Letters from Lindau: Day 1

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Editor’s note: Anthea Blackburn is a graduate student based in the US who is attending the 63rd Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates (this year dedicated to chemistry) in Germany. Anthea is writing daily blog posts from the meeting for the Sceptical Chymist.

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Hello readers, or should I say guten tag!

Photo courtesy of Anthea Blackburn

Photo courtesy of Anthea Blackburn

Well, I have arrived in Lindau, after what seemed like endless travelling. After 24 hours here I am still in awe of how beautiful this small island town is. From the old-style buildings, the cobbled streets (which coincidentally are completely miserable to drag a suitcase down), to the views of Lake Constance, it feels like you are walking through a postcard. For such a tiny area of land (0.68 square km), there is an awful lot to experience.

We were only required to register this morning, and obtain our distinctive red satchels complete with programmes and name badges, so the morning was spent exploring the island, meeting new friends, spending time at the lake and, in my case, accidentally swimming (way to make a first impression!) Thankfully the weather is supposed to be beautiful all week, so there will be more opportunities to experience more of the friendly Bavarian culture, and see more of Lindau’s history.

The meeting kicked off in the afternoon with opening talks from a range of the people who were involved in the planning of the Lindau Meetings, as well as politicians involved in German education and research. As I mentioned in my first post, the main theme of the Lindau Meetings is ‘Educate. Inspire. Connect.’ and this was a theme in each of the speakers’ addresses. They stressed that as young scientists, we need to build bridges between Laureates, students, countries and disciplines – the only way that we can achieve this is through dialogue and exchange, leading to mutual understanding on a personal level. I am beginning to see how exceptional an experience the meeting will be already – I have spoken with other young researchers from all corners of the world, all of whom have different backgrounds in science and different life stories. The Lindau Meetings truly do provide a global forum to educate, inspire and connect.

Photo courtesy of Anthea Blackburn

Photo courtesy of Anthea Blackburn

The evening finished with a performance from an ensemble of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by dinner and conversation. The one thing that stuck out from these dinner conversations is just how like celebrities these Nobel Laureates really are. I overheard, and even took part in, more than a few conversations about Laureates a person had spotted that afternoon, and whether or not they should have approached (I heard of no one that had, for the record). I imagine that as the week progresses, and as we listen to the Laureates speak, they will become much less names written down on pieces of papers and spoken in awe at dinner tables, and more ‘real’ people, so hopefully there will be much less of the should I/shouldn’t I conversations, and many more of the “this is what they said” conversations. We are here to interact with these rock stars on a personal level after all!

Stay tuned readers, talks from the Laureates start tomorrow. The theme of this year’s meeting is sustainable chemistry, and how we can develop new methods for chemical energy conversion and storage. I’m excited to hear about the Laureate’s research (which may or may not be related to this topic), as well as take part in discussions about how we, as the future generation of scientists, can help to address the energy issues we are currently facing.

Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature