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Title: Two to receive honors at national physics teachers meeting
Date: 01/05/2005
Publication: AIP Inside Science News Service
Editor: Martha J. Heil
Extended Text: College Park, MD (January 5, 2005) Two physics professors will be honored next week by the largest association of physics teachers in the U.S, for their contributions educating students and the public about physics.

A professor with interests ranging from electrons to astrophysics will be honored for his contributions to the advancement of physics teaching. Eugene Commins, of the University of California at Berkeley, searched for 15 years for the elusive "electric dipole moment of the electron". Now the American Association of Physics Teachers will present him their most prestigious award, the Oersted medal. The AAPT medal is named after Hans Christian Oersted, a central figure in physics who in the 19th century discovered that electricity and magnetism are related. The Oersted award, a gift of $10,000, honors teachers of physics who contribute in many ways, such as through lectures, textbooks, public activity and the like, to physics teaching. As part of his award, Cummins will address the January 8-13 meeting of the AAPT, held this year in Albuquerque, NM. His lecture begins Monday, January 10, at 10:30 a.m. It will focus on people who have inspired him to teach and to learn.

An award for conveying physics to public audiences will be given to Carlos Bustamante, also at the University of California at Berkeley, who has worked on new methods of manipulating just one molecule at a time. He is the creator of optical tweezers, which use light to move objects as small as a single atom; was a Fulbright scholar from his native Peru; and is now working on the mechanical power of twisted DNA. The award, called the Richtmyer award after Floyd K. Richtmyer, a distinguished physicist, teacher, and administrator who served the physics community in many ways, includes a gift of $7,500 and a talk at the AAPT meeting. Bustamante will speak on "An Old Problem with a New Twist" measuring how much DNA's rigid backbone can twist. His lecture will be given on Monday, January 10, at 9:45 a.m.

The conference will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Reporters wishing to cover the meeting may call Matthew Potts, American Association of Physics Teachers, 301-209-3333