"echophysics" is an acronym for the initial letters of the European Center for the History of Physics and is intended to evoke the mountain nymph Echo of Greek mythology, who reminds us of the meaning of the word time by repeating what others have said before her: 'echo' thus stands for the task of this European center for the history of physics, namely to evoke all perceptions, feelings, observations, methods and results anew, which once inspired our ancestor’s ideas, discoveries and records.
If it is true that the basic principle of our modern time is acceleration, then this means a progressive 'present shrinkage'. Today, not only the future but also the past is coming ever closer to us. It becomes an urgent task for physicists to become aware of the past of their own discipline, to process their physics history, and to pass this knowledge on to the public.
The physicist and writer Dr. Peter Maria Schuster, who is also President of the History of Physics (HoP) Group of the European Physical Society (EPS, www.eps.org) and Chair of the History of Physics section of the Austrian Physical Society (ÖPG, www.oepg.at), set up the first European center for the history of physics in Pöllau. Since November 2009, the municipality of Pöllau - in agreement with the municipalities of Pöllauer Tal, and the Pöllauer Tal tourism association (www.naturpark-poellauertal.at) - rent the exhibition rooms in Pöllau on a long-term basis to the permanent exhibition echophysics.
The European Physical Society (EPS), which has over 100,000 members - physicists from 40 countries - provides spiritual support for the project to set up this first European center for the history of physics in Pöllau - Styria, in the green heart of Europe.
What is the aim of echophysics?
Our first European center for the history of physics has set itself the goal to communicate the history of European physics, but also the history of physicists to the interested public, starting with a national focus on Austria and Styria, in Pöllau. This is to be achieved in a permanent show and with changing exhibitions of historically valuable devices. Documentation, images, biographies, films and legacies of physicists, as well as didactic presentations of important physical experiments and phenomena supplement the exhibits and place them in their cultural, technical and economic context. The showpieces, with which outstanding discoveries of modern physics were made, bear witness to the craftsmanship and technics used in the last two centuries and are still valuable for our scientific work today.
For the heritage of our European physics, an invaluable cultural asset of Europe, survives not only in scientific data and research reports, but also in historical scientific equipment and components, in sketches, photographs, films and biographies of physicists.
For this purpose, generally understandable lectures on topics of physics are to be held on a regular basis in order to create ever new incentives for interested citizens to visit the museum. The lecturers will mainly be emeritus professors and lecturers of physics from Austrian universities. In addition, echophysics organizes international conferences for experts in European physics history under the title: The Roots of Physics in Europe.
Prof. Dr. Peter Maria Schuster (1939–2019)
Prof. Schuster initiated and opened in 2010 in Pöllau, Styria, the first European Center for the History of Physics 'ECHOPHYSICS' as well as the 'Victor Franz Hess Society', which he founded in 2007. From 2007 to 2017, he chaired the 'History of Physics' group of the European Physical Society (EPS). He founded the 'History of Physics' section of the Austrian Physical Society (ÖPG) in 2006 and chaired it until 2015. On his initiative, the biennial conference series ‘International Conference on the History of Physics’ was established in 2014 (see 'Symposia').
Born in Vienna on October 26, 1939, Schuster studied history, Japanese studies, mathematics and physics at the University of Vienna and received his doctorate in physics in 1967. After a one-year fellowship in literature in 1968, he began his industrial career as head of marketing at Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, Germany. In 1976 he built up his own trading company in Germany and in 1982 founded the industrial company 'AOL-Dr. Schuster - Analytik, Optik, Lasertechnik' in Vienna.
Schuster received the 'Golden Medal of Merit of the Province of Salzburg' in 2004, the 'Great Medal of Honor of the Province of Styria' in 2016, the 'Badge of Honor of the Market Town of Pöllau' in 2018 and the 'Medal of Honor in Silver of the Municipality of Pöllauberg' in 2012. In 2016, he was awarded the title Professor. Schuster was a member of the scientific advisory board of the Christian Doppler Fund in Salzburg (since 1999 and member of the board of trustees since 2014), a member of the Austrian P.E.N. Club (since 2000) and the Austrian Writers' Association (since 2014), a member of Academia Europaea (since 2009), and an honorary member of the ÖPG (since 2019).
Following his sudden death on December 26, 2019, he is survived by his wife, Dr. Lily Wilmes, and their three sons and two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.