Jahresbericht 2022 für

NC IUPAP: National Committee of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics

Präsident/Präsidentin: Prof. Hans Peter Beck

Von: Prof. Hans Peter Beck, hans.peter.beck@cern.ch


IUPAP – 100 Years of International Collaboration in Physics

The laws of physics are independent of national borders. Only by working together the community can efficiently challenge the physics frontiers. For a century the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) has strived to assist in the worldwide development of physics, to foster international cooperation in physics, and to help in the application of physics toward solving problems of concern to humanity.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics

The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) is an offspring of the International Research Council, a temporary body created after the first world war to rebuild and promote research across the sciences. IUPAP was established in 1922 with 13 member countries and held its first general assembly in Paris the following year. Switzerland was a founding member of the Union and participated with four delegates at the constitutive general assembly held in Paris in 1923. The 12th general assembly was hosted in Switzerland in 1966. As of October 2021, the IUPAP headquarter moved from Singapore to Geneva with an administrative office in Trieste, Italy. The headquarter has been fully operational as of 2022, with a bank account in PostFinance and an entry in the commercial registry as an association.

International cooperation in difficult times

Originally, neither the International Research Council nor IUPAP included any of the countries of the Central Powers (the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria). Many lessons in science diplomacy had to be learned before IUPAP and the other scientific unions became truly international and physicists from all countries could apply to join. Member countries have been realized as too limiting to fulfill these high goals, where member territories allow the flexibility needed, such that physicists from all places can apply to join. As the IUPAP statues state, a territory does not imply any political position on the part of the Union which seeks to assist physicists everywhere in carrying out its mission. A territory is in most cases identical to a country, but exceptions do exist, such that China and Taiwan can both be members, and further, the door is open for Palestine or other territories to adhere. Today, with 60 member territories, the Union strongly advocates that no scientist shall be excluded from the scientific community as long as their work is based on ethics and the principles of science in its highest ideals—an aspect that certainly will be further elaborated by the working group on ethics established by IUPAP in October 2021. Not all European countries are supporting this stand since the war in Ukraine broke out, which represents a challenge for IUPAP as non-IUPAP sponsored conferences shall exclude scientists based on their affiliation, nationality, or country of residence.

To face the situation and to promote international cooperation, IUPAP welcomed Ukraine as a new member in 2022. The decision to admit Ukraine was expedited to send a strong signal of support for the war-torn country, a war that has not spared its scientific institutions and the people who work there. Furthermore, IUPAP issued a statement strongly condemning the Russian aggression in Ukraine, while also expressing the principle that no scientist should be excluded from union-sponsored conferences, as long as he or she carries out work not contributing to weapons development. Free circulation of scientists, for scientific purposes, is a major piece of IUPAP policy to foster the development of physics. To overcome difficulties related to attending conferences in the current tense situation, IUPAP has implemented a mechanism allowing excluded scientists to participate in IUPAP-sponsored conferences using the Union—IUPAP— as their affiliation, somehow like the model applied for the Olympic Games. As a result of this, the International Nuclear Physics Conference (INPC), held in South Africa in September this year, organizers took the decision that all participants attending the conference used the IUPAP affiliation—independent of their actual home institute.

IUPAP Centennial Symposium

The main IUPAP event in 2022 was the centennial symposium. From 11 to 13 July, around 250 physicists from some 70 countries gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of IUPAP at a symposium held at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. About 40 percent of the participants were physically present, while the rest connected online. Various panels composed of international experts discussed important issues in alignment with the IUPAP’s core aims, including: how to support and encourage early career physicists, how to improve diversity in physics, how to strengthen the ties to physicists working in the industry, how to improve the quality of physics education, and how to promote the development of physics in developing countries.

A number of influential scientists, including Giorgio Parisi, La Sapienza, Italy, and Laura Greene, Florida State University, USA, described their roles in advising their respective governments on science. They shared some best practices in how to bridge between academia and politicians by providing evidence-based advice to their respective governments. The examples given were certainly useful across national borders.

Other prominent speakers included William Phillips, University of Maryland, USA, who covered the revolutionary quantum reform of modern metric systems; Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada, who discussed the physics of high-intensity lasers; and Takaaki Kajita, University of Tokyo, Japan, who presented 100 years of neutrino physics via an online connection with the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Bologna. Renowned climate scientist Tim Palmer, University of Oxford, UK, gave a talk on climate change, arguing that a super-computing facility—modeled on the organization of CERN—would enable a step-change in actually quantifying climate change, while Stewart Prager, Princeton University, USA, outlined the growing danger of nuclear weapons, and a new project sponsored by the American Physical Society to engage physicists in reducing the nuclear threat. Dedicated panels were held to discuss the development of physics in Africa and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America. It is clear that in these regions IUPAP has a large potential to foster further international collaboration. The panel focusing on the Asia-Pacific situation emphasized that the region is possibly one of the most diverse regions in terms of human development, geography, culture, language, connectivity, mobility etc. The IUPAP Centenary symposium offered an ideal platform to gather the physics community from this region close together. The second quantum revolution is on the anvil and is of critical importance for the region.

The International Year in Basic Sciences and Sustainable Development (IYBSSD)

With strong support from unions and academics around the world, IUPAP is the legal representative and main driver behind the IYBSSD. All the financial transactions of IYBSSD are handled via the IUPAP accounts, while most of the administration is carried out by the IYBSSD Secretary-General especially engaged by IUPAP for the period of this United Nations observance.

The IUPAP Centennial Symposium was one of the official events of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, which was officially inaugurated only a few days earlier, on 8 July 2022, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

In Switzerland, in November 2022, SCNAT organized the meeting Sustainability Science Forum 2022 - Shaping Research for our Future under the umbrella of the IYBSSD. 

The closing ceremony, presenting the outcome of the year, will be held in Geneva, at CERN, on 15 December 2023.


IUPAP commissions promote the objectives of the Union within their areas of expertise and provide advice to IUPAP on the activities and needs of the subfields of physics they represent. There are 20 commissions defined, where Switzerland chairs C11 – Particles and Fields, Florencia Canelli (UZH). Switzerland has further representatives in commissions C9 – Magnetism, Oksana Zaharko (PSI) and C16 – Plasma Physics, Christian Gabriel Theiler (EPFL).

Working Groups

IUPAP Working Groups are international and interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers aiming to focus and develop new research fields and activities that would be difficult to resource through traditional funding programmes.

Working Group 16 – Physics and Industry is led by Christophe Rossel (em IBM Research Zürich). The group has made good progress during 2022 (and the beginning of 2023). Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS), CERN, JINR, Park Systems, and SESAME have been brought in as IUPAP Corporate Associated Members—a new class of IUPAP membership. This is the first IUPAP step forward to enforce the links between physicists working in academia and in industry. These new members will also strengthen IUPAP’s finances allowing for more activities under the auspices of the union.

Sponsored conferences in 2022

As every year a large number of major physics conferences were sponsored by IUPAP. During 2022 none of these conferences were organized in Switzerland. The situation is similar for 2023—is it time to think about how and when to host the next IUPAP conference?

IUPAP awards

Two IUPAP awards have been bestowed to scientists with a strong link to Switzerland in 2022.

Prof. Dr. Dmitri K. Efetov received a Diploma (M.Sc.) in Physics from ETH Zurich in 2007. He is now Full Professor (W3) and Chair of Solid State Physics at LMU Munich.

C8: https://iupap.org/who-we-are/internal-organization/commissions/c8-semiconductors/c8-news/

The 2021 IUPAP Magnetism Award and Néel Medal was given to Prof. Dr. Nicola Spaldin, ETH. The award was presented at the 2022 ICM, Shanghai, China, during July 3-8, 2022.

C9: https://magnetism.eu/news/172/38-news.htm

Examples of Swiss involvement

A dedicated IUPAP session was organized at the annual meeting of the SPS in Fribourg. https://indico.cern.ch/event/1119258/sessions/440808/#20220630

IUPAP Secretary-General Jens Vigen (CERN) gave an overview on the history of IUPAP and its relevance to a global society. IUPAP President Michel Spiro (retired from Université Paris-Saclay) presented how IUPAP promotes Large Scale Physics Projects which are collective and inclusive, gathering physicists from all over the world beyond cultural, geographical and political differences. This has been shown to becoming more and more difficult in the present times and IUPAP helps, as much as it can, to overcome the difficulties. 

Michel Spiro pointed out further that IUPAP is the promoter and organizer of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD), which is perfectly in line with the mission of IUPAP to help in the applications of physics towards solving problems of concern to humanity.


IUPAP has served the physics community for 100 years and has strong ambitions to continue to assist in the worldwide development of physics and promote physics as an essential tool for development and sustainability in the next century.