Thursday, April 24, 2014

Physics - Layer of Future Innovations for Society

On Sunday March 31, 2014 more than 5,000 highly trained physicists, students, PhD students, post docs, professors and industry representatives started to flock into the rather deserted campus of the Technical University Dresden (TU Dresden).
Spring time at HSZ, TU Dresden

Once again TU Dresden was hosting a meeting of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), this time it is the DPG Spring Meeting 2014 of the Condensed Matter Section (SKM) which is held every three years in Dresden. And spring time is always a perfect time to meet in Dresden as the picture on the right hand side shows. Crops are just about coming out, and nature is getting colored once again.

During session SOE 17.6
One would imagine that this would be a physics-only event. Quite not so, as the sessions on biological physics (BP), physics of socio-economic systems (SOE) and the working group on Industry and Business (AIW) indicated. So certainly the offering to a wide range of interested participants, even outside the global physics community was amazing (all talks and presentations are held in English - for any curious participant a crash course in English as a "side-effect"). It wasn't that clear that system dynamics would play a role at all, as "stock and flow" was brought into the discussion by Hans Danielmeyer [German Wikipedia]. The connection to system dynamics becomes clearer as he visited Lincoln Laboratory in 1974 just around the time when Jay W. Forrester, who as an M.I.T. trained electrical engineer, conducted the research which finally led to the famous book "The Limits to Growth". This is what serendipity is called, and most likely occurs when attending a conference about a field one is not personally an expert in.

Working through the 500+ pages of the printed program is rather confusing for the first-timer, yet certainly sophisticated for the insider. Short abstracts explain all sessions that are offered, from plenary talks by known experts, such as Prof. em. Mildred Dresselhaus (here an interview in the New York Times), MIT, to PhD students presenting their ongoing research work to the audience. Of course the digital version is also available right here.

What became amazing during the five days, of which I only could focus on three days, but which showed once again (after my 2011 attendance) that new media is slowly trickling into the science community. It is still a tiny creek, but growing - three years ago I was the only one covering in real-time on twitter on the event, and possible "side connections" to other fields like arts. This time a team of HZB (Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin) had sent two people dedicated to cover some of their own sessions, and more.

Closing with just four short questions (called #PresencingStatus) and personal thoughts:

What was good? Once again a myriad of sessions that were not only exiting for the experts in the field of physics but also showed what physics is about; hashtag #DPGsm14 was put prominently on the press office door and on the website of the DPG Spring Meeting 2014 [h/t to press officer Dr. Michaela Lemmer]

What was tricky? Just a handful of visitors dedicated to use social media (but growing (!))

What have I learned? Physics is really more then physics !!! Once you get the motion just listening to the sessions (of the field you are not expert of), you see broader connections to fields you are personally involved

Next action? Spread the word about this conference, and come back in 2016 to Dresden; draw the connection to the #ISDC14 (the International System Dynamics Conference organized by the System Dynamics Society and the TU Delft in the Netherlands)

A few digital coverages (more online you know of - please let me know, and I embed these as well) about the DPG Spring Meeting 2014 in Dresden:

Storify by HTxA - High Tech x Agency
Storify by HZBzlog

Good Bye and see you in 2016 

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