Last weekend saw the opening of the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. This year’s focus is on Physics. 580 young scientists from 89 countries and 39 Nobel Laureates participate in this year’s meetings. I had the privilege that I could join the opening events incl. the first day of presentations. Even though I’m certainly not in the target group of the event, I like to summarise some of the notable impressions that I have gathered.
On Saturday afternoon, there was an Innovation Forum on quantum technologies, divided into quantum communications (encryption), quantum sensors and quantum computing. I’m a beginner in all of those topics but my gut feeling was similar to the times when AI and neural networks were discussed in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, they have become a reality. The general tone of the discussions went into a similar direction: huge potential but quite some stuff to do in many years ahead. It has been refreshing to see that companies like Bosch are not put off by the long term nature of the investment. Apparently, having physicists as board members helps in that respect. Companies / groups to watch in quantum computing seem to be Microsoft Quantum, IBM Q and Atos.
Notable quotes from the Sunday opening speeches came from Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt (Physics 2011) when he asked the [science] community to listen and to be respectful and patient when discussing with people who are inclined towards neglecting scientific results and declaring any unwanted scientifc conclusion to be “fake news”. Germany’s Secretary for Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, pointed to the example of Alexander von Humboldt for his non-nationalistic, science-focused attitude and asked for international collaboration, especially regarding climate change. Countess Bernadotte advertised the Lindau Declaration in her opening speech.
Unfortunately, I only had time for attending 2 Agora talks on Monday morning. Still, even lacking the knowledge of university physics, it has been fascinating to follow. I especially liked W. Moerner (Nobel Prize 2014) explaining how to trap individual molecules via an Anti-Brownian-Electrokinetic (ABEL) trap.
Besides the official program, there is always the informal conversations and interactions with students and laureates. Once, someone said that a conference’s presentations are only there to trigger and inspire those conversations during breaks, over lunch, dinner, a cup of coffee. I strongly believe in that. Therefore I can only congratulate foundations like the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (with LINO) or the Klaus-Tschira-Stiftung (with HLF) for nourishing that fruitful dialogue.