Like all areas of modern science, physics today is more and more specialized. Workers in different subfields interact with each other rarely, and it is easy to forget that we form part of a community of scientists studying the one fundamental subject concerned with the nature of matter on all scales.
There is, however, one regular reminder of the importance of physics as a fundamental discipline of science. This takes place in October every year when the Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Nobel Prize exists only for the discipline of physics as a whole, and is a reminder of the universality of our subject. It is a time to remind ourselves that no matter what our specialist area may be, we are part of a worldwide network of physicists.
The announcement of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics will be made on Tuesday morning the 8th of October. This year will see an initiative through the Young Minds Project of EPS where the Nobel Prize announcement webcast will be broadcast in university departments and research institutes throughout Europe, preceded by debate (and prediction!), and followed by discussion and analysis. Of course, we hope that these actions of Young Minds will spread widely and stimulate similar activities locally and through national societies in physics everywhere.
Organizing a European scale celebration of this sort for physics is a wonderful example of cross-border cooperation and community building. The Young Minds Project members are early-career researchers in physics located at many different sites in over 12 European countries. Young Minds are especially focused on outreach and educational activities, providing an important interface between undergraduates and academic staff and researchers.
The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded both for discoveries driven by curiosity-driven objectives, as well as for research and invention more related to practical applications. This highlights the importance of basic research in both providing fundamental insights into nature as well as driving technology of benefit to society. With the start of Horizon 2020 very soon, our plans for October 2013 will allow researchers both young and old and in all fields of physics to discuss these important issues.
We look forward in October to a European-wide community celebration of physics, its successes and its impact.
Antigone Marino, Chair of the EPS Young Minds Action Committee
John Dudley, EPS President