Message from the Chair

Jim Isenberg, University of Oregon jim-at-newton.uoregon.edu
Albert Einstein was born $125 \frac{1}{2}$ years ago in Ulm, Germany. A little over 25 years later, Einstein published three epic papers which set the course for much of theoretical physics for the twentieth century (and beyond). One of them introduces special relativity, one of them proposes a new ``quantum" model for understanding the photoelectric effect, and the last describes a statistical mathematical model for understanding Brownian motion.

Einstein's may be the most familiar face on the planet, and unlike his main competitors (Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mao, Castro, and Michael Jackson), just about everyone likes him. If you tell someone that you work on Einstein stuff, you get a much friendlier reaction than if you say that you study differential equations or do LIGO data analysis. Einstein has been used successfully to sell computer supplies, bagels, nuclear weapons, national aspirations, IQ tests, healthcare, and board games.

This coming year, we should capitalize on our Einstein connection and use him to sell gravitational physics, both within the scientific community and out in public. The UN is helping: With Einstein in mind, it has officially declared 2005 to be the ``International Year of Physics" (2004 is the ``International Year of Rice"). The APS is responding: It has a number of programs planned, some kicking off this October, and it has encouraged us to organize a special evening of talks on gravitational physics at next April's meeting. The public news media will likely be interested in Einstein and the centennial of the 1905 papers as well; and if our local media isn't, we should tell them about it. In doing so, we can convey to them and to the public some of the joy and satisfaction we get in studying general relativity and gravity. And we can tell people about how dramatically this area of scientific research has developed in recent years. The Speaker's Bureau, which has been organized through the GGR in cooperation with other groups, should help with this public mission. Its goals and operation are described by Richard Price elsewhere in this issue of MOG.

A key purpose of the topical group is to tell people about gravitational physics, get them interested in it, and encourage fresh talent to enter the field. Einstein, though over 125 years old, should be a big help this year in achieving this goal.


Jorge Pullin 2004-09-10