Unity of Physics in Action: Voices from Around the World

Editor’s Note: The entire country was deeply affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people. In the midst of such horror and loss, we were particularly gratified by the outpouring of support and consolation received from our friends and colleagues in other countries. The sampling below represents but a small fraction of the encouraging notes received by various APS officers and staff in the aftermath of the attacks. We reprint them here as a testament to the universality of physics, whose community knows no national borders.

September 11 Cartoon


The Executive Board of The American Physical Society expresses its profound sorrow at the loss of so many innocent victims of terrorism on September 11, and offers deep sympathy and condolences to their family and friends. We mourn as well the deaths of members of our own physics community. We grieve with our members and staff who have lost loved ones, friends and colleagues.
APS Executive Board
Motion Passed September 22, 2001


TO: Publications Staff of the American Physical Society, Ridge, NY
FROM: Martin Blume, APS Editor in Chief
DATE: September 12, 2001

Yesterday’s terrible events will be in the forefront of our minds for a long time to come. I believe that as we learn more about the toll of the tragedy, none of us in our office will be spared some brush with death. Some of us will have lost close loved ones, and most, if not all, will know of friends, neighbors, or relatives who have perished or who are badly injured. Our thoughts, hopes, wishes and prayers are with the survivors and with the families and friends of those who have died. Inevitably, we will be thinking as well of punishment for those responsible. It is important that we not hold entire groups of people accountable.

The world of physics, of which we are an important part, is very international in scope, and we have many friends and colleagues in all corners of the world. Here in our own office we have many coworkers who have come from faraway places, who are as horrified by what has happened as the rest of us. Let us keep that in mind when the pursuit of the guilty becomes our paramount thought. One strong contribution that we can make here to defeat the purposes of the terrorists is for us to carry out our tasks as best we can. In that way, we will overcome their aim of complete disruption of our society. This will not be easy, but it should be our goal.

The Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft unreservedly condemns the recent appalling terrorist attacks in the United States. They are attacks upon our whole civilization.

The Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft assures The American Physical Society and the whole American people of its complete solidarity with them at this difficult time.

In memory of the victims and with my deepest sympathy for their families, I remain in great sadness,
Dirk Basting
President, DPG

We are sorry [about] what has happened to your country. Please have our heartfelt sympathies.
Santanu Datta
Secretary, Indian Physics Association, Calcutta Chapter
All of us in the Indian Physics Association are most distressed with the human tragedies [that] have struck New York and Washington. Our hearts go out in sympathy with the innocent victims of these acts of madness. We stand by you in this hour of grief.
C.L. Bhat
Secretary, Indian Physics Association
We are deeply in consternation for the tragic and violent events in the United States. We hope that everybody and everything by the American Physical Society is okay.
Gerardo Contreras Puente
President, Sociedad Mexicana de Fisica
On behalf of the Cuban Physical Society, we would like to transmit to you our sad feelings and human solidarity because of the tragic facts that occurred in New York City and Washington.
Victor Fajer
President, Sociedad Cubana de Fisica
With deepest shock we have seen the totally senseless attack on humans and institutions in the United States. Helpless as anyone in this situation, we would like at least to share with all of you our deep sympathy. Scientific collaborations have played for many years an important role in fostering the understanding of humans across borders. I hope this spirit will finally win over fanaticism.
Albrecht Wagner
Director, DESY
German High Energy Physics Laboratory
I and my colleagues sympathize with you in your sorrow on the terrorism in New York and Washington. We were sorry to hear of the death of the people in the United States.
V.M. Matveev and V.V. Matveev
State Research Institute of Physical Problems
Zelenograd, Moscow, Russia
We hope very much that you are safe and mourn with all the unimaginably large losses. Today we Germans are all Americans.
Eberhard Hilf
University of Oldenburg, Germany
Please accept my condolences for the tragedy that has hit your great country.
Taieb Gasmi
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
I was shocked to learn of the recent terrorist attacks in the United States. I share the concern with the people of the United States and express my heartfelt condolences to the dependents of the victims. I am very sure such attacks by cowards will not stop the United States from its targeted missions against global terrorism.
K. Shadananan Nair
Cochin University of Science & Technology
Kerala, India
It is with deepest sorrow that we learned of the tragedy which happened in the United States. I wish to extend to you my sincere sympathy, knowing the sorrow you must feel.
Andrzej Slebarski
University of Silesia, Poland
We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy because of the terrorist attacks in the United States. All of us from the Central American and Caribbean Physical Society (SOCEAF) want to express our condolences to the families and friends of the victims in these tragic events. Please let us know if we can be of any help in this terrible situation.
Leopoldo Esquivel
President, SOCEAF
I send my sincere condolences to everybody in America on the terrorist attack.
Mikhail Kisselev
University of Wuerzburg, Germany
I would like to express my condolences to the American people at this dark and tragic moment for the attack on the free and democratic world. This is not only an attack on the United States, but an attack on the civilized world. We stand close by you. Let me hope that you never forgive these monstrous criminal suicide attackers.
Vitaly Gasparov
Institute of Solid State Physics
Russian Academy of Sciences

After the dramatic events of last week, I would like to express to all US people our deepest thoughts in these terrible moments. We French people have a very special debt to you that began in 1945 when you came as liberators.

Be sure that we are with all of you.
Thierry Jolicoeur
Ecole Normale Supérieure, France

The scientists of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna feel deeply indignant at the unprecedented terrorist acts committed on September 11 in New York, Washington, and Pittsburgh. In these tragic days we join you in your grief over the immense loss of human life and express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims. We wish you, dear colleagues, and the entire US people all the courage to overcome the aftermaths of this tragedy. Please accept our profound sympathy. On behalf of the staff members of JINR and from all your true friends at Dubna...
Vladimir Kadyshevsky, Alexey Sissakian, Tsvetan Vylov
May I, on behalf of the Institute of Physics, express deep sympathy to all American physicists for the tragic events of last week. These cataclysmic occurrences still seem incredible and the trivializing of human life is so alien to us in the Western world. Here in London, we have suffered for the past 30 years from terrorist activities, but none has been on the scale of those on New York and Washington. We hear today of 250 Britons who were victims in the World Trade Center, making this one of the worst ever peacetime tragedies for our country. It is also probable that amongst the dead there will be physicists, who in increasing numbers in recent years, with their mathematical and model building skills, have added an extra dimension to the financial world. I am confident, however, that the American people with their resolve and determination will continue to progress in spite of the mental and physical scars which last week’s acts of terrorism have inflicted upon your country.
Alun Jones
Institute of Physics, England
In shock and horror I followed the news of last Tuesday’s terror attack, together with many of our faculty and staff, as unspeakable events unfolded in lower Manhattan, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. We share in the suffering, the sadness, anger, and confusion of all Americans. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with those of you who may now be confronted with the loss of a loved one. I pray that the burden of grief will not break your spirit, and I trust that in a nation standing together hearts will be healed, made strong enough to withstand, free to pursue dreams again. But any words seem lost like chaff in the wind in the face of a tragedy this vast. There is little else I can say except that my heart goes out to you.
Juergen T. Stockburger
Universitaet Stuttgart, Germany

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

November 2001 (Volume 10, Number 10)

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APS Members Elect Helen Quinn as Society’s Next Vice President
APS Teachers Prep Program Gets Full Funding from NSF
APS News Survey Tracks Chinese Student Visa Problems
TSAI Program Winds Up Successful Seven-Year Run
Happy Birthday Enrico!
Physicists Honored at Fall Unit Meetings
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Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
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