Let's keep promoting the scientific cultural heritage across Europe

L. Cifarelli   23-03-2016    Leggi in PDF
The Colégio de Jesus of the University of Coimbra, where the Cabinet of Physics is located.

The Historic Sites (HS) Committee of the European Physical Society (EPS) was created at the end of 2011 when the HS initiative was started.

Current Members of the EPS HS Committee are mostly Past Presidents of the EPS: Martin Huber, Maciek Kolwas, Ove Poulsen, Fritz Wagner and myself (chairing the Committee). In addition the Committee includes Alan Chodos (representing the American Physical Society, APS), Antigone Marino (Chair of the EPS Young Minds Committee) and Peter Maria Schuster (Chair of the EPS History of Physics Group).

More than 50 proposals of Historic Sites were received, either spontaneous or channelled through National Member Societies. Let us recall that proposals can be made at any time from the EPS web site. The HS Committee examines the proposals typically three times per year. So far 47 proposals of EPS Historic Sites were accepted and concern the following 20 Countries (2 of them outside geographical Europe): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, India, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

Until now 28 EPS Historic Sites have been inaugurated in 16 different Countries:

1. The Goldfish Fountain of the Physics Institute of Panisperna Street – Fermi Centre, Rome, Italy, 20 April 2012
2. Laboratory "Les Cosmiques", Col du Midi, Chamonix, France, 23 July 2012
3. Hoza 69, Warsaw, Poland, 10 January 2013
4. The Study of Bruno Pontecorvo – JINR, Dubna, Russia, 22 February 2013
5. The Hill of Arcetri, Florence, Italy, 17 May 2013
6. The Villa Griffone in Pontecchio Marconi, Bologna, Italy, 26 May 2013
7. The Observatory of Tycho Brahe, Hven Island, Landskrona, Sweden, 11 September 2013
8. The LAL-LURE Accelerator Complex, Orsay, Paris, France, 13 September 2013
9. PTB, Formerly PTR, The National Metrology Institute, Berlin, Germany, 8 October 2013
10. The Cathedral, Kamien Pomorski, Poland, 11 October 2013
11. The Neutrino Experiment at MTA Atomki, Debrecen, Hungary, 25 October 2013
12. The Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark, 3 December 2013
13. The AdA Storage Ring at the INFN Frascati National Laboratory, Frascati, Rome, Italy, 5 December 2013
14. The European Birthplace of the Atomic Timekeeping – NPL, Teddington, UK, 31 January 2014
15. The Blackett Laboratory, London, UK, 30 April 2014
16. The Fabra Observatory, Barcelona, Spain, 9 May 2014
17. The Study of Georgi Nadjakov, Sofia, Bulgaria, 23 May 2014
18. The Synchro-Cyclotron, SC – CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, 19 June 2014
19. The Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratory and Lorentz Institute, Leiden, The Netherlands, 9 February 2015
20. The Fasor Lutheran Secondary School, Budapest, Hungary, 23 April 2015
21. The Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany, 6 May 2015
22. The Students Residence (Residencia de Estudiantes), Madrid, Spain, 13 May 2015
23. The Mount Vesuvius Observatory, Hercolaneum, Naples, Italy, 23 May 2015
24. The Institute for Radium Research, Vienna, Austria, 28 May 2015
25. The Einstein House, Bern, Switzerland, as Joint APS-EPS Historic Site, 14 September 2015
26. The Hotel Metropole, Brussels, Belgium, 24 October 2015
27. The Ernst Mach Physics Institute, Prague, Czech Republic, 18 February 2016
28. The Cabinet of Physics of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal, 11 March 2016.

Other inaugurations are already scheduled in 2016. For each inauguration event, a plaque is unveiled in the presence of the local representatives and authorities. The EPS President or his representative (Past President or Member of the EPS Executive Committee or Member of the EPS HS Committee) attends the ceremony. For each ceremony, a news is published right away in the electronic newsletter e-EPS and on the EPS web site, and an extended article in published afterwards in EPN. So far, this initiative has been a series of success stories: while stamping significant places for the history and the progress of physics, it provides visibility to physics and to the physics community and, at the same time, enhances some spirit of belonging to the EPS.

I had the pleasure to participate in the last inauguration event in Portugal. The Cabinet of Physics of the University of Coimbra contains a remarkable collection of 18th and 19th century instruments on exhibition. The Cabinet is located at the Colégio de Jesus, one of the oldest Jesuit colleges in the world. The building has been adapted by the Marquis of Pombal, who expelled the Jesuits in 1772, to serve the purpose of transmitting Natural Philosophy, in particular Newtonian Science. The Cabinet houses a collection of scientific and didactic instruments publicly exhibited in two large rooms, which keep the original atmosphere even with the original shelves, tables and chairs. One of the rooms is a true recreation of a Physics Cabinet of the second half of 18th century, where physicist Giovanni Dalla Bella (1730-1823) was teaching (he was called by the Marquis of Pombal from Padova, Italy, where he taught, together with other science professors). Thanks to its unique characteristics, this collection of instruments is among the most notable and rare in the world. The instruments from the 18th century are considered by experts true art pieces, I may say real "jewels".

Let's keep promoting the scientific cultural heritage across Europe and beyond.

Luisa Cifarelli
SIF President

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