July 02, 2012
Particle physicists fit together the fundamental building blocks and forces of our world to build an elegant model. This Standard Model, however, leaves many questions unanswered: for instance physicists have not previously been able to explain how particles come to have mass. Researchers do not know how gravity might be involved in particle construction. Moreover, their model only explains four percent of our universe, the remainder consisting of mysterious dark matter and dark energy.
The Standard Model of physics is on the programme at this, the 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, with interest focusing on the experiments in the LHC particle accelerator at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. On Wednesday, 4 July, four Nobel Laureates for physics, Carlo Rubbia (1984), Martinus Veltman (1999), David Gross (2004) and George Smoot (2006), will discuss the most recent developments in the search for the Higgs particle with representatives of CERN via a live link to Geneva.
Attending the meeting in Lindau is a particular honour for a young scientist. This year, 580 talented young scientists from across the globe will be coming to Lake Constance, including 14 from Max Planck institutes, more than ever before.
Albert Glensk, a doctoral student at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (Iron Research) in Düsseldorf, heard about the Meeting from the head of his group, Tilmann Hickel. "I'm really looking forward to Lindau", says the young scientist, who used the techniques of quantum mechanics in his thesis to calculate thermodynamic properties of solids.
Cécile Bidan, who is investigating the material properties of bones at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam is amazed at the whole programme. Hearing the Nobel Laureates' papers will be a "wonderful trip back to the roots". Materials science research, which she finds so fascinating, lies at the interface between physics, chemistry and biology. Her hope for the meeting in Lindau is to meet other students working in similar interdisciplinary fields.
The Max Planck Society is providing each of the young scientists attending the meeting with financial support to the tune of 2500 euros. They will have the opportunity to develop a network of professional and personal contacts. Guests at a joint dinner on 3 July will include two Nobel Laureates from the Max Planck Society: Paul Crutzen (Chemistry, 1995) and Theodor Hänsch (Physics, 2005). Erwin Neher (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1991) and Hartmut Michel (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1988) will also be in Lindau
These encounters between Nobel Laureates and highly gifted students by Lake Constance are part of a long tradition. It was in the late 1940s that two Lindau doctors, Franz-Karl Hein and Gustav Parade, approached the "Lord of Mainau", Count Lennart Bernadotte, with their idea for a congress. They were keen for him to use his family contacts in the Swedish royal family to help encourage Nobel Laureates to attend a conference by Lake Constance.
Their aim was to bring post-war Germany back into the international science world; prior to the Second World War, more than half of all Nobel Prizes had gone to Germany. However, Germany increasingly lost touch with the scientific community during the war years and was almost completely isolated by the end of the war.
The first Lindau Noel Laureate Meeting by Lake Constance then took place in 1951, attended by a total of six Laureates from Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden, and one from the United States. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have since evolved into one of the top global gatherings of thought leaders and academics. Moreover, the Meeting has also expanded: winners of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences meet with young students in Lindau every other year in August.