The 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was today inaugurated in Lindau on the banks of Lake Constance in Germany. The guests, who hail from approximately 80 countries, were welcomed by the President of the Council, Countess Bettina Bernadotte af Wisborg. In total, 28 Nobel Laureates and 420 young scientists from around the world will participate in this year's meeting, which runs until Friday, 30 June and is dedicated to chemistry.
In her opening address, Countess Bernadotte exhorted scientists to be more politically active in this 'post-truth era'. "Scientists cannot ignore what is happening in the world. Some rulers, and people, seem to feel threatened by progress and the fact-oriented power of science." With its focus on open and constructive dialogue, the Lindau Meetings can act as the necessary antithesis of this ideology by encouraging young scientists to network with each other and to stand up for science.
The keynote speech by Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate and former US Secretary of Energy (2009-13) under Barack Obama, was read by Nobel Laureate William E. Moerner, because Chu had to cancel his attendance at short notice. The speech was dedicated to the devastating consequences of climate change, which cannot be ignored, and stressed the importance of evidence-based research for global climate policies. Chu criticised the proposed funding cuts to the budgets for both climate and clean energy research under US President Trump and made an impassioned plea for a rethink of humanity's attitude to the clear dangers of climate change. "A changing climate does not respect national boundaries," he stressed. Chu closed his speech with an appeal to the next generation of scientists in the audience: "I close my remarks by asking the young students gathering this week at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting to consider joining the effort to combat climate change."
Steven Chu and William Moerner were among the co-initiators of the Mainau Declaration on Climate Change during the 2015 Lindau Meeting. In addition to climate change and the role of science in a post-truth age, molecular machines are another of the core topics of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. For the development of these microscopic structures, two of the participants at the Meeting, Bernard Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 together with Sir Fraser Stoddart.
Federal Minister Johanna Wanka represented Germany at the inauguration - the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is among the biggest supporters of the Lindau Meetings. In her speech, the minister highlighted the special character of the meeting: "Above all, the discussions and the exchange between the generations - the laureates, the young researchers and students from many countries of the world - are what make this event unique," said Wanka. She further stressed: "We need bright minds that foster advancement. That's why we put special emphasis on strengthening science in Germany."
The meeting will run until Friday, 30 June, giving the participating Nobel Laureates and young scientists ample opportunity for lively, intellectual exchange. Numerous talks, discussions, master classes and, for the first time, so-called poster flashes, at which selected young scientists present their research in short talks, are on the programme.
The meeting will be brought to a close on Friday on Mainau Island with a panel discussion on the theme of 'Ethics in science'. The discussants will include Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Üzümcü accepted the Nobel Peace Prize 2013 on behalf of the organisation.
The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have been hosted on the banks of Lake Constance every year since 1951. Owing to the ongoing renovation of the local conference hall, this year's meeting is again taking place in Lindau's city theatre. The number of participants has therefore been reduced from the usual 600 to 400.
Pictures of the Opening (after 16:30 CET)