The Biggest Physics Meeting In History

December 07, 1998

Science writers should mark their calendars now for what will be the grandest physics meeting ever. The American Physical Society (APS) will celebrate its 100th anniversary at a giant meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, March 20-26, 1999.

Combining its two annual meetings (normally held in March and April) into one, the APS will regale its members---7,000 to 10,000 will be in attendance---and the public with an unprecedented schedule of speakers and events, which will be summarized here. More information, including abstracts for the great bulk of the sessions (which generally are not directly related to the centennial), will become available as the meeting approaches.

APS
With 40,000 members, the APS is the largest professional society of physicists in the world. It publishes many notable journals, including Physical Review Letters. Its headquarters are at the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland. The APS was founded in 1899.

PRESSROOMS: VIRTUAL AND REAL
A pressroom will be operated at the Centennial meeting during March 21-26, 1999. Complimentary press registration will allow reporters to attend all scientific sessions. Press conferences will be held all week on subjects ranging across the whole of physics. The pressroom facilities will include phones, a fax machine, and outlets for laptop computers with modems. In addition, a "virtual pressroom," featuring various lay-language papers, press releases, press conference summaries, and other information, will become available during January. In the meantime, one can monitor preparations for the meeting at this website: http://www.aps.org/meet/CENT99/vpr/general.html

NOBEL LAUREATE GATHERING
Fifty to sixty Nobel laureates will attend a luncheon on March 20. This represents the greatest gathering of Nobelists outside of Sweden, and the largest meeting ever of physics prize-winners anywhere. At the lunch, the laureates will meet with physics teachers from every state in the US and with a large contingent of students from Georgia. Journalists who wish to attend this special event should contact Phillip Schewe well in advance of the meeting. An exhibit of background materials related to the impact of Nobel-Prize research will be mounted at the meeting. Furthermore, many of the laureates will be speaking during the week at sessions.

CENTENNIAL PLENARY TALKS
Scheduled for March 22 and 23: "Physics of the Very Big and Very Small," by Steven Weinberg, University of Texas; "The Impact of Physics on Medicine and Biology," by Harold Varmus, director or the National Institutes of Health; "Physics and the Information Revolution," by Joel Birnhaum, Hewlett-Packard Labs; "Physics and Technology," by Mary L. Good of Venture Capital; "Physics and Materials," by Richard Smalley, Rice University; and "Physics and the American Culture," by Martin Klein of Yale University.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS
National political figures such as the President and Vice President have been invited to speak.

GALA EVENTS
Nobel Laureate luncheon (March 20); reception and banquet for representatives of physical societies from around the world (March 20); formal dinner at the Fernbank Museum (March 21), opening centennial session (March 21); Centennial Welcome Reception for all members (March 22). (Some of these events need reservations.)

SPECIAL CENTENNIAL SYMPOSIA
The following are some of the special symposia (and merely a fraction of the distinguished speakers) scheduled for the week beginning March 21: laser applications (Steven Chu, Anton Zeilinger); atomic clocks (David Wineland); breakthroughs of women in physics (Martha Krebs, head of the DOE office of energy management); chaos (Mitchell Feigenbaum); Einstein's legacy (Robert Kirshner, David Spergel, Joseph Taylor, Kip Thorne); electronic structure and semiconductors (Federico Capasso, Richard Webb, Horst Stormer); physics and national defense (Hans Bethe, Sidney Drell, Charles Townes); the impact of computing on physics (Ernest Moniz); the impact of immigration on US physics (Hans Bethe, Steven Chu, Aron Pinczuk); the impact of lasers (Arthur Schawlow, Nicolaas Bloembergen, William Phillips); industrial physics (William Brinkman, Paul Horn); research performed by minority physicists (Shirley Jackson, Michael Nieto); accelerators and the rise of high energy physics (Wolfgang Panofsky, Steven Weinberg); precision measurements (Gerald Gabrielse, Theodor Hansch, Carl Weiman); science policy (Rep. Vernon Ehlers, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Neal Lane, Rita Colwell); the search for the ultimate structure of matter (Leon Lederman, T.D. Lee, Burton Richter, Edward Witten); pattern formation (Jerry Gollub, Harry Swinney); developments in instrumentation and measurements (Gordon Moore); unsolved problems in astrophysics (Geoffrey Marcy, Roger Blandford, Michael Turner)

PHYSICS FESTIVAL
Entitled "Mastering the Mysteries of the Universe," a series of exhibits and events for the students and the citizens of Atlanta will occur about town during the week of the meeting and the week before. These include physics displays and demonstrations for students (area schools); a colloquy between journalists (including some Pulitzer-Prize winning science writers) and some Nobel-laureate physicists (Emory University); a conference on fractals, art, medicine, and physics (Georgia Tech University); a conference on physics and the mind (Georgia State); an exhibit on black physicists (organized by Clark Atlanta University); and a number of talks on popular subjects (e.g., the physics of Star Trek, the physics of sports, the physics of beer, and the physics of dance) intended for students, teachers, and the public.

21ST-CENTURY DIALOGUES
Several dialogues between distinguished scientists, intended for a large public audience, are currently being scheduled.

PRESS TOUR
Visits to several local university labs.

OTHER EVENTS
One session will be devoted to a panel discussion among presidential science advisors (March 22). A plenary session will concentrate on international physics concerns (March 20). The meeting exhibition will feature, in addition to the usual manufacturers and publishers, displays created by each of the APS units including divisions (e.g., nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, particle physics, etc.), topical groups (e.g., magnetism), forums (e.g., history of physics, education), committees (e.g., the status of women in physics, minorities).

TIMELINE WALL CHART
A timeline of 20th century physics discoveries, consisting of 11 panels (each 40" x 26"), will make its official debut at the meeting. Copies of the timeline will be sent to each high school and college in the country. Journalists attending the meeting will receive a copy.
-end-
For more information contact Phillip Schewe, 301-209-3092, pschewe@aip.acp.org, or Ben Stein, 301-209-3091, bstein@aip.acp.org, at the American Institute of Physics.



American Institute of Physics

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