Bringing the story of industrial physics to light is the focus of new endowment

April 26, 2007

College Park, MD (April 26, 2007) -- What research-and-development milestones brought thin, large-screen televisions to electronics stores? How do some lab directors build a team whose discoveries lead to sensational commercial successes, while others fail? Have U.S. industries been growing more dependent on academic research for fundamental scientific breakthroughs? A new endowment to be maintained at the American Institute of Physics (AIP) aims to bring the little-known behind-the-scenes history of industrial physics to light.

The Marc H. Brodsky Fund for Oral History of Physicists in Industry will enable the AIP Center for History of Physics and Niels Bohr Library & Archives to interview several important industrial physicists each year, transcribe and preserve their oral histories, and make them available to researchers now and in the future. The fund honors Marc H. Brodsky's distinguished career as AIP's Executive Director and CEO from 1993-2007, as well as his innovative work as an industrial physicist.

"The Brodsky Fund comes at a critical time, and will help AIP continue its pioneering work in the history of physics," said Fred Dylla, AIP's new Executive Director and CEO.

"In 1991 a fire at my company destroyed our records, and in recreating them, we conducted several oral histories of key personnel," says Julian A. Brodsky, co-founder, Director and Vice Chairman of Comcast Corporation. Julian, Marc's brother, is one of the lead contributors to the fund.

"Recognizing Marc through this fund is very appropriate because of his stellar reputation in the industrial physics world as well as his work at AIP," he says. "The fund honors both aspects of Marc's career."

The fund also is a memento of Julian's personal experience of the value of oral histories both in his company's archival efforts, and in creating a history of the cable television industry.

Under the leadership of Marc Brodsky, AIP began to address this issue in 2002, conducting a pioneering, five-year project to document the history of physicists in industry that will conclude at the end of 2007. With the aid of startup grants, the project has conducted short interviews with approximately 100 industrial physicists and is laying the groundwork for new approaches to documenting the work of physicists in the corporate world. The Brodsky Fund will enable AIP to continue this work.

Documenting and studying the rich history of industrial research has been a surprisingly limited activity. Few corporations maintain in-house archives, and fewer academic and public archives collect and preserve this history. The resulting scarcity of significant and readily accessible sources has limited the ability of historians and others to understand one of the most productive sectors of our society.
The fund was established on March 29, 2007 by lead gifts from the Lois and Julian Brodsky Family, John and Elizabeth Armstrong, and from many others. Currently, over $84,000 has been pledged to the Fund, which will remain open over the next four years for future contributions.

The American Institute of Physics, Center for History of Physics is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

For more information:

Brodsky Fund on AIP History Website

American Institute of Physics

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