The question before us can be stated simply: Where do we go from here? The “we” is the physics community, though it's our hope that the discussion will range more widely into science and technology, so we'll be able to comment on the changes likely to take place in research universities, national laboratories and private industry. Our subject is physics in transition to the 21st century. Some say physics has been in a state of transition for well over a century—certainly since James Clerk Maxwell in the 19th century. In every decade of the 20th century, physics has experienced momentous turning points. In this last decade of the century we seem to have reached another turning point with the end of nuclear weapons rivalry that was given the name of cold war and the increase of global industrial competitiveness. In the past year, pressures by the Federal government and by commercial companies have increased to make physics and the rest of science more relevant to business and to society. We are already witnessing the reduction of physics research at some major corporate laboratories and sensing a shakeup for physics facilities at some national labs. So this discussion of the future of physics is timely.

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