Physics is everywhere. The laws of physics govern the
Universe, the Sun, the Earth and even our own lives. In today’s
rapidly developing society, we are becoming increasingly dependent on
high technology – computers, transport, and communication are just
some of the key areas that are the result of discoveries by scientists
working in physics.

But how much do the citizens of Europe really know about physics?
Here is a unique opportunity to learn more about this elusive

Beginning in February 2000, three major European
research organisations are organising a unique Europe-wide programme
to raise the public awareness of physics and related sciences.

“Physics on
is launched by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics
, the European
Space Agency (ESA)
and the European Southern Observatory
, with support from the European Union. Other partners
are the European Physical Society
and the European Association
for Astronomy Education (EAAE)

This exciting programme is part of the European
Week for Science and Technology
and will culminate in a
Science Festival during November 6-11, 2000, on the CERN premises at
the French-Swiss border near Geneva.

Why “Physics on Stage”?

The primary goal of “Physics on Stage” is to counteract the
current decline in interest and knowledge about physics among Europe’s
citizens by means of a series of highly visible promotional
activities. It will bring together leading scientists and educators,
government bodies and the media, to confront the diminishing
attraction of physics to young people and to develop strategies to
reverse this trend.

The objective in the short term is to infuse excitement and to
provide new educational materials. In the longer term, “Physics on
will generate new developments by enabling experts
throughout Europe to meet, exchange and innovate.

“Physics on Stage” in 22 European Countries

“Physics on Stage” has been initiated in 22 European
countries [2]. In each of these, a dedicated
National Steering Committee is being formed which will be responsible
for its own national programme. A list of contact
is attached below.

“Physics on Stage” is based on a series of high-profile
physics-related activities that will inform the European public in
general and European high school physics teachers and media
representatives in particular about innovative ways to convey
information about physics. It will stress the intimate connection of
this natural science with our daily lives. It will be accompanied by
a broad media debate on these subjects.

This effort is undertaken in the context of a progressive decline
of physics literacy amongst the European population at all
levels. Fewer and fewer young people are attracted towards careers in
core sciences and technologies – this could potentially lead to a
crisis in European technology in the coming decades unless action is
taken now. Too few people possess the basic knowledge that is
necessary to understand even common physical phenomena. And not enough
are able to form their own substantiated opinions about them.

What will happen during “Physics on Stage”?

During the first phase of “Physics on Stage”, from now until
October 2000, the individual National Steering Committees (NSCs) will
survey the situation in their respective countries. The NSCs will
collaborate with national media to identify new and exciting
educational approaches to physics. These may involve demonstrations,
interactive experiments, video and CD-Rom presentations, Web
applications, virtual reality, theatre performances, etc.

Nationally run competitions will select some of the best and most
convincing new ideas for presentations and educational materials which
will receive development support from “Physics on Stage”.

The project will culminate in November 2000, with approximately 400
delegates converging on CERN, in Geneva, for the Physics on Stage
. During this event, the national competion winners,
science teachers, science communicators, publishers, top scientists
and high-level representatives of the ministries and European
organisations will brainstorm future solutions to bolster physics’
popularity. The programme will also include spectacular demonstrations
of new educational tools; the best will be disseminated over the
national TV networks and other media to the European public.

Why CERN, ESA and ESO?

As Europe’s principal organisations in physics research (particle
physics, space and astronomy), the three recognised their mutual
responsibility to address the issue through the creation of a new
initiative and the creative use of their own research to attract the
public and teachers alike.

About the “European Science and Technology Week”

The objective of the European Science and Technology Week is
to improve the public’s knowledge and understanding of science and
technology – including the associated benefits for society as a
whole. The Week focuses on the European dimension of research, such as
pan-European scientific and technological co-operation.

The rationale for holding the Week has its roots in the importance
of the role of science and technology in modern societies and the
need, therefore, to ensure that the public recognises its significance
in our lives.

The Week is a framework for special TV programmes, exhibitions,
contests, conferences, electronic networking, and other science
related activities to promote the public understanding of science and

The Week was launched in 1993, on the initiative of the European
Commission. Raising public awareness of science and technology is now
the subject of a clearly defined action within the Human Potential
Programme of the Fifth Framework Programme.


[1] This is a joint Press Release by the European Organization for Nuclear
Research (CERN)
, the European Space Agency
and the European
Southern Observatory (ESO)

[1] The 22 countries are the member countries
of at least one of the participating organisations or the European
Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

Statements by the Directors General of CERN, ESA and ESO

Luciano Maiani (CERN): “Science is a critical resource
for mankind and, among natural sciences, physics will continue to play
a crucial role, well into the next century. The young people of
Europe deserve the best possible physics teaching. An enormous
resource of first class teachers, teaching materials and innovative
thinking exists in our countries. The “Physics on Stage” project will
bring these together to generate a new interest in physics education
which will be to the long term benefit of children all over

CERN is delighted to take part in this collaboration between the
European Community and the continent’s three leading physics research

Antonio Rodotà (ESA): “Space has become an
integral part of every day life. The immense technological development
that has led to this achievement has taken place and might be taken
for granted. But now is the time to follow up and form the future on
this basis, a future that has to made by the youth and has to give its
benefits to the youth.

The European Space Agency is dedicated to support the youth in
its development to become a space generation. Many activities have
been done and are taking place, and many more are planned for the
future. Teachers and educational institutions and organisations form a
key role in this development. ESA is enthusiastic about co-operating
with ESO and CERN to create an opportunity to receiving ideas from the
educational society and will perform a dedicated effort in finding
ways to support the realisation of those ideas.”

Catherine Cesarsky (ESO): “Astronomy and Astrophysics are
at the very heart of modern physics. As vibrant research disciplines
they use the most advanced technology available to humanity to explore
Cosmos. It is also a science of extreme conditions – the largest
distances, the longest periods of time, the highest temperatures, the
strongest electrical and magnetic fields, the highest and lowest
densities and the most extreme energies. Cosmos is indeed the greatest
physics laboratory.

For years, ESO – Europe’s Astronomy Organisation – has been
engaged in communicating the outcome of the exciting research
programmes carried out at the ESO observatories to a wide audience and
in particular to Europe’s youth. I warmly welcome the broad
international collaboration within “Physics on Stage”. I am confident
that working together with the European Union and our sister
organisations ESA and CERN, as well as teachers’ organisations and
dedicated individuals in all member countries, this innovative
education programme will make a most important contribution towards
raising the interest in fundamental research in Europe.”

About CERN, ESA and ESO

CERN, the European
Organization for Nuclear Research
, has its headquarters in
Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium,Bulgaria,
the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Israel, Japan, the
Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European
Commission and Unesco have observer status.

The European Space Agency
is an international/intergovernmental organisation made
of 15 member states: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France,
Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. ESA provides and promotes, for
peaceful purposes only, cooperation among its member states in space
research, technology and their applications. With ESA, Europe shapes
and shares space for people, companies and the scientific

The European Southern Observatory
is an intergovernmental organisation supported by
Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and
Switzerland. Portugal has an agreement with ESO aiming at full
membership. ESO is a major driving force in European astronomy,
performing tasks that are beyond the capabilities of the individual
member countries. The ESO La Silla
(Chile) is one of the largest and best-equipped in the
world. ESO’s Very Large Telescope Array (VLT) is under construction at
Cerro Paranal (Chile). When
completed in 2001, the VLT will be the largest optical telescope in
the world.

Useful Physics On Stage addresses

“Physics on Stage” webaddress:

International Steering Committee (ISC)
Clovis de Matos (Executive Coordinator)
European Space Research and Technology Centre
Office for Educational Outreach Activities
Keplerlaan 1
Postbus 299
NL-2200 AG Noordwijk
The Netherlands

Telephone: +31-71-565- 5518
Fax: +31-71-565 5590


National Steering Committees (NSC) (current status):

Prof. Christian Gottfried
Theobaldgasse 16/13
A-1060 Wien
Tel: +43.1.587.46.02
Fax: +43.1.586.20.90

Belgium: Dr. Petra Rudolf

Prof. Ivan Lalov
Chairman of the NSC /PoS – Bulgaria
Union of the Physicists in Bulgaria
Blvd. James Bourchier 5
Sofia – 1164, Bulgaria

Dr. Jiri Dolejsi
Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
Charles University
V Holesovickach 2
CZ-180 00 Prague 8
Czech Republic

Dr. Brigitte Sode-Morgensen
Ministry of Research and Information Technology
Bredgade 43
DK-1260 Copenhagen K

Physics on Stage National Steering Committee in Finland
c/o Markku Sarimaa
Ursa Astronomical Association
Raatimiehenkatu 3 A 2
FIN-00140 Helsinki

France: Mr. Pierre-Louis Contreras

Prof. Michael Kobel
Physikalisches Institut, Universitaet Bonn
Nussallee 12
D-53115 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73-3532
Fax: +49 228 73-3220

Physics on Stage
c/o N.D. Tracas
Physics Department
National Technical University
Zografou Campus
157 73 Zografou
Tel: +30 1 772 3047
Fax:+30 1 772 2906

Dr. Adam Kovach
Inst. of Nuclear Research,
P.O.B. No.51
H-4001 Debrecen

Dr. Ian Elliott
Dublin Institue for Advanced studies
School of Cosmic Physics
Dunsink Observatory
Dublin 15

The official mailing address of the Italian NSC is:

Luxembourg: Dr. Fernand Wagner

Prof. Dr Aart W. Kleyn
Leiden Institute of Chemistry
Gorlaeus Laboratories
Leiden University
Einsteinweg 55
P.O. Box 9502
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

Norway: Dr. Heidi Bruvoll

Poland: Dr Tadeusz Skoskiewicz

Dra. Ana Noronha
Ciencia Viva
Ministerio da Ciencia e da Tecnologia
Unidade Ciencia Viva
Av. dos Combatentes, 43 A-10B
1600 Lisboa

Dalibor Krupa
Slovak Physical Society
c/o Slovak Academy of Sciences
Stefanikova 49
SK-814 38 Bratislava
Slovak Republic

Rosa M. Ros
Real sociedad Espanola de Fisica
Facultad de Ciencias Fisicas
Universidad Complutense
28040 Madrid

Sweden: Dr. Thomas Lindblad

Prof. Claude Joseph
Institut de Physique des Hautes Energies
Université de Lausanne
CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel.: +41-21-692 37 01
Fax: +41-21-692 36 05

Dr Steven Chapman
Secretary, Physics on Stage United Kingdom National
Steering Committee
Institute of Physics
76 Portland Place
London W1N 3DH
Tel: +44 20 7 470 4924
Fax: +44 20 7 470 4848