I'm using After Effects CS3 in Vista, 4GB ram
All that's on this layer is a small solid circle from Photoshop and the rest is transparent. I split the layer to start Shatter at the beginng of the layer. When I set View to wireframe, I see the wireframe, but when I scrub the timeline or do a ram preview, nothing moves. When I set it to view rendered, the layer disappears. I tried the default settings and others.
Check your forces - their placement and values. Sounds like they are out of the active area. Likewise, check whether you assigned your circle as a gradient or custom shatter map.