Looking Forward: Solve the Unsolved

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Message from the President

Looking Forward: Solve the Unsolved


Willie S. Rockward, Sigma Pi Sigma President, and Brad R. Conrad, Director, SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma

As elections for Sigma Pi Sigma president wrap up this spring, Brad Conrad and I would like to leave everyone with a few guiding thoughts that I hope you are able to keep with you well into the future. First, I’d like to thank you for your support and confidence in allowing me to serve as your Sigma Pi Sigma president since 2014. I look forward to my continued involvement in Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS because “the highest honor” is to honor scholarship, encourage interest in physics, share fellowship among those who excel in physics, and promote an attitude of service.

Through our involvement in Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS, we have learned to embrace the following:

Physics is for everyone! Or, more accurately, physics has been and always will be for everyone, because it takes everyone to make it all happen. This concept sometimes gets lost in the frenzy of life, careers, and classes, but it’s a beautiful realization about the pursuit of truth. The deepest scientific truths of the universe are never found by one person, in one moment. As physicists, we don’t seek to solve the solved; rather we seek to solve the unsolved, and that will take all of us. So to explore the unknown and investigate the strangeness that is the observable universe, we share what we learn, think, and hypothesize as a community. 

We each have something to contribute, especially in-reach and outreach. The problems we investigate vary far and wide, as physics—and the fundamental relationships we study—touch so many professions and disciplines. We have been successful because we have approached these diverse problems with a diverse group of people. It’s this variance in approach that will help us solve the problems of the 21st century and beyond. Yet, to fully realize our potential, we must make sure we reach out not just to friends or classmates, but to everyone, from all experiences and disciplines. Searching for the unknown shouldn’t be limited to a select group of people or generation.

We must provide opportunities for the future of physics, unborn. While Sigma Pi Sigma membership honors excellence within the field, members are also called to encourage interest in physics at all levels. One of the main ways we support our newest members and the next generation of physicists and astronomers is through our Physics Congress, or PhysCon. Sigma Pi Sigma and the Society of Physics Students will host PhysCon 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island, from November 14–16, 2019. Our theme nicely summarizes our intent: We’ll be Making Waves & Breaking Boundaries. One of PhysCon’s co-chairs, Steve Feller, shares more about this volunteer-led conference on page 9.

While this congress is vital for the future of physics, we’re only able to fund and organize it because of the financial support of many Sigma Pi Sigma members. By supporting an endowment for this conference, we can ensure that PhysCon exists in perpetuity and that future generations of students are able to become the problem solvers of the next generation. As we are a grassroots organization, every little bit makes a big difference to the students. All donated funds will go directly to supporting inclusive undergraduate conferences. Become a sustaining member and please help us make PhysCon 2019 a reality by visiting donate.aip.org/centennial-campaign.

Physics is for everyone. When everyone contributes, we, collectively, provide opportunities that further our goal of solving the unsolved. We must strive to make our community as open, wide, and vibrant as the science that we study.
When we reach in through outreach, we generate fellowship, encouragement, scholarship, and service—all together, it is the pursuit of excellence that defines us. We become the problem solvers of the next generation.  We are because physics is!

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