American Physical Society

American Physical Society
American Physical Society

APS Physics
Abbreviation APS
Formation May 20, 1899
Type Scientific
Purpose/focus To advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics
Location American Center for Physics
College Park, MD, USA
Membership 48,000

The American Physical Society is the world's second largest organization of physicists, behind the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the world renowned Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than twenty science meetings each year. It is also a member society of the American Institute of Physics.[1]


Brief history

The American Physical Society was founded on May 20, 1899, when thirty-six physicists gathered at Columbia University for that purpose. They proclaimed the mission of the new Society to be "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics", and in one way or another the APS has been at that task ever since. In the early years, virtually the sole activity of the APS was to hold scientific meetings, initially four per year. In 1913, the APS took over the operation of the Physical Review, which had been founded in 1893 at Cornell University, and journal publication became its second major activity. The Physical Review was followed by Reviews of Modern Physics in 1929 and by Physical Review Letters in 1958. Over the years, Phys. Rev. has subdivided into five separate sections as the fields of physics proliferated and the number of submissions grew.

In more recent years, the activities of the Society have broadened considerably. Stimulated by the increase in Federal funding in the period after the Second World War, and even more by the increased public involvement of scientists in the 1960s, the APS is active in public and governmental affairs, and in the international physics community. In addition, the Society conducts extensive programs in education, science outreach, and media relations. APS has 14 divisions and 11 topical groups covering all areas of physics research. There are 6 forums that reflect the interest of its 47,000 members in broader issues, and 9 sections organized by geographical region.

In 1999, APS Physics celebrated its Centennial with the biggest-ever physics meeting in Atlanta. In 2005, APS took the lead role in United States participation in the World Year of Physics, initiating several programs to broadly publicize physics during the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's annus mirabilis. Einstein@Home, one of the projects APS initiated during World Year of Physics, is an ongoing and popular distributed computing project.


DCOMP is the Division of Computational Physics of the American Physical Society. The division has more than 2000 members and the objective of the division is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge regarding the use of computers in physics research and education. This includes, among other areas, their application to experiments, theory, and education as well as the application of physics to the development of computer technology. The Division provides to its members an opportunity for coordination and a forum for discussion and communication. In addition, the Division promotes research and development in computational physics; enhances prestige and professional standing of its members; encourages scholarly publication; and promotes international cooperation in these activities.

Name change proposal

During Summer 2005, the society conducted an electronic poll, in which the majority of APS members preferred the name American Physics Society. The became the motivation for a proposal of a name change promised in the leadership election that year. However, because of legal issues, the planned name change was eventually abandoned by the APS Executive Board.[2]

To promote public recognition of APS as a physics society, while retaining the name American Physical Society, the APS Executive Board adopted a new logo incorporating the phrase "APS Physics." General use of APS Physics to refer to APS or the American Physical Society is encouraged. The new APS Physics logo was designed by Kerry G. Johnson.

Marvin Cohen, LBNL Faculty Senior Scientist, University Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, who was APS President in November 2005, when the logo was approved by the Executive Board, said, "I like the logo. At least now when you are in an elevator at an APS meeting and someone looks at your badge, they won't ask you about sports."[3]

APS career center

The APS Careers in Physics website is a gateway for physicists, students, and physics enthusiasts to obtain information about physics jobs and careers. APS Careers in Physics has an award winning job board, offers professional development advice through its website and blog, and provides links to workshops, grants, and career resources.[4]

Physics prizes

Lilienfeld Prize

APS has awarded the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize annually since 1989, excepting 2002. The purpose of the prize is to recognize outstanding contributions to physics. Among the recipients are Michael Berry, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, Frank Wilczek.[5]

American Physical Society Maria Goeppert Mayer Award

The Maria Goeppert Mayer Award recognizes and enhances outstanding achievements by women physicists in the early years of their careers and provides opportunities for them to present these achievements to others through public lectures.[6]

J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics

The J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics is presented by the American Physical Society at its annual April Meeting, and honors outstanding achievement in particle physics theory. The prize, considered one of the most prestigious in physics, consists of a monetary award, a certificate citing the contributions recognized by the award, and a travel allowance for the recipient to attend the presentation. The award is endowed by the family and friends of particle physicist J. J. Sakurai. The prize has been awarded annually since 1985.[7]

Statement on global warming

In 2007, APS adopted an official statement on global warming:[8]

Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.
Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

See also


External links

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