Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

For more than 60 years, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have brought together the world's most famous scientists.

Category: Mini Lectures

Date: 5 July 2014

Duration: 11 min

Quality: HD MD SD

Subtitles: EN

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (2014) - For more than 60 years, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have brought together the world's most famous scientists.

This Mini Lecture gives insight into the world’s most prestigious science conference that took place 1951 in Lindau for the first time.

For more than 60 years the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have brought together the world’s most famous scientists. The main goals are to promote exchange between the prestigious researchers and talented young scientists and to bring science to a broader public. Societal and political themes have been discussed here often leading to decisions with ramifications leading beyond their purely scientific core. At the same time the Lindau meetings have established themselves as a respected platform for a lively exchange between young scientists and Nobel laureates. This year, you, more than 600 young scientists from 80 countries are invited to this exchange with 37 Nobel laureates. As we convene here for a week of lectures, panels and debates, we become part of a very special community extending a great tradition of an open exchange between generations and cultures. May you all benefit from this week and live the Lindau spirit: Educate, Inspire, Connect. Concerned about the isolation of German science in the post-war period, in 1949 two doctors in Lindau, Dr. Franz Karl Hein and Prof Gustav Wilhelm Parade, initiated the organization of a medical congress for the Lake Constance region. To bring together the doctors and researchers with major international scientists, they had the idea of inviting Nobel laureates from the disciplines medicine, chemistry and physics to the conference. They found a prestigious sponsor in Count Lennart Bernadotte. As a grandson of the Swedish king Gustav V, Bernadotte had valuable contacts to the Swedish royal family and the Nobel Committee in Sweden. In 1954 the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings was established with the aim of extending contacts to universities and putting the event on a solid financial footing. Its first president was Count Bernadotte, whose dedication inspired the annual meetings in the following years. He was followed in the post by his wife Sonja and since 2008 by their daughter Countess Bettina Bernadotte. The founders’ wish to embed German science into the international research context is seen in the name of the first event. Called the “European Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Medicine in Lindau“, it took place from June 10-14, 1951. Thirty thousand invitations were sent by mail to physicians in the German-speaking countries. With a budget of 12,000 deutschmarks the founders were able to bring seven Nobel laureates and some 400 participants to Lake Constance. Following the successful first meeting the focus shifted to the search for financial sponsors and to the invitation of highly qualified young scientists. At the third conference in 1953 student participants were able to experience the laureates up close and engage in discussions with them. The Lindau meeting had found its purpose, to be a platform for cross-generational exchange between outstanding scientists. At the same time the Lindau Meetings impacted society and policy and took the initiative in pushing for social-political change. An early sign of this was the Mainau Declaration in 1955. In a time overshadowed by the Cold War and the threat of nuclear warfare the Nobel laureates took a clear position: On July 15, 1955 18 Nobel Prize winners signed the declaration, among them Max Born, Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn. Within a year they were joined by 34 more Nobel Prize winners. Count Lennart Bernadotte had a great personal interest in environmental protection and sustainability and he brought these themes into the discussion at the Lindau Meetings early on. The 1961 Green Charter of Mainau was a further milestone in the social and political involvement of the Lindau laureates. The Charter was a call to anchor the principle of environmental protection in many aspects of public life. An issue mentioned in the Green Charter became a theme again and again in the following years In 1972 Willy Brandt, the 1971 Nobel peace laureate and West-German chancellor described environmental protection as an international task. In the 1970s the Lindau meetings also opened up to the field of economics after Ragnar Frisch and Jan Tinbergen were awarded the first Economics Prize in 1969. In the ensuing years economics laureates often took part in the interdisciplinary section until in 2004 the first regular meeting on economic science was held in Lindau. Now societal themes from an economic perspective became a focus. In 2008 Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus spoke about alternatives to unregulated capitalism and in 2011 Bill Gates opened the Lindau Meeting with a speech about the responsibility borne by scientific research. And I think that’s why I’m excited to be here. Because whether those innovations are a new vaccine for malaria, a new seed that helps farmer with very little farmland to grow not only enough for their family but enough to afford to send their kids to schools… These kinds of breakthroughs I think are exactly the opportunities that all of you young scientists will be able to participate in. And so as I congratulate you on your progress so far, I admonish you to consider the need to the poorest in the work that you do because I think the advances there will be particularly important. And without your attention to them it’s possible they will not take place. The 50th anniversary of the meeting in the year 2000 saw the establishment of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Chaired by Professor Wolfgang Schürer, the Foundation continues to inspire and influence the meeting in many ways. Since the beginning of the new millennium the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have initiated activities and projects to carry science out to the public beyond the annual gatherings. These include the website, the Lindau science blog, the online alumni directory and the Mediatheque, a unique collection of educational videos, scientific abstracts and lectures from more than 60 years by more than 400 Nobel laureates. Other activities, including the “Sketches of Science” exhibition and numerous publications, are part of the Mission Education created by the Council and the Foundation. Its aim is to propagate the scientific dialogue initiated in Lindau sustainably, globally and even beyond the boundaries of the Earth. Like you in your research I feel like an explorer. The same curiosity that brought you to your laureate science findings brought me to this laboratory in space, the Columbus Module of the International Space Station. Day by day on board of this unique laboratory we downlink science data, we collect samples for return to Earth, we get new instructions from the investigators who have proposed the experiments, we optimize the experiment processes, we analyze the results and discuss in a way that Columbus himself would have never dreamt about.


This Mini Lecture gives insight into the world’s most prestigious science conference that took place 1951 in Lindau for the first time.