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Looking forward to Lindau

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Ariel view of Lindau Island. Credit: {link url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lindau_Insel_Luftbild3.jpg}Edda Praefcke{/link}

In less than two weeks time I'll be boarding a plane from London to Zurich and then zipping across the Swiss-German border to Lindau by train. I'm pretty excited about it – it will be the first time I've stepped foot outside of the UK since before I started my Physics degree five years ago, and my first time at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

In its motto, the meeting promises to "educate, inspire and connect scientific generations". With 27 Nobel laureates, lots of young researchers and a week's worth of discussions about science its grand aim seems acheivable. I hope that, even though I'm technically no longer a young scientist myself (having quit physics for the somewhat muddy pastures of journalism a year ago), the week is going to be inspiring for me, as well as for the young researchers. Perhaps it will also inspire some of the Nobel laureates in attendence, too.

I've been perusing the programme and am particularly looking forwards to the three lectures on Monday morning: Brian Schmidt on the standard model of cosmology, John Mather on new telescopes and George Smoot on progress we have made so far in mapping the universe, and how far we might expect to come before the next Physics meeting at Lindau. Another session on a topic close to my heart is James Cronin's Wednesday lecture about the history of cosmic rays. His story ends, according to its abstract, with "a remarkable conference organized by Patrick Blackett and Louis Lep- rince-Ringuet 1953 in the Pyrenees town of Bagneres de Bigorre." Having spent four years at Imperial College in the Blackett Laboratory, walking past a bust of Blackett himself on the way to and from lectures, I'm intrigued to learn more about his life and science.

But there are other sessions like Sir Harold Kroto's "Science – Lost in Translation?" and Douglas Osheroff's "How Advances in Science are Made" that look at how science works that will be especially interesting to me too. And for the scientists at the meeting, it's always good to take a step back from the nitty gritty of everyday lab work and think about science in a wider context – these sessions look set to help them do just that.

But of course, I'm open to the possibility that something else that I haven't anticipated will end up being a highlight. Having never been to a Lindau meeting before, I'm not entirely sure what to expect. So, those of you reading this that haven't attended before, what are you most looking forward to? And to those of you who have been in a previous year, do you have any tips for a first timer who wants to make the most of their time in Lindau?

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting takes place from 1st to 6th July. My posts from the meeting will be published on the official Lindau blog and cross posted here. To follow the rest of the meeting head over there and check out the other bloggers' posts too.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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