American Physical Society was founded on May 20, 1899, when 36
physicists gathered at Columbia University for that purpose. They
proclaimed the mission of the new Society to be "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics",
and in one way or another the APS has been at that task ever since. In
the early years, virtually the sole activity of the APS was to hold
scientific meetings, initially four per year. In 1913, the APS took
over the operation of the Physical Review, which had been founded in
1893 at Cornell, and journal publication became its second major
activity. The Physical Review was followed by Reviews of Modern Physics
in 1929, and by Physical Review Letters in 1958. Over the years, Phys
Rev has subdivided into five separate sections as the fields of physics
proliferated and the number of submissions grew.
In more recent
years, the activities of the Society have broadened considerably.
Stimulated by the increase in Federal funding in the period after the
second World War, and even more by the increased public involvement of
scientists in the nineteen sixties, the APS is active in public and
governmental affairs, and in the international physics community. In
addition, the Society conducts extensive programs in education, public
outreach, and media relations. The APS has fourteen divisions and nine
topical groups covering all areas of physics research,. There are six
forums that reflect the interest of its 43,000 members in broader
issues, and eight sections organized by geographical region.
1999, the APS celebrated its Centennial with the biggest-ever physics
meeting in Atlanta, and in 2005 the APS will take a lead role in US
participation in the World Year of Physics.