Exploring the Connections Between Sports and Science with Kurt Wüthrich

When reading the biography of Nobel Laureate Kurt Wüthrich, it quickly becomes clear that he embodies the concept of a Renaissance man. Not only did he excel in academic work, winning the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his advancement of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, but Wüthrich was also an avid sportsman.

As a young man attending the University of Basel, he worked towards degrees in both chemistry and sports — the latter requiring about 25 hours per week of intense physical exercise, as well as courses in human anatomy and physiology. Even though he chose science in the end, sports continued to play an important role in Wüthrich’s life. He enjoyed skiing, fishing, and even played in a competitive soccer league well beyond the age of 50.

Kurt Wüthrich speaking at #LiNo16

Kurt Wüthrich speaking at #LiNo16. Photo: Ch. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Given his interdisciplinary background, it came as no surprise that much of his master class at the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting focused on the science of sports. In fact, two young scientists who gave talks at the master class — Dominique Gisin and Bettina Heim — have been blessed with a similar combination of both mental and physical talents as Wüthrich himself.

Dominique Gisin, currently a Bachelor’s student in physics at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, spoke about the mechanics of alpine skiing and its impact on the human body. Gisin started her degree at the University of Basel but interrupted coursework to concentrate on skiing, making her Alpine Ski World Cup debut in 2005. Four years later, she got her first World Cup victory in women’s downhill skiing, and at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, nabbed a gold medal in the same event.

To start off her talk, she played a series of video clips depicting the many crashes and falls she has suffered throughout her storied career, as the audience winced. In an average year, about 35% of all alpine athletes are injured — Gisin herself has gone through knee surgery a whopping nine times as a result of injuries.

In terms of physics, the variables that matter when it comes to modeling the dynamics of a downhill skier are numerous: the mass of the athlete, her velocity, the radius of a turn, snow temperature, air temperature, course condition, the mechanical characteristics of the equipment, visibility, and the mental/physical state of the athlete. These factors need to be considered when thinking about how to lower the rate of injury for the sport.

For instance, a tighter course setting would help reduce the athlete’s velocity, which could make crashes and falls less dangerous. But as Gisin notes, such a change would also cause skiers to move closer to the nets and potentially get tangled up in them. Another idea that might be interesting to pursue is uniform “anti-aerodynamic” racing suits that reduce athletes’ velocity and provide increased protection. Also, as seen in other sports, alpine skiing could benefit from the development of better protection equipment such as helmets and back protectors.

Kurt Wüthrich and Bettina Heim at the Rolex Science Breakfast

Kurt Wüthrich and Bettina Heim at the Rolex Science Breakfast. Photo: Ch. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Also representing ETH Zürich at the master class was Bettina Heim, a Master’s candidate in physics with a background in competitive figure skating. Her achievements in the sport include competing at two World Junior Championships, two World Championships, and becoming Swiss national champion in 2011. Only a short time after, Heim decided to hang up her skates and study physics full-time.

Her Bachelor’s studies culminated in a paper published by the prestigious journal Science in 2015, titled “Quantum versus classical annealing of Ising spin glasses.” It shows that evidence of quantum speed-up may depend on how the problem is described, as well as how the optimization routine is implemented. Today, Heim continues her research in the field of quantum computing, mostly in the realm of adiabatic quantum computing and quantum error correction, at ETH Zürich’s Institute of Theoretical Physics.

However, her focus during Wüthrich’s master class remained firmly in the world of sport and not quantum computers — in particular, she discussed the physics behind her specialty of figure skating. For instance, an athlete must gain a lot of speed going into a spin, and then one side of the body has to stop so the other can pass. This translates velocity into rotation, which results in the many types of spin moves performed by figure skaters.

As in downhill skiing, injuries remain prevalent in figure skating despite not being a contact sport. Common injuries for skaters include stress fractures, acute injuries involving tendons or ligaments, and back injuries. Heim noted that back injuries often originate from jump impacts (which can be hard on the spinal discs) and extreme positions that require flexibility (tough on muscles and ligaments).

As Wüthrich’s fascinating master class reiterated, the connections between sports and science go way beyond the physics of motion. Sometimes, an athlete and a scientist can be found within the same person.

Tamás Vámi interviews Scientific Chairman Lars Bergström

Professor Lars Bergström is one of the two scientific chairmen of the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (alongside Prof. Rainer Blatt). The theoretical physicist from the University of Stockholm is a member of the Physics Section fo the Royal Swedish Academy and also serves as a deputy board member of the Nobel Foundation. His interviewer, Hungarian Tamás Vámi, is a particle physicist at CERN and one of almost 400 young scientists taking part in this year’s Lindau Meeting.


Tamás: Lars, you are one of the two scientific chairmen of this year’s Lindau Meeting. What can we expect from the scientific programme of #LiNo16?

Lars Bergström: I think we will see a vibrant programme with many memorable talks. Of course it is especially gratifying that the most recent Physics Laureates are present, and that also many Laureates in Chemistry contribute to the programme. Taken as a whole, this year we will have excellent overviews of diverse scientific areas from the persons who were instrumental in creating them. 


Tamás: There are many candidates for Dark Matter. Which model is closest to your heart, which is the one that is the most promising in your opinion?

Lars Bergström: This is a difficult question. Experience tells us that in science it is not always good to “fall in love” with a particular theoretical model. I think the answer is at the moment in the hands of our brilliant experimentalists, and we have to keep an open mind and see what they find. Weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and axions belong to the most studied dark matter candidates, but nature could be more subtle.


Tamás: Dark Energy is one of the biggest mysteries of our days. There are many theories about it, but what are the experimental methods of studying it?

Lars Bergström: The thing that distinguishes dark energy from dark matter is that dark matter is gravitationally attractive, whereas dark energy on the contrary is repulsive. This means that the expansion of the universe, which would slow down if there was only matter present, will instead accelerate. This accelerated expansion can be seen on very large length scales as it e.g. makes distant supernovas dimmer than they would otherwise appear. It seems, however, to be very difficult to see effects of dark energy locally, such as in the solar system.


Tamás: 2016 is certainly a very exciting year for science: The LIGO experiment announced the detection of gravitational waves and there is a sign of new physics at the LHC with the “750 GeV bump”. How do you think these announcements could affect your field? (eg. gravitational waves – dark energy connection?, 750 GeV bump – dark matter connection?)

Lars Bergström: I do not think it will affect either the modeling of dark energy, or enter the explanation of the tentative 750 GeV resonance. However, a new subfield of astroparticle physics and cosmology will likely be created: gravitational astronomy. Here one would study some of the most extreme events happening inside and outside our galaxy, like the merger of neutron stars or of black holes. This is an unchartered area where many surprises may be hiding.


Tamás: Are there any possible breakthroughs in Science that you wish to live to see? What is it and why do you think it is important?

Lars Bergström: Having worked for three decades with the dark matter problem, the identification of the particle constituting dark matter would be highest on my wish list. Then there are many areas of quantum physics, like quantum communication or quantum computing, where breakthroughs may happen that could even change our everyday lives. But of course many discoveries and inventions have been total surprises, and maybe that is how progress will be made. The young scientists at #LiNo16 live at a time when they can make use of past achievements to make such breakthroughs – if they just remember to be bold and creative, like the Laureates were that they will get in touch with here in Lindau! 


Tamás: How do you see the role of the individual vs. collaborations in Science?

Lars Bergström: Collaborations are of course made up of individuals, and in physics we often need very large collaborations to make progress, e.g. in particle physics or cosmology. Fortunately, for the Nobel Prizes in Physics, it has so far been possible to identify at most three persons that were crucial for the awarded discovery or invention, and hopefully that will be possible, although perhaps more difficult,  in the future.

Junge Physikerinnen im Rampenlicht

Unter den diesjährigen Teilnehmern des 66. Lindau Nobelpreisträgertagung befinden sich zahlreiche junge begabte Physikerinnen.

Einige haben mir im Vorfeld des Meetings mehr Einblick in ihr Leben gewährt und sich zu den folgenden 10 Fragen geäußert:

  1. Was hat Dich inspiriert in der Physik zu arbeiten?
  2. Wer sind Deine Vorbilder?
  3. Wie bist Du dorthin gekommen, wo Du gerade arbeitest?
  4. Was war das coolste Projekt an dem Du je gearbeitet hast und warum?
  5. In welchem Moment war Du besonders stolz auf Dich / auf Deine Arbeit?
  6. Wie sieht ein Tag in Deinem Leben aus?
  7. Was willst Du in Deiner Karriere erreichen?
  8. Was machst Du neben der Forschung?
  9. Welchen Ratschlag würdest Du anderen Frauen geben, die sich für Physik interessieren?
  10. Was könnte der nächste große Durchbruch in der Physik sein?

Darüber hinaus wollte ich auch noch wissen, was ihrer Meinung nach unternommen werden muss, um die Anzahl von weiblichen Professorinnen in der Physik zu erhöhen.

Lasst Euch inspirieren von…

Lola (29) aus Spanien, Charlotta (22) aus Deutschland, Gabriela (33) aus Brasilien, Ana Isabel (30) aus Spanien, Katarzyna (29) aus Großbritannien, Ayesha (24) aus Pakistan, Irene (23) aus Spanien, Winifred (25) aus Ghana, Birgitta (35) aus Deutschland, Anastasiia (26) aus Russland, Anna-Christina (26) aus Deutschland, Zaynah (28) aus Mauritius, Cora (27) aus Deutschland, Tara (26) aus Slovenien, Ann-Katrin (29) aus Deutschland,…

Alle Interviews sind auf dem Women in Research Blog zusammengetragen. Vielleicht ist beim nächsten Treffen auch ein Eintrag von Euch dabei!


Spotlight on Young Women in Physics at Lindau

Several young talented female physicists are among the participants in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Some of them gave me an insight into their life in advance of the meeting by answering the following 10 questions:

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in physics / STEM?
  2. Who are your role models?
  3. How did you get to where you are in your career path?
  4. What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
  5. What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself / your work?
  6. What is a “day in the life” of you like?
  7. What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?
  8. What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?
  9. What advice do you have for other women interested in physics / STEM?
  10. In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in physics research?

Furthermore, I wanted to know what should be done in their opition to increase the number of female professors in physics.

Get inspired by…

Lola (29) from Spain, Charlotta (22) from Germany, Gabriela (33) from Brazil, Ana Isabel (30) from Spain, Katarzyna (29) from the UK, Ayesha (24) from Pakistan, Irene (23) from Spain, Winifred (25) from Ghana, Birgitta (35) from Germany, Anastasiia (26) from Russia, Anna-Christina (26) from Germany, Zaynah (28) from Mauritius, Cora (27) from Germany, Tara (26) from Slovenia, Ann-Katrin (29) from Germany,…

All interviews are gathered on the Women in Research Blog and might include an interview with you during the next meeting as well.


Organic Electronics: Coming soon to a Farmer’s Market near you?

One of my favorite scenes from Harry Potter is when Harry receives a gift from Hagrid, a wonderful photo album filled with moving images of his parents smiling and waving at him, and the first thought that came to my mind was ”Is someone working on that?” I know that the boundaries of science have already been tried and tested enough by the fascinating world of science fiction, and we don’t need fantasy doing it now, but for us scientists, is enough really ever enough? Just like the fact that we have perfectly working electronic devices that go from our wrists to our walls, but we’re still craving for better, for more, or sometimes, just different?


Rachana Acharya's wish may come true very soon: Flexible newspapers could hit the stands very soon. Photo: iStock.com/jcrosemann

Rachana Acharya’s wish may finally come true: Flexible newspapers and books could hit the stands very soon. Photo: iStock.com/jcrosemann

All major electronic devices and circuits work based on materials called inorganic semiconductors, the most widely used one being silicon. The way these materials are built is a lattice of atoms all put together in an arrangement that is continuous, periodic and ordered. (With minor faults here and there of course, nobody is perfect). Since the lattice is continuous, it means that the energy levels in individual atoms now line up to form continuous states, or bands through which electrons can move very easily and conduct charge. These electrons are only stopped or slowed down when they encounter aforementioned lattice imperfections. Basically, the lattice of Silicon would be like a running track with a few hurdles, but electrons are moving pretty fast in their particular track.

On the other hand, organic electronic materials, broadly classified into polymers and small molecules, don’t arrange themselves into periodic lattices. They form films where individual molecules are arranged in a more or less ordered fashion, where the more or less is decided by the way you process them. Along with this, the bonding in these molecules is a weaker Van der Waals bonding, which isn’t as strong as covalently bonded silicon. Although there isn’t any long range order, the molecular orbitals (or paths of the electrons moving in individual atoms) overlap intermittently, forming sites for the electrons to hop to and fro. Generally speaking, the behavior of electrons in these organic materials would be like rock climbing, where the electrons keep looking for points to travel forward.


Flexible substrates will introduce a whole new world of technological applications. Photo: meharris (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Flexible substrates will introduce a whole new world of technological applications. Photo: meharris (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The biggest advantage with organic electronics is their relatively lower processing and deposition temperatures, as these materials are often used close to room temperature. This opens up the opportunity to develop electronic devices, like transistors, solar cells, or LEDs on all kinds of plastic, flexible substrates, and even paper! (Believe me; people are really working on that). The materials are either solution-processed or thermally deposited in vacuum, and devices are patterned by a wide variety of techniques like lithography, masks, and microprinting. In the particular case of thin film transistors, low power complementary circuits have been fabricated and tested successfully. The major challenge faced by researchers today is to improve their performance to match already existing requirements. As an example, the mobility of electrons through thin film transistors, an indication of how fast they move is currently 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than silicon devices. The possible degradation of these materials overtime on exposure to air also remains a major concern. Nevertheless, instead of trying to replace silicon in traditional electronic appliances, these organic materials are really carving out their own niche in applications like intelligent labelling with RFID tags, large display sensor arrays, or portable devices.

My own research emphasizes on thin film transistors, particularly the gate dielectric component in the transistor. The gate dielectric layer separates the gate electrode from the semiconductor channel, so that when a bias is applied on the gate electrode, it induces an accumulation of charge carriers near the semiconductor-gate dielectric interface. These charge carriers then form the semiconducting channel and carry current through the transistor when a separate drain-source voltage is applied. The focus of my research is a hybrid gate dielectric layer, consisting of an inorganic metal oxide (e.g. Aluminum) and an organic self-assembled monolayer. What I intend to investigate is the effect of the gate dielectric layer, and its various aspects like the thickness, surface roughness on the properties of the transistor. Once I understand these effects, I also aim to achieve an optimum gate dielectric layer, which yields the most favorable transistor operating parameters, like threshold voltage and charge carrier mobility.

A few references for further reading:

  1. Embracing the Organics World, Nature Materials (Page 591, Vol 12, July 2013)
  2. A bright future for organic field effect transistors, Nature Materials (Vol. 5, Aug 2006)
  3. Low Power, High Impact Nature Materials, (Vol 6. March 2007)
  4. U. Zschiechang, Organic Electronics 25 (2015) 340–344

Science all around the World: A Photo Project

650 young scientists from 88 different countries participated in the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. One of them was Sarah Katharina Meisenheimer who is currently doing her Ph. D. in non-linear optics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. At Lindau she was especially fascinated by the cultural diversity of the meeting participants – that’s how the idea behind the photo project ‘Science all around the World’ was born. Miss Meisenheimer took portrait shots of 76 of the young scientists at the meeting. In the pictures they all carry signs with the word ‘science’ written in their respective native tongues.

In a short interview for our blog Miss Meisenheimer tells us more about her project.

Sarah Katharina Meisenheimer with Osmond Mlonyeni at #LiNo15.

Sarah Katharina Meisenheimer with Osmond Mlonyeni at #LiNo15. Photo: Sarah Katharina Meisenheimer

Miss Meisenheimer, what’s ‘Science all around the World’ about?

With this photo series I want to show how science connects people globally. No matter how different languages, cultures and walks of life may be – just take a look at all the faces and the handwriting – all young scientists I met at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting are still connected through the desire to create something new.

How did you come up with the idea for the project?

On the second evening of the meeting I was strolling through the Lindau alleyways. Suddenly, I think ‘All those different faces connected by science are way more exciting than these pretty old buildings!’. Then I just wanted to capture all the different languages and handwritings I had seen on the first two days.

Do you have any favorites among the 76 portraits?

No, it’s really hard for me to pick out single portraits. It’s the diversity in facial expressions, clothing styles, letters and languages that makes them so special. Every picture reminds me of these short encounters and of the moment I released the shutter.

Which languages do you speak? Is there even any time left for language learning besides doing research?

My mother tongue is German. I am fluent in English since I have been living abroad in English speaking countries several times. I also speak French a little and was able to pick up Spanish during my undergraduate years at university. But I would love to learn even more languages like Arabic or Chinese because they tell you so much about the people and their cultures.

How important are global thinking and international networking for you today as a scientist?

International scientific exchange is absolutely natural for my. Skyping, emailing and conferences on all continents are already a fixture. As a scientist I feel very privileged because I get to know people from everywhere who share the same drive for knowledge.

It has been half a year since the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. What are the lasting impressions?

I was especially impressed by the enthusiasm for science shown by the meeting participants, Nobel laureates and young scientists alike but I will also forever remember the open-mindedness and curiosity – without them a photo project like this wouldn’t have been possible!

And now, the photos (to proceed to the next one, simply click on the image):

(Copyright for all photos: Sarah Katharina Meisenheimer)

Your Road to #LiNo16

The 2015 Lindau Nobel season has just ended but we are already looking forward to the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2016 dedicated to physics.

Are you a young scientist? Are you studying/doing research in physics? Have you ever dreamt about meeting the luminaries of science? Are you interested in meeting peers from around the world who are just as enthusiastic as you? Ever wanted to visit Germany’s beautiful southern region at the shores of Lake Constance? If you kept nodding while reading all of these questions then good for you – you’ve come to the right place! With this guide we want to answer all your questions and show you the way to become part of #LiNo16.


Step One

Each and every year the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings together with their academic partner institutions aim to bring the world’s brightest young minds in research together with the most revered scientists in their respective fields, the Nobel Laureates. To ensure sustaining the high level of excellency the Lindau Meetings are known for, we have compiled a list of selection criteria. If you are thinking about applying, please follow this link and take a close look at the prerequisites. Only if you meet all the requirements will your application have a chance to be successful.


Step Two

Check the list of our Academic Partner Institutions to find out if it contains a partner in your country. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are cooperating primarily with one partner institution per country. Therefore, if there is an institution listed for your country the only way to apply for participation is through them. Exception: Since we are based in Germany it is the only country where we have several partner institutions. If you’re applying from Germany read through the list to see which institution might be the right one to cover your field.

Case A – Your home country is represented on the list: Hurry to contact the listed institution to find out who is handling the Lindau nominations and talk to that person. She or he will guide you through the application process and will explain any special additional requirements the academic partner might have. If you’re interested, there is no time to lose – nominations are only possible until the 2 November 2015. Our academic partners will review all the applicants and then make their own decisions about who they want to nominate for the Lindau Meeting. The nominees of all our partners will then be sent to the scientific chairpersons of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings who in turn will decide who will be eventually accepted.

Case B – Your home country is not represented on the academic partner list: First of all, don’t worry! The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings place great value in fostering the scientific dialogue not only between generations but also between cultures. We are proud to invite young scientists from over 80 countries and all corners of the world every year. To reach this goal we are always looking to find new academic partners in countries we don’t cover yet. For people from these places (or ex-pats who are not eligible for application through our partners) we have implemented the open application process. For the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting the open application will be open from 21 September to 22 October, 2015. Applicants will have to register and fill out a short profile. The open applications will be directly reviewed by Lindau’s scientific chairpersons. If your application is accepted, it will be added to the pool of nominations by our academic partners giving you the same chances to participate as people whose applications come in through institutions. But remember: Open applicants must meet the same requirements as all the others.

To access the open application for the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting please follow this link.


Special notes to current Academic Partners and possible future ones:

We produced this short film to stress how important the collaboration with academic partner institutions is for us. From providing the funding for the students’ participation in the Lindau Meetings to establishing high quality nomination processes all across the world that help to select the best of the best out of the thousands of applications – our meetings wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of our academic partners.

If you are reading this and working for a research organization, educational foundation or a similar entity in a country which is not part of our network yet, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always eager to find new partners among the world’s leading scientific organizations and to become even more globally connected. In general we are looking for academic partners that can represent and cover the entire country.

Of course there are also a lot of benefits for institutions partnering with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Academic partners will be prominently featured in all of our communications efforts reaching the top media outlets from around the globe. Furthermore the international scientific network we created is invaluable in creating long-lasting relationships across borders, cultures and continents. But above all, the most important reason for becoming an academic partner is the opportunity to give the young scientists of your country the possibility to take part in the Lindau experience providing them with inspiration and motivation that last a lifetime.


4 of 650 young scientists that took part in this year's 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Photo: Ch. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

4 of 650 young scientists that took part in this year’s 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Photo: Ch. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.


To all the Lindau alumni reading this:

Did you enjoy your stay in Lindau? Are you still in contact with the wonderful people you met here? Does it still help to motivate you in your research? If the answer to any one of those questions is ‘Yes!’ then why not help the next generation to secure their own Lindau experience? Become an ambassador for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and spread the word about us (and this blog post) to the people at your university. Try to answer their questions if you can or direct them to the people you know who can help them. As you know, we are also very active on social media. Don’t be shy about linking to our Facebook page and encouraging people to follow us on Twitter and use 2016’s newly born hashtag #LiNo16!


For all questions related to applying for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings as young scientists or for any inquiries about academic partnerships please contact our young scientists support team.


I hope this blog post was helpful to anyone interested in applying for the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. We are already forward to getting to know you guys!

See you in Lindau!

Laufen – eine Liebeserklärung

Als Student oder Wissenschaftler benutzt man im Alltag vor allem Eines: den Kopf. Ob im Labor oder in der Bibliothek, stunden-, tage-, ja wochenlang werden die grauen Zellen malträtiert und der Rest des Körpers bleibt unbewegt. Vielleicht deshalb sehen einige Wissenschaftler und Intellektuelle körperliche Aktivität als zweitrangig (oder -klassig) an.[i] Das habe ich selbst früher auch getan, wurde aber eines Besseren belehrt. Jetzt bin ich der festen Überzeugung: Laufen ist der ideale Sport, gerade für Wissenschaftler! Das versuche ich an drei Punkten zu illustrieren: Laufen hilft beim Denken, stärkt wichtige Charakterzüge und bringt Menschen zusammen.


Laufen entspannt den Kopf und verhilft zu neuen Ideen

Alan Turing war ein genialer Mathematiker, Wegbereiter der Informatik, herausragender Kryptoanalytiker im 2. Weltkrieg und ein passionierter Läufer[ii]. Auf die Frage, warum er laufe, antwortete er einmal: “I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard”[iii]. Jeder, der sich nach einem langen Tag im Labor zu einer kurzen Runde durchringt, kann das wohl unterschreiben. Beim Laufen ruht der Kopf aus und die Bewegung gibt wieder Kraft. Dabei sind die Gedanken keineswegs ausgeschaltet – dem Magazin The Chronicle of Higher Education erzählten Forscher, dass sie sogar „Heureka“ Momente beim Laufen erleben[iv].

Außerdem ist Laufen immer und überall möglich und damit ideal für den oft unplanbaren Forscheralltag. Wenn die Zellkulturen also mal etwas länger brauchen und das Kino schon zu hat – ein Lauf ist immer noch drin.


Laufen lehrt Ausdauer

Langstreckenlauf und Wissenschaft haben etwas gemeinsam. Das meint Wolfgang Ketterle, der 2001 als jüngster Physiker den Nobelpreis erhielt und 2014 den Boston Marathon (2:44h) lief. In einem Interview[v] erklärte er, dass Laufen und Wissenschaft ähnliche Charaktereigenschaften voraussetzen: Ausdauer, Geduld und Ehrgeiz. In der Wissenschaft dauere es oft Jahre, bestimmte Dinge zu untersuchen und es gehe nicht immer schnell voran. So sei es auch mit regelmäßigem Training. Für mich persönlich ist dabei Ausdauer der wichtigste Punkt. Beim berühmten Kilometer 35 des Marathons fühlt sich jeder schlecht und man wünscht sich nichts sehnlicher, als stehen zu bleiben. Hat man es dann aber geschafft, ist die Freude riesig und man versteht, dass die schweren Zeiten dazu gehören. So lehrt der Marathon eine wichtige Lektion für den wissenschaftlichen Alltag[vi].


Beim Laufen lernt man Menschen kennen

Schließlich: Laufen ist sozial. Das mag überraschend klingen, denkt man doch es sei ein Einzelsport. Weit gefehlt! Am besten ist es bei Wald-und-Wiesen-Läufen zu beobachten: Das nonverbale Verständnis unter Läufern. Man benötigt keinen Small Talk zum Gesprächsbeginn, denn das Laufen liefert ein gemeinsames Ziel. So kommen auch Menschen zusammen, die sich sonst nie getroffen hätten. Man lernt sich dann oft auf ganz andere Weise kennen und der wissenschaftliche Austausch kann beginnen. Insbesondere bei so intensiven Tagungen wie dem Nobel Laurate Meeting ist ein gemeinsamer Lauf ein Segen.


Last but not least

Soweit meine persönliche Liebeserklärung an die wohl schönste Sportart der Welt[vii]. Die wichtigste Sache fehlt aber noch: Laufen macht einfach Spaß! Und so freue ich mich schon, in Lindau meine Laufschuhe auszupacken und spannende Leute, neben all den großartigen Vorträgen und Diskussionen, auch bei Runden am Bodensee näher kennen zu lernen.


Slider photo: Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

[i] Beispiel: “ I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense”. H. L. Mencken, Heathen Days.

[ii] Seine Marathonbestzeit lag mit 2:46h nur 10 min über der olympischen Bestzeit 1948: http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Extras/Turing_running.html

[iii] http://www.turing.org.uk/scrapbook/run.html

[iv] http://chronicle.com/article/Eureka-Running-Jogs-the/124164/

[v] http://www.runnersworld.com/celebrity-runners/im-a-runner-wolfgang-ketterle-phd

[vi] …,fürs Leben und für die Ehe (Anmerkung meiner Frau).

[vii] Cave: Bisher konnte diese Tatsache leider noch nicht durch randomisierte Doppelblindstudien belegt werden.