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Announcements

Exciting News: IAPS Set to Host In-Person Annual General Meetings

We have some fantastic news to share with you all! After quite a long wait due to the challenges of the global pandemic, we are delighted to announce that the International Association of Physics Students is gearing up to hold its Annual General Meetings (AGM) once again, and this time, we’re going back to meeting in person!

This is a big deal for us and for the entire community. Our AGM is where we all come together to meet, exchange opinions, and make decision for the future. And we couldn’t be more excited to do it face-to-face this time.

So, mark your calendars! The AGM is scheduled for the 5th of August, 2024, and it will be happening alongside the International Conference of Physics Students in the beautiful city of Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s going to be an incredible opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and, most importantly, dive deep into all things physics!

But wait, there’s more! Before the big AGM day, on the 4th of August, delegates from our member organizations will have a chance to take part in the Delegate Days. These are special sessions where we’ll discuss important topics, share information, and make sure everyone is up to speed before the AGM.

Ready to join us? Register now for the International Conference of Physics Students and secure your spot at this unforgettable event. Click here to register and be a part of the excitement!

So, get ready to pack your bags, brush up on your physics knowledge, and join us in Tbilisi for what promises to be an unforgettable experience. We can’t wait to see you there!

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News

IAPS Charts a New Path at the Extraordinary General Meeting

The International Association of Physics Students recently held an Extraordinary General Meeting. Representatives from various countries gathered for the meeting, during which the association introduced important initiatives to enhance its influence, effectiveness, and structure.

One of the standout moments from the meeting was the exciting addition of TC Singapore, LC Jerusalem, and LC Zoul Mikael to the IAPS membership. This decision not only expands the association’s reach to different regions, but also introduces a wide range of viewpoints among its members.

Leadership transitions were also a significant area of attention, with elections conducted for the Members and Advocacy Manager roles. Irene Carrion Lopez, representing TC Spain, has been elected as the new Members and Advocacy Manager. With her expertise and vision, she will lead the association’s efforts in advocacy and membership engagement.

With a strategic vision for modernization and revitalization, IAPS has revealed a new brand identity, showcasing its dedication to adaptability and innovation in the dynamic field of physics.

However, what truly stood out at the meeting was the revolutionary decision to transition from National Committees to Territorial Committees. This significant change sets the stage for a membership structure that is more inclusive and accessible, removing the obstacles that used to impede student involvement in the association.

In addition, IAPS decided to apply for UN Consultancy Status, demonstrating the association’s dedication to worldwide involvement and advocacy for matters of scientific significance.

Lastly, as a testament to its commitment to preserving the environment, IAPS announced its plans to join the Earth Humanity Coalition, joining forces with esteemed organizations to work towards a more sustainable future. Ultimately, it aims to inspire and mobilize the global youth community to take action and drive positive change.

The outcomes of the Extraordinary General Meeting demonstrate IAPS’s commitment to promoting cooperation, creativity, and diversity within its community. Keep an eye out for more updates on these exciting developments as IAPS remains at the forefront of shaping the future of physics education and research.

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Announcements

Open Position: Members & Advocacy Manager

The International Association of Physics Students is on the lookout for a passionate and dedicated individual to step into this vital role! Are you ready to make a real impact and drive positive change within our community?

🌟 We need someone dynamic, enthusiastic, and committed to ensuring the smooth operation of our membership processes and advocating for the rights of physics students worldwide. As an IAPS member, you already embody the spirit of our organization, and now is your chance to take your involvement to the next level!

Important note: This is an elected position, you need to defend your candidacy during the EGM on April 28th.

🔍 Requirements:

  • IAPS Membership: Candidates must be current members of IAPS. Check here: https://iaps.info/members/
  • Application: Submit your CV and a motivational letter for the Membership and Advocacy Manager position via email (ec@iaps.info), which will be voted by our members during our Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on April 28th at 2PM UTC, via Zoom. Be prepared to defend your candidacy and share your vision for the role!
  • Please send us your candidacy by the 27th of April, so that we can have time to upload to our organisation’s Cloud, so that our members’ delegates have enough time to look through it.
  • Before applying please refer to the Legal Notice at the bottom of the page.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to shape the future of physics advocacy and community engagement with IAPS. Your energy and ideas can make a difference! Apply now and let’s work together to empower physics students worldwide.

Responsibilities:

📊 Maintain the IAPS Membership Database to ensure accurate and up-to-date records.

🗣️ Maintain fair communication with all IAPS members and Alumni, serving as the EC Representative to the Alumni Committee.

🔍 Manage advocacy issues, investigating topics of importance to members and advocating for students’ rights at local and international levels.

📚 Organize educational and informational events, prioritizing gender equality initiatives within the physics society.

Useful Skills:

👥 Delegate effectively and prioritize tasks to accomplish goals efficiently.

🤝 Reliability and strong communication skills are paramount in engaging with various stakeholders.

📅 Dedicate time in your daily routine for IAPS commitments, with flexibility to address tasks outside regular hours.

🎯 Set and manage priorities effectively, balancing smaller achievable goals with larger tasks.

🤔 Seek guidance from senior members when needed, leveraging their expertise and insights.

🌐 Stay informed about scientific community issues and public policy decisions impacting the physics community.

Expectations:

📊 Throughout the year, delegate tasks, maintain reliability, and prioritize effectively as outlined in the useful skills section.

🔄 Keep membership data updated regularly, actively engaging both current and potential new members.

💡 Encourage direct involvement of IAPS members, potentially forming subcommittees to aid in tasks.

Legal Notice

By submitting your application for the Membership and Advocacy Manager position with the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS), you hereby acknowledge and accept the terms outlined in our Privacy Policy.

As part of the application process, your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Motivational Letter will be uploaded to the IAPS Cloud. This is to facilitate transparency within our organization, allowing members to review candidates and make informed decisions during the selection process.

It is important to note that the information provided in your application will be accessible to IAPS members for the purpose of evaluating candidates for the position.

For further details regarding the handling of your personal information, please refer to the IAPS Privacy Policy available on our website.

By proceeding with your application, you confirm your understanding and acceptance of these terms.

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Announcements

Announcing the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM)

The International Association of Physics Students announces the convening of an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) scheduled for April 28th at 2:00 PM UTC. The meeting will be conducted virtually via Zoom.

The EGM, a pivotal event in the IAPS calendar, serves as a platform for members to engage in crucial discussions and decision-making processes regarding the association’s direction and operations.

Final Agenda

  1. Announcements
  2. Tellers and Minute takers election
  3. Confirmation of membership
  4. AGM 2023 Meeting minutes
  5. Rebranding IAPS 
  6. Honorary Memberships
  7. Charter change
    • IAPS Rebranding
    • Territorial Committee
  8. Membership & Advocacy Manager election
  9. Presentation Alumni and Supporting Membership
  10. UN Application
  11. Earth Humanity Coalition 
  12. NC Costa Rica Proposal for AC5 Structure

All the related documentation is available for review on the IAPS Cloud. The NC Costa Rica proposal is under EC review and will be uploaded later this week. 

Zoom links and voting tokens will be distributed to representatives and entitled members before mid-April to facilitate participation in the meeting.

In a related announcement, the EC regretfully acknowledges the resignation of the current Membership and Advocacy Manager. Pursuant to section 11.5 of the IAPS Charter, the EC now calls for the election of the next Membership and Advocacy Manager. Interested members are encouraged to apply for the position within the next two weeks, as outlined in section 4.2.5 of the regulations. Candidates should submit a personal statement, highlighting relevant experiences and past involvement in associations, along with a CV to ec@iaps.info.

The EGM underscores IAPS’s commitment to democratic principles and transparent governance.

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Article of the Month jIAPS

Protected: March jIAPS Article of the Month: Flying at Mach 10 – Decoding the Physics behind Top Gun: Maverick

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News

Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

As we mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the International Association of Physics Students is proud to reflect on the advances we have made towards gender equality and empowerment within the scientific community. This day is not just a celebration but a call to action to break down the barriers that have held women and girls back in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Our association, with over 90.000 members from across the globe, has always championed the cause of women in physics. Our initiatives aim to provide a supportive environment that encourages the participation of women in all aspects of physics, from academic research and teaching to industry and leadership roles. We believe that empowering women and girls in science is essential for achieving scientific excellence and addressing the complex challenges of our time.

In our continuous effort to support and promote gender equality in physics, IAPS has also established the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group, which focuses on Women in Physics, amongst other topics. This group advocates for women’s rights, provides resources and support for women physicists, and organizes initiatives that aim to reduce gender disparities in the field. We invite all members who are passionate about this cause to join the EDI Working Group and contribute to our efforts to make physics more inclusive and equitable.

Additionally, in a significant milestone for our organization and a testament to our commitment to promoting gender equality in physics, we are thrilled to announce that our Vice President, Niloofar Jokar, has been named an Associated Member of the Working Group 5: Women In Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

Niloofar shared a statement that reflects the synergy between the missions of IUPAP and IAPS:

I am thrilled to become involved as an Associate Member of Working Group 5: Women In Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). This achievement signifies not only a personal milestone but most importantly reflects the shared commitment of IUPAP and the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS) to promoting inclusivity and equity within the scientific community.
Both organizations are dedicated advocates for diversity, recognizing the vital role women play in advancing the field of physics. Together, we are determined to break down barriers, advocate for gender equality, and empower the next generation of female physicists. Our collective mission emphasizes the importance of collaboration and solidarity in driving meaningful change.
My appointment to Working Group 5 is a tremendous honor and aligns perfectly with my passion for creating a more inclusive world of science. I am deeply committed to contributing to this mission and working alongside dedicated individuals who share our vision.
In this role, I look forward to bringing the perspectives and insights of the youth community in Physics, attained from my involvement in IAPS as the Vice-President to the discussion on gender equality in physics. My enthusiasm for promoting diversity and inclusivity in science is persistent, and I am excited to embark on this journey with IUPAP and IAPS.
Together, we can make a significant impact and pave the way for a more equitable and diverse scientific community.

As always emphasized by Michel Spiro, the President of IUPAP: “yes we can and yes we must!!”

Niloofar Jokar, IAPS Vice President & Events Manager

As we celebrate this day, let us all reaffirm our commitment to fostering an environment where every aspiring scientist can thrive, regardless of gender. Let’s work together to ensure that women and girls in science are recognized, supported, and empowered to achieve their full potential.

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Uncategorized

Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing

In a world filled with hustle and bustle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. Our daily routines often leave little room for introspection and self-care. But what if we told you that the cosmos could hold the key to unlocking inner peace and enhancing your mental wellbeing? Enter the “Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing” workshop! Coorganized with the International Astronomical Union, the Department of Science & Innovation of the Republic of South Africa and the NRF – South African Astronomical Observatory.

A Universe of Benefits for Your Mind

Mental wellbeing is a hot topic, and for good reason. In today’s fast-paced world, stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges are on the rise. The “Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing” workshop offers a unique perspective on managing and improving mental health.

Why Astronomy?

The project titled “Astronomy for Mental Health” aims to explore the ways in which astronomy can serve as a positive influence on the mental well-being of all people. The project not only focuses on the intersection between mental health and development but also capitalizes on astronomy’s ability to inspire and facilitate interdisciplinary efforts to address this pressing issue.

While the use of astronomy for mental health support is not conventional, there is growing evidence that nature-based interventions can have a beneficial impact on mental well-being. Previous research has indicated that nature-based activities like horticulture and gardening can lead to improved emotional states, better interpersonal relationships, increased physical activity, and a stronger sense of community involvement. These findings are consistent with Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (ART), suggesting that nature can offer a meaningful distraction from life’s stressors.

Whether experienced directly or through simulations like potted plants and visual media, nature has been shown to rejuvenate mental energy, uplift mood, and provide a sanctuary for renewed focus. Experiencing awe in nature, a state often induced by astronomical phenomena, has been linked to positive emotional effects, ethical decision-making, and increased prosocial behaviour.

Although extensive research exists on the benefits of nature exposure, limited studies have specifically investigated astronomy’s role in improving mental health. Initial interventions have revealed that activities such as stargazing can positively affect mental well-being and empower communities grappling with psychological challenges.

What to Expect

Introduction

The Untapped Potential of Astronomy in Mental Health

  • Explanation of the flagship theme “Astronomy for Mental Health.”
  • Presenting evidence and theories supporting astronomy’s role in mental well-being (e.g., Attention Restoration Theory).

Changing Perspectives Through Astronomy

  • How astronomy can shift our perspective about life and stressors.
  • The concept of “cosmic perspective” and its potential mental health benefits.

Practical Activities and Tools

  • Introduction to astronomical interventions and tools for mental well-being.
  • Brief demonstration or examples (e.g., virtual stargazing, astronomy-based meditation techniques).

Who Should Attend?

This workshop is suitable for everyone, regardless of your level of expertise in astronomy or your familiarity with mental health concepts. Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer, a budding astronomer, or simply looking for new ways to improve your mental wellbeing, “Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing” has something to offer.

Date and Venue

The workshop is going to be an online workshop, hosted on Zoom, on the 4th of November.

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Article of the Month IAPS 2023-2024 jIAPS

Mind-Matter Collider – jIAPS October Article of the Month: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Physics

Author: Octavian Ianc, University of Bucharest, Romania

Illustrated by Kyoka Stone, University of Toronto

Imagine that you are a researcher at CERN. Some of you already are, others have this on their schedule a few years in the future. Now, what are you doing there? Among other things, you’re analyzing hundreds of petabytes of experimental data. Assuming that you’re a sane person who doesn’t want to spend the next few million years stuck in front of a computer, you don’t do this by hand. You use some machine learning algorithms¹. These algorithms are artificial, no one has seen classifiers growing in trees. And, if my university lecturer did not make up definitions out of thin air, they are, in a way, intelligent.

Dramatis personae: artificial intelligence and physics.

It all began in the last few years, when lots of commercial AI implementations became available. Actually no, it began in 1997, when Deep Blue beat Kasparov in chess. Or in the 50s, when Turing wrote something about tests and machines. No, even earlier, with those philosophers babbling about formalizing logic and reasoning. It’s almost impossible to come up with a definite answer regarding when the idea of artificial intelligence appeared. What’s certain is that things which someone from 50 years ago would have considered as intelligent are around us. For now, and probably for ever.

We’re physicists: dedicating our lives to studying the different phenomena that surround us. Wouldn’t it be, and this is a huge understatement, absolutely crazy if one of these phenomena turned everything around and started studying us? We’ll get there soon, let’s take it gradually.

Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneers of the field, defines artificial intelligence as “the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men”². This encompasses a lot of stuff. While not being the first things you think of, sorting a list of numbers or navigating through a network are tasks that would require a fair share of human intelligence. Those are boring, we won’t talk about them. We only want true intelligence here. So we’ll have true intelligence. And also physics. And cats – everyone loves cats.

As you’ve noticed by now, intelligent algorithms are a cornerstone of modern research, both in physics and in most other fields, especially when it comes to finding hidden patterns in huge datasets. An algorithm is better, faster, and does not get bored nearly as quickly as we do. Another important field where AI is a great competitor to traditional approaches is in the modelling of complex systems. When talking about predicting molecular properties³, predicting weather⁴ or, analysing complex economic parameters⁵ (why not?), artificial intelligence is able to do some feats for which classical methods need orders of magnitude more time or are outright incapable of.

This link between physics and the thing called artificial intelligence is however nothing new. From the 70s, researchers worked on something which would later be called a Hopfield network⁶, named after J.J. Hopfield, a physicist who brought this into attention. Until then, everyone thought information had to be stored in a straightforward way: words written on a piece of paper, 1 or 0 bits in a hard drive, and so on. What these guys did was to prove this is not always the case. You can also store information using the connections or couplings between elements of a system. In a nutshell, these networks are very similar to the Ising model for magnetism, in fact they’re inspired from it. You have a grid of tiny magnets which can point either up or down, and are coupled between each other. If the coupling strengths are suitable and the system is left to evolve, it will converge, from any initial state, in one or a few chosen states (“memories” of the system).

Now, memory, intelligence, analyzing tons of data in a blink of an eye, all those don’t sound horrible at all. ChatGPT helping with that pesky programming task sounds even better. Yet, as one famous economist put it, ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’. All these shenanigans come with their fair share of disadvantages and problems.

First of all, to put it frankly, we have no idea what most of these algorithms are doing, or why they are giving a certain output. This is especially true about deep neural networks, the workhorses of a lot of machine learning applications. As a simple example, we can take any task which has something to do with images (finding faces, classifying cats etc.)⁷. These are, most of the time, accomplished with convolutional neural networks (CNNs). Different operations are sequentially applied to the image’s pixel values, ending up with the desired result (a number, a category, whatever). Let’s say we try to analyze such a system. The first layer or couple of layers are quite easy to understand: they detect edges, gradients, basic image features. Surprisingly, this is extremely close to how our visual system does its job. However, if we try to go past this, we’re more or less stuck⁸. It’s quasi-impossible for a researcher to get even a general idea about why the network does what it does. All we see is some numbers. If you have seen the movie Inception (if not, you definitely should), it’s kind of like that. There, the protagonists are navigating through an intricate world, which interconnects levels of reality with dreams. Understanding a deep neural network is similar, but we’re still stuck in the uppermost levels.

Let’s get a bit more intellectual, calling in some philosophy. At its core, any software piece we could refer to as intelligent is nothing more than a set of mathematical rules that is applied to data collected from the real world. When something like this is capable of doing independent research, what happens exactly?

A point can be made even aiming at the fundamentals of the scientific method. Suppose we analyze experimental data using an AI. We obtain predictions, we can verify those predictions. However, what we’re doing is that we’re morphing an unknown, the physical phenomenon we’re trying to study, into a different one, the model that was trained on that data. Although we can, in a sense, predict the real phenomenon, we still don’t have the vaguest of ideas about the governing laws. We just have a black box that supposedly can predict it. Although we have some results, is this still science? This looks similar to the differences between science and engineering. Very broadly, a scientist is interested in understanding phenomena, while an engineer aims to harness these phenomena and provide useful results, while still keeping at least a general understanding of the process at hand. When using an AI model to analyze data and make predictions, we’re most of the time losing even that general understanding. One might dare to say this is neither science, nor engineering.

We’ve traditionally referred to mathematics as a man-made tool, which we use to harness the unpredictability of the world around us. The weirdness happens when this math starts creating other math. The mere idea that it is a tool, stemming from our minds and being entirely dependent on it, begins to shatter when this math starts doing stuff without us. It’s as if a hammer would start building by itself. Or as if a cat from your dream would scratch you in real life. There’s even more to this. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems⁹, important results of mathematical logic, state that if you start with a finite number of assumptions (axioms), you would be unable to prove all true propositions of that logical system. As a consequence, you won’t be ever able to prove or disprove that system as consistent. For our AI-scientist, this would mean that it, by the virtue of its own existence, places hard limits on its abilities. For us humans, limitations come mostly from the physical world. I can’t run at 500 km/h because the muscles in my legs are not strong enough, due to air resistance etc. For mathematics (and, as a consequence, physics), the mere fact that it exists creates a constraint on itself.

To sum it all up, the marriage of artificial intelligence and physics has and will continue to revolutionize the way we do research, and not only that. In the midst of these scientific and philosophical ponderings, we find ourselves both awe-inspired and cautious, marvelling at the possibilities while recognizing the need for responsibility.

References:

  1. “AI at CERN | sparks.web.cern.ch.”

2. Minsky, “Semantic Information Processing.”

3. Wiercioch and Kirchmair, “DNN-PP.”

4. Hickey, “Using Machine Learning to ‘Nowcast’ Precipitation in High Resolution. | ai.googleblog.com.” 

5. Bickley, Chan, and Torgler, “Artificial Intelligence in the Field of Economics.”

6. Hopfield, “Neural Networks and Physical Systems with Emergent Collective Computational Abilities

7. “Deep Learning (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning Series): Goodfellow, Ian, Bengio, Yoshua, Courville, Aaron: 9780262035613: Amazon.Com: Books.”

 8. Zhang et al., “A Survey on Neural Network Interpretability.”

9. Gödel, “On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica And Related Systems.”

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Announcements

IAPS New Leadership Following Annual General Meeting

The International Association of Physics Students (IAPS) is delighted to announce the successful conclusion of its Annual General Meeting (AGM), which took place from the 5th to the 6th of August. During this pivotal event, the organization elected new Executive Committee Members and welcomed distinguished individuals to the IUPAP AC5 (Affiliated Commision 5) Council.

IAPS, a global network of physics students and physics enthusiasts, remains committed to fostering international collaboration and the advancement of physics education. The AGM serves as a crucial moment for IAPS, as it ensures the continuity of the organization’s mission.

Key Highlights from the AGM:

New Executive Committee Members

After a rigorous election process, IAPS is proud to introduce its newly elected Executive Committee members who will lead the organization forward for the upcoming term. These dedicated individuals, chosen from across the globe, bring diverse backgrounds and a shared passion for physics. Their commitment to IAPS’ values is a testament to the organization’s bright future.

The results of the elections are as follows:

  • Cyrus Walther – President
  • Mario Gaimann – Treasurer
  • Thibault Fredon – Secretary
  • Niloofar Jokar – Events Manager
  • Marisol Castellanos – Members & Advocacy Manager
  • Dimitris Gkavakos – PR Manager
  • Anna Christoforidou – Outreach Manager
  • Roberto Ciccarelli – IT Manager
  • Gabriel Barrios – Recruitment Manager

IUPAP AC5  Council Appointments

IAPS is honored to welcome esteemed members to the IUPAP AC5 Council. These individuals, recognized for their outstanding contributions to physics advocacy, will play a vital role in furthering the goals of both IAPS and IUPAP. Their expertise and dedication are expected to enhance the impact of early career physicists worldwide. The Council is made up of the following members:

  • Cyrus Walther
  • Niloofar Jokar
  • Irene Carrión López
  • Damian Ziomko
  • Sabine Rockenstein
  • Mario Gaimann
  • Dimitris Gkavakos
  • Duarte Graça
  • Socrates Varelogiannis
  • Zlatan Vasovic
  • Thibault Fredon
  • Borko Popovic

Strengthening Global Collaboration

During the AGM, the President officially announced IAPS’ affiliated partnership with the International Science Council. IAPS is one of the 15 select few Youth Academies & Associations that are now affiliated with the prestigious ISC.

IAPS President, Cyrus Walther, expressed his excitement about the new leadership and the future prospects of the organization, saying, “The AGM was a crucial success, reaffirming our commitment to promoting collaboration amongst physics students across the globe and providing valuable experiences to our members. I’m excited to work together with our new Executive Committee members and the IUPAP AC5 Council to bring positive change and engagement to the global physics community.”

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Announcements

Statement of Support for Our Members in Morocco Affected by the Earthquake

Dear Members,

We are writing to express our solidarity and unwavering support for our fellow physics students and their communities in Morocco who have been impacted by the recent earthquake. Our thoughts are with you during this challenging time, and we want to assure you that you are not alone in facing this adversity.

We also extend our condolences to those who may have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, or experienced damage to their homes and property. We understand the profound challenges you are facing, and we are here to offer our support, empathy, and assistance in any way possible.

In times of crisis, it is essential for us to come together and offer our support to those in need. We encourage all of our members to reach out to their fellow students in Morocco, offering assistance, encouragement, and empathy. Whether it’s through academic support, emotional comfort, or practical aid, every gesture of solidarity makes a difference.

We are providing you with a link to a donation page that aids the people of Morocco:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/morocco-earthquake-relief-fund/

Our global community is resilient, and through our collective efforts, we can help rebuild and support our friends and colleagues in Morocco.

With heartfelt solidarity,

Executive Committee Members

International Association of Physics Students