The state of US physics—1976

Authors(s):C. S. Wu Publication:Physics Today Publication Date:April 1, 1976 Publisher: American Institute of Physics Citation:Physics Today 29, 4, 23 (1976) Link:

There are cycles in the history of scientific development just as there are in the affairs of men. To keep a Society such as The American Physical Society healthy and strong in the face of these changes, we must review our objectives periodically and adjust to the demands and needs of the present. In preparing this report on the State of Physics I sought to acquire some sense of the historical development of American physics by browsing through two famous addresses given by Henry Augustus Rowland, the founder and first president of our Society.

Let us now look at the state of physics, which I find to be healthy and sound. For some fields of physics, certainly for particle physics, the year just past has been exhilarating. But American physics in general seems to hustle along with such enormous vigor and success that it will be difficult to cover all developments in detail. Forgive me if I sound partial to those fields with which I am more familiar—remember the old saying that to a shoemaker, there is nothing like leather.


Nuclear physics: Last June I attended an International Conference on High Energy Physics and Nuclear Structure at Santa Fe and Los Alamos, and was very much impressed by the size of the delegations from various countries. It reminded me of the early 1960's, when large numbers of American physicists often attended conferences abroad. Now the direction of flow appears to be reversed. We listened to many reports of experimental breakthroughs made with the new generation of accelerators here and abroad. Clearly a new era in nuclear physics has just begun: