THE SPIRIT OF LINDAU  (2012) - A video by Nature on the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The Spirit of Lindau The Spirit of Lindau is the openness of the discussion and the passion for science that inspires and connects beyond the day. For sixty years very unusual scientific meetings have been held in a small town on Lake Constance in Germany. These days large numbers of Nobel Prize winners come to the meetings in Lindau The universe starts with this period we call insulation. They come to speculate, to theorise, to argue and above all to meet the future generation. The Spirit of Lindau is the combination of scientific excellence, deep passion for science, curiosity and the insight that science does not provide final answers. I mean some scientists I think are not quite as doubtful as they ought to be. You know my friend François Jacob once said its not science that is dangerous its ignorance. After the second world war the Germans had been isolated for quite some time so two doctors here in Lindau, in this medieval town which is behind me, they decided they wanted to invite some Nobel winners in physiology or medicine to come here and to tell them what had happened during the war. This was our father, Dr. Franz Karl Hein, this was Professor Parade, this is Count Leonardo Bernardetto. My father was in cancer research until 1935 at the University of Munich, in 1935 his boss Prof Döderlein retired, his successor was a staunch Nazi and my father who had been a staunch anti-Nazi of course refused to become a member of the party and upon which he was thrown out of the University of Munich. Dr. Hein moved his family to Lindau where he was able to set up in private practice. And after the war he became active in local politics. Our father was a member of the City council in 1948/49 and persuaded the city to accept such a scientific meeting which by that time the idea had escalated to inviting Nobel Laureates the best of the best. It took him a little while to persuade the City Council but the Lord Mayor Geheimrat Dr. Frisch supported him. There was a tremendous atmosphere of wanting to break out of the isolation that had been experienced and wanting to move forward and wanting to make connections again. They approached the Count Leonardo Bernardetto from the Swedish Royal Family and together they actually managed to get some money to get the town to help them and in 1951 there was the first meeting. Having being born in 1945 I was barely not even quite six years old so of course I had to come along as the little girl. I have some very, very special memories of these times as I grew up with this. Then this brilliant idea came up, we should invite young people, students, young researchers. And even though the idea may not have emanated with Count Leonardo Bernardo he was the one who actually made it happen. He organised the 1954 meeting which was the first one where really hundreds of students were present. The students met many scientists who fled from Germany during the war and had only returned because of the Lindau meetings. Indeed for some of these scientists Lindau became a place for reconciliation between estranged friends and former colleagues. In some cases it was possible and in some cases, as for example Einstein who never came back to Germany, and in his correspondence berated Max Born for having returned and Max Born mentions in one of his letters, one of the positive experiences was the meeting in Lindau. Max Born came back after the war and he’s here in Lindau together with his old student Werner Heisenberg who stayed here and who tried to develop a German atomic bomb and they are talking peacefully with each other. There was an atmosphere that was very special here that allowed for not only a scientific meeting but also for human encounters. For many years the Lindau meetings were German speaking and most of those who came were from the countries around the lake: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Its amazing for me even to tell you that I came here first forty-nine years ago when I had just finished my studies of chemistry in Graz. I was sponsored by some government agency who’s name I forgot. I stayed in a little room and I met for the first time some of the great names I had only heard about or read about in books. And actually drank a glass of beer with me, shock hands with me and discussed the science with me. I’ll never forget this experience. I was lucky in meeting some very modest but very influential Nobel laureates, one was Staudinger who was a giant in the field of big molecules such as nylon which was fairly new in those days. And Hans Krebs who was a pioneer of metabolism, a field I later worked in myself. And these people simply said very important things as asides, they were not pompous, they were not arrogant, they were extremely modest. The meetings themselves were always held on Lindau, but soon the grand closing ceremony was staged on Count Leonardo Bernardetto’s private island in Mainau and near his family home. The present chairman of the meetings Wolfgang Schürer describes the next much more significant development. Count Leonard was a man fascinated to reach out to the next generation. This is how we met and how we forged a bond if you wish. When I met him he was already quite an elderly gentleman and he was always in a very, very warm spirit. And the best thing I recall is to see the radiance of his smile when we started reaching out internationally. When the laureates said we are very, very happy that this is now turning into a very international meeting. I think the internationality of this meeting is one which greatest attributes and it grew to enormous proportion in this seventy different countries: It’s really unbelievable more than representative in the UN sitting at one day in the general assembly. The Bernadotte family continues to support the meetings through Count Leonardo’s daughter Countess Bettina. Countess Bettina is combining the best of both of her parents, the independence of thought and the vision of her father and the warmth of him, and the perseverance of her mother. I certainly did not expect to be the president of the Lindau Nobel meetings when I was a child, but it was from the beginning very interesting to meet the laureates. We used to be there whenever possible as children and used to sit there during lunch, pouring water from one glass to another through small tubes and then trying the experiments you can do at a lunch table. It was very nice to grow into that meeting and to see the dialogue between these young people and the laureates and it felt in the end quite natural that this should happen and I should take over the presidency from my mother. I know of no other event where so many people give so freely of their time. So many people come together with so much enthusiasm and not least so many donors, commercial organisations, foundations put so much money into it and expect nothing whatsoever in return. What is quite interesting is that when I came to Lindau first which was about four or five years ago, I hadn’t even known that my father had been here that time forty-five years before that. I think this is one of the very few events that we’ve ever been to together where you actually have industry and science meet at this level. I think it probably wouldn't hurt to underline what Count Leonardo’s dream was, how would you put it? I think his dream was to provide a place for an inter-generational dialogue and without regard to, be it nationalism and nationality, be it religion, be it gender, he wanted to have one place where for one week the world could meet the world of science. To listen to the lectures even for me of this wonderful discoveries and how they started simply. The beginning was always very simple. Look at Shimomura. He was diving into waters in the night and because of the UV found this jelly fish, that is shining. Now everybody in the audience yesterday raised their hand to say: “yes we do use GFP”. It started from nothing, from an observation of somebody. Hearing people like John Mather talk about the future of the cosmos or David Gross talk about his space time quantise and this is going to explain the unification of force, this is just such romantic wonderful stuff. I love it. There’s an amazing story of Charlie Towns who was developing the maser. When he was doing this two Nobel prize winners came in and told him it won’t work, you know it won’t work, you are using up the departmental money. And he said basically I was already an associated professor so I knew they couldn't fire me. And I went on and did it and of course we have everything around us lasers, masers and things of this nature. So the advice from that is don’t listen to Nobel prize winners! I think these people at this conference are the movers and shakers of the next few decades. These are key people from all over the world and I want them to understand, that one of the reasons that there’s a conflict in a lot of peoples minds, in the public minds, with regard to science, is that it’s the construct that human beings have developed to determine what is true, what could be true and what might be true. And that is seen, I think, by many as dangerous for people who want to control society on the basis of dogma. I think there’s no question that the beauty of Lindau, with its wonderful lake setting is an inspiration for everybody and it is part of the reason why people unwind here and enter into the spirit of informality, which I think is so crucial. You have outstanding people, and you have keen capable young scientists. And they all talk to each other. They bump into each other and they all have tremendous pleasure from talking about the science and what it is to be a scientist. This experience has been fantastic. The meeting is unlike any other I’ve been to, and its just because of the interactions between the students and the laureates, there’s no intermediate. The purpose of the meeting is to bring together students from different countries and have them interact with laureates and with each other. And that’s exactly what happened, I’ve been blown away by the meeting. He likes me because I'm brilliant, charming and enormously modest. I remember here at Lindau once a student told me: “you know what's wrong with scientists, you’re never sure of anything”. You ask them something and they say yes well we think that and he said that’s one of the weaknesses of science and I told him this is one of the grandeur of science. This idea that you might be wrong. Einstein said it very well when he said “no experiment will ever prove that I'm correct but one experiment at any time can provide that I'm wrong”. And if everybody had this feeling of the possibility that they might be wrong, it would be the end of biggarty, or fanaticism. In those days science was considered to be the only hope for the future and I must admit I still see this as our only hope. For almost fifty years later, even more so now than in those days. Of course to see the students coming out of the discussions with the Nobel laureates with their eyes shining and I think its really like Disney, those eyes that are like stars. They come out and it’s a marvellous experience. So we are in this beautiful place, this beautiful setting and a lot of people think that science is the anthesis of those sorts of things, of this natural beauty and its actually the opposite. Science is the substance of this beauty and I think that’s fabulous. How many times in a lifetime of student does he have an opportunity to meet twenty, thirty, forty, fifty Nobel laureates and just to knock on their doors, to bump into them in the dining room, to sit with them over dinner, and to ask them whatever was in their heart. This was my dream as a kid and here all of a sudden you can see the Lindau Foundation can make this dream true.

THE SPIRIT OF LINDAU (2012)

A video by Nature on the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

THE SPIRIT OF LINDAU (2012)

A video by Nature on the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Cite


Specify width: px

Share

COPYRIGHT

Cite


Specify width: px

Share

COPYRIGHT