June 1997 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Shelter Island Conference, attended by twenty-five physics luminaries. Held June 2-4, 1947, this meeting was one of the most fruitful of a series of specialized scientific conferences held immediately after the end of World War II, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, to counter the feeling that scientific and technical societies had grown so large, or become so narrowly specialized, that no critical discussions were taking place at their meetings. Much like the 1911 Solvay Conference set the stage for developments in quantum theory, the Shelter Island gathering marked the initial stimulus for postwar developments in quantum field theory. These included effective, relativistically invariant computational methods, Feynman diagrams, QED, and renormalization theory, among others. A second Shelter Island conference was held in 1983 at the original Rams Head Inn. [Photo from Niels Bohr Archive]
Shelter Island conference participants
, June 1947. From left to right: I.I. Rabi, Linus Pauling, John Van Vleck, Willis Lamb, Gregory Breit, Duncan MacInnes, Karl Darrow, George Uhlenbeck, Julian Schwinger, Edward Teller, Bruno Rossi, Arnold Nordsieck, John von Neumann, John Wheeler, Hans Bethe, Robert Serber, Robert Marshak, Abraham Pais, J. Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Richard Feynman, Victor Weisskopf, Herman Feshbach.