American Physical Society

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American Physical Society
Logo of aps.jpg
APS Physics
Abbreviation APS
Formation May 20, 1899
Type Scientific
Purpose/focus To advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics
Location American Center for Physics
College Park, MD, USA
Membership 50,000

The American Physical Society (APS) is the world's second largest organization of physicists, behind the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the prestigious Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than 20 science meetings each year. It is also a member society of the American Institute of Physics.[1]


The American Physical Society was founded on May 20, 1899, when thirty-six physicists gathered at Columbia University for that purpose. They proclaimed the mission of the new Society to be "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics", and in one way or another the APS has been at that task ever since. In the early years, virtually the sole activity of the APS was to hold scientific meetings, initially four per year. In 1913, the APS took over the operation of the Physical Review, which had been founded in 1893 at Cornell University, and journal publication became its second major activity. The Physical Review was followed by Reviews of Modern Physics in 1929 and by Physical Review Letters in 1958. Over the years, Phys. Rev. has subdivided into five separate sections as the fields of physics proliferated and the number of submissions grew.

In more recent years, the activities of the Society have broadened considerably. Stimulated by the increase in Federal funding in the period after the Second World War, and even more by the increased public involvement of scientists in the 1960s, the APS is active in public and governmental affairs, and in the international physics community. In addition, the Society conducts extensive programs in education, science outreach, and media relations. APS has 14 divisions and 11 topical groups covering all areas of physics research. There are 6 forums that reflect the interest of its 50,000 members[2] in broader issues, and 9 sections organized by geographical region.

In 1999, APS Physics celebrated its centennial with the biggest-ever physics meeting in Atlanta. In 2005, APS took the lead role in United States participation in the World Year of Physics, initiating several programs to broadly publicize physics during the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's annus mirabilis. Einstein@Home, one of the projects APS initiated during World Year of Physics, is an ongoing and popular distributed computing project.

Name change proposal[edit]

During the summer of 2005, the society conducted an electronic poll, in which the majority of APS members preferred the name American Physics Society. The poll became the motivation for a proposal of a name change promised in the leadership election that year. However, because of legal issues, the planned name change was eventually abandoned by the APS Executive Board.[3]

To promote public recognition of APS as a physics society, while retaining the name American Physical Society, the APS Executive Board adopted a new logo incorporating the phrase "APS Physics." General use of APS Physics to refer to APS or the American Physical Society is encouraged. The new APS Physics logo was designed by Kerry G. Johnson.

Marvin Cohen, LBNL Faculty Senior Scientist, University Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, who was APS President in November 2005, when the logo was approved by the Executive Board, said, "I like the logo. At least now when you are in an elevator at an APS meeting and someone looks at your badge, they won't ask you about sports."[4]

APS Units[edit]

The American Physical Society has 44 units (divisions, forums, topical groups and sections) that represent the wide range of interests of the physics community.[5]


  • Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics (DAMOP)
  • Astrophysics (DAP)
  • Biological Physics (DBIO)
  • Chemical Physics (DCP)
  • Computational Physics (DCOMP)
  • Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP)
  • Fluid Dynamics (DFD)
  • Laser Science (DLS)
  • Materials Physics (DMP)
  • Nuclear Physics (DNP)
  • Particles and Fields (DPF)
  • Physics of Beams (DPB)
  • Plasma Physics (DPP)
  • Polymer Physics (DPOLY)


  • Education (FEd)
  • Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA)
  • History of Physics (FHP)
  • Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP)
  • International Physics (FIP)
  • Outreach and Engaging the Public (FOEP)
  • Physics and Society (FPS)


  • California-Nevada Section (CAL)
  • Four Corners (4CS)
  • Mid-Atlantic (MAS)
  • New England (NES)
  • New York State (NYSS)
  • Northwest (NWS)
  • Ohio-Region (OSAPS)
  • Prairie Section (PSAPS)
  • Southeastern (SESAPS)
  • Texas (TSAPS)

Topical Groups[edit]

  • Energy Research and Applications (GERA)
  • Few-Body Systems (GFB)
  • Gravitation (GGR)
  • Hadronic Physics (GHP)
  • Instrument and Measurement Science (GIMS)
  • Magnetism (GMAG)
  • Physics Education Research (GPER)
  • Plasma Astrophysics (GPAP)
  • Precision Measurement & Fundamental Constants (GPMFC)
  • Physics of Climate (GPC)
  • Quantum Information (GQI)
  • Shock Compression of Condensed Matter (SHOCK)
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics (GSNP)


Physics Teacher Education Coalition[edit]

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) is a joint project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, which helps universities transform their physics teacher education programs into national models. PhysTEC Supported Sites develop their physics teacher preparation programs by implementing a set of Key Components that project leaders have identified as critical to success in physics teacher preparation. The broader Coalition is a national network of institutions committed to developing and promoting excellence in physics and physical science teacher preparation.[6]

APS Bridge Program[edit]

The APS Bridge Program aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students that earn doctoral degrees in physics. The program names doctoral and master’s degree-granting institutions as Bridge Sites and awards them National Science Foundation funding to prepare post-baccalaureate students for doctoral studies through additional coursework, mentoring, research, application coaching, and GRE preparation.[7]

The APS Scholarship for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors[edit]

Formerly called the APS Corporate Sponsored Scholarship Program for Minority Undergraduate Students Who Major in Physics, this scholarship was established in 1980 with the goal of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities receiving bachelor’s degrees in physics. The program provides funding and mentoring to talented students.[8]

Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics[edit]

APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (APS CUWiP) are three-day regional conferences for undergraduate physics majors. The conferences aim to help undergraduate women continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.[9]

Career Center[edit]

The APS Careers in Physics website is a gateway for physicists, students, and physics enthusiasts to obtain information about physics jobs and careers. APS Careers in Physics has an award-winning job board, offers professional development advice through its website and blog, and provides links to workshops, grants, and career resources.[10]

New Faculty Workshop[edit]

APS co-sponsors a set of workshops for new physics and astronomy faculty with the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Astronomical Society. These workshops reach nearly half of all new physics and astronomy faculty, and introduce them to current pedagogical practices, results of physics education research, and time management skills to help them begin and improve their academic careers.[11]

CSWP/COM site visits[edit]

The APS has had a long-standing interest in improving the climate in physics departments for underrepresented minorities and women. The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) and the Committee on Minorities (COM) both sponsor site visit programs to universities as well as national labs.[12] [13]

Education conferences[edit]

APS is a leading voice for physics education and the society sponsors a variety of conferences dedicating to helping physics education leaders stay on top of the trends in the field. Conferences include the annual Physics Department Chair Conference, a Graduate Education in Physics Conference, and a Distance Education & Online Learning in Physics Workshop. [14]

APS Prizes and Awards[edit]

Andrei Sakharov Prize[edit]

The Andrei Sakharov Prize was established to recognize "outstanding leadership and/or achievements of scientists in upholding human rights." The prize is named in recognition of the courageous and effective work of the Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov on behalf of human rights, to the detriment of his own scientific career and despite the loss of his own personal freedom.[15]

James Clerk Maxwell Prize[edit]

The prize was established in 1975 by the Maxwell Technologies, Inc., in honor of the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of plasma physics. The prize consists of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipient. The prize is presented annually.[16]

Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics[edit]

David Adler Lectureship Award for Materials Physics[edit]

Edward A. Bouchet Award[edit]

The Edward A. Bouchet Award was established in 1994 by the APS Committee on Minorities in physics to recognize and honor distinguished underrepresented minority physics researchers who have made significant contributions to physics research. This lectureship provides funding for Award recipients to conduct visits to institutions where the impact on minority students is significant, to deliver technical or topical lectures, and in some cases, to conduct informal discussions with faculty and students.[17]

Fluid Dynamics Prize[edit]

J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics[edit]

The J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics is presented by the American Physical Society at its annual April Meeting, and honors outstanding achievement in particle physics theory. The prize, considered one of the most prestigious in physics, consists of a monetary award, a certificate citing the contributions recognized by the award, and a travel allowance for the recipient to attend the presentation. The award is endowed by the family and friends of particle physicist J. J. Sakurai. The prize has been awarded annually since 1985.[18]

Lilienfeld Prize[edit]

APS has awarded the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize annually since 1989, excepting 2002. The purpose of the prize is to recognize outstanding contributions to physics. Among the recipients are Michael Berry, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, and Frank Wilczek.[19]

Maria Goeppert Mayer Award[edit]

The Maria Goeppert Mayer Award recognizes and enhances outstanding achievements by women physicists in the early years of their careers and provides opportunities for them to present these achievements to others through public lectures.[20]

Max Delbruck Prize for Biological Physics[edit]

Statement on global warming[edit]

In 2007, APS adopted an official statement on global warming:[21]

Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.
Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

In November 2009, 80 current and past members of the American Physical Society presented a letter to the society specifically objecting to the society's position.[22] A few days later, the APS Council overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to replace the climate change statement.[23] On April 18, 2010, the APS reaffirmed the 2007 statement with commentary to provide further support.[21]


The following individuals resigned their memberships over disagreement with the society's official statement on global warming:

  • Ivar Giaever, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973, resigned 13 September 2011.[24]
  • Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics and former department chairman at the University of California, Santa Barbara, resigned 6 October 2010. His letter argues that APS's cupidity is what is keeping it from changing its opinion on global warming.
"...I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society. It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist." [25][26]

See also[edit]

  • REVTeX - LaTeX style package for APS journals


  1. ^ "AIP member societies". Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  2. ^ "APS Membership Soars Above 50,000 Benchmark". American Physical Society. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "APS News - November 2005". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  4. ^ "''APS News'' - January 2006". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  5. ^ [1] APS Units
  6. ^ "Physics Teacher Education Coalition". Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "APS Bridge Program". APS Bridge Program. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "APS Scholarship for Underrepresented Minorities". American Physical Society. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "APS Careers in Physics". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  11. ^ "New Physics and Astronomy Faculty Workshop". American Association of Physics Teachers. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "Committee on the Status of Women in Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Committee on Minorities". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  14. ^ "APS Education Conferences". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Andrei Sakharov Prize". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "James Clerk Maxwell Prize". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Edward A. Bouchet Award". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  18. ^ American Physical Society. "J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics". Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  19. ^ "J. E. Lilienfeld Prize". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  20. ^ "Maria Goeppert Mayer Award". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  21. ^ a b "APS Climate Change Policy Statement". American Physical Society. April 18, 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  22. ^ "An Open Letter to the Council of the American Physical Society". The Heartland Institute. November 1, 2009. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  23. ^ "APS Council Overwhelmingly Rejects Proposal to Replace Society’s Current Climate Change Statement". American Physical Society. November 10, 2009. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  24. ^ Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Resigns Over Global Warming
  25. ^ James Delingpole (October 9, 2010). "US physics professor: 'Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  26. ^ Harold Lewis (October 10, 2010). "Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society". Global Warming Policy Foundation. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 

External links[edit]