Letter from the President, 2007-2010

I first came to the Physics Center as a student in the late 1980s. At the time I had not yet settled on physics as a career, and my knowledge of how physics as a profession operated was practically non-existent. So I had only the vaguest notion of what physicists did, had never been to an academic conference, and had no notion whatsoever of what a summer program at the Aspen Center for Physics was like. Those few weeks that summer showed me what membership in the community of physicists could be like. I had never dreamed that scientists might gather in a place of such natural beauty and pursue their shared passion for understanding nature free from other distractions. Most significantly, Aspen gave me the opportunity to associate with physicists of all levels and in ways both professional (I wrote a paper with the then soon to be ACP president, Michael Turner) and social (I went on the first of many hikes with Sidney Coleman and climbed my first “fourteener” with David Kaplan and Ann Nelson).

I have had the privilege of being one of the Center’s caretakers, and in that role I hope that I have managed to foster the spirit of camaraderie and familiarity (in the literal sense) that I experienced that summer nearly 25 years ago. The Center has evolved significantly over that time but continues to provide an atmosphere that encourages research and recreation through contemplation and collaboration. I look forward to the next 50 years as a member of the Aspen family.

This essay was written in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Aspen Center for Physics.