Physics is for Everyone Because Everyone Uses Physics!

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Message from the President

Physics is for Everyone Because Everyone Uses Physics!


Willie S. Rockward, Professor of PHysics, Morehouse College, President, Sigma Pi Sigma

It gives me great pleasure and honor to write to you as President of Sigma Pi Sigma. When I was inducted nearly 27 years ago, I could not in my wildest imaginings have foreseen becoming president of the honor society, which has long been an active part of my professional and social life.

When most people think of physics, they think of complexity. They conjure images of quantum models and laws of nature. They envision rocket scientists, Sir Isaac Newton, or Albert Einstein. Most people do not imagine the connections between physics and something as simple as tossing a football. But it was football that led me to physics.

When I was a teenager, I wanted to play football at Grambling State University for the legendary Eddie Robinson, who was at the time the most winning coach in collegiate football. The only scholarship available to me from Grambling was in physics. So physics became my segue to the sport.

Soon I began to notice similarities. The quarterback throwing the football created projectile motion. The running back who carried the football built up linear momentum, and the linebacker who tackled that running back produced elastic or inelastic collisions. I was the running back. During football practice one day, an elastic collision with a linebacker helped me decide to choose the physics field over the football field.

After coursework in several areas of physics, I was inducted into the Grambling State University chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma in 1986. My affiliation with Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS has always focused on scientific citizenship, community service, and civic engagement with the physics community and the general public.

We should embrace the concept that physics is for everyone. Why? Because everyone (and every field) uses physics. It is not reserved for the few, the elite, or the geniuses. “Physics for all” leads to more interdisciplinary problems solved.

Physicists come from all walks of life and venture into a variety of professions. The physics connection is obvious in the sciences and technology, but physics is also important in the humanities, in law, and in medicine as well. Intellectual property attorneys, physicians, nurses, technicians, radiologists, and political scientists all use physics. Natural laws apply in all fields, in all professions.

As Sigma Pi Sigma president, I will utilize my position to help strengthen, shape, and sustain the future of this society. My Sigma Pi Sigma vision is to encourage undergraduates, graduate students, professors, professionals, faculty, and the public to appreciate their physical surroundings through the concepts and applications of physics. We are because physics is. 

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