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Science

Joachim Gauck calls for open debate in science at Lindau Nobel meetings

The 65th Lindau Nobel Meeting has opened with a call for debate and ethics in science from the German president. Young scientists are here to exchange ideas with Nobel Laureates. Zulfikar Abbany reports from Lindau.

If ever there was a place the German President, Joachim Gauck, could advocate provocative thought, it would be in a room full of young scientists and Nobel Laureates from across the sciences - physiology or medicine, chemistry, and physics.

The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings opened on Sunday with a welcome address from Countess Bettina Bernadotte, whose father Count Lennart Bernadotte helped start the

Lindau Meetings

in 1951.

Then, addressing about 650 young scientists and 50 Nobel Laureates, President Gauck said science needed such opportunities for "critical exchange, and as often as possible, cooperations that break boundaries - not least for funding scientific research."

He called for more debate on science and ethics, citing current research into "personalized medicine" and genetic manipulation of embryonic stem cells as touchstones.

"What impact does it have on human dignity if we manipulate genetic material - even if it's with the best intentions of curing diseases?" asked Gauck.

Gauck also said it was important to provoke debate in society - as Stephen Hawking and others did in January with their

open letter on artificial intelligence.

.

Urban Gaga

As in past years, much of the rest of the opening ceremony was dedicated to highlighting the close partnership between the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm and the Lindau institutions, which has existed since the start.

Further partnerships exist between the Lindau organizers and more than 220 academic institutes, which help select the young scientists who are invited to attend.

They are considered to be the best in their fields, and come from almost 90 countries around the world.

The open ceremony closed with an inspiring presentation by

Kjell Nordström

, an economist and writer, and associate professor at the Institute of International Business at the Stockholm School of Economics.

His presentation - Urban Gaga, Ultra Modern Life, and Societies - suggested our increasingly interconnected world will present us with masses of digital content, scientific research and intellectual property - all of which can and will be copied.

How we manage to maintain a control on the copyright of these ideas, says Nordström, will be one of our greatest challenges. And a challenge which the young scientists gathered in Lindau will face as they debate and exchange ideas with new colleagues and friends over the next week.

Follow our live blog of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting from Monday on

dw.com/science

.

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