meeting are invited to attend a reception for the winners of the American Institute of Physics science writing awards, to be held Monday, February 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The reception will be in room Wilson A of the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel. For more information, contact Jason Bardi (



The American Physical Society is the world's leading professional body of physicists, representing more than 47,000 physicists in academia and industry in the US and internationally. It has offices in College Park, MD, Ridge, NY, and Washington, DC.


Headquartered in College Park, MD, the American Institute of Physics is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare.

For more information, please contact:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.