By the early 1990s the foundations and philosophy of physics community in Britain was both very active and fairly numerous, and in 1992 Chris Dewdney and his colleagues at Portsmouth organised a ‘UK Meeting on the Foundations of Physics’ that brought together a few dozen researchers and graduate students to share and discuss their current work. The idea proved very effective, and other groups followed suit. The format varied slightly (the second meeting in 1993 at St Andrews was part of a UK Summer School in Physics including e.g. a series of lectures by Chris Isham), but meetings invariably took place in September, lasted 3-5 days, with no parallel sessions, featuring a mix of physics talks and philosophy talks, and were run on a shoestring budget. There was no overarching institutional framework: every year some group or other in the foundations or philosophy of physics would simply organise a meeting, which by then had become a focal point for the UK community and other international researchers. There was no UK meeting in 2006, but a ‘One-day European Meeting on the Foundations of Physics’ took place in Utrecht, and from 2007 the meetings were styled ‘UK and European’. After a hiatus in 2008 and 2009 the series was revived with the 16th meeting in July 2010 organised by Guido Bacciagaluppi at Aberdeen. Since then an informal standing committee has made sure that volunteers continue to line up to organise the conferences, by now usually every other year. The 17th one (Munich 2013) was the first on an altogether larger scale, with up to 100 talks in parallel sessions and an especially strong representation of younger researchers. Finally, with the founding of the Philosophy of Physics Society the Foundations conferences (as they have affectionately come to be known) have now found a long-term institutional home.
Courtesy of Guido Bacciagaluppi and Jeremy Butterfield