Sometimes when I am thinking and writing, I look out the window of my office to become inspired and I usually end up being distracted by all the activity. I have a beautiful view of the Potomac River right across from Reagan National Airport and activities include sail boats schooling, airplanes landing and taking off, construction in Crystal City and Alexandria, and even the President’s helicopter flying by 300 yards away a few times a day. When I was looking for inspiration on this editorial, just outside the window there was a wasp hung up in a spider web and it was trying to break free. A large spider darted down the web and took the wasp in a death grip just as the wasp broke free from the web. I was amazed that the wasp was able to fly away with good lift and an unwanted passenger on its back trying to kill it.
Anyway, I was finally able to get my thoughts together about what I wanted to cover this month, which is special sections. One of the multiple efforts that we are pursuing in an attempt to serve the optical engineering community better is to provide special sections in Optical Engineering. To date, we have scheduled 12 special sections starting in September of this year. The September special section will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the laser with various laser-related papers and is guest edited by Greg Quarles and Yehoshua Kalisky. The November special section is on quantum and interband cascade lasers and is guest edited by Jerry Meyer and Igor Vurgaftman. This special section has generated so much interest that there are 27 manuscripts currently under review for this special. The other special sections can be reviewed at http://spie.org/x1809.xml. I would encourage you to review this listing of special sections periodically to see if there is a special that matches your area for manuscript submission.
The special sections are not intended to consume an entire journal issue. In some cases, the special may only result in 8 to 10 papers and, in other cases, the special may take up a large part of the journal issue. I expect that only in a few rare cases, the special section may take up the entire journal. So far, the method I have used for selecting special sections is to monitor the attendance of conference sessions to determine topics that are well attended. I have asked the associate editors what they think are good topics with some justification that the area is of high interest and currently relevant. The topics at the above website are a result of these two approaches.
I will always be open to suggestions of special section topics. I am not aggressively recruiting these topics currently as we now have topics scheduled through December of 2011. However, periodically there are months where there is no special section scheduled and this will remain so to give us some flexibility. So, if there is a topic that is extremely important, highly interesting, and currently relevant that needs a special section level of interest, we have room to accommodate it. Please contact me if you believe a topic is timely and of this importance.
On another note, I would like to congratulate the Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize winners, Jürgen Jahns, Hans Knuppertz, and Michael Bohling, on their winning paper ‘‘All-reflective planar-integrated free-space micro-optical femtosecond pulse shaper.’’ The paper was published in the December 2009 issue of Optical Engineering. The Kingslake Medal is awarded annually in recognition of the most noteworthy original paper to appear in Optical Engineering on the theoretical or experimental aspects of optical engineering. I would also like to thank the Kingslake Medal Selection Committee for their hard work and their outstanding choice.
I am glad that I was able to get past my distraction today to discuss the above important points. Now, I am wondering what really happened to the wasp and the spider. It was such an odd interaction at a time when I thought I had seen everything. At this point, I would pay $20 to find out whether the spider won, the wasp won, or they both won by the spider jumping off in midflight.