The 19th National Conference on Physics and 24th Iberian Meeting for Teaching Physics – jointly named “FISICA 2014” – was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 2-4 September 2014. This biennial meeting is organized by the Portuguese Physical Society [SPF] and attracts physicists, teachers and students from all over the country and from neighbouring Spain. The total number of participants was 250.
This year’s event was hosted and co-sponsored by the Instituto Superior Técnico, the science and engineering faculty of the University of Lisbon. The local organizing committee enlisted the assistance of a team of 20 physics students who volunteered to help with every little detail during the event.
The following three topics were highlighted:
- Nobel Physics: Higgs boson, supernovae and the universe, graphene;
- Physics of novel materials and biomedical physics;
- International Year of Crystallography.
There were also sessions on other topics in Interdisciplinary Frontiers, as Innovation in Energy production and efficiency, and in Education.
On the second day there was a session open to the general public, devoted to discussing the relationship between physics and society. Special invited speakers included the president of the European Physical Society, John Dudley, the former Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago, and the Greek historian of science Kostas Gavroglu. This was followed by the awards ceremony honoring four past presidents of the SPF, in recognition of the increased visibility and impact of the Society through theirs actions. Finally, and taking the opportunity of the presence of the EPS president, the celebrations of the 2015 International Year of Light in Portugal were formally declared open.
In addition to these highlights, the conference also featured 15 invited talks, 42 oral contributions and more than a hundred posters. The participation of young scientists, in particular MSc and starting PhD students, was especially encouraged. This edition featured the contest “C214 – I met a scientist at FISICA2014”. Young undergraduate students were invited to submit questions on the several conference topics, and the students with the best questions had the opportunity to ask them to the invited speakers in loco.
The Iberian Meeting, which is particularly targeted towards elementary and secondary school teachers, featured several sessions comprising accredited training in topics such as preparing students for the Physics Olympiad, using tablets in teaching physics, or exploring the use of video in teaching experimental physics. An interesting debate on the trend of MOOCS in all levels of training in physics was also held.
Finally, the cultural and social programs, consisting of an evening guided tour of University of Lisbon’s Science Museum and the conference dinner, were a perfect environment to gather together the participants and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Portuguese Physical Society.