Report on the Spring APS Meeting

Beverly Berger, Oakland University

The Gravitation Topical Group (GTG) made its official debut at the APS--AAPT Meeting in Indianapolis, 2--5 May 1996. Traditionally, this meeting has enjoyed significant participation by the Divisions of Astrophysics (DAP), Particles and Field (DPF), and Nuclear Physics. Decades ago, there were also several sessions on gravitational physics. This participation had declined over the years but, with the formation of the GTG, has now experienced a strong revival. The GTG sponsored a well-attended invited session with talks by Cliff Will (``Gravitational Waves and the Death-Dance of Compact Stellar Binaries''), Fred Raab (``Progress Toward a Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory''), Ho Jung Paik (``Spheres---Omni-directional Multi-mode Gravitational Wave Antennas for Next Generation''), and Matt Choptuik (``Critical Phenomena in Gravitational Collapse''). There were also two joint invited sessions. The first with the Topical Group on Fundamental Constants and Precision Measurements (FCTG) featured talks by Francis Everitt (``From Cavendish to the Space Age: Some Thoughts on the History of Precision Measurements''), Jim Faller (``Precision Measurements with Gravity''), Riley Newman (``New Measurements of G''), and Paul Worden (``Testing the Equivalence Principle in Space''). This session was so successful that FCTG and GTG will co-sponsor another session at the 1997 Spring Meeting. The other joint session with DAP focused on neutron stars with talks by Peter Meszaros (``Neutron Star Models and Gamma Ray Bursts''), Dong Lai (``Learning about Neutron Star from Coalescing Compact Binaries and Radio Pulsar Binaries''), John Friedman (``General Relativistic Instabilities of Neutron Stars''), and Charles Meegan (``Observations of Gamma Ray Bursts''). There were also a number of contributed papers that were divided among three sessions: Numerical Relativity, Black Holes, and Cosmology (chaired by Matt Choptuik), Gravity Experiments and Theory (chaired by Fred Raab), and Gravitation Theories (chaired by David Garfinkle). The GTG also held its first business meeting at the conference. In addition to these official GTG activities, there was other evidence of the vitality of gravitational physics. A special plenary session of the APS featured Kip Thorne's Lilienfeld Prize Lecture (``Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and Quantum Non-Demolition'') while a joint Division of Particles and Fields-DAP session on Particle Astrophysics included an invited talk by Barry Barrish (``The Detection of Gravitational Waves''). Finally, this interest in LIGO provided a backdrop for the meeting of the LIGO Research Community which will also participate in the 1997 Meeting.

Details and abstracts can be found at For those who could not attend the meeting, the minutes are given below.

Minutes for Business Meeting of Topical Group on Gravitation

Executive Committee members present: Berger, Thorne, Bardeen, Parker, Raab, Shoemaker, Finn. Absent: Ashtekar, Isenberg, Wald

The meeting was called to order at approximately 5 pm by Beverly Berger.

Beverly Berger introduced the officers of the topical group and gave a brief description of the membership statistics. The topical group currently has approximately 300 members, significantly above the minimum level of 200 members required to form and maintain such a group. It was noted that there are approximately 150 people who signed the petition requesting formation of the topical group but are not yet members. Efforts will be made to bring these people into the group's membership. The membership is comprised of approximately equal numbers of theoretical and experimental investigators.

The status of committees was reported. The nominating committee, chaired by David Shoemaker, will begin to prepare for election of a vice-chair and two executive-committee members this autumn. The Fellowship Committee, chaired by Abhay Ashtekar, is currently considering nominations for APS Fellowship.

A report was given on the state of the group's finances (as provided by Jim Isenberg). Income, principally from membership fees, totalled $1417. Expenses, associated with printing and mailing the newsletter, ``Matters of Gravity'', totalled $943. This leaves a balance of $473 in the Treasury. The issue of potential cost savings by using electronic distribution of ``Matters of Gravity" was raised. Members in attendance voiced agreement with Isenberg's suggestion that future distributions of the newsletter would be done electronically as far as possible, provided that members could still opt for a paper copy if electronic access presented problems. Members would be contacted by e-mail concerning whether they want electronic or paper copies of the newsletter in future. Attendees at the meeting were asked for suggestions of how these funds might be used to good effect. Suggestions were made that something to encourage student participation, either through support for attending meetings or an award, might be a good use for funds.

Beverly Berger advised the audience that organizing future meetings would be an important issue in the near future. The precise details were not yet clear, because the first Meetings Committee of APS to involve the Topical Group on Gravitation would only meet later in the week. Anticipating that our small topical group would get only a few meetings slots at the next April meeting, the general sentiment supported splitting those slots with other groups that had shared interests. This had worked well at this meeting and was thought to provide better exposure with limited speaking slots. The issue of joint sponsorship of gravitational physics meetings that already occur on a periodic basis was raised, but further work was needed to identify what the APS rules are in this area.

Beverly Berger Adjourned the meeting at approximately 5:40 pm.

Minutes submitted by Fred Raab, (with slight revisions by Beverly Berger).

Jorge Pullin
Sun Sep 1 16:45:26 EDT 1996