63rd Lindau Noble Laureate Meeting
34 Nobel Laureates and more than 600 promising young scientists from 80 countries met last week in Lindau on Lake Constance, Germany, for a scientific dialogue, to exchange knowledge and ideas, to share the enthusiasm for science, and to make new contacts.
The Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting was established in 1951 following an idea by the two physicians, Dr. Franz Hein and Professor Gustav Wilhelm Parade from Lindau, and Count Lennart Bernadotte at Wisborg, a member of the Swedish royal family. Since then, the meetings focus alternately on medicine and physiology, physics, chemistry, and economic sciences. This year chemists have been invited to Lindau.
Peter Agre (left, 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), John Hopkins Malaria Research Insitute, USA, is surrounded by young researchers and discussions during the break.
While every year several thousand young researchers worldwide apply to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, an international, multi-stage selection process chooses the best of them to attend the meeting.
The participating young scientists greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and exchange with peers from the US, Germany, China, South Africa, Pakistan, Viet Nam, Uruguay, etc. This gave them the chance to learn how they do research in each other’s countries, what they are interested in, what their concerns are, and their interests and their thoughts about specific topics. The job prospects in specific countries were another topic.
During the week they had many opportunities also to get in touch with the Nobel Laureates and to experience that they are “a source of wisdom”, but also very friendly. “You can really talk to them, it seems that they are researchers like us”, is something I heard often.
During an intense time with lectures, discussions on critical topics like green chemistry and communication inside the community and to the public, as well as during social events, the young people could learn what it means to be a scientist on a personal and professional level.
Steven Chu (1997 Nobel Prize in Physics), Stanford University and 12th United States Secretary of Energy, USA, for example, emphasized the importance of critical thinking and of questioning things, also from prestigious persons. And he advises to “Use your brain and your heart.”
Martin Lee Chalfie (2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), Columbia University, USA, encouraged the young people to not focus too much on barriers like funding or missing interest for a specific topic when looking for their research interests, but to go on with doing what they are really excited about, where they have real talent.
Avram Hershko (2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), Technion, Israel, thinks good mentors are essential. He also recommends finding an important topic not in the focus of the mainstream. He himself is still active in the lab and gains lots of excitement and fun from benchwork and describes science as a curiosity-driven adventure.
“Go into science because of the little joys in the lab”, is also what Steven Chu said at the farewell ceremony on the island Mainau on Lake Constance.
Robert Huber (1988 Nobel Prize for Chemistry), Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany, gave an introduction to the Bavarian Evening and Sir Harold W. Kroto (1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), Florida State University, USA, held a lecture entitled: Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse.
In short, the recommendation of the participating young scientists to others is: Apply!
The meeting is organized by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings – Countess Bettina Bernadotte at Wisborg, daughter of Count Lennart Bernadotte, is the president – and the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings at Lake Constance.
Farewell Ceremony on the island Mainau (right) and the boat trip from Lindau to the island and back with food, opportunities to talk, and also to dance with the heraldic animals from the emblem of Baden-Württemberg, sponsor of the trip.