According to The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind:

In March 1986, Las Vegas newspapers buzzed with rumors that the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino had suffered its worst weekly take in history – including the week of its terrible fire. MGM had made the mistake of hosting a big physics conference. The scientists, it turned out, didn’t care for neon cowboys, tiger shows, topless barmaids and other distractions. In fact, they complained after returning home that these things had interfered with their concentration at seminars. Vegas cabbies got real mileage from this story and presumably generous tips too. No Las Vegas hotel has ever invited the physicists back.

Is the above story true?

  • 4
    I did some research but I am coming up short of a real answer. I found evidence that the APS did indeed meet in LA in March of 1986. Apparently this guy spoke there. (mit.edu/~kardar/research/seminars.html) This guy gives a first hand account, but I am not sure if I trust him. (infinite-energy.com/iemagazine/issue72/marchmadness.html) He quotes a couple of headlines which do not appear anywhere else on the internet. He attributes some of these stories to the Las Vegas Sun. Oct 8, 2017 at 19:36
  • 2
    The Sun does not have complete searchable archives going back to 1986. (lasvegassun.com/news/history/archive/) True or not, the American Physical Society repeats a MUCH shorter version of the claim on their page. (aps.org/publications/apsnews/199908/knowledge.cfm) This letter to the editor of some APS publication says he was there but is not exactly authoritative. letter to the editor of some APS thing. Supports the notion. Contains a quote which appears nowhere else on the internet. aps.org/publications/apsnews/201308/letters.cfm. All in all, this FEELS like an urban legend. Oct 8, 2017 at 19:38
  • 3
    Worth noting that APS March Meeting is huge - easily 10k attendees, one of the biggest in physics. It moves around the USA each year. Within physics circles, it's a common urban legend that lots of Las Vegas hotel-casinos were unhappy with the revenue from the 1986 March Meeting, and put pressure on the conference centre to not have them back - but I've never heard any proof. Note that March Meeting went back to Vegas in 2023 (after this question was asked) - and their advert for the meeting references the 1986 story.
    – Jack B
    Feb 5 at 14:45
  • 5
    On first reading, I thought the issue was going to be that they broke the bank by being too good at math/physics. Feb 5 at 20:24
  • 4
    @Evargalo Well, the conference in question (inspirehep.net/conferences/965710?ui-citation-summary=true) was from March 31 to April 4, 1986 so from Monday to Friday. I guess this says a lot about the accuracy of the reporting.
    – TimRias
    Feb 8 at 11:13


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