Interesting observation from the programme committe chair at the Speakers’ Reception that Prague could well be considered the origin of international big science collaboration.
Four hundred years ago Tycho Brahe was a Danish astronomer, determined to make the most accurate astronomical observations that were possible with the technology of the day. He had previously had generous funding from the Danish/Norwegian king (up to 4% of the united countries’ GDP, plus the gift of an island off the coast near Copenhagen for his observatory!) but when that had been withdrawn had come to Prague to seek funding from the Holy Roman Emperor. Here he met Johannes Kepler, a German mathematician with the ability to use Tycho’s results to derive equations for planetary motion that would later be used by Newton to derive the laws of universal gravitation that we still (with a bit of modification by Einstein) use today.
Good to see that the conference hotel commemorates this by having two of its parallel rooms named “Kepler” and “Tycho”, while the room at the university where we had the reception this evening dates was already 200 years old in the 17th Century. Nothing like starting the conference with a challenge to have a similar impact 😉