Starting in Bonn on September 15th, a week-long fair, will focus on the physics of condensed matter and especially on the foundations of modern information technology. Silicon, the chemical element used for computer chips, might be considered as the philosopher's stone of our time - hence the name of this unique event: Stein der Weisen (Philosopher's Stone) offers lectures for school-children and the general public as well as an exhibition conceived by physicists of the Research Centre Jülich in cooperation with the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. The former German parliament is the stage for this 4th mayor event in the current Year of Physics, organized by the German Physical Society (DPG) and funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The Year of Physics lies under the umbrella of Wissenschaft im Dialog, an initiative started by German research organizations and the BMBF to promote the exchange between scientists and the public.
The Year of Physics comprises five mayor events in Bonn and Berlin as well as more than 200 so-called satellite activities taking place throughout the year at universities and research centers all over Germany. The project took off in January with a week on astrophysics dubbed Jenseits der Milchstraße (Beyond the Milky Way) in the Urania, Berlin's nineteenth-century public lecture hall. It continued in April with Reise zum Urknall (Journey to the Big Bang), the topics this time: nuclear and particle physics. With some 15,000 visitors the week-long show set a new record of attendance in the history of the Urania. The next mayor event Gebändigtes Licht (Tamed Light), held in Bonn last June, turned the spotlight towards atomic, molecular, plasma physics and quantum optics. On this occasion physicists moved to the heart of Germany's former capital, assembling a marquee in downtown Bonn. The exhibition, attended by researchers on the scene - including students as well as full-time professors - attracted around 15,000 visitors on three consecutive days. In addition scientists set up experiments and interactive displays in Bonn's department stores getting in touch with thousands of "costumers". Now, the upcoming date is with condensed matter physics starting in Bonn's former Bundestag in mid September.
The Year of Physics ends in Berlin next December with Entdeckung des Zufalls (Discovery of Chance), an anniversary week that conmemorates the birth of quantum theory in December of 1900. The shedule includes lectures, a public round of talks with prominent scientists and an illusionist, an exhibition presenting artifacts connected to quantum theory and several scientific simposia with distinguished experts from around the world. The centenary week concludes with the 3rd World Congress of Physical Societies organized jointly by the European Physical Society and the DPG.