Friday, February 25, 2011


In the early 1970's the Physics Survey Committee of the National Academy of Sciences conducted an exhaustive study of physics. The results were published in a three volume,1465 page preport Physics in Perspective in 1973. One of the recommendations was: "Graduate curricula for physicists should contain explicit training and experience in the use of modern information tools." The quote is in volume one, chapter 14 Policy Considerations: Conclusions and Findings" in the subsection Concerning Communication in Physics. (page 999).

Now jump ahead 33 years. (Yes, that is 33 years.) While I was serving on the Committee on Graduate Education in Physics for the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), it was decided to again study the field of physics. The joint American Physical Society (APS) and AAPT task force conducted a survey and published their findings in 2005. One of the findings was "The TFGE (task force on graduate education)recommends that departments require communication training and information literacy/fluency in their graduate programs." (page 4) The full text report is available on the APS web page.

A few institutiions have jumped on board and are doing a good job.

University of Illionis Physuics 496 Introduction to Research

Brigham Young University Physics 416AB Writing in Physics

Purdue University Physics 490 Great Issues Course: Special Nuclear Materials Their Science and Impact on Society.

I am currently collaborating on a book chapter and will let you know when the book becomes available.