The American Physical Society was founded on May 20, 1899, when 36 physicists gathered at Columbia University for that purpose. They proclaimed the mission of the new Society to be "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics", and in one way or another the APS has been at that task ever since. In the early years, virtually the sole activity of the APS was to hold scientific meetings, initially four per year. In 1913, the APS took over the operation of the Physical Review, which had been founded in 1893 at Cornell, and journal publication became its second major activity. The Physical Review was followed by Reviews of Modern Physics in 1929, and by Physical Review Letters in 1958. Over the years, Phys Rev has subdivided into five separate sections as the fields of physics proliferated and the number of submissions grew.
In more recent years, the activities of the Society have broadened considerably. Stimulated by the increase in Federal funding in the period after the second World War, and even more by the increased public involvement of scientists in the nineteen sixties, the APS is active in public and governmental affairs, and in the international physics community. In addition, the Society conducts extensive programs in education, public outreach, and media relations. The APS has fourteen divisions and nine topical groups covering all areas of physics research,. There are six forums that reflect the interest of its 46,000 members in broader issues, and eight sections organized by geographical region.
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