In 2013 the Swiss Physical Society was once more very active in organizing and in participating in a variety of projects and events with the aim to intensify the relations between universities, research centres and industry, and to promote networking with young students and teachers throughout Switzerland. Examples of such events briefly summarised in the following are the annual meeting of our society, an executive board meeting at the Forschungsstation Jungfraujoch, a Young Physicists Forum (YPF) workshop at Magglingen, a joint symposium with the Physikalische Gesellschaft Zürich (PGZ), and two teachers training courses with visits to CERN. Another issue to which the society puts particular emphasis is the communication with its members, partners and the Swiss physics community at large, by means of publishing its bulletin the "SPG Mitteilungen" as well as disseminating information via its web site.
This year's Annual Meeting took place in Linz on 3-6 September 2013 and was jointly organized by the Austrian and Swiss Physics-, Astronomy and Astrophysics- Societies (ÖPG, SPS, ÖGAA, SSAA). The collaboration with the Austrian colleagues was very fruitful and all societies contributed to the excellent atmosphere of the meeting. Highlights of the conference were the opening talk by Mildred Dresselhaus (former adviser to President Clinton) and the public lecture by Serge Haroche (Nobel Prize laureate 2012). The high quality of the scientific contributions was also reflected by the nine, very well attended plenary talks that covered a large variety of physics topics. Overall more than 550 people, with a total of 400 contributing talks and posters, attended the conference. The interest of our industrial partners in this event was once more demonstrated by a record attendance of 27 exhibitors. As every year, the annual meeting was also the occasion to hold the General Assembly and to celebrate the winners of the SPS awards in General Physics, Condensed Matter Physics and Applied Physics. Moreover three poster prizes were awarded, which had to be selected from a total of 116 exhibits. The annual SPS meeting in 2014 will be held in Fribourg from 30 June - 2 July, jointly with the NCCR MUST, the Association MaNEP and the Swiss Institute of Particle Physics CHIPP.
The SPS executive board meets on a bi-monthly basis, usually at the SCNAT in Bern. This year, to foster our relation to partner organisations, a special extended board meeting took place on 14-15 June at the Forschungsstation Jungfraujoch. Martin Huber, president of the SCNAT-commission HFSJG (Hochalpine Forschungsstation Jungfraujoch und Gornergrat) kindly introduced the board members to the activities of the high altitude laboratory and Erwin Flückiger, president of the International Foundation for the Research Station offered a guided tour of the experimental installations in the Sphinx-observatory. The board took the opportunity at this extended meeting to review the mandate of our Society and to initiate future projects, in particular in relation to promoting young academics.
The Young Physicists Forum YPF, also represented in the executive committee as a commission of SPS, organized a very successful meeting on "Physics and Sport" at Magglingen on 17 and 18 May in cooperation with the Federal Office for Sport (BASPO/OFSPO). About 40 physics students from Swiss universities attended the event. The goal of the Forum is to encourage communication among the various physics student societies together with senior physicists, members of the SPS, as well as creating a platform to discuss topics of common interest and organise a variety of events such as seminars and visits.
As in previous years, the SPS has organised on 20 November in collaboration with the Physikalische Gesellschaft Zürich PGZ, and in cooperation with the YPF, a joint symposium with the topic of "Careers for Physicists". Students and young physicists had the opportunity to listen and to discuss career opportunities with experienced university colleagues.
Another continuous endeavour of the SPS is to improve the contact between teachers and organizers of training courses for secondary school teachers. In view of this year’s discovery of the Higgs particle, two main events were organized in particle physics. A first teachers training program took place in March in Bern in conjunction with a visit at CERN in June. Following the positive echo and success of the first event, a second two-day event followed in November at CERN. These courses triggered a "Matura Arbeit" at the Kantonsschule Sursee (LU). The events were supported by the SPS, CERN and the AGORA programme of the SNF. In order to enlarge this kind of outreach to all domains of physics, similar courses and visits will be organised over the next years in other fields of modern physics to bring teachers closer to the forefront of research and to share with them enthusiasm for physics. In 2014 "Modern Topics in Condensed Matter Physics" will be the theme of the event.
In 2013 the SPS was once more involved in the Swiss Physic Olympiad (SwissPhO) by awarding 4 prizes. The final round of the SwissPhO took place on March 23-24 in Aarau at the Neue Kantonsschule. The competition was held between twenty-six students from Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The event was yet another opportunity to strengthen contact with offspring and teachers in a nice and stimulating climate, and often represents the first successful contact of the SPS with future physicists. For the first time, Switzerland and Liechtenstein will organise the International Physics Olympiad in 2016 (typically 400 participants from 95 countries), which will require additional organisational and scientific forces to be involved.
Effective communication within and across the various sections of our society is assured by publication of the highly appreciated bulletin, the "SPG Mitteilungen", and by deferring regularly up-to-date information and news over the SPS web-site. The Mitteilungen appear three times per year, disseminating information about the activities of the society and the executive board, giving reports on the ongoing projects and reviewing scientific progress in a variety of areas of physics with rubrics like Progress in Physics, Physics Anecdotes, Physics and Society and History of Physics.
SPS is a member organization of the Swiss Academy of Science SCNAT and part of the platform Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics MAP. We also maintain strong links with the Swiss Academy of Engineering Science SATW. The many activities of the Swiss Physical Society, like those summarised above, could only be carried through thanks to the continuous organizational and financial support of SCNAT. The society made best use of the allocated funds and could once more close its budget with a balanced account for 2013.
Andreas Schopper, SPS President