This is the 61th year that the Nobel Laureate Meetings have been held at Lindau. The conference was held for the first time in 1951, funded by the wealthy count Lennart Bernadotte, as an effort to restore the international scientific ties that had been severed by the war. The count’s daughter, Bettina Bernadotte, has been the patron of the Lindau Conferences since 2007. The different institutions and countries usually offer the countess a gift, to thank her for her hospitality. But the American delegation do things differently this year.
At the dinner hosted by the American Department of Energy, I learnt that every student and young researcher was asked to buy his or her own gift for the countess. There was only one condition: the gift had to represent their institution, region or hometown.
The gifts reveal that, contrary to what some Europeans might believe, there is such a thing as American culture, and a very diverse culture, at that. Here’s the (incomplete) list of gifts that I managed to cobble together:
- Cajun spices from New Orleans
- Cowboy hat from Texas
- Book about the diverse nature of North Carolina
- Old Bay spice from Maryland
- Baltimore baseball
- Book about Johns Hopkins, founder of the Johns Hopkins institute
- Handcrafted quilt, made by Quakers
- Johnny Cash CD from Nashville
- Historical map of New York
- “Exploring Morgantown”, a book about West-Virginia
- Hot Wheels Ford Mustang, from Michigan (near Detroit)
- Hand-grinded coffee from North Carolina (profits go to protecting the habitats of sea-turtles)
I’d like to imagine the countess sipping some American coffee. She is reading a book about the sunken ships off the coast of North Carolina, while Johnny Cash is playing on the background. As she reaches the last page, she gently pulls down her Texan cowboy hat and closes her eyes.
If you know of any other gifts that were given to the countess this year, please let me know in the comments or on twitter!