EPS marks 40 years – to the day

The European Physical Society (EPS) was founded in Geneva in 1968 to promote physics in Europe. Exactly 40 years later, on 26 September, the EPS came back to its birthplace for a joint press conference at CERN to celebrate the anniversary.

The movement to create the EPS started in November 1965 in Bologna during the annual Italian Physical Society Conference. Gilberto Bernardini, a former director of research at CERN, took a leading role in preparing the ground for the society through a series of meetings in Pisa, London, Geneva and Prague. On 25 September 1968, a final discussion took place at CERN, chaired by the then director-general Bernard Gregory. This cleared the remaining points for the constitution of the society, which was formally started the following morning as the first members enrolled at CERN. The official inauguration took place in the afternoon at the University of Geneva, with Bernardini as the first president of the EPS executive committee (CERN Courier October 1968 p238).

Today the EPS represents more than 100,000 physicists from 40 national member societies, reaching well beyond the geographical area covered by the EU. As Maciej Kolwas, president-elect of the EPS, announced at the press conference, physics is the basis of much of today’s technology, it is at the forefront in building a united Europe and it is an integral part of human culture. Robert Aymar, current director-general of CERN, also spoke of the common vision for European physics on the world stage, shared by CERN and the EPS.

The EPS president, Fritz Wagner, pointed out in his concluding remarks that in the 2008 Olympic Games, the nations within the geographical area covered by members of the EPS won more gold medals than China and the US together, showing that a unified Europe can compete. “This is the same for other fields including science and technology,” he said, adding that the EPS is ready to play its role in setting Europe on the path towards a knowledge-based society.

Physics aims to make life a whole lot easier

These days information overflow has become a significant problem for most researchers. It is one thing to stay on top of one’s field, but to stay abreast of related areas is a completely different issue. The American Physical Society (APS) is addressing this problem seriously and has launched a new open-access journal called Physics. The goal is to highlight exceptional papers from all fields of physics within the body of research that the APS publishes each year in all of the Physical Review journals.

Each week Physics will feature brief commentaries that spotlight articles selected by the editors of Physical Review based on interest and importance. The papers will be explained and discussed by researchers who are noted for their knowledge of a field and their ability to communicate.

In this context it is amusing to note that just 50 years ago the APS felt that the time was right for a new journal, a publication that would feature short reports on exciting new work and foster interactions between physicists in related fields. That new journal was Physical Review Letters, and by 2007 it had published almost 15,000 pages. Physics should make the life of the physicist easier once more.

• For access to Physics, visit http://physics.aps.org/.