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Tomorrow Today

Nature’s Way - the Chemistry of Green Leaves

What can chemists learn from nature? An interview with Prof. Robert Huber, 1988 Nobel Prizewinner and former director of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry.

Watch video 03:02

DW: Professor Huber you are a very busy person, you teach at several universities around the world, you have two companies and you regularly come to Lindau to the meeting. What do you expect here?

Robert Huber: Well first to see a wonderful place in my home country, Bavaria. Lindau is very beautiful. And to meet the international students. I like to discuss with them. They come to me and ask me questions and I like to interact with them.

That means students can also help Nobel Prize laureates to get new ideas?

Robert Huber:
In a sense, yes, by posing the right questions, and asking things that I didn't think about. So that is certainly a moment for me also to learn, and for them to learn from me, and hear about my experience.

You actually work in the field of photosynthesis, and you developed X-ray crystallography to look at special proteins. How has your discovery changed the world?

It has changed the world in that sense that we now understand biology and the players in biology, which are proteins and other biomolecules, at the atomic level. We see them, and there is no understanding without seeing an object. And this is what X-ray crystallography provides. All of this was a development from the '60s on.

The Nobel Prize is the most important scientific prize in the world. How much influence does your word have today?

It certainly has influence with the students. This is nice to see and one of the reasons why I came to talk to them. They listen. Does it have influence in the field of politics? And in particular of those people who finance our research? Politicians have other budget constraints and I notice that the attraction of this Lindau meeting for politicians has increased in the last five years. Ministers are coming, addressing us, addressing the students. So that is another very good aspect that the Lindau meeting has.

Interview: Ingolf Baur