Published in Physics and Society Newsletter, Volume 28, Issue 1, January 1, 1999, pages 3-5.
Copyright © 1999 American Physical Society. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Physical Society. The following article appeared in Physics and Society Newsletter and may be found at http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/1999/january/ajan99.html#a1.
Physics is a major component of many of society's difficult issues: nuclear arms and their proliferation, energy shortages and energy impacts, climate change and technical innovation. Because physics principles underlie so many of these societal issues and because physics offers a way to quantify some aspects of them, members of the American Physical Society (APS) should be encouraged to understand, analyze and debate them. That's precisely why APS members formed the Forum on Physics and Society (FPS). To those of us who have been long involved in FPS affairs, it seems but yesterday that we attended the organizing meeting at the 1972 APS San Francisco meeting. As the APS celebrates its centennial by looking back over its first hundred years, it is fitting that FPS also look back at its own accomplishments and look ahead at the direction of its future activities.