APS News

IUPAP Declares 2005 "World Year of Physics"; Franz Elected Secretary-General

Photo by Martina Wanke and Holger Dietz
Photo by Martina Wanke and Holger Dietz

Hard at work at the IUPAP General Assembly are (l to r): Robert Barber of the University of Manitoba, Judy Franz of the APS, and Burton Richter of Stanford.

Resolutions declaring 2005 the "World Year of Physics" and providing a roadmap for enhancing the role of women in physics were among the actions taken during the 2002 General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), held October 9-12 in Berlin, Germany. IUPAP also held its general election, in which APS Executive Officer Judy Franz was chosen as Secretary-General for a three- year term, succeeding Rene Turlay of C.E.N. Saclay. The new President of IUPAP will be Yves Petroff of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. He succeeds Burton Richter of SLAC.

First proposed by the European Physical Society (EPS), the "World Year of Physics" is intended to raise worldwide public awareness for physics. The choice of 2005 refers to the 100th anniversary of the year that Albert Einstein wrote legendary papers that made fundamental contributions to three areas of physics: the theory of relativity, quantum theory, and the theory of Brownian motion. The APS will be participating in the event by coordinating a variety of outreach and public information activities in the US; more information will appear in APS News as the plans begin to take shape.

Franz was one of several American physicists elected to IUPAP office, and she declared herself "honored" by her selection. But for her, a more personal triumph was the passage by the IUPAP General Assembly of a Resolution on enhancing the role of women in physics. The resolution was an outgrowth of the first International Conference on Women in Physics held earlier this year in Paris, France, which was attended by more than 300 physicists from 65 countries [see APS News, May 2002].

The General Assembly approved strong declarations establishing fully equal opportunity for success in physics independent of gender, in all arenas: primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, research institutes and industry, professional societies, national governments, and funding agencies. Yet the most important provisions, according to Franz, were the recommendations IUPAP made to itself that women be appointed to its liaison committees; that gender be a consideration in nominations to commissions and to the Council, and the statement declared that it expects that IUPAP-sponsored conferences will have women as members of their program committees. She credits the success of the Paris conference and the reports generated for it with helping to boost broad support for women in physics issues within IUPAP's General Assembly.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette