Frontiers of Quantum and Mesoscopic Thermodynamics (FQMT) Conferences

History of the FQMT conferences


The very beginning of the series of the FQMT conferences goes back to August of 2002, when the International Conference on Quantum Limits to the Second Law was held in San Diego, and to one of its principal organizers, Vladislav Čápek, called Vláďa by his numerous colleagues and friends. Even though Vláďa was very seriously ill at that time, he still had the courage to participate at this conference. A week after he returned to Prague from San Diego, he went to the hospital. Even in the hospital, he thought about the idea to organize in Prague a conference on quantum thermodynamics, as a sequel of the San Diego conference. Vláďa died on October 28, 2002.

The idea to organize some special meeting in memory of Vladislav Čápek, arose in summer 2003, when one of us, Theo Nieuwenhuizen, during a visit to the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, became aware of the 20th General Conference of the European Physical Society Condensed Matter Division (CMD20), scheduled for mid July 2004 in Prague, Vladislav's hometown. A few days later the second out of a long line of happy coincidences occurred: Václav Špička appeared in Dresden and the idea was discussed and considered from various perspectives. Václav was already involved in the organization of the EPS meeting and he would see whether it was a good idea to organize a special session in it, or a small satellite meeting afterwards. By October it became clear that a special meeting was the best option, with the possibility of people joining both meetings, as several did. The Scientific and Local Organization Committees were formed and, in several rounds, the speakers and participants were invited. The reactions were very positive and only in a small fraction of cases the agenda's could not match. In the meantime, Václav was very involved in getting a good venue and affordable lodging for the happening. After several alternatives had been considered, we got the privilege to make use of the Wallenstein Palace, the seat of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, for the first two days. It all ended up in a four day conference, the first Frontiers of Quantum and Mesoscopic Thermodynamics conference - the FQMT'04; the second part of the conference was in the Masaryk Residence Halls, at walking distance from the hotel Diplomat, where most participants of the conference stayed.

The conference, held from July 26 to July 29, 2004, was attended by about 110 physicists from 22 countries. A total of 86 contributions were presented. Each of the four days of the conference was organized to have four single invited sessions, two during morning, two during afternoon to ensure that all participants can participate and discuss during the every invited lecture. The contributed papers were discussed within the late afternoon/evening poster session held in the Masaryk Residence Halls on Wednesday.

Of the special events connected to the conference, we may mention: a lunch with senators; a press conference where a selected group of participants, notably Tony Leggett, were interviewed; the Monday afternoon session on Quantum Thermodynamics devoted to the memory of Vladislav Čápek, whose efforts were recalled in the opening lecture by Theo; the reception in the garden of the Palace; the evening lecture by Nobel Laureate Tony Leggett; the conference dinner on the last evening. A truly unusual event was the standing ovation at the opening of Václav's lecture, expressing gratitude for the large efforts he had made for the case of each and every participant. Last but not least, there was, of course, the marvelous surrounding of the city of Prague.

The second FQMT conference (FQMT'08) was held in Prague, Czech Republic at the Pyramida Hotel from July 28 to August 2, 2008. The conference was attended by about 170 physicists from 32 countries. A total of 162 contributions were presented. Most of the six days of the conference was organized to have four single invited sessions, two during the morning and two during the afternoon to ensure that all participants could participate and discuss during the every invited lecture. The only exceptions were on Tuesday afternoon, when two parallel sessions were organized and Saturday, when the program consisted of only two morning sessions. The contributed papers were discussed within the late afternoon/evening poster session held in the Pyramida Hotel on Tuesday.

Of the special events connected to the conference, we notably mention: the reception in the garden of the Wallenstein Palace on Monday; the evening lectures by Marlan Scully and Raymond Chiao in Simon and Juda church followed by the concert of classical music on Wednesday; the evening lecture by Gora Shlyapnikov followed by the jazz concert in the Pyramida Hotel on Thursday; and the conference dinner on the last evening in the cellars of the Břevnov monastery during which participants could also listen to the organ concert in the beautiful baroque monastery's church.

Already at the end of the FQMT'08 conference it became clear that the continuation of the FQMT conference series is desirable. During 2009 it was decided that the period between the conferences would be shortened to follow rapid developments of the physics involved and the next FQMT conference would be held already in the summer of 2011.


Theo M. Nieuwenhuizen, Peter D. Keefe and Václav Špička