As part of its historic sites initiative, APS recently commemorated two major achievements in physics in the US: the discovery of magnetic self-inductance by Joseph Henry in 1832, and the formulation of the microscopic theory of superconductivity by John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and J. Robert Schrieffer in 1956-1957. The site of Henry’s discovery was the Albany Academy, a preparatory school for boys that was founded in 1813. The school is still in existence, and in the photo at the right, John Rigden, chair of the APS Historic Sites Committee, watches as Head of the School Caroline B. Mason signs the APS register of historic sites, part of the ceremony surrounding the plaque presentation. After leaving Albany Academy, Henry became a professor at Princeton, and later the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer did their work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. APS President Leo Kadanoff (right) presents the historic sites plaque to UIUC Chancellor Richard Herman. The presentation was part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of BCS theory, held at UIUC in October. The plaque reads, “In this building, the home of the University of Illinois’ Physics Department from 1909 to 1959, John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and J. Robert Schrieffer created the ‘BCS’ theory of superconductivity, a great achievement of theoretical physics, in 1956-1957. For their work, they were awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics.”