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2015 was an eventful year for topics at the intersection of physics and society. A climate deal in Paris, the framework of a deal concerning nuclear weapons with Iran, a renewed focus on sexism in science, ongoing battles over federal funding of scientific research and more. In our newsletter during the last year, we printed articles about geomagnetic disturbances, nuclear waste, nuclear warhead verification, plutonium demilitarization, and nuclear disarmament.
For me personally, 2015 was the year that I decided to fully explore the intersection between physics and politics. In November, I won election to the New Jersey General Assembly by running a candidate-specifc micro-targeted voter model developed by fellow physicist and member of this Forum, Sherrie Preische. We benchmarked the model against historical results and everything we did during the campaign was based upon predictive scores from the model. The political “experts” thought I had no chance to win and while our model couldn’t predict the final margin of victory, 78 votes out of more than 34,000 cast, it accurately predicted the final outcome for all four of the candidates in the race several months before election day. I ran with only one campaign promise – to use evidence to make decisions, no different than what each of us does every day. In New Jersey, the Legislature is a part-time job so I feel quite fortunate that I can keep my job at Princeton and continue to edit this newsletter.
Speaking of newsletters, we kick off the first issue of 2016 with a listing of FPS-sponsored sessions at the upcoming March and April meetings. While these sessions are one of the prime activities of our Forum (along with this newsletter), our Executive Committee has a request for your input on ways we can expand (see the Wanted: A Few Good Ideas article). Our former Chair, Aviva Brecher, has written a letter to the Editor about creating a new FPS award and I always appreciate hearing from you on issues that you feel are important and of interest to our readers. In 2015, the US restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and our main article for this issue is a fascinating look at how science and scientists can help break down walls between countries. As always, we end with book reviews put together by our Book Editor, Art Hobson and his outstanding team of reviewers.
Finally, I need your help in identifying topics and authors that are willing to submit articles for publication in future issues of the newsletter. In the end, it is you that make this newsletter what it is and I welcome your suggestions and your submissions.
Andrew Zwicker, firstname.lastname@example.org