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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
Eight Nobel Prize laureates launch International Year of Physics at UNESCO
Editorial Contact: UNESCO's Press Relations Section: tel: +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48 - Email

07-01-2005 3:30 pm Over 1,000 participants, including eight Nobel Prize laureates, personalities from the world of science, and close to 500 students from 70 countries will take part in the Physics for Tomorrow conference at UNESCO on January 13-15. The event will mark the official launch of the International Year of Physics, proclaimed by the United Nations. Throughout 2005, events will be organized* across the world to debate physics and its implications.WYP-logo.jpg

The objective of Physics for Tomorrow will be to explain, convince and exchange ideas about this science. The conference is organized by UNESCO, the lead United Nations agency for the International Year, and by the international physics community. The opening ceremony will be followed by sessions for the general public, whose speakers, eminent scientists, include several Nobel Prize laureates. They will discuss the role of physics in society, the influence of Albert Einstein who revolutionized the world of physics exactly one hundred years ago, and the major challenges of the 21st century.

A roundtable more specifically for the media will take place on January 14 (1.00 p.m., Room V) in the presence of Martial Ducloy, President of the International Organising Committee of the International Year of Physics, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (1997 Nobel Prize for Physics), Walter Erdelen, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, Sylvie Joussaume (French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, INSU, climatologist), Harold Kroto (1996 Nobel Prize for Physics), Denis Le Bihan (CEA, Director of the Anatomical and Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory) and Carlo Rubbia (CERN, 1984 Nobel Prize for Physics).

Physics remains a school subject with a reputation for being difficult to understand. It has a poor image among all too many young people and members of the general public as it is associated with abstract ideas, equations and theoretical teaching. Yet, presented in the right way, physics can be fascinating. It is thanks to physics that many of the major problems of our society, particularly concerning energy, the environment and health, can be solved. The International Year aims to highlight the importance of physics and its contribution to the development of many other scientific disciplines. The Year is also to help fight the current lack of enthusiasm for sciences among young people. According to the Mapping Physics Students across Europe report submitted to the European Commission, the number of physics graduates declined by 15% from 1998 to 2002 across Europe.**

Eight Nobel Prize laureates – seven for physics and one for chemistry - will attend the Physics for Tomorrow conference: Zhores Alferov (Russia, 2000), Georges Charpak (France, 1992), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (France, 1997), Gerard t’Hooft (Netherlands, 1999), Masatoshi Koshiba (Japan, 2002), Harold Kroto (United Kingdom, 1996), Burton Richter (United States, 1976), Carlo Rubbia (Italy, 1984). Also expected to attend are: François d’Aubert, Research Minister (France); Pedro Sampaio Nunes, Secretary of State for Science and Innovation (Portugal); Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Minister of Communication, Science and Technology (Lesotho); Zoran Stancic, Deputy Director General of the Directorate-General for Research of the European Commission; Robert Aymar, Director General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); Yves Petroff, President of the Internatio nal Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Werner Burkart, the Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

*For more information on the International Year of Physics: www.wyp2005.org/unesco more about the Conference: www.wyp2005.org/unesco
**January-March 2005 issue of a World of Science: www.unesco.org/science/awos_january_2005.pdf

Journalists wishing to attend the conference must be accredited with UNESCO's Press Relations Section: tel: +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48 / i.le-fournis@unesco.org

Source Press Release No 2005 - 03

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