History of the SPS

The history of the Swiss Physical Society (SPS) to the centennial anniversary.

As a preparation for its anniversary in the year 2008, the SPS commissions the reconstruction of its history. This project is accomplished by Alessandra Hool of the University in Berne within her thesis. The paper shall highlight the key data and most important events on one hand, but, on the other hand, also portray a readable text for a broad public.

In the first part, we focus on the 1930s till the early 1950s. That was when the most important physics, such as Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Scherrer, who made history in Switzerland the last hundred years, were members of the board of SPS.

At that time, SPS could be seen as access point of Swiss Science Politics. Also foreign contacts at that time shall be highlighted: For example the relation to its German affiliate – from 1925 to 1927, Peter Debye was president of “SOG” and was elected for president of “DPG” in 1937.

The second part of the paper shall give you a general overview on the most important dates and events in the history of SPS. The enquiries made so far have shown that the official foundation was in May, 1908; the first assembly as affiliate of the Swiss Society of Natural Scientists (SNG) took place end of August / beginning of September, during the annual assembly of the SNG in Glarus. First president of SPS was Pierre Chappuis-Sarasin from Basle, who, at the same time, was the secretary of the Swiss Society of Natural Scientists.

Here, we’d like to ask all the readers of this page to contact M. Hool directly, if you are in possession of documents or picture that may be interesting for her work.

Alessandra Hool
Abteilung für Wissenschaftstheorie und Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Institut für Philosophie
Länggassstrasse 49a
3012 Bern