News Bulletin: February 1998

Meeting of the Executive Council and Chairmen

The Executive Council and Chairs of the commissions met together at the Academy of Science of France in Paris, September 26-27, 1997.

Associate Members

Appointment of Associate Members of the Commissions is made one year following the General Assembly. Terms for the new Associate Members are for September 1997 to September 2000. The list of proposed Associate Members of the commissions was reviewed in detail by the meeting and, after considerable discussion, was approved by the Executive as given in Appendix 1 to this newsletter.

Commission Affairs

In accordance with the standing charge of several General Assemblies, the meeting discussed the present alignments of the commissions with respect to subject matter and reviewed the historic links between the commissions. Specific attention was given to the alignments between astrophysics, particle physics, and cosmic ray commissions. It was noted that in matters such as astro/particle physics, there was a need for inter-commission communication in order to provide appropriate forums for discussion of large projects, as well as the arrangement of appropriate conferences. It was noted that there have been similar overlaps in condensed matter physics, but attempts to resolve the commission structure with the various areas have not yet been totally satisfactory.

Several commissions have recently reviewed the descriptions of their areas and updated these, particularly in the light of the development of web pages for the commission.

Proposal from AC1 - International Commission on Optics

A presentation was made by Pierre Chavel, the Secretary-General of the International Commission on Optics. ICO is now fifty years old and has identified the need to form appropriate structures to deal with the developing fields within the general area of optics. The proposal was made that the International Commission on Optics be renamed as the International Commission on Optics and Photonics, in order that it may more properly represent modern activity. With updated objectives, ICO will be well placed in terms of visibility and has the potential to be the primary vehicle for international work in optics and photonics. To this end, ICO is currently elaborating modification of its structure and is seeking to have approval from its membership by August 1998. ICO strongly wishes to remain within IUPAP as an affiliated commission (AC1) but also wishes to maintain its status as an ICSU international scientific associate.

The proposed structure appears to be appropriate inasmuch as there are other organizations that are active in the area of optics and especially in photonics, and there is overlap into other areas such as electrical engineering.

Inter-Union Affairs

The representation of IUPAP to several other international unions was discussed and reviewed (see Appendix 2), including the relationship with ICSU which provides funding for three major projects of IUPAP:

(a) the Physics Education Newsletter, produced under the auspices of C-14 the Commission on Education,

(b) travel grants for scientists from developing countries to attend conferences and

(c) costs related to literature going to libraries in the Third World through the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste.

The trend within ICSU to provide larger grants for new initiatives was discussed and the possible impact this might have on future funding to IUPAP for the above projects was also noted.

International Conferences 1998

Information regarding the conferences proposed for IUPAP sponsorship in 1998 was circulated to the meeting. The classification of conferences and funding policies were discussed.

A-type conferences are large conferences that typically involve more than 500 participants and cover all or most of the subject area of the commission. B-type conferences are usually considerably smaller, but cover major subfields of the commission ("topical") while C-type conferences are small conferences focussed on some special topic. Grant support is given only in exceptional cases for C-type conferences and workshops and schools are not normally supported. Approximately thirty conferences per year are sponsored by IUPAP and the practice has been to keep a very selective use of IUPAP endorsement. The favourite interval between conferences in a series is three years, although it is often two years. Annual conferences are not supported. Further, satellite conferences to major A-type conferences are normally not supported.

Conferences sponsored under the auspices of Commission C13 Physics for Development and C14 Physics Education are frequently exempted from the above general principles in order to take into account the special needs of these commissions.

Nilsson reminded the commissions that they have been requested, when considering applications for sponsorship of conferences, that a priority list be given for the applications. Council also will take into account the degree of support that the conference enjoys from the liaison committee of the country in which the conference is to be held.

It was agreed that for each conference application, there should be a recommendation (with priority) from both the commission and the liaison committee. The submission of this information should be done in a timely fashion, in accordance with the deadlines that have been announced.

IUPAP Web Pages

B. Frois (C12) led a discussion on the way that IUPAP should develop the use of web pages for the commissions. These serve as a useful database which can be accessed freely and should contain important information such as the mission of IUPAP, what the commissions are, and what they do, and information about how to contact people in the commissions including e-mail addresses. Several commissions have already established web pages (C4, C7, C12, C14 and C20). Remaining commissions were urged to develop their own sites for the Internet. It was recommended that the home page in each case should have a similar format.

Further, it was proposed that IUPAP work toward linking these sites through the use of mirror sites at major high energy labs, namely CERN, Los Alamos, and Stanford Linear Accelerator and that they be linked in such a way that they are automatically updated to be identical. Each commission has been called upon to appoint one person to assemble information in an appropriate format. It was suggested that each commission incorporate the report it submitted to the 1996 General Assembly in its web pages in order to indicate the nature of its work and to describe current activity in its field.

B. Frois (e-mail: was designated as the web master to set up a system of mirror sites for the IUPAP web pages.

In the past year of operation there have been approximately 2100 visitors to the IUPAP home page.

Reports from Commissions


Petley reported that, in collaboration with six other international organizations, IUPAP through the SUNAMCO commission has collaborated in the preparation of two guides, The International Vocabulary on Metrology (VIM) and The Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM). These have been published under the aegis of the International Standards Organization. The umbrella committee formed by the collaborating organizations for the preparation of these guides has now been named the Joint Committee for Guides on Metrology.

C14 - The Commission on Education

Black summarized the history of the formation of the ICSU Committee on Capacity Building in Science (CCBS). Its plans were to mobilize volunteers to generate a network of expertise and to provide a secretariat in order to act in three areas, namely, primary school science education, public understanding of science, and the reduction in the isolation of scientists through the establishment of the network. He noted that there seemed to be little involvement by the Unions in this work although the committee involved two prominent physicists, Charpak and Lederman.

UNESCO Physics Action Council

S. Raither from UNESCO gave a presentation on its work in scientific areas. Their scientific work is divided into major categories ­ basic sciences, engineering and technology, geology, ecology, hydrology, and oceans. Physics is identified within the basic science category. UNESCO collaborates with ICSU in a number of activities. It has currently set up the Physics Action Council and would like to have IUPAP represented as a permanent observer. The PAC project budget is approximately $90,000 US. Three working groups have been set up: WG1 ­ Physics Facilities and Instrumentation, WG2 ­ Communication, and WG3 ­ Education. Concrete activities of PAC have included:

  1. Cooperation in developing the major physics users statement by IUPAP,
  2. The CERN schools which are financed at about $60,000 per year,
  3. A joint agreement between UNESCO and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research,
  4. The Cuba microtron,
  5. Pierre Auger cosmic ray project,
  6. The St. Petersburg International School of Physics,
  7. Middle East scientific cooperation involving Arabs and Israelis,
  8. Physics education (the Aspen conferences and the Inter-American Conference on Physics Education).

OECD Megascience Forum

S. Michalowski presented a description of the OECD Megascience Forum. OECD is an inter-governmental agency, involving 27 democracies, which explores policy on issues which include science and technology. The purpose of the Megascience Forum is to provide events which bring together people involved in science policy as well as the actual participants in scientific projects.

An example of this is the deep sea neutrino observatory which involves approximately 80 participants. They recently organized a workshop, co-sponsored by Italy, in which participants representing all of the ongoing experiments were present and reviewed various technological problems that are involved in the development of this project. The Megascience Forum has concluded that a better mechanism was needed to foster exchanges of information and coordinate activities in this area and its chair, Tindemans, has written to President Nilsson suggesting that IUPAP be the agency to set up such a mechanism.

Large Scale Non-Accelerator High Energy Physics

In the discussion that developed out of the previous topic it was agreed that there are several large scale projects like the Auger Observatory, where a committee similar to the International Committee on Future Accelerators (ICFA) could play an important role in facilitating international collaborations and then forming appropriate recommendations. In the discussion, a consensus emerged that there were overlapping interests in particle astrophysics between C4, C11, and C19, and that a committee should be set up under one of the commissions, but that it should have representation from all three areas. It was agreed that the chairs of these commissions would nominate appropriate individuals to form a Planning Committee to draft the terms of reference for an International Committee on Particle Astrophysics (ICPA) along the general model of ICFA. This was done and the membership of the Planning Committee was established as given in Appendix 3.

In the discussion the matter of other such large projects that might develop in areas such as condensed matter physics was considered. Examples of such projects are future neutron sources and light sources. There was consensus that IUPAP could produce useful input through providing a coordinating framework for the efforts of scientists directly involved in promoting such projects. It was noted explicitly that these issues would involve several commissions and that committees considering such matters should be formed with inter-commission cooperation in mind.

Nominations for Commissions

Nilsson reminded the meeting that the next General Assembly is scheduled to take place in March of 1999 and that nominations for the commissions would be solicited in the spring of 1998.

Election of Commission Chairs to Council

The experience of electing five commission Chairs to Council, at the meeting of Chairs and Council in February 1997, was reviewed. It was recommended that the Council propose to the Atlanta General Assembly that this procedure again be followed.

Meeting of the Executive Council

Several of the matters reported above were formally ratified by the Executive.

The status of several members was reviewed, as well as the progress of discussions with prospective new members.

Black (Chair of C14) announced that the medal of C14 had been awarded to Prof. G. Marx (Hungary).

Sponsorship of conferences to be held in 1998 was decided as has been reported in News Bulletin 98-1 and published on the IUPAP Web pages at

The upper limit for the registration fees for conferences to be held in 1998 was changed to CHF (Swiss francs) 500.

The free circulation of scientists was reviewed and problems related to this and their resolution were considered. President Nilsson reminded the Executive that this remains a continuing concern, although the modern context has changed.

APPENDIX 1: Associate Members of Commissions (1997-2000)

The Associate Members appointed at this meeting are given in the list of Officers under the relevant commission.

APPENDIX 2. Representatives - Addresses

IU12. IUPAC Macromolecular Division

FULLER, Gerald G., Department of Chemical Engineering, Keck 185a, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6110. phone: (650) 723-9243, fax: (650) 725-7294, e-mail:

FELASOFI (Federación Latin Americana de Sociedades de Física)

José Luis Morán LÓPEZ, Universidad de San Luis de Potosí, Instituto de Física, Apdo. Postal 629, 68000 San Luis de Potosí, SLP Mexico. Tel: +52-48-13.75.57. Fax: +52-48-13.38.74.

APPENDIX 3. Membership of the Planning Committee on ICPA

Chairman: BETTINI, Sandro, Director Lab Naz. di Gran Sasso S.S. 17 bis km 18+910 I-67010 Assergi (AQ), Italy. tel: 39-862-4371, fax: 39-862-410915, e-mail:

BARISH, B. ( C11), California Institute of Technology, LIGO 51-53, 1200E. California Blvd., Pasadena CA 91125, USA. Fax: (1-626)793 9594. E-mail:

GAISSER, T. K. Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA. Fax: (1-302)831 1843. Phone: (1-302)831 8113. E-mail:

HAXTON, Wick , Dept of Physics, University of Washington, Box 351560, Seattle, WA 98195-1560
tel: 206-685-2397, e-mail:

MACDONALD, Art, SNO Inst., Director, Department of Physics, Queens University, Kingston Ontario, K3L 3N6, Canada. TEL: (613) 545-2702/2707. e-mail:

SADOULET, B. NSF Science & Technology Center, University of California, 301 LeConte Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Fax: (1-510)642 1756.

TOTSUKA, Yoji, Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, University of Tokyo, 3-2-1 Midori-cho, Tanashi, Tokyo 188, Japan. tel: 81-424-69-2292, fax: 81-424-68-1438, e-mail:

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