Physics in South Africa is currently enjoying momentus change. Government has committed 1% of GDP to research and development, and this is having a strong ripple-effect within physics. The publication of the 'Shaping the Future of Physics ' international panel report (SFoP) in 2004 has given much impetus for growth of our discipline and has shaped the agenda of the SAIP for many years into the future.In South Africa, we are very fortunate that the different sub-disciplines of physics are mirrored by national facilities, such as iThemba Labs for solid state physics and nuclear physics, the National Laser Centre for laser science, the South African Astronomical Observatory for astronomy, the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa for nuclear physics, the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory for space science, and the list goes on. The SFoP report in effect identified two subdisciplines of physics that were not associated with corresponding national facilities, namely
- Theoretical Physics, and
- Applied and Industrial Physics.
This leaves us with connecting Applied and Industrial physicists with their national counterparts, namely physicists working outside academia and especially in commerce and industry. To this end, the PHYSICS 500 project is aimed at creating a database of physicists working in industry, to help create much-needed networks for research collaborations and innovations in physics, and to serve as a means of exciting young students to pursue careers in physics. This project is important for the SAIP, as it will help us drive the development of a much stronger entrepreneurial and innovative culture within physics, which is absolutely essential for the well-being of our entire discipline in South Africa. I hope that you will take the time to participate in this data gathering process.
9 December 2007