CERN hosts Physics and Society Forum

On 28-29 March, CERN hosted the fifth edition of the European Physical Society's “Physics and Society” forum. The forum addresses the role of physicists in general society – be they in education, politics, industry or communication. This year, attendees looked at how physicists have adapted - and can continue to adapt - to work in the economic marketplace.


“The forums began back in 2006, as a special closing event for the 2005 World Year of Physics,” explains Martial Ducloy, former President of the French Physical Society and Chair of the EPS Forum Physics and Society. “We decided to keep the sessions going, as they gave physicists a venue to discuss the non-scientific issues that influence their daily work. As the world's largest international physics laboratory – and the venue for this year's EPS Council – CERN seemed the ideal place to host this year's forum.”

The forum at CERN saw talks by a diverse group of physicists and scientists, many of whom had made a change of career. For example, former CERNois Mariano Gago discussed his role as the Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology, while entrepreneur Jacques Schmitt described the paradigm shift scientists face when moving into industry. Overall, the sessions demonstrated the variety of ways in which physicists can play important roles outside the pure research field, while also emphasising the new issues physicists face once outside their field.

The forum discussions are to be brought into a single report, which will be presented to the EPS President and committee later this year. “This report will also be given out to the various physical societies that make up the EPS,” says Martial. “In previous years, we have also sent it out to relevant government bodies. For example, when the forum addressed physics education, the report was presented to education ministers across Europe.”

For more information about the Physics and Society Forum – and to see slides from the presentations given this year – visit the Forum website.

by Katarina Anthony