Once-in-a-lifetime plenaries

Honorary congress chair, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, opened PhysCon 2016 with “Cosmic Fireworks – Finding Transient Events in the Universe.” Photo by Ken Cole

We were simply amazed by the great lineup of world-class speakers at this year’s event. No physics student, young or simply young at heart, can avoid goose bumps when hearing Jocelyn Bell Burnell sharing her discovery of pulsars. The entire congress was entranced listening to Nobel laureate Eric Cornell’s recounting of the experimental realization of the condensate that Einstein and Bose predicted so many years ago and how deviations from perfect symmetry might be observable by taking a very, very close look at the humblest and most commonplace particle, the electron.

S. James Gates took students on a journey through creativity in fundamental physics, the intersection of art and music, and through the work of a theoretical physicist seeking mathematical magic. Persis Drell explored how the future of science and innovation are intertwined and gave an analysis of changing scientific opportunities, changing perceptions of science, and the foundational role that diversity of thought and approach will contribute to our success. Neil Turok gave a powerful lecture on his career pathway and how the universe has left us clues to the laws of physics. Oh, and Patrick Brady from LIGO discussed their recent discovery of gravitational waves.

PhysCon 2016 marked the best of both the present and the future of physics and astronomy. Plans for the next PhysCon are already in the works -– stay tuned to hear what the next chapter will hold!

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