A humoristic view of the physics of soft matter, which nevertheless has a ring of truth to it, is that it is an ill-defined subject which deals with ill-condensed matter by ill-defined methods. Although, since the Nobel prize was awarded to Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, this subject can be no longer shrugged-away as "sludge physics" by the physics community, it is still not viewed universally as "main stream" physics. While, at first glance, this may be considered as another example of inertia, a case of the "establishment" against the "newcomer", the roots of this prejudice are much deeper and can be traced back to Roger Bacon's conception about the objectivity of science. All of us would agree with the weaker form of this idea which simply says that the final results of our work should be phrased in an observer-independent way and be communicable to anybody who made the effort to learn this language. There exists, however, a stronger form of this idea according to which the above criteria of "objectivity" and "communicability" apply also to the process of scientific inquiry. The fact that major progress in the physics of soft matter was made in apparent violation of this approach, by applying intuition to problems which appeared to defy rigorous analysis, may explain why many physicists feel somewhat ill-at-ease with this subject.
Table of ContentsUne Perspective Historique; Y. Ne'eman. REVIEW PAPERS: Focal Conic Domains in Smectics; P. Boltenhagen, et al. On Polymer Brushes and Blobology; A. Halperin. RESEARCH PAPERS: Polymer Physics: NonDebye Screening in Polyelectrolyte Solutions; K. Kremer, et al. Polymers in a Random Environment and Molecular Quasi-Species; L. Peliti. Crystallography: Twins in Diamond Films; D. Shechtman. Dynamics of Disordered Systems/Glasses: Dynamics of Interface Depinning in a Disordered Medium; S. Stepanow, et al. Percolation, Diffusion, and Fractons: Hull of Percolation Clusters in Three Dimensions; J.M. Debierre. Dynamics of Diffusion and Invasion Fronts; J.F. Gouyet. Surfactants and Liquid Crystals: Vesicles of High Topological Genus; X. Michalet, et al. SCIENCE AND SOCIETY: Neo-Darwinian Processes in the Evolution of Science and of Human Societies; Y. Ne'eman. 19 additional articles. Index.