About Sigma Xi

Spoudon Xynones

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the international honor society of science and engineering. One of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world, Sigma Xi has a distinguished history of service to science and society for more than one hundred and twenty five years. Scientists and engineers, whose research spans the disciplines of science and technology, comprise the membership of the Society. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members.

I know that we are all asked to join many, many societies, but I feel strongly that Sigma Xi is an important one for the community, for our children, and for science as a whole.
— Michael G. Sarr, Mayo Foundation
Membership in Sigma Xi provides a way of reaching out to tomorrow's scientists. Chapter activities can forever change the outlook of students in search of meaning and direction.
— Ronald Weinberg, Lawrence Livermore National Labs
As the only society to represent all research scientists and not just those in my field, Sigma Xi has provided me with the opportunity to meet with several Congressmen to discuss my concerns about government funding for research.
— Loran Bieber, University of Michigan
As an engineer in industry, I value the opportunity to team-up with the science community to address common issues like the promotion of science and engineering literacy.
— Jean Trinko Mechler, IBM
I believe that Sigma Xi provides the best career development package for the young scientists, and as a mature scientist, I support these efforts through active membership.
— Meredith Mason Garcia, Tulane University
My chapter's Sigma Xi lecture series provides an oasis where I can escape to be refreshed and to keep abreast of science and scientific issues outside my own area of specialty.
— Howard Ceri, University of Calgary
To me the greatest value of Sigma Xi membership is the friendship of fellow scientists, many of whom are in fields other than my own.
— Virginia Lyons, University of Vermont
Sigma Xi promotes the idea of honor in science, something we should all promote.
— Lynn Lewis, Mary Washington College
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
— Thomas A. Edison
Being involved in Sigma Xi really truly helps one develop the sense of collegiality that is extremly important if you're going to succeed in any professional career, whether it's academic science or industry-related science.
— Emil T. Chuck, Sigma Xi member since 2003

Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering. The Greek letters "sigma" and "xi" form the acronym of the Society's motto, "Spoudon Xynones," which translates as "Companions in Zealous Research."

In modern language, it is correct to pronounce Xi as “zi” as in xylophone, “sigh” or “ksee.” See this audio pronunciation video.

Developing Scientific Intuition 

By Joel Primack, Fiscal Year 2019 President 

Joel PrimackExperienced scientists can often quickly guess the likely answers to scientific questions. They may even have good judgment regarding the promise of new avenues of research. Such intuition, together with broad knowledge, can make their scientific careers more successful and allow them to provide helpful guidance to junior researchers.  

How can such intuitive understanding be nurtured? I was fortunate to have had a wonderful professor in honors freshman physics, John Archibald Wheeler, who taught not only physics but also how to develop one’s scientific intuition. Wheeler’s rule was that when confronted with any scientific question, even just a homework problem, first make a guess about the answer before working it out in detail or learning the answer in some other way. Then keep track of how well the guess agreed with the correct answer. After many years of doing this, a scientist can become quite good at prediction in his or her field.

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