This year, I will participate to the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. Before starting to tell how the story began, let me tell what this meeting is.
It all began with two physicians from Lindau, Franz Karl Hein and Gustav Parade, who in 1950 approached Count Lennart Bernadotte with a unique idea, one for a medical congress where German scientists from the Lake Constance region could be brought out of the isolation they had been resigned to since the end of World War II. Hein‘s and Parade‘s plans called for an invitation to be sent out to winners of the highest international science awards. The participation of Nobel Laureates was intended to bring an audience of international specialists to Lindau for the congress, and their expertise would then benefit German medical people in those difficult times. Count Bernadotte made use of his good contacts with the Swedish royal family and the Nobel Committee in Stockholm and, 50 years after the first Nobel Prize was handed out by the Count‘s grandfather, Gustav V, later King of Sweden, laid the cornerstone for a series of meetings that would become unique in the world. Since then, meeting changes its theme between chemistry, physics, physiology and economics (recently). And gathers young talented researchers with 30-35 Nobel Laureates.
So this is how my story begins…
About 4-5 years ago TUBITAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) became an academic partner of The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. I remember that I have heard the name Lindau in those days while I was a sophomore. It didn’t take my attention so much since I was making plans for Erasmus. But last year when I was making application for a scholarship of TUBITAK, I came across with the link of Lindau Meeting. I made my online application; collected two reference letters, transcripts, CV etc and etc. I believed that I was good enough to pass the first level and will be called for the level 2 – interview. And I guess I was, they called me for the interview.
In the morning of the interview I was so excited. 8 people from different universities (even from different cities) came and we sit around a table with a telephone. There were an undergrad, a master (me), a PhD, and 5 postdoc and/or assistant professor. When the phone rang, they were calling a name, and he/she left room for the interview. I was the second. And the interview was not so bright. At least I was thinking as it was. Because a month later, I got an e-mail from Lindau Committee and TUBITAK that I will selected as a nominee for attending the meeting.
I completed the online application in mid-december when I was in the Groningen, the day that I got an offer for a PhD position. Then we waited for more than two months for the results. I don’t know among how many applicants I am selected as a nominee by TUBITAK but only 5 people from Turkey will attend the meeting and we are selected among more than 20,000 applicants over 80 countries. Thats amazing!
Actually this event is amazing. In my motivation letter to Lindau, I wrote:
When I was a child, I enjoyed watching the adventures of Superman. I dreamt to meet him, my super-hero, to understand how he can always save the world. For the same reason, I wish to be a participant of 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting ….. I want to meet my super-heroes of science. This experience will certainly be a milestone in my life.
If you are not doing science, meeting with nobel laureates may not be so attractive. But they are like rock-stars for most of us. Here is the impressions of 62rd meeting.
This year attandance of the following laureates are expected:
Peter Agre, Werner Arber, Martin Chalfie, Steven Chu ,Aaron Ciechanover ,Paul Crutzen, Robert Curl Jr., Richard Ernst, Gerhard Ertl, Edmond Fischer, Walter Gilbert, Robert Grubbs, Theodor Hänsch, Serge Haroche, Harald zur Hausen, Avram Hershko, Robert Huber, Brian Kobilka, Walter Kohn, Sir Harold W. Kroto, Jean-Marie Lehn, Rudolph Marcus, Hartmut Michel, Mario Molina, K. Alex Müller, Erwin Neher, José Ramos-Horta, Dan Shechtman, Richard Schrock, Akira Suzuki, John Walker, David Wineland, Kurt Wüthrich, Ada Yonath.
There are several projects that I have made application. First one is video blogging. I was thinking to make video diaries for my blog and got an e-mail few weeks ago calling video bloggers for the meeting. They will provide equipment, give brief tutorial and professional assistance for postproduction & edit. I choose video blogging on “the Spirit of Lindau”. I think photographs are not an adequate media to inherit our Lindau experience. It is a meeting of outstanding speakers and there will be more than 600 young researcher from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Sharing ideas with such an enthusiastic group of people is a big deal. We are lucky enough to attend this meeting among other talented researchers. So I feel responsible about spreading the spirit of Lindau, make it available for the entire community. This one example of the video diaries of the 2010 meeting:
Second project is again a video project. But this time, you are in front of the camera. The Nature provides a unique opportunity for the attendees.They record short films on a topic you choose or offer. In that short films, you are talking with the laureates you choose discuss the topic you want. There were several pre-determined topics like the role of biofuels in future energy production and the future of catalysis and chemical industry as rare-earth metal supplies dwindle. But I choose rather different topic which is on the more philosophical side of the chemistry.
I would like to discuss the origins of life, creating life in lab and the contribution of chemistry to both subjects with the laureates Robert Grubbs, Akira Suzuki, Jean-Marie Lehn and Sir Harold Kroto. I think chemists deserve a different place among the other scientist for understanding life. Chemists create molecules that exists nowhere in the universe. So chemists can start from the scratch. I am interested in evolution since primary school and I specifically choose chemistry to find some answers. In my graduate research I’m synthesising small peptide amphiphiles that may catalyze amide bond formation reaction. I hope we would get a possible answer of the famous question how life began on earth.
I choose Grubbs and Suzuki because their research was on the carbon-carbon bond formation which is probably the most important chemical reaction for the basis of organic life. Jean-Marie Lehn, known as the father of supramolecular chemistry, developed molecules that can ‘recognise’ each other and synthesised molecules that mimic biological processes. Although research of Sir Harold Kroto is not relevant with the subject that I want to discuss but I think Sir Harold Kroto has a great mind on the philosophy of science. So I would be pleased to ask my questions to one or more of these laureates. I wander how they react creating life in a lab, whether it is ethically right or wrong, is it important to know how life began, if so why? I also would like to know the answers of the laureates on the question of what is life? These questions look so simple but I think they all have a deep insight and sometimes requires deep philosophical thinking.
Here is one example of these short films:
Last project I made application is writing about my experiences in Lindau, potentially for publication in Nature. Something like this: http://lindau.nature.com/en/blog/lindaunobel
I am now waiting the results of the applications. Even though I couldn’t be selected any of the projects, I will make my video diaries and publish them here. Hopefully.