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Heritage & Promise: The 2004 Quadrennial Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma
by Raul Peters, SPS Reporter, Midwestern State University
   Chapter, Wichita Falls, Texas

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The 2004 Quadrennial Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma was a remarkable experience for me. There were numerous key events that were informative. The talks and presentations gave me new insights into various aspects of physics. In addition to the Congress, the sites and the location were interesting.

I had the chance to communicate with many leading scientists such as Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Carl E. Wieman. I was truly inspired by their achievements and contributions that they have made to the scientific community and to the world at large. I received a number of their autographs. And I was able to take photos with these famous scientists. The discussions carried out by these individuals were captivating.

Sigma Pi Sigma members chat between congress sessions.

Sigma Pi Sigma members visit during a break between sessions at the 2004 Quadrennial Congress.

 

The themes (Heritage: A century of Physics and Promise: Good Science and Good Ethics) for the Congress were fitting. The Congress program was remarkable. The food was great. I enjoyed all the talks from the speakers. Additionally, the speakers gave presentations that are motivational. Some of the speakers gave me insights. These speakers include John Ridgen: Legacy and Hope; Carl E Wieman: Bose Einstein Condensation; Joycelyn Bell Burnell: Pulsars and extreme physics and Mildred Dresselhaus: Ethics in Physics. Ninety five percent of the universe is Hydrogen. So I now know ninety five percent of astrophysics. The poster presentations were informative. And the participants at the conference were friendly.

Another interesting aspect of this trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico is the uniqueness of the place itself. Surprisingly, it was snowing on the day of our arrival. “Snow in the Fall!” This was my first reaction, being from Antigua.

The University of New Mexico has excellent facilities. The Student Union building is spacious and modern, and the sculptures on the grounds of the university are creative. Also the landscape is awesome. It portrays creativity. The bare, dry, rocky and irregular shaped mountains surrounding the city of Albuquerque create a spectacle. No wonder Albuquerque has the longest tram station in the world. Also the restaurants there serve excellent food.

Saturday evening dinner banquet.

Dr. Worth Seagondollar addresses a packed ballroom during the Saturday evening dinner banquet. Dr. Seagondollar spoke about his experiences as a young man working on the Trinity experiment at White Sands Missile Range, NM.

 

Finally, another important aspect was our trip to the historical Trinity site. This is a learning experience for me. I can now say that I visited an important place to the Manhattan project. I was indeed privileged to see the McDonald House where the bomb was assembled. I was also privileged to see the location where the explosion took place and to see remnants of the explosion such as the trinitite, the green crystal materials, and the remnants of the footing of the tower. I had the opportunity to see some of the scientists in the photos that worked on the project at the Trinity site. Notably, I was elated that one of the scientists that worked on the project shared his experience with us. L. Worth Seagondollar shared some of his experiences with us during the time he worked on the project. I see this site as a vital part of the scientific breakthrough and discoveries that have impacted society. The invention of the atomic bomb brought an abrupt end to World War II thus creating peace in the world.

For me the 2004 Quadrennial Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma was indeed enjoyable. New Mexico itself has a unique landscape. The University of New Mexico facilitated the event well. An opportunity was created for us to visit the Trinity site. But most importantly I am honored to be among the friendly members of Sigma Pi Sigma.


 
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