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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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

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.)

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)

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.

Several dialogues between distinguished scientists, intended for a large public audience, are currently being scheduled.

Visits to several local university labs.

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).

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.
For more information contact Phillip Schewe, 301-209-3092,, or Ben Stein, 301-209-3091,, at the American Institute of Physics.

American Institute of Physics

Related Physics Articles from Brightsurf:

Helium, a little atom for big physics
Helium is the simplest multi-body atom. Its energy levels can be calculated with extremely high precision only relying on a few fundamental physical constants and the quantum electrodynamics (QED) theory.

Hyperbolic metamaterials exhibit 2T physics
According to Igor Smolyaninov of the University of Maryland, ''One of the more unusual applications of metamaterials was a theoretical proposal to construct a physical system that would exhibit two-time physics behavior on small scales.''

Challenges and opportunities for women in physics
Women in the United States hold fewer than 25% of bachelor's degrees, 20% of doctoral degrees and 19% of faculty positions in physics.

Indeterminist physics for an open world
Classical physics is characterized by the equations describing the world.

Leptons help in tracking new physics
Electrons with 'colleagues' -- other leptons - are one of many products of collisions observed in the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.

Has physics ever been deterministic?
Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and the University of Geneva, have proposed a new interpretation of classical physics without real numbers.

Twisted physics
A new study in the journal Nature shows that superconductivity in bilayer graphene can be turned on or off with a small voltage change, increasing its usefulness for electronic devices.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

2D topological physics from shaking a 1D wire
Published in Physical Review X, this new study propose a realistic scheme to observe a 'cold-atomic quantum Hall effect.'

Helping physics teachers who don't know physics
A shortage of high school physics teachers has led to teachers with little-to-no training taking over physics classrooms, reports show.

Read More: Physics News and Physics Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to