Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 – the Discovery of Gravitational Waves

On 14 September 2015, the LIGO detectors in the USA saw space vibrate with gravitational waves for the very first time. Even though the signal was tiny – the time difference between the two light beams in one LIGO interferometer was only 0.0069 seconds, as Olga Botner from the Nobel Committee for Physics points out – it marked the beginning of a new era in astronomy: with Gravitational Wave Astronomy, researchers will be able study the most violent events in the universe, like the merging of black holes. Such a merger was detected in September 2015, and it happened incredible 1.3 billion lightyears away from earth.

 

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The fourth observation of a gravitational wave was only announced on 27 September 2017 at the meeting of G7 science ministers in Turin, Italy. It was also the first to have been picked up by the Virgo detector, located near Pisa. This detection at a third site, besides the two LIGO detectors in the US states of Washington and Louisiana, provides a much better understanding of the three-dimensional pattern of the wave. It is also the result of two merging black holes and was detected on 14 August 2017.

Gravitational waves had been predicted in 1915 by Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity. In his mathematical model, Einstein combined space and time in a continuum he called ‘spacetime’. This is where the expression ‘ripples in spacetime’ for gravitational waves comes from.

LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, is a collaborative project with over one thousand researchers from more than twenty countries. Together, they have realised a vision that is almost fifty years old. The 2017 Nobel Laureates all have been invaluable to the success of LIGO. Pioneers Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, together with Barry C. Barish, the scientist and leader who brought the project to completion, have ensured that more than four decades of effort led to gravitational waves finally being observed.

 

The three new Nobel Laureates: Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, and Kip S. Thorne (from left). Copyright: Nobel Media, Illustration by N. Elmehed

The three new Nobel Laureates in Physics: Rainer Weiss, Kip S. Thorne, and Barry C. Barish (from left). Copyright: Nobel Media, Illustrations by Niklas Elmehed

 

Already in the mid-1970s, both Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss were firmly convinced that gravitational waves could be detected. Weiss had already analysed possible sources of background noise that would disturb their measurements. He had also designed a detector, a laser-based interferometer, which would overcome this noise. While Rainer Weiss was developing his detectors at MIT in Cambridge, outside Boston, Kip Thorne started working with Ronald Drever, who built his first prototypes in Glasgow, Scotland. Drever eventually moved to join Thorne at Caltech in Los Angeles. Together, Weiss, Thorne and Drever formed a trio that pioneered development for many years. Drever learned about the first discovery, but then passed away in March 2017.

Together, Weiss, Thorne and Drever developed a laser-based interferometer. The principle has long been known: an interferometer consists of two arms that form an L. At the corner and the ends of the L, massive mirrors are installed. A passing gravitational wave affects each interferometer’s arm differently – when one arm is compressed, the other is stretched. The laser beam that bounces between the mirrors can measure the change in the lengths of the arms. If nothing happens, the light beams cancel each other out when they meet at the corner of the L. However, if either of the interferometer’s arms changes length, the light travels different distances, so the light waves lose synchronisation and the resulting light’s intensity changes where the beams meet; the minimal time difference of the two beams can also be detected.

The idea was fairly simple, but the devil was in the details, so it took over forty years to realise. Large-scale instruments are required to measure microscopic changes of lengths less than an atom’s nucleus. The plan was to build two interferometers, each with four-kilometre-long arms along which the laser beam bounces many times, thus extending the path of the light and increasing the chance of detecting any tiny stretches in spacetime. It took years of developing the most sensitive instrument ever to be able to distinguish gravitational waves from all the background noise. This required sophisticated analysis and advanced theory, for which Kip Thorne was the expert.

 

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Running such a project on a small scale was no longer possible and a new approach was needed. In 1994, when Barry Barish took over as leader for LIGO, he transformed the small research group of about forty people into a large-scale international collaboration with more than a thousand participants. He searched for the necessary expertise and brought in numerous research groups from many countries.

In September 2015, LIGO was about to start up again after an upgrade that had lasted several years. Now equipped with tenfold more powerful lasers, mirrors weighing 40 kilos, highly advanced noise filtering, and one of the world’s largest vacuum systems, it captured a wave signal a few days before the experiment was set to officially start. The wave first passed the Livingston, Louisiana, facility and then, seven milliseconds later – moving at the speed of light – it appeared at Hanford, Washington, three thousand kilometres away.

 

Young researcher was first person the ‘see’ a gravitational wave

A message from the computerised system was sent early in the morning on 14 September 2015. Everyone in the US was sleeping, but in Hannover, Germany, it was 11:51 hours and Marco Drago, a young Italian physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, also named Albert Einstein Institute and part of the LIGO Collaboration, was getting ready for lunch. The curves he glimpsed looked exactly like those he had practiced recognising so many times. Could he really be the first person in the world to see gravitational waves? Or was it just a false alarm, one of the occasional blind tests about which only a few people knew?

The wave’s form was exactly as predicted, and it was not a test. Everything fit perfectly. The pioneers, now in their 80s, and their LIGO colleagues were finally able to hear the music of their dreams, like a bird chirping. The discovery was almost too good to be true, but it was not until February the following year that they were allowed to reveal the news to anyone, even their families.

What will we learn from the observation of gravitational waves? As Karsten Danzmann, Director of the Albert Einstein Institute and Drago’s boss, explained: “More than 99 percent of the universe are dark to direct observation.” And Rainer Weiss elaborated during a telephone conversation with Thors Hans Hansson of the Nobel Committee: Merging black holes probably send the strongest signal, but there are many other possible sources, like neutron stars orbiting each other, and supernovae explosions. Thus, Gravitational Waves Astronomy opens a new and surprising window to the Universe.

#LiNo17 Daily Recap – Friday, 30 June

The 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting ended with the Baden-Württemberg Boat Trip to Mainau Island. It was a day full of science, discussions, joy, genuine delight and even some tears. Enjoy the highlights of the last day of #LiNo17.

 

Video of the day:

 

“I felt like I had the world in my hands.” – Young scientist Hlamulo Makelane

A definite highlight of the day were the heartfelt closing remarks made in the courtyard of Mainau Castle. You can watch the entire Farewell in our Mediatheque.

Hlamulo

Browse through our mediatheque to find all lectures, discussions and more educational videos from the Lindau Meetings.

 

Picture of the day:

Nobel Laureate Rudolph A. Marcus enjoying the Baden-Württemberg Boat Trip to Mainau Island whilst conversing with young scientists. 

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Chemistry, 25.06.2017 - 30.06.2017, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Boattrip to Mainau Island

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

 

Blog of the day:

For Nobel Laureate Jean-Pierre Sauvage, novelty, teamwork and adventure drove advances in synthesising molecular chains and knots. Read about his work and his advice for the young scientists.

Sauvage

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNo17

This is the last daily recap of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The idea behind it was to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. We hope you enjoyed the meeting and wish you all safe travels home.

#LiNo17 Daily Recap – Wednesday, 28 June

With Wednesday ending, we are striding towards the last two days of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – but that does most certainly not mean that the next days are getting less exciting than the previous ones. Talking about exciting days, let’s take a look at the highlights of yesterday.

 

Video of the day:

Yesterday, Nobel Laureates Stefan Hell and Richard R. Schrock discussed “Current and Future Game Changers in Chemistry” with Jörg Huslage from the Corporate Research & Development Department of Volkswagen Group and Siddulu Talapaneni, an Indian Young Scientist from the University of South Australia at the Panel Discussion moderated by Geoffrey Carr, Science Editor from The Economist.

Obviously, this is not the only video from the last days and today! You are more than welcome to browse through our mediatheque for more.

 

Picture of the day:

Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad enjoying his coffee break while talking to some of the young scientists.

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Chemistry, 25.06.2017 - 30.06.2017, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Ferid Murad in talk with young researchers

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

 

Blog of the day:

Focus on Africa: Advancing Science to Advance Humankind – Alaina G. Levine talks with a rising star of Kenyan science, Titus Masese, on the present, presence, and presents of African Science across the globe.

Focus on Africa Slider

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNo17

Over the course of the next three days, we will keep you updated on the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting with our daily recaps. 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.

#LiNo17 Daily Recap – Tuesday, 27 June 2017

We are already three days into this year’s chemistry meeting and there are so many interesting things happening. We have collected a huge amount of exhilarating pictures, exceptional lectures and thought-provoking blog contributions. So you can guess that there is so much more that you should definitly check out on our mediatheque than we present to you in our daily recap . Enjoy the following highlights!

 

Video of the day:

“This meeting is about mentorship, and it’s about the future, it’s not about the Nobel Laureates, it is [in fact] about mentoring the next generation of scientists – OUR BEST HOPE FOR THE FUTURE” – Brian Malow has provided us with a live video featuring seven young scientists.

 

 

Picture of the day:

After having the Poster Flashes on Monday, our Poster Session proved to be a success. Frank Biedermann, a young scientist explaining his research about “Supramolecular Sensing Ensembles” to Nobel Laureate Erwin Neher.

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Chemistry, 25.06.2017 - 30.06.2017, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Poster Session

 

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

 

Blog of the day:

“When scientific issues become publicly controversial, Nobel Laureates have a history of making strong statements at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings,” writes Melissae Fellet in her new article on science in a post-truth era. Politics and the question of what scientists can do to rebuild trust is one of the main topics being discussed by the participants of the 67th Lindau Meeting.

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Press Talk on ‘Science in a Post-Truth Era’ hosted by Deutsche Welle during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Do take a look at more of our exciting blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNo17

 

Over the course of the next four days, we will keep you updated on the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting with our daily recaps. 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.

#LiNo17 Daily Recap – Sunday, 25 June 2017

“I close my remarks by asking the young students gather this week at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting to consider joining the effort to combat climate change.” – Steven Chu

Yesterday, the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting started in grand fashion with the festive opening ceremony featuring the warm and heartfelt welcome address by Countess Bettina Bernadotte and a very poignant and moving keynote by Steven Chu. The Nobel Laureate himself was, unfortunately, unable to attend, but his fellow laureate William E. Moerner luckily stepped in to deliver the powerful speech on “Science as an Insurance Policy to the Risks of Climate Change”.

 

Video of the day:

“A changing climate does not respect national boundaries.”
First highlight is Steven Chu’s keynote, read by William Moerner. Chu addressed the highly topical issue of climate change and reminded all of us how important it is to treat the earth well.

Obviously, this is not the only video from yesterday and today! You are more than welcome to browse through our mediatheque for more.

 

Picture of the day:

Standing Ovations
William Moerner’s presentation of Steven Chu’s keynote was one of the most moving moments.

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 25.06.2017, Lindau, Germany

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 25.06.2017, Lindau, Germany

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

 

Blog post of the day:

“A Stellar Meeting Where the Stars Shine Bright, the Science Is Chill, and the Networking Is Chem-Tastic.”
Another highlight is the blog post from science writer Alaina G. Levine. She is back in Lindau for #LiNo17 and gives a preview of the panel discussion on science careers that she will chair on Thursday (replacing Karan Khemka).

Do take a look at more exciting blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNo17

 

Over the course of the next six days, we will keep you updated on the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting with our daily recaps. 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.

Ben Feringa: Molecular Machines of the Future

Ben Feringa giving the first lecture at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Photo/Credit: Jula Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Nobel Laureate Ben Feringa giving the first lecture at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The Nobel Laureate gave the #LiNo17 opening lecture with the title ‘The Joy of Discovery’. Ben Feringa grew up on a farm near Groningen, the second of ten siblings. Today, he is professor in Groningen and also received his MSc and PhD degrees there. And just as much as he enjoyed nature as a child, he now enjoys the inifinite possibilities of molecules. In his own words: “We enjoy the adventure into the unkown.” Before starting his lecture, he has some advice in store for the young scientists at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Always look for a challenge, and find teachers who challenge you, persevere, follow your intuition and your dreams – but ‘walk on two feet’, meaning remain realistic, and find a balance between life and research. Looking at his impressive career, and appreciating his obvious delight in his work, it seems that Feringa took his own advice to heart.

It’s truly mind-blowing to see what Ben Feringa and his research group are capable of: they synthesise molecules from inanimate matter that can move autonomously. One striking example are the small ‘spiders’ that you can see crawling around under a microscope. These ‘spiders’ can self-assemble, meaning that several molecules form clusters, and these clusters move completely autonomously as long as ‘fuel’ is provided, in their case sugar. (You can watch the crawling ‘spiders’ in a solution, also called nano-swimmers, on the website of Feringa’s research group, or at the end of his #LiNo17 lecture). Other molecules at Feringa’s Molecular Nanoscience group at the University of Groningen have been fitted with light-sensitive switches, so light of a certain wavelength turns them on and off and also acts as their ‘fuel’.

As Feringa points out himself in his lecture: chemists are great at creating molecules, but it’s extremely difficult to control their dynamic functions – movement, rotation, switches, responses, etc. His most noted invention is his version of the ‘nanocar’ – it was also strongly featured in the 2016 Nobel Prize media coverage. For a nanocar’s engine, you need unidirectional rotation. Feringa and his research group discovered the first man-made molecular rotor that could perform a 360 degree rotation ‘a bit by accident’ in the 1990s. They had been working on an alkene molecule (alkenes are unsaturated hydrocarbons containing at least one carbon-carbon double bond). This specific alkene could perform a quarter turn in a process called isomerisation: a process in which one molecule is transformed into another with exactly the same atoms, only these atoms are now arranged differently. Suddenly the researchers realised that the molecule had in fact performed a 180 degree turn and hadn’t switched back. Then they wondered: “Maybe we can get it to perform a 360 degree turn.”

 

How the molecular rotor works: double-bond isomerisation and thermal helix inversion (heat) alternate. Image: Ben Feringa group. Source: The Swedish Academy of Sciences

How the molecular rotor works: double-bond isomerisation and thermal helix inversion (heat) alternate. Image: Ben Feringa group. Source: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

 

Finally, the researchers managed a full rotation with two double-bond isomerisations and two helix inversions induced by heat (see graph above). On the one hand, ‘unidirectional rotation marks the most fundamental breakthrough‘ in the search for molecular motors; on the other hand, the molecule was still too slow – it needed about one hour for the 360 degree turn. Now the researchers set out to build much faster molecules. About sixty different motor designs later, they reached an astounding speed of 10 million rotations per second. But in reality there are some restrictions: for instance, you often cannot get enough energy into these nanosystems to perform at top speed, and the surfaces on which the motors are supposed to perform limit their speed. So realistically, these tiny motors now rotate at about 4000 cycles per second. Next, the researchers fitted four of the enhanced molecules on to axles and added a stator: a molecular four-wheel drive was put on the ‘road’, usually a metal surface.

Today, several research groups around the world build nanocars. And although Feringa’s team received much recognition for their own nanocar, they’re exploring many other possible applications of molecular machines, for instance in medicine: imagine smart drugs that can be ‘switched on’ only at their target area, for instance a tumour. These would be high-precision drugs with very few or even no side-effects, because other body cells would not be affected. In his Lindau lecture, as well as in his Nobel lecture in Stockholm in December 2016, Feringa gave two prominent examples: photo-controlled antibiotics and photo-controlled chemotherapeutics. Into one drug from each category, the Feringa group inserted a light-switch, meaning that the drugs only start working if they’re activated by a certain wavelength of light. The researchers are now working with near-infrared light that has a deep penetration depth, meaning it can even reach remote places deep inside the human body.

 

Nanocar JPG (797x451)

 

With photo-controlled antibiotics, the goal is to ‘train’ the molecules to find their target structures autonomously. Next, their activity would be switched on with an infrared light. Now the drugs would work against a bacterial infection at the target point – no other body cells or bacteria would be affected, making antibiotic restistance more unlikely. And even if the drug leaves the body after treatment, contamination of ground or drinking water would be prevented by precisely engineered half-times of the molecules: they would simply stop being active after a certain amount of time, rendering the build-up of antibiotic restistance outside the human body unlikely as well.

The same holds true for chemotherapeutics: only after a photo-controlled chemotherapeutic reached a tumour, its activity would be switched on, meaning all other body cells would be spared the often severe side-effects. In his Nobel lecture, Feringa describes his dream for future cancer treatments: new imaging technologies like MRI would be linked to a specific laser. First, the patient receives an injection of a photo-controlled chemotherapeutic. Next, the MRI technology would detect a tiny tumour. Now the MRI feeds this information automaticaly to a laser that is callibrated to a specific wavelength that activates the drug. The result is “high temporal and local precision”.

Those are only two examples of the ‘endless opportunities’ of molecular machines, in Feringa’s words – and applications are not limited to pharmaceuticals. Feringa himself talks about self-healing car coatings or wall paint, also called ‘smart coatings’. With a growing world population and a scarcity of materials, smart coatings could help to form longterm coatings, help to spare natural resources, or they could integrate information technology like sensors into the coatings. Other experts envision self-healing infrastructure, for instance plastic water pipes that are able to repair their own leaks. Fraser Stoddart, Feringa’s American-Scottish co-recipient of the 2016 Noble Prize, went into yet another research direction and now builds highly efficient data storage devices based on molecular machines.

 

Ben Feringa giving the first lecture at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Picture/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Ben Feringa during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Picture/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

In October 2016, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced “the dawn of a new industrial revolution of the twenty-first century” based on molecular machines. Feringa himself often emphasises that he is conducting basic research, and he likes to point out that inventions like electric machines, airplanes or smartphones where all the results of basic research – and that they often needed several years or decades to find widespread application. He estimates that in maybe fifty years, doctors will be able to use photo-controlled drugs as described in his Nobel lecture.

 

“My best advice: don’t listen to advice.”

Ada Yonath is an Israeli chemist – an x-ray crystallographer – who spent 20 years studying the ribosome.  Her persistence paid off, in 2000, when, working with other researchers, she successfully mapped the structure of the ribosome, an achievement for which she shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz.

The ribosome is a complex molecule, consisting of hundreds of thousands of atoms.  It’s actually a molecular machine (which is one of the key topics of this year’s chemistry-themed Lindau Meeting).

Residing in the cytoplasm outside the cell nucleus, the ribosome is a protein factory. It translates the coded message in DNA into individual amino acids and assembles them into proteins, which are involved in almost every function of living organisms.  

In mammals, there are millions of ribosomes in every cell!  Take a moment to absorb that.  Millions.  In each cell.  I have trouble wrapping my mind around that fact.  It indicates something about the scale of things.  As small as an individual cell is, it somehow contains – among other things(!) – millions of ribosomes, steadily producing proteins.  And, again, each ribosome is a complex network of hundreds of thousands of atoms.  Mapping its structure is essential to understanding how it functions.  And this understanding has provided great insight into the function – and design – of antibiotics, which can kill bacteria by interfering with protein synthesis.

I spoke with Ada at the 2016 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – and she is returning this year for her seventh time – because “being able to contribute to young people is one of the miracles that happened to me after I got the Prize.” 

Watch the video below to hear Ada’s advice for young scientists and non-scientists alike. 

On the Trail of Nobel Prizes

The new Lindau Science Trail serves as a permanent embodiment of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, their history and first and foremost makes “Nobel knowledge” accessible to everyone. The Lindau Science Trail can be followed not only by those living in and around the picturesque city of Lindau; visitors from all over the world can go on their very own journey of discovery. 
On knowledge pylons that are spread out all around Lindau, one can learn more about the everyday applications of scientific phenomena. And who knows, there might just be a Nobel Laureate waiting around the corner in Lindau you surely can’t rule it out.

Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The knowledge pylon at the harbour of Lindau. Picture/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The Lindau Spirit for everyone

Knowledge should be freely available to everyone at all times. This credo is at the heart of the philosophy of the Foundation and the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.
For more than 65 years, Nobel Laureates and young scientists from all over the world have come together in Lindau once a year to exchange ideas and learn from each other. The “Lindau Spirit”, which inspires the participants year after year, can now be experienced on the Lindau Science Trail by everyone throughout the entire year.
The Lindau Science Trail consists of a total of 21 knowledge pylons, 15 of which can be discovered on the island of Lindau. On the mainland of Lindau and on Mainau Island there are three pylons each waiting to be explored.

 

This map shows the locations of the different knowledge pylons which can now be discovered on the island of Lindau. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

This map shows the locations of the different knowledge pylons which can now be discovered on the island of Lindau. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The Knowledge Pylons – Something for Everyone

At the knowledge pylons, explorers big and small can learn more about various scientific discoveries and about the different Nobel Prize disciplines in English as well as in German. The pylons cover the three natural science disciplines – Physics, Chemistry and Physiology/ Medicine – as well as Peace and Literature. Two knowledge pylons explain economic theories in a manner which is easily understandable; two others provide insight into how the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings started and tell the story behind the Nobel Prizes. You don’t have to be a science expert to understand the explanations on the pylons. The Lindau Science trail addresses grown-ups as well as children. There is a special children’s section on every pylon.

Spotlight on the “Lindau” Nobel Laureates: The Nobel Laureates that have visited the Lindau Meetings thus far will be honoured at one central spot: on the “kleiner See” that separates mainland Lindau from Lindau island there will soon be a pier where the names of all the Nobel Laureates who have already visited the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings will be listed – more than 450 laureates.

 

Virtual Science Trail: Discovering Science With the App

A dedicated app will allow you to meet the Nobel Laureates virtually on the Science Trail. At six different locations, virtual Nobel Laureates explain why they have received the Nobel Prize. You can even take a selfie with them!
The app also gives you the opportunity to test your freshly acquired ‘Nobel Knowledge’. While ‘hiking’ on the Science Trail you can try to answer the numerous quiz questions. The Rallye can only be taken right on the spot, not at locations remote from the Lindau Science Trail – an open invitation for all science enthusiasts to come and visit Lindau and take the chance to meet Nobel Laureates.

Picture/Credit: preto_perola/istockphoto.com, illustrations: eatmefeedme; editing: rh

With the Lindauer Wissenspfad App, one can test one’s knowledge. Picture/Credit: preto_perola/istockphoto.com, illustrations: eatmefeedme; editing: rh

Download the App here.

 

Experience the Lindau Science Trail Back Home or in Your Classroom

Those who cannot physically come to Lindau can still discover the town, the Nobel Laureates and their research by virtually walking along the Science Trail and visiting the pylons in the app. Teachers can use it in the classroom as well.

If the Science Trail is also available virtually what’s the point in taking a field trip to Lindau and experiencing it first-hand? In addition to jointly completing the Science Trail and the Rallye, a surprise is waiting for all students here in Lindau. Teachers, who are interested in a school field trip to Lindau, may contact the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings for more information and additional material.

Pupils exploring a knowledge pylon. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Pupils exploring a knowledge pylon. Picture/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The realisation of the Lindau Science Trail was enabled by the support of the city of Lindau and the Prof. Otto Beisheim Stiftung.

 

 

Den Nobelpreisen auf der Spur

Der Lindauer Wissenspfad macht ab sofort die Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen, deren Geschichte und vor allem das „Nobelwissen“ für Groß und Klein sicht- und (be-)greifbar. Auf den Spuren von Nobelpreisträgern und ihrer Forschung können alle Lindauerinnen und Lindauer, aber auch Gäste aus der ganzen Welt, auf Entdeckungstour durch Lindau gehen. An insgesamt 21 Wissenspylonen lernen sie dabei mehr über wissenschaftliche Alltagsphänomene. Vielleicht kommt dabei auch der eine oder andere Nobelpreisträger um die Ecke – in Lindau immerhin durchaus denkbar…

Die Leuchtturmstele am Lindauer Hafen. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Die Leuchtturmstele am Lindauer Hafen. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Der Lindau Spirit für Alle

Wissen sollte immer und überall frei zur Verfügung stehen. Das gehört zum Kernanliegen von Stiftung und Kuratorium der Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen, zu ihrer Mission Education. Die Idee zum Bau des Lindauer Wissenspfades ist daraus entstanden. Die Stadt Lindau hat sie bei der Umsetzung unterstützt.
Schon seit über 65 Jahren kommen in Lindau einmal im Jahr Nobelpreisträger und junge Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus der ganzen Welt zusammen, um sich auszutauschen und voneinander zu lernen. Der Lindau Spirit, von dem die Teilnehmer dabei inspiriert werden, soll jetzt auf dem Lindauer Wissenspfad für jeden und vor allem das ganze Jahr über erlebbar sein.
Der Wissenspfad besteht aus insgesamt 21 Wissenspylonen, 15 davon können auf der Lindauer Insel entdeckt werden. Auf dem Lindauer Festland und auf der Insel Mainau stehen jeweils drei Stelen zur Erkundung bereit. Auf der Karte sind die einzelnen Standorte auf der Lindauer Insel zu sehen.

Die Karte zeigt die verschiedenen Standorte der Wissenspylone, die ab sofort in Lindau entdeckt werden können. Picture/Credit: Archimedes Exhibitions GmbH

Die Karte zeigt die verschiedenen Standorte der Wissenspylonen, die ab sofort in Lindau entdeckt werden können. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Für jeden etwas dabei – die Wissenspylonen

Auf den unterschiedlichen Pylonen lernen kleine und große Entdecker wissenschaftliche Begebenheiten aus den Bereichen der Nobelpreisdisziplinen kennen und verstehen: es gibt Physik-, Chemie-, und Medizinpylonen, aber auch eine Friedens- und eine Literaturstele. Zwei Wissenspylonen erklären Theorien aus den Wirtschaftswissenschaften, zwei weitere Stelen erläutern, wie die Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen entstanden sind und was sich hinter dem Nobelpreis verbirgt. Man muss kein Naturwissenschafts-Experte sein, um die Erklärungen auf den Pylonen zu verstehen. Der Wissenspfad richtet sich an viele unterschiedliche Menschen; die Kinderspuren auf jedem Pylon bringen das ‚Nobelwissen‘ auch den jüngsten Forschern näher.

Natürlich bekommen die Nobelpreisträger auf dem Wissenspfad einen besonderen Platz: auf den Stelen wird nicht nur ihre Forschung sicht- und erlernbar gemacht, zukünftig werden sie an der zentralen Station auch besonders geehrt: Auf dem kleinen See wird es in Lindau bald einen Steg geben, der die Namen der Nobelpreisträger verzeichnet, die schon einmal in Lindau zu Gast waren. Und das sind schon mehr als 450 Laureaten!

 

Virtueller Wissenspfad: Mit der App auf Entdeckungstour

In Zukunft kann man den Nobelpreisträgern auf dem Wissenspfad auch virtuell begegnen. Die App macht das möglich: an sechs verschiedenen Standorten erklären virtuelle Nobelpreisträger, wofür sie den Nobelpreis bekommen haben. Sogar ein Selfie mit Preisträgern ist möglich!
Entlang des Wissenspfads können alle ‚Wissenspfadler‘ das Erlernte in der Rallye testen und über Quizfragen knobeln. Dafür muss man allerdings vor Ort sein. Damit möglichst viele Leute den Weg nach Lindau aufnehmen und den Wissenspfad auch in echt kennen lernen, werden die virtuellen Nobelpreisträger und die Quizfragen nämlich nur am Pylonenstandort freigeschaltet.

Mit der Lindauer Wissenspfad-App kann man in der Rallye z.B. Quizfragen beantworten. Picture/Credit: preto_perola/istockphoto.com, illustrations: eatmefeedme; editing: rh

Mit der Lindauer Wissenspfad-App kann man in der Rallye z.B. Quizfragen beantworten. Picture/Credit: preto_perola/istockphoto.com, illustrations: eatmefeedme; editing: rh

 

Der Wissenspfad auf dem Sofa oder im Klassenraum

Aber auch diejenigen, die nicht nach Lindau kommen (können), haben die Möglichkeit, einen Blick auf Lindau, die Nobelpreisträger und ihre Forschung zu werfen: sie können den Wissenspfad zuhause virtuell ablaufen und die Pylonen in der App abrufen. Das können sich auch Lehrer im Unterricht zu Nutze machen.
Der Wissenspfad lädt Schulklassen aber auch explizit ein, nach Lindau zu kommen und sich auf die Spur der Nobelpreise zu machen. Vor Ort kann man deshalb auch gemeinsam einen Preis gewinnen! Interessierte Lehrer können sich gerne mit dem Kuratorium für die Tagungen der Nobelpreisträger in Lindau in Verbindung setzten und weitere Informationen und Materialien erhalten.

Schüler an einem Wissenspylon. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Schüler an einem Wissenspylon. Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Ermöglicht wurde der Wissenspfad durch die Unterstützung der Stadt Lindau und der Prof. Otto Beisheim Stiftung.

“We Need Diversity in Science,” Says Hlamulo Makelane

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Hlamulo Makelane

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Hlamulo and get inspired.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Hlamulo Makelane

Photo: Courtesy of Hlamulo Makelane

Hlamulo Makelane, 30, from South Africa is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Her research focuses on the development of highly selective and sensitive methods for determination of organic pollutants in wastewater. This requires the synthesis of polymers and the application of a very novel electrochemical technique in sensor technology, as well as using unusually uncommon sample matrices.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

The most interesting aspect of science that has inspired me is the generation of evidence-based solutions to national and global challenges because as a scientist knowledge gained from research is the gateway to making a positive difference for humankind.

 

Who are your role models?

I do not have specific scientists as role models; I always look at other people’s career in science or even non-scientific fields and get inspired. Personally, I have been very fortunate to have a mother who always inspired me not to limit myself and encouraged me to do what I think is right for my career. I have been inspired also by many people I interacted with in conferences, workshops and in my daily life.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

I became interested in science subjects at high school because of my Physical Science and Mathematics teachers and through participation in the Phalaborwa Foundation Programme for Technological Careers (PROTEC). I had no idea about chemistry as a career and thought that chemistry is one of the baseline subjects one has to do for different career paths in science. Choosing a career path and developing a passion for chemistry came after a school visit to one of the mines around Phalaborwa where I met a female analytical chemist who explained her work, and thus I realised that I could make a difference in the world through chemistry. The stereotype that science isn’t for girls and constant reminders that sciences are difficult and completing a degree as women in science is not easy unless one is extremely intelligent never stopped me from pursuing my career in science. I was persuaded and went on to obtain a PhD in Chemistry with a focus on environmental management for water quality.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Hlamulo Makelane

Photo: Courtesy of Hlamulo Makelane

 

My PhD project involved environmental electrochemistry for developing highly selective and sensitive sensor methods for determining organic pollutants in oil-polluted wastewater. I really enjoyed the experience of working with environmental related issues and understanding the impact of organic pollutants on the environment. This was my introduction into the world of electrochemistry and sensor development using dendrimers and polymers. Following encouragement from the PhD research outcomes, I applied for a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of the Western Cape, where I completed my PhD. The post-doc research that I am currently working on is entitled “Ultra-sensitive AC voltammetric polymer electrode for signalling priority organic pollutants (POP) in coal-polluted wastewater”. This research is enabling me to contribute immensely to the critical issues related to the environmental state of the country and also contribute to the nation building effort of the country through it. Through the experience gained during my PhD research projects and being exposed to science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators at the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) as a post-doc fellow, I am more certain that I want to pursue a research career in water quality research for environmental management. This includes environmental electrochemistry and environmental science and technology indicators, as I have developed a skill set suited to the field. I have travelled a lot to national and international conferences, seminars and workshops where I presented my work as I strive to explore new relationships between ideas and facts and in doing so sharpening tools and methodologies in my discipline. I have published my research work in the top sensors and electrochemistry journals.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I think that most of the projects I have worked on were the coolest projects thus far, because they all contributed to my career growth in many different ways. I find it more interesting that most of these projects enabled me to produce results that are evidence-based solutions to the national and global challenges.

 

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

When I was nominated as an early-career scholar to present my research work in 2013 at Brown University’s International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI) at “Connections and Flows: Water, Energy and Digital Information in the Global South”. I felt a great sense of achievement because it was my first time to present my research work in the innovative interdisciplinary institute, where a diverse group of young engineers and engineering faculty as well as from engineering education, policymakers and those working in agriculture, environmental studies, urban studies or related fields attended.

 

What is a “day in the life” of Hlamulo like?

Since I started my career path in research it’s difficult to come up with a “day in the life”; however, it has been a phenomenal journey thus far because I learn something new each day. I write down the things I need to do for the day and I do not remember having a boring day because there’s always something new to learn or do. Some days involve desktop research, reading papers and scientific manuscript writing, and other days involve lab work with more practical work and data analysis. The work usually goes from 9 am to at least 6 pm; however, there are days where I have to work until late.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Hlamulo Makelane

Photo: Courtesy of Hlamulo Makelane

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

Firstly, I would like to continue with the development of selective and sensitive sensor techniques for the determination of organic pollutants in wastewater as there are many exciting polluted wastewater questions for environmental management focusing on water quality that need to be answered. Secondly, I would like to focus on science, technology and innovation (STI) to develop the experimental techniques and design appropriate for environmental assessment approaches of a specific case, which will also include building on current technology to assess the environmental impacts.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

I like reading, traveling, meeting with friends, gym and sometimes going for a hike.

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

The outright bias that has impacts on our education and career choices as women still exist; however, if you are interested in science/chemistry, go for it, and you will enjoy the discovery that the journey brings. The stereotype that sciences are challenging for women should not prevent you from following your career path in science. Challenge yourself to even go beyond the first degree and obtain the highest degree because I believe that if I made it, you can also make it. We need diversity in science and if you are interested in increasing the number of women in science it will also empower you to think differently about the global challenges, and your creativity will result in good solutions.

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

There are many breakthroughs anticipated in shaping the environmental challenges through science/chemistry, but ultra-sensitive sensor systems with high selectivity for the detection of organic pollutants at femto- to atto-molar detection limits are envisaged to be one of the next breakthrough. The device will be cost-effective, reliable and consist of easy-to-use technologies suitable for accurate determination of organic pollutants in effluents, collecting the requisite data necessary in setting environmental standards, and ensuring compliance to regulations on emission limits.

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

This question does not have one answer due to the increasing number of challenges female scientists/professors are currently facing. Gender bias still plays a big role in higher education, which prevents an increase in the number of female scientists and female professors. Some of the challenges related to the number of female scientist not increasing the way we would like to see is the lack of support from their departments or institutions where they are based. There is a need, therefore, for the government to address this issue by implementing and monitoring policies that encourages the number of female scientists and female professors to be recognised. The policies should also directly support female scientist by creating a good working environment without being compared to their male colleagues because the science world is still dominated by male scientist. The created platform should work towards closing the gap between male and female scientist as well as bringing inclusion of females in science, which can have far-reaching benefits them. This will enable female scientist to grow in their career and to be recognised for their hard work. Therefore, more women would be attracted to stay in sciences, enhance their careers in the field and become role models to young and upcoming female scientist.