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p 2 - Physics without tears
p 8 - Reform of Nigerias
science system gets under way
p 8 - A Decade to educate
p 10 - Water Co-operation Facility launched
p 10 - Nineteen new biosphere reserves
p 11 - IPSO determined 'to make peace happen'
p 12 - A half-century for CERN
p 13 - Trieste Science Prize to celebrate science from
p 13 -A second UNESCOCousteau Chair for the USA
p 14 - Herwig Schopper on Einstein's
p 17 - The silent world revisited
p 20 - Our closest relatives on the brink of extinction
p 24 - Governing bodies
p 24 - Diary
p 24 - New releases
physics? Why now?
hundred years ago, a young man working in the Patent Office
in Bern, Switzerland, published a series of scientific articles.
These introduced revolutionary ideas on fundamental questions
related to the existence of atoms, the nature of light, the
concepts of time and space, energy and matter. They opened
up a whole new world composed of the infinitely small (particles),
the infinitely large (the cosmos) and the infinitely complex
(the states of matter). The name of this young man was Albert
Einstein and his theories would lay the foundations for transistors,
computers, lasers, televisions, magnetic resonance imagery
in medicine and space travel.
Moleko of Lesotho evoked this Miraculous Year, as it is known,
when presenting a resolution for an International Year of
Physics in 2005 to the United Nations six months ago.
International Year of Physics celebrates the genius of Albert
Einstein. But the Year is as much forward-looking as commemorative.
If anything, we have an even greater need of the physical
sciences now than ever before. How else will we solve the
major problems of the 21st century related to energy production,
environmental protection and public health? But first, we
will need to persuade dubitative politicians that the technologies
they will need tomorrow are the basic research of today.
than 60 countries around the world are preparing special events
to celebrate the Year, of which UNESCO is lead agency and
one of the co-ordinators within an international steering
committee led by the European Physical Society.
Year is being launched by a conference on the theme of Physics
for Tomorrow from 13 to 15 January at UNESCO Headquarters.
Open to the general public, the conference will focus on the
role of physics in society and its impact on everyday life,
the influence of Einstein on the science of the 20th and 21st
centuries, the teaching of physics and its links with other
the troubling – and in some cases growing – disaffection for
physics among the younger generation, the lead story in this
issue looks at how teaching methods are evolving towards activity-based
tuition, a promising new approach.
World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development in
Durban from 31 October to 2 November will round off the Year,
sponsored primarily by UNESCO and its Abdus Salam International
Center for Theoretical Physics, the South African Institute
of Physics and the International Union of Pure and Applied
Physics. Approximately 500 physicists and policy-makers from
around the world will meet to discuss the ties between physics
and economic development, health, energy, environment and
education. The conference is expected to come up with an agenda
for action that the international physics community can implement
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences