The International Symposia on Applications of Laser Techniques to Fluid Mechanics, held biennially in Lisbon since 1982, have been a continually renewed source of state-of-the-art experimental fluid mechanics for two decades. This series often referred to simply as the Lisbon Symposia”, was conceived and founded by James H. Whitelaw in 1981. He formed an international organizing committee consisting of people who were mainly experts in the subject of laser Doppler anemometry, and indeed the first several Symposia focused specifically on the application of laser Doppler anemometry.

Prof. Whitelaw’s selection of Lisbon as a venue and Prof. D.F.G. Durão and colleagues as local organizers proved to be a brilliant choice. Lisbon and the meeting facilities of the Gulbenkian Foundation offered such a beautiful location and the Portuguese local committee organized the meetings so well that holding the Symposia elsewhere was never seriously considered.

Publication of the papers presented at each Symposium always took the form of a complete set of all contributed papers in a pre-print proceedings volume distributed at the Symposium, followed by a volume of selected and extended papers published about one year later. The first three volumes titled Laser Anemometry in Fluid Mechanics were published in Lisbon. In subsequent years it was decided to publish through a major scientific publishing house because they could achieve considerably wider distribution of the authors’ works. Whitelaw arranged for Springer to serve this role, and seven books were published in this series; the tenth and last volume based on the year 2000 symposium being given the rather general title of Laser Techniques for Fluid Mechanics In 2002 it was decided that the journal Experiments in Fluids could offer the authors contributing to the Lisbon Symposium even greater exposure than the book series. Presently, papers selected at the Conference are published in a special issue of Experiments in Fluids, after a peer reviewing process.

There is no doubt that laser techniques now represent the most important diagnostic tools in experimental fluid mechanics. Technological developments in lasers, detectors, electronics and computers have continued to be the source of new techniques, improved accuracy, higher spatial or temporal resolution and new applications. This progress promises to continue in the future.

In: R. J. Adrian and C. Tropea, Experiments in Fluids, Vol. 36, No. 1, Editorial, 2004