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Lively Days in Lindau

Hannah Fuchs July 26, 2013

Hundreds of scientists crowd Lindau Island in Lake Constance, as they talk, eat, party – and hunt! Everyone is out to corner one of the guests wearing a blue lanyard.

Projekt Zukunft, DW Bildbeschreibung: Gianna Grün (rechts) und Hannah Fuchs (links) am Bodensee beim Nobelpreisträgertreffen in Lindau 3.7.2013
DW reporters Hannah Fuchs (on the left) and Gianna Grün (right) wear the yellow bands that identify the journalists.Image: DW

Have you ever chatted with a Nobel prize winner? No? The Lindau meeting offers great opportunities. This year 34 laureates are in attendance. You just have to recognize and approach them. But with 600 young scientists attending, as well as numerous helpers and other participants, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who.

The lanyards

The organizers of the Nobel laureate meeting thought up a system to make things easier. They sorted the guests by color – every participant, whether Nobel laureate, young researcher, journalist or staff wears an identifying lanyard around their neck.

There are nine categories:

  • Green lanyards are worn by members of the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners, the meeting’s council and by the scientific directors.
  • Black is reserved for the employees of the executive secretariat.
  • White is for the alumni.
  • The organizers wear orange.
  • Journalists have yellow bands.
  • Dark blue and red are reserved for other guests
  • Grey denotes the young researchers
  • And the lanyards that everyone is keeping an eye out for are light blue – the color of the Nobelists.

And even if the laureates’ bands are not visible, there is another reliable way to identify them: just watch for the clusters of people. The young scientists recognize their stars and gather around them to talk.

Colorful Mixture – an international group

Not only the different lanyards make for a colorful mixture at Lindau; in fact the more than 600 scientists from around the world are a colorful mixture themselves. This year participants came from 78 different countries.

“The enthusiasm of the young researchers, their innovative energy, their passion!” Mario Molina, who received the Nobel Prize for his work on the depletion of the ozone layer, sounds euphoric when he talks about the annual meeting with young people. “They love learning new things just like me – back when I had the chance to discover something new.”

They have all had to abandon their research for a few days in order to attend the Lindau conference. They have left their labs and their experiments to have a good time with their fellow-scientists; what counts here is getting to know each other, forging international contacts and even making a few long-lasting friendships. The social events and other activities are an important part of the week: International Get-Together, Grill & Chill, Bavarian Evening, Boat Trip to Mainau – almost every evening has some activity on offer.

But for all these scientists, young and old, Lindau is principally about science. So, in addition to the panel discussions on Green Chemistry there are numerous lectures by the laureates and discussion forums reserved for the prizewinners and the young researchers.