Message from the FPS Chair

Micah Lowenthal

Elections are nearly upon us and it is a time not only to vote for your favorite candidates for political office but also to vote for vice chair and new members of the executive committee of the Forum on Physics and Society (FPS). In addition, there is an American Physical Society (APS) vote on changes to the bylaws to reform the structure of APS. I’m writing to urge all of you to vote and, for those willing and able to get more engaged, to offer to run for elected office.

Why vote? The people who lead the unit help shape the activities of the unit, so you should vote to help select them in addition to getting engaged and even standing for election to affect what FPS does. FPS is a unique and very active organization:
  • FPS sponsors several invited sessions at the March and April meetings addressing issues at the intersection of physics and society: the 2014 sessions included Science and Secrecy, The Impact of Physics Research on the Economy, Hyperloop and other Transportation Ideas, and Physics and Innovation, among others.
  • At the annual meetings, FPS makes senior scientists available to meet with graduate students interested in incorporating policy into a physics career.
  • Every year or two, FPS sponsors a conference or a short course: most recently FPS sponsored a short course on nuclear weapon issues in the 21st Century and a conference on the Physics of Sustainable Energy.
  • FPS nominates candidates for APS fellowship and for the Burton Forum Award and Szilard Lectureship.
  • FPS puts out this newsletter, Physics & Society, which for over 40 years has provided a venue for publication of non-peer-reviewed articles of real substance.

We are holding the election earlier this year and in future years to ensure that the elected members are better able to execute their duties pertaining to the activities above. So please vote to help FPS sustain and improve its activities. FPS members will receive election details and instructions via e-mail.

On a separate matter, I also urge you to vote on the APS reform. APS has to make some corporate reforms to comply with regulations governing nonprofit organizations. The vote is happening right now. For more information, see the Proposed Changes to APS Governance and Leadership Structures web page.

Physics is at the heart of many critical issues facing society today, and the kind of thinking that physicists bring to problem solving could help address many more critical issues. I’m proud to say that FPS is helping physicists to engage these challenges, encouraging new and rising physicists to make these issues part of their thinking and their careers, and providing opportunities to share ideas and interact thus creating a network of physicists with like interests. Frankly, you FPS members are some of the most interesting people we meet. We’d like to hear from more of you and more from all of you.

These contributions have not been peer-refereed. They represent solely the view(s) of the author(s) and not necessarily the view of APS.