G’day from down under

Hello Lindau, Australia says G’day!

 

There are 13 Young Scientists who form the Australian contingent at this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. We are a happy bunch of people from very different backgrounds, united by a common love of science and life, and eternally grateful to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Council, Science Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF, Australia) and the Australian Academy of Science for selecting us and sponsoring this opportunity of a lifetime.

At last year’s 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Australia hosted an International Day. This year, our mission objectives are simple, and I suspect, similar to your own. We are here to learn, exchange ideas, hopefully contribute to the global scientific community and use our experiences at Lindau to help make our home a better place. But we also want to get to know all of you, and show you what Australians have to offer.

First, there’s Emma Beckett, the fun-loving, chatty and incredibly knowledgeable nutritionist and science star, instantly recognisable by her ever changing coloured hair streaks (it’s pink this week at Lindau); Amelia Parker, the biomedical engineer currently working in cancer research at UNSW Australia, a Sydney girl who grew up in the Shire. Tristan Clemons, who works on the therapeutic applications of nanoparticles in various human health conditions, and who is also a champion hockey player aiming for the 2016 Olympics in Rio; Mark Zammit, our resident physicist; Paul Berkman, a gentle and knowledgeable giant (one of two CSIRO scientists here this year); Bronson Philippa from far North Queensland, and Elena Tucker from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (Melbourne), to name a few.

 

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Emma Beckett with Martin Chalfie (and a little koala) at the Summer Festival of Science.

 

Australia is a land of opportunity, a beautiful multicultural melting pot, filled with people from all cultures and different walks of life. Just ask any of us, especially Eva Alvarez de Eulate, Kang Liang, Thomas Oon Han Loke, Vipul Gupta and Tim Zhao. Even despite the perennial issues of science funding, common throughout the world, professional scientific bodies such as the Australian Academy of Science as well as the Science and Industry Endowment Fund have strived to look after the next generation of Australian Researchers.

Being an island continent, geographically isolated from the rest of the world after separating from Gondwana ~100 million years ago, Australia has always fostered enormous diversification as well as uniqueness in its inhabitants (hence our strict quarantine laws – sorry folks!). Australian scientists are highly adaptable. Australians are intrinsically trained to think outside the box. Bred in a tough environment, we are resourceful and aim at finding innovative solutions to difficult problems. Australians are also adventurous, and at least three of us are attending as delegates of other countries (Nicholas Chilton – UK, Nathanael Lampe – France, Thomas Higgins – Ireland).

 

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Amelia Parker exploring Lindau.

 

Australians are generally open-minded and appreciate everything. We admire the efficiency of the German railway system (if only someone could help translate the German railway and public transport system back to our Australian situation!), the solar panels in the countryside, German industry, and the natural beauty of Lindau and Bavaria.

Australians are brave and resourceful. Most of us are staying in Hotel Schöngarten Garni, which is on the mainland, approximately 35 minutes walk from the meeting venue Inselhalle. On Saturday 27 June, Amelia Parker, who will be presenting in Prof Harold Varmus’ Master Class in cancer research, provided a perfect example of this. On her very lonesome, with nothing but dead-reckoning and a few general directions from our lovely host, she set out from our hotel on foot and managed to navigate the criss-crossing path across the train-tracks, past a swarm of bees, over hill and under dale, until she reached the Inselhalle. And then she proceeded to teach the path to the rest of us.

Above all, Australians are loyal. From an early Age, we are taught the importance of “mateship” and social responsibility. Time and time again, history – both in times of peace and also, unfortunately, in times of war – has shown an Australian to be someone who you want to be standing next to you. We make great research lab partners, travel companions, and above all, great mates.

So please come and say hi to us! We’ll be the ones giving out the little koalas. We are a lively and happy bunch, friendly and approachable. We would love to hear your stories, and above all, make new friends.

 

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Some of the members of the Australian contingent outside the Shine Dome at the Australian Academy of Science, Canberra.

 


Slider image: Adrian Midgley (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Daily Recap, Sunday, 28 June 2015

Over the course of the next five days, you’ll receive a daily recap. The idea behind it is to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. The daily recaps will feature blog posts, photos and videos from the mediatheque.

Yesterday, the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting started in grand fashion with the festive opening ceremony featuring the entrance of the laureates, German Federal president Joachim Gauck and the welcome address by Countess Bettina Bernadotte.

 

Video of the day:

 

 

This is not the only video from today! You are more than welcome to browse through our mediatheque for more.

 

Blog post of the day:

Of course, our blog post of the day is the one by William Moerner, who offers us a valuable insight into his “Thoughts on Multidisciplinarity“. It is a real first for our blog to have a Nobel Laureate write an article. A fact we feel very honoured about. Also, Moerner’s article is part of an ongoing public debate on interdisciplinary – it will continue tomorrow with an essay by Nobel laureate Martin Chalfie and on Tuesday with the new edition of our longread series by Jalees Rehman – so stay tuned!

 

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Do take a look at even more exciting blog Posts.

 

Picture of the day:

Being the first day of the meeting, our picture of the day is the one of the first official line-up.

 

65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 28.06.2014, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Rolf Schultes/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings No Model Release. No Property Release. Free use only in connection with media coverage of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. For all other purposes subject to approval.

The Opening Ceremony of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Federal President Joachim Gauck, Countess Bettina Bernadotte and around 50 Nobel laureates. 28.06.2014, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Rolf Schultes/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

For even more pictures from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, past and present, take a look at our Flickr-account.

 

Tweets of the day:

We want to thank all of you who engage with us on Twitter already. Thank you for the excellent job! Here are our tweets of the day:

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNo15

An interactive Map of #LiNo15 Participants

Courtesy of the work of Vip Sitaraman, here is an interactive map showing the countries of origins of the young scientists of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting:



 

Vip will accompany us all through the meeting week by providing several of his famed info graphics. The first one also relates to the internationality of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting:

 

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Young Scientist Thoughts: Taking a Bite out of a Chocolate Bar

 So here I am. The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is less than two weeks away and I am in New York City, finishing to write about my expectations for the upcoming meeting.

Throughout the last years, I have applied several times in order to attend the meetings. The reason I applied and reapplied were quite simple to me: As a soon-to-be physician and as a research scholar, I thought to myself: “Here is a conference with Nobel laureates! This will be extremely interesting”. Usually, I attend brain tumor conferences since I want to specialize in neurosurgery and brain tumors are the language of the field. Consequently, this conference dealing with science is sure to be a thriller!

And even though I have yet to attend, a short review of the people going, (via the mediatheque) proved to be a super interesting read. One researcher is tackling astroparticle physics, while another is looking at mechanisms of infections involving T-cells. I was thinking to myself just how many wonderful collaborations, conversations and ideas will develop from each conversation of two people or a group!

And then the chocolate bar came.

Photo: Lee McCoy (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo: Lee McCoy (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The one thing I was not expecting, however, from this conference was a lecture with a Nobel laureate and a representative from a chocolate bar company. You are probably thinking to yourself “a chocolate bar company? What is that all about?” That is the same thing I said to myself! See, when I applied for participating in this year’s meeting, I knew I was going to meet interesting people and connect with researchers from various backgrounds. To me, it was crystal clear that I could try to analyze and tackle how to fight a brain tumor from a computer programmer’s perspective. I mean, here is a conference with so many other people, from so many fields in academia, I am sure that ideas such as trying to search for the solution of brain cancer by programming a video game might be refreshing!

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email about an event, “Feeding the 9.6 Billion“. This event will be the Mars (correct, the candy company) “Science Breakfast”, which is cool to say the least.

But wait a second. We will be talking about a potential solution for feeding people worldwide. It suddenly became clear to me that Lindau will probably be the perfect place to talk about such solutions. “’Say no more’ I thought to myself!” This is the place I need to be. That is where the people I want to talk to and the ideas worth sharing are. A place where friendships are formed.

There are several reasons why I love traveling. You get to meet so many people from all sorts of different cultures, backgrounds and experiences. While meeting them, you see that we are identical to each other and are of the same nature. However, when traveling one gets the “feel” of a certain country or region, whereas in Lindau one can truly expect a plethora of ideas, constantly flowing, ever so bright.

Here is to that chocolate bar meeting!

 

Uri P. Hadelsberg,

The Technion Institute

From The USA & Israel

 

Interview: Wole Soyinka

Literature Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka will join the scientific elite at the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and will undoubtedly bring a whole new perspective on science and society to the table. The Nigerian poet, playwright and novelist received the Nobel Prize in 1986. In his storied life he emigrated to Britain and the United States to both learn and teach, was caught up in the Nigerian Civil War of the seventies and developed into one of the world’s most outspoken advocates of secularism and humanism.

His upcoming lecture at Lindau ‘When Survival Seems Learning Enough’ is one of the most highly anticipated events of the meeting programme. The Lindau Blog’s Max Benatar had the chance to pose some questions to Wole Soyinka. As expected, his answers were quite enjoyable.

 

Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize in literature 1986. Photo: Archive Badge

Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize in literature 1986. Photo: Archive Badge

Lindau Blog, Max Benatar: You are the second Nobel Laureate in Literature to ever visit the Lindau Meetings. What does it mean to you as a poet and writer to be invited to such a congregation of scientists? And how do you think the natural sciences and the arts benefit from each other?

Wole Soyinka: Arts and the Sciences are a natural symbiosis.  They stem from the same human existential impulse – exploration. Exploration of what lies beneath the surface, and re-confuguration of elements of what we call reality.  Imagining what could be, from what there is. The Arts are perhaps the more generous of the two, since they also celebrate and preserve the product in a limitless variety of expressions.  How often does one look at a product of technology and exclaim, involuntarily: This is a work of Art!

How do I feel when I am invited to a congregation of scientists?  I feel quite at home. When they break into their cultic scientific argot, I know when I’m not wanted and step out for a drink.

 

Max Benatar: Your lecture in Lindau is among the most highly anticipated ones. Its title is ‘When Survival Seems Learning Enough’. What can we expect?

Wole Soyinka: Sorry, no introductory statements. Then no one gets disappointed.

 

Max Benatar: Science in Africa: Where do you see opportunities as well as limitations for the future?

Wole Soyinka: Limitations are mainly funding. This of course is related to lack of leadership and political vision. In my travels, I stumble over African scientists wherever I go – virtually in all disciplines. Some of them are involved in NASA projects. Opportunities abound for African scientific minds. Nigerians in the secessionist state, Biafra, were snapped up by outside manufacturers after the Civil War. Pity they were never absorbed and encouraged to function as a scientific think tank within Nigeria.

 

Max Benatar: The Nobel Prize was awarded to you for being an author “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”. What would you say is today’s drama of existence?

Wole Soyinka: The beauty of that expression – for me, that is – “drama of existence” lies in the acknowledgement that existence itself is the drama of humanity. I have no idea if this represents what the academy had in mind but I have absorbed it as such, as an approximation of my artistic disposition and daily combat.

 

Max Benatar: The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are about intercultural and intergenerational exchange. What is your message to the leading scientists of tomorrow?

Wole Soyinka: Message to leading scientists of tomorrow?  Simple. Don’t write us off, we who are the scientific illiterates of the world. We operate through the same creative impulse, the same exercise of imagination. Bear in mind however that scientific theories constantly implicate errors. To be scientific in practice requires the capacity to say, “Ooops, I goofed”. Don’t cover up, and don’t hesitate to send this old man news of your ‘breakthroughs”.

If I were sure I would pass the physicals, I would be on the next space shuttle to Mars or some other planet. I’ll leave the calculations and the navigational tasks to you while I bask in your ingenuity.  Find me a place in the capsule and watch me outdo Michael Jackson’s moonwalk to the music of the spheres.

Max Benatar: Professor Soyinka, thank you very much for your time!

 

Wole Soyinka’s lecture at the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting will take place on Wednesday, 1 July, 7pm at Lindau’s City Theatre. Additionally, the citizens of Lindau will have the opportunity to enjoy a reading by and get the chance to meet Wole Soyinka one day later, on Thursday, 2 July, 8pm at the Old Town Hall.