Physics is important to us biologists, too

The Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference is in trouble — government support has been flat, and corporate support has been declining. They are really in trouble: here’s what I got from one of the people working on it:

The CUPC is the largest conference in North America organized entirely by undergraduate students. It brings together students from across Canada and the world studying a vast array of subject areas from mathematical and theoretical physics to medical biophysics to engineering and applied physics. This important event gives many students their first experience with academics outside of the classroom, and helps to cultivate an interest in research and higher study. I, and every one else working on the organization of this event, would therefore be extremely grateful if you would be willing to post a link to your blog for the conference ( and ask for donations (which are accepted on the site). The conference is in only a few short days and we are desperate for funds. If the we cannot find adequate support, this will be the 44th and final CUPC, which will be a tremendous shame for science education.

If you can, donate. If you know any potential sponsors who care about undergraduate physics research, pass the word on.


  1. Kate says

    Thanks for the link!

    …and don’ forget, fellow Canadians! VOTE TODAY!

    You don’t even need ID to vote, just a registered, properly identified voter who can vouch for you.

    Go here:

    Find out where you need to go and get there! You have 12 hours today to vote, so there’s no excuse!

  2. Simon C. says

    What?! Nooo! I love CUPC, I don’t want it to close because of a lack of funding… =/

    If you read their journal, there often is an article about astronomy. They also have articles in French, which is a great thing to interest people in Québec.

    Anyway, I’ll vote after my Quantum Mechanics exam later.

    By the way, I’m an undergaduate in Physics. Feed us the money! ;-)

  3. says

    Shouldn’t it be “Physics are important”?

    Crap. I forgot it was election day. So much for the fun blog-trawling I had planned for this morning.

  4. says

    ….government support has been flat…

    Yeah, well: with Georgie’s little brother Stevie in charge the last few years, what do you expect? Not likely to see the back of him today, either, unfortunately.

    (I expect someone will immediately pop up to show that the Liberals weren’t any better. OK, I agree: we’re screwed all round….)

    About an hour and a half from now, I will go waste my vote. It’s kind of a religious ritual — has no real effect, but I feel obliged to do it.

  5. Bee says

    Good luck on the funding, CUPC.

    I’ll be voting this aft, and for the first time ever, I am unable to make up my mind. Normally, I vote NDP. But I am a voter in Peter MacKay’s riding, where Elizabeth May, Green Party leader, is also running. I’d like to see Elizabeth win a seat, and she just might oust despicable Peter with a little help from regular NDP voters – but wish like hell she’d picked another riding.

  6. BAllanJ says

    Hi all,
    I attended a Cup Cake conference in Halifax a LONG time ago… saw Hans Bethe and Freeman Dyson among other speakers… excellent. Then helped organize one in Kingston when I was a gradual student. We didn’t get as good speakers, but we didn’t do badly. I’ll get the word out in our coffee room in a bit and see if I can get others to donate too.

  7. aiabx says

    I met John Wheeler at a CUPC in New Brunswick back in the dawn of time. Excellent conference. I’ll send them some monmey on payday.

  8. Leslie in Canada says

    I find it amazing that the Canadian government continues to pull back from funding science after claiming (for the last decade) that it is vital to the nation’s future. Thanks for posting this–I have made a small donation and hope other Canadians will as well. If we can get undergraduates excited about these kind of events (and that speakers have been A List) it means a lot. I saw Ernst Mayr speak in Berlin just a few years ago and it was a thrill to see the guy (who must have been 96) mobbed by students at the end of his talk.

  9. Davidlpf says

    Never been to the CUPC but to the AUPAC (atlantic undergrad physics and astromony conferences) in 95 and 96, even got up and made a couple of presentations. I hope they do get the funding. If it is like atlantic conferences there are great places to met people in the area you interested in.

  10. Gary says

    And my daughter thanks you! After starting out in biology, she switched to physics and is attending the conference this week. I hope this will not be her only chance.

  11. says

    She switched…to physics? Is there something wrong with her? Call a doctor!

    Now there’s nothing really wrong with physics, but it isn’t as exciting as biology, you know.

  12. Sphere Coupler says

    Whoa there PZ, What you said.#17…not exciting, I beg to differ. I must contest.Please tell me you are having a nasty spell.Physics not as exciting as biology.Why, we have quarks & pions,protons&photons. quasars,masars &lasers.Electrons,neutrons and accelerators too!

    I need to rest now and hope it was all a dream.

  13. Sphere Coupler says

    Oh, I forgot we even have a cat, but wer’e not always sure of that.It could be dead or it could be alive, or it could be both and thats no jive.

  14. Sphere Coupler says

    A challenge to cuttlefish(just a short friendly poetic duel between sciences)SHOW ME WHAT YA GOT>

    The triology of biology is bones an blood an genes.
    Physics has got anti-quarks and condesating dreams.
    The large Hadron Collider with sensers as big as a whale,
    with mysteries of the particle world on the fermi scale.
    From macro to micro and even smaller still.
    I can split an atom…bend it with my will.
    And what you got in mysteries,only evolution can tell,
    So you can travel back in time,your rocks can fortell,
    I can get you all stungout in a gravity well.

  15. ming the merciless says

    Really, PZ, what knee-jerkiness. Perhaps Canada has enough physicists already. Perhaps young aspiring physicists should learn how to fund their own educations instead of waiting for handouts. Perhaps this will separate the sheep from the other sheep, as now only REALLY called kids will flock to physics by the half dozen.

    Me, I’m sending my money to the trade schools. Pretty soon we’ll be in much more need of kids who know how to make barrels and wheels, than physicists. I mean unless the former figures out how to make wooden cyclotrons.


  16. says

    I tend to agree with Ming about soon requiring more coopers and wheelwrights in Canada.

    However, he forgets that that need will occur only if the Harperites continue to fund ideology over science.

    We’ve had three elections in four years, and I’m ready for number four now.

  17. Gary says

    Yes PZ she switched even though my training is in biology (rather disappointing). To her credit she wants to use her physics training to eventually do a post-grad degree in bio-medical physics.