Dear colleagues, dear SPS members

After a wonderful and successful 100th anniversary celebration in Bern on June 27th, I would like to thank all those who spent so much time and effort in its preparation: namely the members of the Executive Committee, in particular our past president, Tibor Gyalog, as well as Sandra Hüni and Stefan Albietz of the Secretariat in Basel. It shows that after one century of existence our Society is still doing well and going strong. Its history has been summarized and ‘officialized’ in the very interesting book “Die Gründung der Schweizerischen Physikalischen Gesellschaft” by Alessandra Hool and Gerd Graßhoff of the University of Bern.

Let me share a few ideas with you.

A learned Society like ours lives and moves forward only through the efforts of its active members and through the acquisition of new individual and collective members. Increasing the number of SPS members, in particular among young people will be one of my first priorities. This effort goes along with the promotion and encouragement of new generations of physicists by enhancing our outreach among students up to the bachelor and master levels. I would like to appeal to all physics professors at the Swiss Universities to support our Society and encourage them, as well as their students, to become active members. My call also goes to the physicists from research institutions and industry. Being myself a physicist working in an industrial research laboratory, I shall act towards strengthening the links between universities and industry.

The physics community in Switzerland is not so large but its scientific impact worldwide is outstanding. Our Society has to reflect this excellence and aim to provide top services to the community not only through the annual meetings but also by an active participation in the debate about the future of physics in our society. This can be done by increasing our interactions with the political authorities and other competent instances from academia and industry. The SPS should use the expertise of its members to create working groups and develop knowledge networks to address current issues such as energy, environment, or education and to help identify promising key areas of relevance for the future. The fact that physics plays an important role in many other disciplines and has always been on the cusp of revolutionary discoveries that drove technology, should encourage us to share our visions in research with scientists and engineers from other fields. Nevertheless I believe that the SPS alone - that is, without a stronger collaboration with the various platforms of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) and with the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) - cannot reach such goals.

Let me also acknowledge the good synergies that were developed in the past few years with the three National Centers of Competence in Research, namely, MaNEP, Nano, and Quantum Photonics. By participating every other year in our annual meetings, they have greatly contributed to help us reach a critical mass. We look forward to continuing this collaboration. Next year we shall repeat an earlier experiment by organizing our annual meeting jointly with the Austrian Physical Society. This will take place in early September 2009 at the University of Innsbruck.

With the help of our committee members, I thus hope to continue in the footsteps of my predecessors to make the SPS stronger, more successful and more visible.

Last but not least, the writing of these few lines in English should not be perceived as giving up our national languages French and German. Indeed we shall continue to write in these two languages in the SPS Bulletin and on our webpage, even if the general trend, for practical reasons, is to favor English.

Christophe Rossel, SPS President