Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – Day 3

Today, the Lindau meeting started with the lectures. Brian Kobilka started his talk as the first lecturer. He is a good presenter but he was feeling uncomfortable, I think. And at the very beginning he already said “I feel like the new kid in the chemistry club”. At the end of the first session ı had a chance to talk him a little bit and at the end of the day I was sharing the table with two of his PhD students. As a second lecturer, Gerhard Ertl takes the stage. He is 71 years old (if I’m not mistaken) and can hardly walk. But his lecture was just amazing! He standed for 30 min and not exhausted. The last speaker of the first session was Akira Suzuki. I was very excited about his talk however he has a really strong accent, it takes time to get used to it. And I have to admit that I couldn’t understand some parts because of this.

At the break, I talked with Werner Arber and Walter Gilbert.

Second session of the morning was dedicated to the Nobel Physics 2012. David Wineland and his close friend Serge Haroche gave lectures on trapping of atoms and photons by laser cooling. Subject was difficult, required a big knowledge of quantum mechanics but their lectures were simple to be understood. Second session was a bit long. After physics guy, John Walker from Cambridge and Hartmut Mitchel delivered lectures. It was really hard to listen the fourth talk. (not only because it was fourth but the way Harmut Mitchel was lecturing was too detailed)

Upon invitation of the Republic of Korea, we went to lunch at catering tent. I was in a rush, because half an hour later I had an interview with Gianna Grün from Deutsche Welle. She had prepared really creative questions. It was a little bit hard to answer them. But you will see it when it is pressed. I guess it will be pressed in both german and english (maybe in turkish).

Discussions with young researchers are the very best thing in Lindau. Every morning there are plenary lectures delivered by laureates and in the afternoons same laureates discuss their research or anything else with you in different places. I have attended the YR discussion of Gerhard Ertl yesterday. We meet in a small hall at the city theatre and he answered our (sometimes silly) questions in 1.5 hours. I’m asking one question to every laureate: “What is the best thing and the worst thing about being a nobel laureate?”. Because, being a nobel laureate obviously is a big honour, but sometimes the responsibilities may be overwhelming. Ertl answer this question as he was really happy of being awarded at the end of his carrier (he is now retired). “Expectations from laureates who are awarded at in their 30s or 40s are much bigger” he said. We talked about his research, his childhood and his experiences. His inclination in chemistry started as he was a 8-year-old-boy. He had a book called “Chemistry Experiments which are working” 🙂 He was repeating these experiments in his bedroom and because of bad smell he had to make a choice between stopping the experiments or moving to his brothers room. He said he chose stop experimenting and interested in radios. So he chose to study physics in the college. His supervisor directed him and supported him a lot. At the end of his PhD, his supervisor let him publish his results as a single author by saying “you have done everything, I have no contribution, so you have to publish this on your own” It is such a big thing that we cannot expect from supervisors today I guess. We learnt that he had never lost his passion for science. He has once discouraged when he realized that his calculations were wrong in a his previously published paper. But now he is ok with it and he said “they event cite that paper in the nobel prize announcement. Mistakes can happen, it is not big mistake that once I have thought” :)))

After the Ertl YR discussion, Kroto had presentation on “presentation skills” at the big hall. Once we got in the hall, he was sitting at the stage and joked with us since we are the early birds. He is an amazing presenter. He gave tips on how to make presentation and what we should not do. It was all fun!

At 19:00 international get-together started at inselhalle. They have changed the conference hall theme and the hall turned into a ball room with long tables. When ı entered the hall, music has already started. There were name tags on the tables, one laureate to each table. Dilek Hoca and I chose the table reserved for Martin Chalfie who got the nobel prize in chemistry because of his discovery on green fluorescent proteins. The dinner was also sponsored by the Republic of Korea. Contess Bernadotte, Korean ambassador, former prime minister and director of KRICT delivered welcome address. We also had chance to listen Korean music.

Our table was dominated by the Stanford guys.two of them were PhD students of Brian Kobilka. All the evening only three journals are discussed; Nature, Science and Cell. Hot topic and top research! Martin Chalfie is such a great guy. He really likes to talk. When he learnt that we are Turkish, he asked about the protests in Turkey.  After some politics, we turned to science again. He shared great memories and gave advices on how to make application for a post-doc position. He said he received only 7 post-doc application after he got the nobel prize (7 applications in 4 years to a nobel laureate! intresting!) I also asked my question to him. He said “the best thing is that I can travel more then any time in my life and meet so many people. It is the best thing. And the worst thing is that it feels like waste of time, sometimes. We got the nobel prize and people think that we are not human but something else.”

I have to go to breakfast to catch the day, I will turn back and add pictures.

See ya!


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