“Joel is remarkable.” “Everybody feels like he is their brother or father.” “He has a magnetic personality.” Comments like those come from everyone who knows Joel Lebowitz. And everyone knows him, or at least everyone remotely involved in statistical mechanics does. As Michael Fisher, a theorist at the University of Maryland, College Park, puts it, “Anyone who knows Joel, and sees him in action, loves him as a person.”

The action that most people have seen is the statistical mechanics meeting that Lebowitz has orchestrated twice a year since 1959. The 100th meeting—but not the last—will take place in December at Rutgers University, where Lebowitz is on the physics and mathematics faculties. “It’s truly astonishing to think that one person has organized 100 meetings,” says Haverford College experimentalist Jerry Gollub. “It’s an amazing service to science.”

“The Yeshiva–Rutgers meetings”—the informal name for the meetings based on where Lebowitz has held...

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