Aspen Center for Physics

Fact Sheet

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The Aspen Center for Physics is a research center where theoretical physicists work in an unstructured environment free to interact across their fields of specialization.

Founded in1962 by

  • George Stranahan, a graduate student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology
  • Professor Michael Cohen of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Bob Craig, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies
  • ACP was opened as the Physics Division of the Aspen Institute in summer, 1962
  • in 1968 ACP became an independent Colorado non-profit corporation
  • in 1991 ACP received permanent ownership of its four-acre campus, the circle of serenity
  • Participants, 1962-2012

  • 10,000 physicists have participated at least once in winter, summer or both
  • more than 500 summer physicists have attended more than 5 times
  • 65 countries have been represented
  • 53 Nobel Laureates in Physics have participated
  • Summer Program

  • each year about 500 (513 average for past 5 years) physicists attend out of about 875 (879.4 average for past 5 years) applications
  • about 85 physicists are in residence each week for 16 weeks; average stay is about 2.6 weeks
  • each year, about 40% of participants have never attended before
  • worldwide, about 12% of physics faculty members are women; at ACP, 14 to 17% are women.
  • Winter Conferences

  • six or more intensive week–long conferences host 50 to 100 physicists each week from graduate students to full professors, theorists to experimentalists
  • nearly 5,000 physicists have attended since the Winter Conferences began in 1985
  • Scientific Impact

  • more than 10,000 scientific papers and books have acknowledged work done at the Aspen Center for Physics
  • string theory made significant headway here
  • the germ of Supersymmetry was conceived here
  • the concept for arXiv was born here
  • Impact on Aspen

  • physicists (not including family members) have spent more than 324,000 pillow nights in Aspen in summer; in 2012, summer physicists will spend about 9,500 nights in Aspen
  • in summer 2011, the ACP spent more than $686,000 for Aspen housing
  • in winter, physicists have spent 40,000 pillow nights in Aspen
  • in winter 2012, physicists spent more than $500,000 for Aspen housing
  • ACP owns more than 100 bicycles for use by physicists and family members
  • physicists bring their families, enroll their children in camps, shop, dine, attend concerts and special events, hike, bike, climb and enjoy every aspect of life in Aspen
  • Aspen businesses and residents have befriended the Center for the past 50 years
  • Facilities

  • Stranahan Hall was completed in 1962
  • Hilbert Hall (temporary, now removed) was completed in 1968
  • Bethe Hall was completed in 1972
  • Smart Hall, Hosier Hall and Flug Forum were completed in 1996
  • facilities include 43 double offices, a 100–seat auditorium, a 40–person seminar room, 2 breakout rooms, and a patio meeting space that is most in demand
  • Community Involvement

  • free public lectures and informal dialogues include the Heinz R. Pagels Memorial Lectures in summer and Maggie and Nick DeWolf Lectures in winter totaling about 20 events each year; audiences often exceed 250
  • in summer, family barbecues for local and visiting youth (with the Aspen Science Center) offer physics activities and an entertaining and informative physics talk
  • during the Physics Café before each winter lecture (also with the Aspen Science Center), the general public is invited to ask physicists questions informally
  • physicists visit schools and engage in one-on-one conversations with interested high school students
  • Funding

    The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and dozens of corporate, university, and individual sponsors have supported the Center. For further information or (970) 925-2585