March 4, 2003

Special Message to Theorists in the AMO Physics Community:

Professor Pierre Meystre is currently serving on the Board of ITP, now the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). As Pierre expresses in his message to the community, we should take advantage of the opportunity to submit several strong proposals for AMO-based programs to be held at ITP. ITAMP would be interested in facilitating this in whatever way would be helpful. We could bring together a pre-proposal group to work on planning an ITP program, for instance.

Just let us know.

--Kate Kirby

From Professor Pierre Meystre:

The Dearth of AMO Programs at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics

I just returned from my first board meeting of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara. Our main task was to select programs that will be run at the Institute about 18 months down the road, amongst a large number of proposals covering pretty much all subfields of physics from string theory to biophysics. As the sole AMO representative on the KITP board, I was asked to review the full AMO package, a whopping two proposals! My problem was that not only were these proposals very few, but they were also rather underwhelming. This is unfortunate, because I gained the distinct impression that both the KITP board and the Institute Director, Dr. David Gross, would consider quite favorably a strong proposal from our community. Those of you who have attended workshops at KITP know that this is a great place. The AMO community should do everything possible to take advantage of these superb facilities and environment.

KITP basically hosts extended workshops that run for 3 or 5 months, and which may include conferences at some point. They are typically organized by four to five people who are expected to each spend a substantial amount of time, several months ideally, at the workshop. In addition, it is essential that a significant number of participants, at least 10 or more, likewise commit themselves to spending several months at KITP during the workshop. Other participants can stay for a little as one or two weeks.

A common characteristic of successful proposals was a strong indication that they tackle a well-focused and challenging theoretical problem of current interest that will strongly benefit from having a number of people (not exclusively theorists) meeting to work on it, with some hope that a significant breakthrough may result from the meeting. It is also important to demonstrate the existence of a sufficiently large community of interested researchers to keep the excitement and activity level high during the whole duration of the workshop. Proposals of more limited scope can be considered for "mini-programs," which typically run for about one month. There is also talk of starting "fast-track" meetings for particularly hot topics.

AMO scientists will presumably be heavily represented at next year's workshop on BEC, and other planned workshops could easily have a strong AMO component, but it would be desirable to have more. I can think of a number of topics that might fit well, including for instance relativistic nonlinear optics, attoscience, coherent control, etc. There are also interesting possibilities at the boundary between atomic physics and condensed matter physics, atomic physics and astrophysics, and more.

If you are interested in organizing either a full-fledged or a short workshop, please check the KITP homepage for very useful information. Also, don't hesitate to contact me ( I will be glad to help in any way that I can and that doesn't lead to a potential conflict of interest.

Pierre Meystre