Message from the Chair

Jim Isenberg, University of Oregon jim-at-newton.uoregon.edu
I hope you're not already sick of hearing about Einstein and the 100th anniversary of his ``miracle year". We're only one month into it, and it remains our job to tell the public how important and revolutionary his work of 1905 (and 1915) has turned out to be for our understanding of how the universe works. The up and running Speakers Program is doing a great job of helping us to convey this to the public. (We thank all of those helping with this program, especially Danika Mogilska and Richard Price). The special evening session (Einstein's Legacy: What We Know and Don't Know) at the April APS meeting in Tampa will help reinforce this message in the minds of other physicists as well.

Of course one way we can view the present Einstein hoopla is as a sort of warm up for the BIG centenary celebration in 2015. It is fun to think about what we might know about gravitation by then, 100 years after Einstein published his paper introducing General Relativity. We all hope that detecting gravitational radiation will be relatively routine by 2015. Might we even hope that numerical simulations will catch up by then? We should know more and more about the very early cosmos, and the seeds of clumping into galactic structure. On the other end of cosmology, might we have a good model for the apparent acceleration of cosmic expansion? It would be great to know a lot more than we do about the interface of gravitation and quantum phenomena. Likely it is too optimistic to expect an observable manifestation of this interface. On the mathematical side, can we hope to have resolved whether cosmic censorship (in either the weak or strong form) is true for Einstein's gravitational field equations?

Regardless of your attitude on centenaries, this one gives us a good excuse to read some of the original papers which Einstein wrote in 1905 (and later). Just this past week, I reread ``On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", and ``Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy Content". I wouldn't recommend them to Oprah's Book Club (then again, why not?) but I found them to be very interesting reading.

One other anniversarial type note: This is the 10th anniversary of the founding of our Topical Group in Gravitation. I think it is fair to say that the group has been very successful in advocating and publicizing work in gravitational physics. Those of us who agree should give a very big thank you to Beverly Berger, whose inspiration and dogged efforts ten years ago are responsible for the existence of GGR.

One mark of our success is the increasing number and geographical range of our signature ``regional meetings". Starting with the annual spring Pacific Coast Gravity Meeting (first held 20 years ago) these have spread to the annual fall Midwest Gravity Meeting (first held in 1991), the annual spring Eastern Gravity Meeting (first held in 1997), and now the newly inaugurated Gulf Coast Gravity Meeting (to be held this month). For those of you haven't attended one of these, i highly recommend them as a great way to learn about new results in our field, and a great way to introduce graduate students to the world of gravitational physics research.


Jorge Pullin 2005-03-10