The Role of IUPAP

Presented at the Third World Congress of Physical Societies
Berlin, Germany
December 15-16, 2000

Burton Richter, President
International Union of Pure and Applied Physics


  • The mission of IUPAP is to assist in the worldwide development of physics, to foster international cooperation in physics, and to help in the application of physics toward solving problems of concern to humanity.
  • IUPAP carries out this mission by sponsoring international meetings; fostering communications and publications; encouraging research and education; fostering the free circulation of scientists; promoting international agreements on symbols, units and standards; and cooperating with other organizations on interdisciplinary problems.
  • 47 countries are members.
  • There are 20 subdisciplinary commissions.
  • Three affiliated organizations.
  • There are links (weak) to other international science organizations.
    Mission (continued)
  • Our budget is approximately $300,000/year of which about 60% goes to sponsor international conferences (“seed” money). The IUPAP sponsors most of the leading international conferences in physics.
  • Five special committees and working groups exist for important international issues. These are established for an initial period of three to five years, then evaluated, and either continued or disbanded.
  • IUPAP is governed by its General Assembly of members which meets every three years (the next General Assembly is in 2002 in Berlin).
  • Between General Assemblies, the Executive Board and Commission Chairs meet annually to approve conferences, discuss subdisciplinary issues, exchange ideas, and steer the organization.
  • Most Commissions meet annually at “their” international conferences.
  • Major thrusts in the past few years have been on issues that cross subdisciplinary boundaries.

International Committee on Future Accelerators (ICFA)
Chair: Professor Hirotaka Sugawara,
Director-General, KEK, Japan

  • ICFA was created in 1976 to facilitate international collaboration in the construction and use of accelerators for high-energy physics. Its purposes, as stated in 1985, are as follows:
    • To promote international collaboration in all phases of the construction and exploitation of very high energy accelerators.
    • To organize regularly world-inclusive meetings for the exchange of information on future plans for regional facilities and for the formulation of advice on joint studies and uses.
    • To organize workshops for the study of problems related to super high-energy accelerator complexes and their international exploitation and to foster research and development of necessary technology.
  • ICFA has come to be regarded as important by the high-energy physics community, and its statements are taken seriously by governmental organizations that sponsor research in high-energy physics.
  • ICFA also began in 1995 an internet monitor system to identify weak links in the system (more on this later).

Working Group on
Communications in Physics
Chair: Dr. Martin Blume, APS, USA

  • This group has been constituted to consider the problems that are emerging in electron publishing. It particularly will consider linking between societies and publishers, availability of electronic communication in isolated areas, archiving, peer review, and intellectual property.
  • They will soon convene a conference on archiving – how to preserve the literature of science in an electronic world as operating and authoring systems evolve.
  • The intellectual property issue has become particularly troubling since the 1997 European Union adoption of its Data Base Directive. This Directive eliminates the long-standing “fair use” exemption for research and education that was an essential element in international copyright law. A particularly good summary of the issue is a paper by Professor Paul A. David of Oxford and Stanford:

A Tragedy of the Public Knowledge ‘Commons’?
Global Science, Intellectual Property and the Digital Technology Boomerang

Working Group on Facilities for Condensed Matter Physics
Chair: Dr. Cherry Murray, Lucent Technologies, USA

  • Condensed matter physics has come to depend more and more on large-scale neutron and synchrotron light sources.
  • With this has come a need for a forum for this science community to discuss needs and present a coherent picture of the needs its governments.
  • In 1997, IUPAP convened an ah-hoc meeting of the chairs of its relevant commissions; the neutron user group chairs from Canada, Europe, Japan and the U.S.; and representatives of the OECD Megascience Forum’s working group on neutron sources. The output of this meeting had considerable influence on the final report.
  • The attendees felt that a standing committee on condensed matter facilities would be useful.

The working group has been set up to:

  1. Promote international collaboration for planning, construction and exploitation of facilities for condensed matter. This will include the need for new sources and upgrades to existing sources, instrumentation requirements, availability access and long-range planning.
  2. Organize international meetings for exchange of information on future plans for regional facilities and the formulation of advice for joint studies and uses.
  3. Organize international workshops for the study of problems related to large facilities and to foster research and development on necessary technology.

The WGFCMP’s first effort will be to appoint an International Committee on the Future of Neutron Sources. Its members will include members of IUPAP Commissions plus representatives of regional user groups, appropriate labs, developing countries, and other involved organizations. The plan, in the following year, is to set up a similar committee, the International Committee on the Future of Electromagnetic Radiation Sources, which would be concerned with synchrotron light sources, free electron lasers, etc. A third committee on medium-size facilities might be set up during the third year.

Particle and Nuclear Astrophysics and Gravitation International Committee (PANAGIC)
Chair: Professor Alessandro Bettini, Director
Laboratory Nazionale di Gran Sasso, Italy

  • Scientists involved in large-scale astro-particle experiments (underwater neutrino observatories, gravity wave detectors, space projects) expressed a need for a forum to exchange ideas. This committee was created by IUPAP in 1998 to support international exchange of ideas and help in the convergence of the international scientific community in the large-scale activity in the emerging field of particle and nuclear astrophysics, gravitation and cosmology.
  • It’s purposes are as follows:
    • Study of basic constituents of matter and their interactions by non-accelerator means.
    • Study of sources, acceleration mechanism and propagation of high-energy particles in the Universe.
    • Study of nuclear and particle properties and processes of astrophysical interest in the Universe.
    • The Committee has 15 members, selected primarily on the basis of intellectual leadership and representing the major components of the field. One member is appointed by each of C4, C11, C12 and C19

Working Group on Women in Physics
Chair: Dr. Marcia Barbosa, Brazil

  • The mandate of the group is:
    • To survey the situation for women in physics in IUPAP member countries. To analyze and report the data collected along with suggestions on how to improve the situation. To suggest ways that women can become more involved in IUPAP, including the Liaison Committees, the Commissions, the Council, and the General Assemblies. To report all findings at the General Assembly in 2002.
    • In carrying out the above charge, it may prove useful to organize and convene an international meeting on women in physics. If such a meeting occurs, it should be planned so that a full account can be provided with the report at the General Assembly in 2002.
  • The reasons for the small fraction of women in physics are complex and not understood.
  • The fraction of women receiving Ph.D’s in physics is rising but is still low compared to other sciences.
  • There are also anomalies where none would be expected. For example, the fraction of women in physics is much lower in Northern Europe than in Southern Europe.
  • The Working Group will gather more information and analyze it.
  • There will be a conference on the issue in Paris in the Spring of 2002 (probably at UNESCO).
    • Why is the participation of women lower in physics than other areas of science?
    • What are the barriers (probably different in different regions).
    • What can be done to improve the situation.

Internet Performance Monitoring

  • Science is a cooperative effort: we all build on the work of others. The exchange of information is the life blood of science.
  • It is particularly important that developing nations have easy access to the worldwide work in the fields of interest to them.
  • The Internet has become the most important medium of communications for the exchange of information on results, and is the enabling element for effective world-wide scientific collaborations.
  • IUPAP’s C11 (Particles & Fields) through its sub-committee ICFA began a project several years ago to monitor the internet to find the performance bottlenecks. Objective: gather the data so that scientists could pressure their countries and regions to improve access.
  • “Internet End-to-End Performance Monitoring” (IPEM) is headquartered at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy,

Countries Monitored by IEPM

Albania Czech Republic* Kazakhstan Singapore
Argentina* Denmark* Korea, Rep. of* Slovak Republic*
Armenia Egypt* Latvia* Slovenia*
Australia* Estonia* Lithuania South Africa*
Austria* Finland* Macedonia Spain*
Azerbaijan France* Malaysia Sweden*
Belarus Georgia* Mexico* Switzerland*
Belgium* Germany* Moldova, Rep. of Thailand*
Brazil* Greece Netherlands* Turkey*
Bulgaria* Hungary* Norway* United Kingdom*
Canada* Iceland* New Zealand* Ukraine
Chile* India* Pakistan United States*
China (Beijing)* Indonesia Peru Uruguay
China (Taipei)* Ireland* Poland* Uzbekistan
Colombia Iran Portugal* Venezuela
Costa Rica Israel* Puerto Rico Viet Nam
Croatia* Italy* Romania Yugoslavia
Cuba* Japan* Russia*  

*IUPAP members

Internet Quality Factors

Packet Loss %
0 - 1
1 - 2.5
2.5 - 5
5 - 12
Very Poor
> 12

Roundtrip Time (ms)
0 - 62.5
62.5 - 150
150 - 250
250 - 500
Very Poor
> 500

Performance seen from US by population

Loss type
Online pop Millions
Total pop Millions
Online %
% Meas tot pop/World tot
>= 12%
very poor
>=5%, <12%
>=2.5%, <5%
>=1%, <2.5%
Meas total pop
World total pop

Online precentages from: NUA Internet Surveys at:

Les Cottrell, SLAC


  • Most of the world is monitored.
  • Most of the IUPAP countries are monitored from SLAC
    • All except Kenya, Ghana, Saudi Arabia
  • In general, performance is improving
    • But expectations are increasing
  • North America, Western Europe (apart from Spain), Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Israel are okay
  • Latin America is poor to bad
  • Former Soviet Union is poor to bad
  • Africa is hardly monitored, generally poor to bad

Les Cottrell, SLAC

B. Richter, 12-15/16-00

Contact IUPAP   |   Search IUPAP   |   IUPAP Home