A brief history
In September 2006 a meeting on the history of physics was held in Graz, Austria organised by Denis Weaire and Peter Schuster with the HoP Groups of the EPS and of the Austrian Physical Society. This was followed four years later in May 2010 by a meeting held in conjunction with the opening of the centre for the HoP ‘Echophysics’ in Schloss Pöllau, Austria. It was organised by Peter Schuster under the title of ‘Radiation and Mankind’ and was considerably more extensive than the 2006 meeting.
Following the success of these meetings it was suggested that European-wide history of physics conferences should be organised as a biennial event. In 2011 it was decided to form a steering committee comprising Denis Weaire, Peter Schuster, Malcolm Cooper and Edward Davis to pursue the concept.
A major point of discussion would be the balance of papers given by ‘historians interested in physics’ and ‘physicists interested in history’, - in other words, professional historians of science and practising physicists. It was decided that practitioners of both disciplines can learn much from each other and that this should be a central theme in the series.
The first in the series was held in Cambridge as a two-day conference with a leading theme ‘Electromagnetism and the road to Power’ in September 2014 at Trinity College under the Chairmanship of Edward Davis. It was supported financially primarily by the UK IOP but with substantial funding from the EPS. It became clear that there was no reason why we should restrict the conferences to Europe and consequently this conference became known as the 1st International Conference on the History of Physics
The 2016 conference took place in Pöllau, Austria, and followed much the same format as the first - that is with a theme, in this case ‘Invention, application and exploitation in the History of Physics’ but inviting papers on any aspect of the history of physics.
As the conference series became well established with the third held in San Sebastian, Spain many differing ideas abounded regarding the future form of the series, and thus it was deemed advisable to form an International Advisory Committee to oversee its development.
This has now been set up with a constitution and comprising nine members, many having an international standing and are drawn from as many countries as possible.
The IAC is recognised by the IOP and the EPS and is the body to consider and award future conferences and to advise local organisers on the format of the conference.