I hope that I have conveyed to to you some of the excitement and challenges of the field of integrable models in statistical mechanics. The problems are physically important, experimentally accessible, and mathematically challenging. The field has been making constant progress since the first work of Bethe in 1931 and Onsager in 1944. So it might be thought that even though the problems are hard that it would command the attention of some of the most powerful researchers in a large number of institutions. But as I indicated in the beginning of this talk this is in fact not the case.
Most physics departments are more or less divided into the same divisions as is the APS. Thus it is quite typical to find departments with a condensed matter group, a nuclear physics group, and high energy group, an astrophysics group and an atomic and molecular group. But as I mentioned at the beginning, none of the work I have discussed in this talk fits naturally into these categories and thus if departments hire people in the mainstream of the existing divisions of the APS no one doing research in integrable models in statistical mechanics will ever be hired. This is certainly the case at my institution and the only reason I have been able to pursue my research for 33 years is that Prof. Yang founded the Institute for Theoretical Physics at State University of New York where he was able to hire outside of these traditional divisions of physics.
So while I am deeply honored and grateful for the award of the 1999 Heineman prize for mathematical physics there is still another honor I am looking for. It is to receive a letter from the chairman of a physics department which reads as follows:
Dear Prof. McCoy,
Thank you for the recommendation you recently made to us concerning the hiring of a new faculty member. We had not considered hiring anyone in the area of physics represented by your candidate, but after reading the resume and publications we decided that you were completely correct that the candidate is doing outstanding work which will bring an entirely new area of research to our department. We are very pleased to let you know that the university has made an offer of a faculty appointment to your candidate which has been accepted today. Thank you very much for your help and advice.
I have actually received one such letter in my life. If I am fortunate I hope to receive a few more before the end of my career. The 21st century is long and anything is still possible.
This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under grant DMR 97-03543.