The American Geophysical Union has a good record for responding to the professional needs of geophysics. In its conduct of large annual meetings, publications, and international interaction, the Union has been unsurpassed among other scientific organizations. Until recently, however, there was an important type of meeting that the Union had not sponsored—gatherings similar to the Gordon Research Conferences. These are meetings in which about a hundred scientists focus on a rather limited agenda and explore it in depth for five days. The conferences are held in a location where attendees can live and eat in a common facility free of the distractions of the large city or of the telephone.