Rainer Blatt: Quantum technology is developing at a rapid pace

“Quantum technology is developing at a rapid pace”

For his achievements in the field of quantum physics, Anton Zeilinger will receive the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics. In this interview, Professor Rainer Blatt describes how Austria became a hotspot for this field of research and how Germany is now trying to catch up. Rainer Blatt is known to many GDNÄ members through his lectures and publications He is known to many GDNÄ members through his lectures and publications and has worked closely with Anton Zeilinger for a long time. 

Professor Blatt, how many interviews have you given since the beginning of October?
It must have been five or six. The requests came from national and international news agencies and newspapers. 

What were the interviews about?
The occasion was, of course, the Nobel Prize for quantum research, which was awarded to my colleague Anton Zeilinger together with the Frenchman Alain Aspect and the American John Clauser. The spectrum of topics ranged from questions of basic research to my connection with Anton Zeilinger. 

We are also interested in this: How long have you known Anton Zeilinger and what is the connection between the two of you?
We have known each other for 35 years and started working together soon after I arrived at the University of Innsbruck in 1995. We are connected by quantum physics research, whereby our approaches differ but complement each other well. Anton Zeilinger is dedicated to the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and works with photons, while I specialise in atoms and ions and focus more on applications. Together with Peter Zoller and other colleagues, we founded the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, or IQOQI for short, in Innsbruck in 2003. Our model was the famous JILA, an institute for atomic physics and astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado. Peter Zoller and I had spent wonderful research stays there. Back in Austria, we were able to convince the local Academy of Sciences to set up a similar institution in our country. In the meantime, the IQOQI has developed into a beacon of research, and that can be said without exaggeration.

Institut für Quantenoptik und Quanteninformation (IQOQI). © IQOQI/M.R.Knabl

© IQOQI/M.R.Knabl

Exclusive location in the Tyrolean Alps: the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI).

How can we imagine the institute?
We work at two locations: Here in Innsbruck, more than 200 scientists from over 20 countries are now conducting research; the team around the director Markus Aspelmeyer in Vienna is similarly large and international. Despite different research foci, we work closely together, and our working groups meet regularly to exchange ideas. In the first few years I led the institute as founding director, since then I have acted as scientific director. 

So, could the IQOQI be described as a nucleus for the Nobel Prize in Quantum Physics in 2022?
Absolutely. Although much of the work honoured with the prize was done before the institute was founded, the IQOQI has greatly promoted the visibility of quantum physics in Austria. 

What significance does the award have for your field in Austria?
The Nobel Prize is also a recognition of the immense development work of the last 25 years. It has led to the creation of a critical mass in quantum information in this country. With its per capita expenditure in this field, Austria is the world leader. Our funding agencies, first and foremost the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, have ensured this – we owe them our very special thanks. 

What about the practical application of the research results, for example in the field of quantum computing?
There are first prototypes that can calculate with a few tens of quantum bits, so-called qubits. That’s a lot, considering that a quantum computer can in principle achieve the performance of a current supercomputer with just fifty qubits. The prerequisite, however, is that the quantum calculations can be continued indefinitely and that no errors occur in the process. We are still a long way from that, but intensive work is currently being done worldwide on error correction and scalability. In general, the field is developing rapidly, the potential is extremely large and many young people with fresh ideas are joining the field.

Labor im Innsbrucker Institut für Quantenoptik und Quanteninformation © IQOQI/M.R.Knabl

© IQOQI/M.R.Knabl

View into a laboratory at the Innsbruck Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information.

It is often said that quantum computers with gigantic computing power will soon replace classical computers altogether. Is that how you see it?
No, because quantum computers are particularly well suited for solving special problems, for example for calculating the quantum properties of materials, which is very important in chemistry and for which about half of the world’s computing power is used today. Classical computers need much more storage capacity for such operations than quantum computers. Incidentally, as early as the 1980s, the US Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman pointed out that it makes much more sense to use computers for such tasks that calculate with quantum properties and thus automatically take quantum behaviour into account than to programme this in a complicated way on a classical computer. Classical computers will continue to perform standard calculations and routine work and have their justification, for example, when it comes to Big Data applications, such as in climate research. Here, the rules of classical mechanics apply; this is not the terrain of quantum computers. 

The German government is funding the development of quantum computers “Made in Germany” to the tune of two billion euros. Bavaria added another 300 million euros and launched the ambitious project “Munich Quantum Valley” at the beginning of 2022, in which you are also involved. What is happening there right now?
The Munich Quantum Valley is about developing and operating quantum technology as a whole and competitive quantum computers in Bavaria. The two Munich universities and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg are participating, as well as the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer Society, the German Aerospace Centre and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Munich Quantum Valley, with its 350 employees, is where all the threads come together. We are currently building quantum computers on three different platforms. The project is already setting international standards. As an advisor and coordinator, I now devote half of my working time to it. 

Munich Quantum Valley has set out to inform the public about current topics in quantum research. Is that a good idea?
I think it’s extremely important. The scientific work and the researchers are paid by society, the research environment is provided by it – so we also have a duty to explain what we are doing and for what. 

How do you go about doing this? Quantum physics is not exactly easy fare.
I take people seriously and try to meet them where they are. What I say doesn’t have to sound scientific. It should get to the heart of things as simply as possible, but it must not be wrong. I like to use images, analogies and examples. And sometimes I quote my mother with one of her favourite phrases: “Nothing comes from nothing”. That brings us right to the heart of physics and quickly to my topics.

Rainer Blatt, Professor für Experimentalphysik an der Universität Innsbruck. © C. Lackner

© C. Lackner

Rainer Blatt, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck.

About the person

Rainer Blatt has been Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck since 1995 and Scientific Director at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 2003. Born in Idar-Oberstein in 1952, the researcher studied mathematics and physics in Mainz. His academic career then took him to Berlin, Hamburg and Göttingen. Formative for his work were research stays at the Joint Institute of Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder/Colorado with John L. Hall, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005.

Professor Blatt has received many awards for his achievements in the field of quantum physics, including the International Quantum Communication Award in 2016 and, together with Anton Zeilinger and Peter Zoller, the prize of the Chinese Micius Quantum Foundation in 2019. Since 2021, in addition to his work in Innsbruck, the German-Austrian has coordinated Munich Quantum Valley, an initiative to expand quantum science in Bavaria. In 2021, Rainer Blatt was also appointed honorary professor at the Technical University of Munich as well as an external member of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching near Munich. Professor Blatt has been associated with the GDNÄ for years as a guest speaker and author.

For further reading

For the commemorative publication on the 200th anniversary of the GDNÄ, Rainer Blatt wrote an article on quantum computers (Mit Quanten muss man rechnen). In it, the Innsbruck physics professor describes the current state of research and presents the work of his team at the University of Innsbruck.

>> „Mit Quanten muss man rechnen“ from the anniversary publication of the GDNÄ (PDF, German only)

At the 130th GDNÄ conferende in Saarbrücken 2018, Professor Blatt gave a lecture on “Quantum Physics – Arithmetic with Quantum Physics”:

>> to the lecture of Professor Blatt (German only)

Further information:

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim honoured with Lorenz Oken Medal


Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim honoured with Lorenz Oken Medal

The Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte (GDNÄ) has awarded Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim the Lorenz-Oken Medal for her extraordinary achievements in communicating science – also to target groups that otherwise have little access to science. As a science journalist, television presenter, chemist, author and YouTuber, Nguyen-Kim reaches millions of people. The award was presented at the Science Communication Forum on 5 October 2022 in Hannover.
Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim © David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

© David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

Medal and certificate: The award winner with GDNÄ President Martin Lohse (left) and GDNÄ Treasurer and Secretary General Professor Michael Dröscher.
Communicating science requires new approaches, especially in times of disinformation and fake news. With her formats in social media, television and radio, Dr Mai Thi Nguyen Kim addresses young people in particular, as well as target groups that previously had no access to well-founded information from science. As a chemist with a doctorate, she communicates research topics in a highly competent and broadly effective manner and reaches more than 1.4 million subscribers with her YouTube channel maiLab. Nguyen-Kim makes a significant contribution to the opinion-forming process in society and is thus in the tradition of Lorenz Oken, who founded the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians in 1822 to promote friendly exchange between naturalists and physicians and between science and society.

Connected via video: Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim at the 2022 Festival Assembly in Leipzig.

The President of the GDNÄ, Professor Martin Lohse, said in Hanover: “With her successful commitment to communication between science and young people in particular, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim is a worthy recipient of the Lorenz Oken Medal.” The honour took place during the Forum on Science Communication on 5 October in Hanover. The laudation was held by the President of the University of Göttingen, Professor Metin Tolan. The award winner responded with a keynote speech on the importance of social media in science communication.
Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen

© David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

The laudatory speech was given by Professor Metin Tolan, physicist, President of the University of Göttingen and Communicator Award winner.

Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen

© David Ausserhofer/Wissenschaft im Dialog

Award winner Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim on 5 October 2022 in Hanover.

About the person

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim’s parents come from Vietnam. Her father is a chemist and worked at BASF. After graduating from high school, she studied chemistry at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and completed a research stay at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During her studies, she was a scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation. In 2017, she attained her doctorate on a topic in polymer chemistry at the University of Potsdam. During her doctoral studies at RWTH Aachen University and the University of Potsdam, Nguyen-Kim spent a research year at Harvard University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research. 

In 2015, she launched the YouTube channel The Secret Life of Scientists to challenge stereotypes about (natural) scientists and communicate science topics to a young audience. In October 2016, her YouTube channel schönschlau went online. For a time, she hosted the channel Auf Klo and learning videos for the subjects chemistry and mathematics in the format musstewissen. Her channel schönschlau was renamed maiLab in 2018. Nguyen-Kim is a moderator in the science-in-dialogue project Die Debatte (The Debate) and is part of the Terra X Lesch & Co. team with Harald Lesch, Jasmina Neudecker and Suzanna Randall. From 2018 to 2021, she was on the presenter team of the programme Quarks

Nguyen-Kim has published two books, Funny, All Chemical! (2019) and Die kleinste gemeinsame Wirklichkeit (2021), a title that reached number one on the Spiegel bestseller list in the same month of publication.

Would you like to experience the “Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation 2022” again? A multimedia documentation with many interviews, contributions, graphic recordings, links and a podcast makes it possible.

200th anniversary of the GDNÄ: a glittering celebration of the sciences

200th anniversary of the GDNÄ: a glittering celebration of the sciences

by Prof. Dr. Michael Dröscher, Treasurer and Secretary General

Just how vital and sustainable the interdisciplinary research society remains today was demonstrated at its 200th anniversary celebration at its founding site in Leipzig. It was a magnificent celebration of science that the Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ) hosted from September 8 to 11, 2022, in the beautiful atmosphere of the Leipzig Congress Hall at the Zoo under the patronage of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Around 800 GDNÄ members and guests, including more than 200 high school and university students, came to celebrate the Society’s birthday with a high-caliber program on the theme of “Images in Science”. 

Founded in 1822 by free-minded thinkers in Leipzig at the invitation of Lorenz Oken, the GDNÄ has evolved over the course of its 132 meetings from a gathering of Europe’s scientific and medical elite to an exchange of high-ranking scientists with people interested in the natural sciences. The generally understandable lectures from chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and medicine showed how interdisciplinary science is and must be today.


© MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

At the festive evening after the first day of the meeting: Michael Dröscher welcomes the guests with humorous words (behind him from left to right: Ronald Werner, Jörg Junhold, Martin Lohse).

For the special anniversary celebration, the program was not only extended to four days, but also offered participants a science exhibition with hands-on activities and a significant expansion of the student program. The students not only participated in the full scientific program. They contributed to the program with their questions to science, created an enthusiastically received science slam, took advantage of the opportunity to get advice on their studies, and freely exchanged ideas with speakers and guests.

The opening day was marked by the festive session, attuned and framed by the Albero String Quartet with music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven.

GDNÄ President Professor Martin Lohse and local CEO and host Zoo Director Professor Jörg Junhold opened the festive session in the Congress Hall. With the words “The GDNÄ stands for exchange and openness”, the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, welcomed the festive society in her video message. In his greeting, the President of the State Parliament, Dr. Matthias Rößler, pointed out Saxony’s close connection with the GDNÄ, which was meeting in the Free State for the ninth time, and emphasized the promotion of dialogue between science and the public. Mayor Professor Thomas Fabian pointed out the great importance of Leipzig as a science location.

The GDNÄ thrives on the commitment of its members. Therefore, it awards the Alexander von Humboldt Medal every two years for special contributions to the development of society. During the festive meeting, it honored Professor Joachim Treusch for his services as a board member, president and long-time companion of the board. In her laudatory speech, Professor Eva-Maria Neher said, “Our laureate today, Joachim Treusch, belongs with Alexander von Humboldt to the ‘far-sighted people’ who not only shaped the GDNÄ, but with and as part of it, shaped the sciences, advanced communication to society, and significantly convinced politics to promote innovation and change.” In particular, the medal recognizes the awardee’s contribution to the implementation of the student program and his linking of society with the networks of science. As the founding president of the Helmholtz Association, a member of the Senate of the Leopoldina, and a member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, Professor Treusch has helped shape many connections to the GDNÄ.


© MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

Students surround physics Nobel laureate Reinhard Genzel after his lecture, “A 40-year Journey to the Center of the Milky Way.”

The focus of the celebration session was the exchange of students with science. Around 200 participants in the scholarship-funded student program, which was once again under the competent leadership of student advisor Paul Mühlenhoff, had agreed in preparatory meetings on key questions to science on the topic of “We have only one world”. Three of the six subject area groups presented their questions on the podium at the opening ceremony. The topic was introduced by a video message from Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: She will receive the Lorenz Oken Medal of the GDNÄ on October 5, 2022, at the Forum on Science Communication in Hannover, Germany, to honor her contributions to communicating science to society.

In the Biology Department, young people discussed the question “How would an alga have to be modified and used to convert greenhouse gases, such as atmospheric CO2 and CO2 dissolved in seawater, into usable organic material as quickly, practically, reliably and risk-free as possible, and how could this be technically realized?” with Professor Antje Boetius, director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. “What do you think is necessary to be able to realize individual medicine for every person in a timely manner?” – was the question posed by the medical team to Professor Patrick Cramer, President of the Max Planck Society from 2023. “How does science realize the perfect city of tomorrow?” was the question posed by Professor Johann-Dietrich Wörner, President of the German Academy of Engineering Sciences, to the Technology/Engineering Group. The conversation, moderated by Martin Lohse, can be found, along with all the presentations, on the Society’s video channel.


© MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

The lecture by physics Nobel Prize winner Professor Reinhard Genzel attracted many Leipzigers to the Congress Hall at the Zoo.

Also on the big stage, three other student groups presented their questions the next day during the biology session. Vice President Professor Heribert Hofer moderated the second round. “Does chemistry have to reinvent plastic to get the benefits as well as eliminate the known drawbacks, and can science eliminate plastic waste that already exists and make this economically attractive?” asked Professor Michael Buchmeiser, director of the Institute of Polymer Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart. The question posed by the mathematics/computer science group, “How can computer science minimize the energy and resource consumption of data storage and communication despite advancing digitalization?” was addressed to Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. Professor Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus, Bielefeld University, responded to the question on science communication posed by the physics group, “How can science succeed in communicating the most urgent problems in such a comprehensible way that it leads to direct action?”

Back to the celebration session: images and journeys was the topic of the panel in the second part. President Lohse introduced the conference theme. “All sciences strive to produce accurate images. To do so, they use artificial as well as natural intelligence, the large toolbox of computer science, sophisticated methods of physics and specially designed building blocks of chemistry. Optimized dyes and labeling strategies, complex light and electron microscopes, efficient algorithms and clear visualizations are needed to depict the molecules of life with ever greater precision. Impetus for the panel discussion was provided by Professor Oliver Lubrich, University of Bern, on “Alexander von Humboldt’s Images of Science”, Professor Antje Boetius with a report on the MOSAiC expedition, which was additionally documented by images in the exhibition, and Professor Günther Hasinger, European Space Agency, with his view on black holes and the fate of the universe.

With a glass of champagne in hand, Professor Jörg Junhold and Dr. Ronald Werner, the representative of the Saxon state government, opened the festive evening in the zoo’s concert garden. With music from the Alberto Quartet and a flying buffet, the party was duly celebrated.

But not only that. At 7:30 p.m., “Science in 5 Minutes” was scheduled in the White Hall. This format took place for the third time, always moderated by Vice President Professor Heribert Hofer. In front of a full hall, 13 young people, individually or in teams, competed. With their topics “Alkylpolyglucosides and preservatives in a different way,” “Gender in medicine,” “Use of clay in commercial construction – a significant contribution to ways out of the climate crisis,” “Fullerenes and medical use,” “Will AI take over our world?”, “Why can the number Pi be calculated from two colliding blocks? “, “Voltage or current, which is the killer?”, “How can machines weighing tons fly?”, “The periodic table of the elements – deadlier than you think” and “Interstellar travel”, the young speakers were able to inspire the audience and provoke storms of applause to such an extent that in the end there were 5 first and 5 second places, each rewarded with 200 and 100 euros respectively.


© MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

Well attended, gladly used: The study counselling by proven experts on Saturday, 10 October.

The second day began with the biology session led by Professor Tina Romeis. Dr. Andreas Wilting was on the trail of hidden wild animals of tropical rainforests, while Professor Markus Sauer introduced the “Latest developments in super-resolution microscopy”.

The science market was open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It offered not only interesting insights, for example into the MOSAiC exhibition “Into the Ice” and the exhibition “Fascination of Science” by photographer Herlinde Koelbl, but also hands-on activities. Represented were the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (research site of Professor Svante Pääbo, 2022 Nobel Laureate in Medicine), the Leibniz Institutes for Photonic Technologies, Jena, Tropospheric Research and Regional Geography, both from Leipzig, and the Leipzig Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences. The Society’s archivist, Dr. Matthias Röschner, had brought along some particularly interesting items from the GDNÄ archive at the Deutsches Museum.

In the acatech “Science and Technology Café”, private lecturer Marc-Denis Weitze invited participants to discuss the topic “In which world do we want to live/Science for tomorrow” during the lunch break. In parallel, Lilo Berg moderated a discussion on the history of the GDNÄ with Professor Dietrich von Engelhardt and archivist Dr. Matthias Röschner.

The afternoon began in the context of the chemistry session chaired by Professor Wolfgang Lubitz with the award of the Liebig Memorial Medal of the German Chemical Society by GDCh President Dr. Karsten Danielmeier to Professor Claudia Felser, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids. The laudator, Professor Barbara Albert, Rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, praised the award winner as a visionary in solid materials. In her talk, Claudia Felser reported on “Chirality and Topology. Contributions on NMR-assisted structural biology by Professor Bernd Reif, insights into the molecular architecture of cells by Professor Wolfgang Baumeister, and encounters with nanomachines at work, mediated by Professor Helmut Grubmüller, completed the chemistry session.

The public evening lecture by Nobel Prize winner in physics Reinhard Genzel about his 40-year journey to the center of the Milky Way attracted not only conference participants but also many citizens of Leipzig. Professor Genzel took plenty of time after the lecture to talk to the students. Afterwards, conference participants flocked to St. Nicholas Church to hear works by Georg Phillip Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Max Reger and Richard Wagner. Music was performed by Viktorija Kaminskaite (vocals), Alexander Bernhard (trumpet) and Reiko Brockelt (alto saxophone) under the direction of University Music Director David Timm (organ). Between the musical pieces, Superintendent Sebastian Feydt explained the significance of St. Nicholas Church to the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.

After the early GDNÄ general meeting, Saturday morning began with the physics session led by Professor Thomas Elsässer. With images from the nanoworld, time-resolved X-ray crystallography and the diversity of extrasolar planets, Professor Roland Wiesendanger, Professor Petra Fromme and Professor Heike Rauer impressed the audience.

The topic of the well-attended acatech “Science and Technology Café” during the lunch break was the digitalization of medicine. At the same time, large numbers of students sought advice from members of the GDNÄ’s Board of Directors about study opportunities in the natural sciences, computer science, medicine and veterinary medicine.

The afternoon was devoted to topics in technology and computer science and was led by Professor Johannes Buchmann. Professor Stefan Roth reported on image analysis and understanding for autonomous driving and Professor Christian Theobalt on machine learning in computer graphics and image recognition. Professor Philipp Slusallek concluded the computer science section with the topic of real-time ray tracing for photorealistic visualization.

For the following public Leopoldina lecture by Markus Gross, computer science professor at ETH Zurich and director of Disney Research, on computer-generated Hollywood movies with impressive images and technologies, many citizens of Leipzig again flocked to the Congress Hall at the Zoo.

After the lecture, the speakers were invited by the mayor and the zoo director to the zoo’s Gondwanaland for an evening in tropical surroundings.


© MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

Magnetic resonance tomography in real time: Professor Jens Frahm showed fascinating images, including interior views of a horn player.

Sunday was dedicated to medicine, introduced by Professor Jürgen Floege. Professor Jens Frahm kicked things off with impressive images of real-time magnetic resonance tomography. To be able to watch artists playing the trumpet and singing from the inside was impressive.

Afterwards, the focus was on the new RNA medicine. Professor Jörg Vogel, Professor Lorenz Meinel and Professor Stefanie Dimmler introduced the field and discussed future developments together with GDNÄ President Professor Martin Lohse.

The President concluded by thanking the participants who had traveled from near and far, the speakers and panel guests, the members of the Executive Board and the Board Council, and the local Zoo and Congress Hall teams led by Professor Jörg Junhold. He highlighted the tremendous efforts of those who helped prepare and host this meeting. In particular, he thanked the office staff, Ms. Landeck and Ms. Diete, who received great applause from the participants.

The president also thanked the city of Leipzig and the state of Saxony for their hospitality, the superintendent of the Nikolaikirche, Sebastian Feydt, as well as the musicians of the anniversary concert, the students around Studienrat Paul Mühlenhoff, the Instagram team from Stuttgart around Professor Alexander Mäder, the archive of the GDNÄ around Matthias Röschner and all exhibitors in the conference-accompanying “Market of Sciences”, the team of authors of the commemorative publication around Lilo Berg and Thomas Liebscher as well as all sponsors, donors and donors.

The next meeting of the GDNÄ will take place in Potsdam in September 2024, then under the leadership of the Berlin zoologist Professor Heribert Hofer.

All lectures were livestreamed and are available as video via www.gdnae.de. A photo gallery, the meeting diary and many other contributions on the website commemorate the festive 200th anniversary of the German Society of Natural Scientists and Physicians in Leipzig in September 2022.

Matthias Röschner © Deutsches Museum

© MIKA-fotografie | Berlin

The anniversary concert in the Nikolai Church – an unforgettable experience at the end of the second day of the meeting.

Further information:

GDNÄ elects Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla to the Presidium

GDNÄ elects Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla to the Presidium

The Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ) has elected Prof. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla as Vice-President during the 200th anniversary celebration in Leipzig. The Chairwoman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will become President of the GDNÄ in 2025 and 2026.

The Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ) elected a new president at its general meeting during the Kaysser-Pyzallla as 2nd Vice-President for the years 2023 and 2024. She will take over the presidency of the GDNÄ in 2025 and 2026, making her the third woman in the 200-year history of the the third woman after Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eva Maria Neher to chair the GDNÄ.

Heribert Hofer, who will take over the presidency of the GDNÄ from Martin Lohse in early 2023, says: “With Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla comes a very committed researcher and science manager to the Presidium of the GDNÄ. As an engineer, she represents the interdisciplinarity of the modern sciences.”

The GDNÄ is the oldest interdisciplinary scientific society in Germany. Since 1822 it has been bringing together scientists and those interested in science for interdisciplinary exchange. The dialogue between natural sciences, medicine, technology and the public is the basic concern of the GDNÄ. Another focus is the promotion of young people with a special interest in the natural sciences. Thus, more than 200 students took part in the 132nd Assembly and Ceremony in Leipzig.

Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla

About the person

Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla studied mechanical engineering and mechanics in Bochum and Darmstadt. She completed her doctorate and habilitation at the Ruhr University in Bochum. After research activities at the Hahn-Meitner-Institut (HMI) and at the Technical University of Berlin, she researched and taught at the Vienna University of Technology. In 2005, she moved as a scientific member, director and managing director to the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research GmbH in Düsseldorf. In 2008 she was appointed Scientific Managing Director of the Helmholtz-Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy GmbH, which was created under her leadership from the merger of HMI and BESSY. In 2017, Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla was elected President of the Technische University of Braunschweig. Since 2020, she has been Chair of the Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The GDNÄ mourns the death of its former president Professor Harald Fritsch

Professor Harald Fritzsch

The GDNÄ mourns the death of its former president

The former President of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ), the physicist Prof. Dr. Harald Fritzsch, passed away in Munich on 16 August 2022 at the age of 79. Harald Fritzsch was President of the GDNÄ in 2003 to 2004 and chaired the 123rd Assembly in Passau.

“Harald Fritzsch was a theoretical physicist who made important contributions to the theory of quarks”, says GDNÄ President Professor Martin Lohse. “He also made a name for himself as an author of popular science books, for example with his book ‘Quarks’, which appeared in 1981. In his later works, he had scientists from different eras discuss difficult physics topics with each other.”

Harald Fritzsch was born in Zwickau in 1943. After graduating from the Gerhart Hauptmann extended secondary school, he was a soldier in the GDR’s National People’s Army in Kamenz from the summer of 1961, where he trained with the air force. He studied physics in Leipzig from 1963 to 1968. In 1968, he and a friend were the initiators of a risky, extremely high-profile protest action against the demolition of the 700-year-old Paulinerkirche. Fritzsch and his friend managed a daring escape by folding boat across the Black Sea to Turkey. He continued his studies in Munich, where he received his doctorate in 1971 under the guidance of Heinrich Mitter with a thesis “On the algebraic structure of observables in the strong interaction”. After his doctorate, he went to the European Research Centre CERN near Geneva for a year. He then moved with Murray Gell-Mann to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. From 1977 to 1978 he was a professor at the University of Wuppertal. In 1979 Fritzsch moved to the University of Bern, then in 1980 to the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich. He became emeritus professor in 2008. Fritzsch was a full member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.

The GDNÄ will honour the memory of its former president, the renowned physicist Professor Harald Fritzsch.

Nobelpreisträger Paul J. Crutzen

© Rotary Magazin

Professor Harald Fritzsch

Commemorative publication for the GDNÄ anniversary

Commemorative publication for the GDNÄ anniversary

200 eventful years on 200 pages

A lavishly designed commemorative publication in the style of a modern non-fiction book will be available from beginning of September 2022, just in time for the anniversary meeting in Leipzig. On two hundred pages it deals with the eventful history of the GDNÄ, its present range of tasks and the perspectives for the future.

The richly illustrated book sketches the path of the GDNÄ through two centuries. It stops at important stations, looks far into the future, and lets research spark. Then, for example, when renowned scientists, including many GDNÄ members, give inspiring and comprehensible accounts of their own research and the development of the field. These “workshop reports” deal, for example, with an expedition to the deep sea, the search for dark matter, new techniques of energy storage and the history of modern climate research. Also exciting to read are the interviews with a pioneer of the new RNA medicine and the Nobel Prize winner who was honored for the invention of organic catalysis.

Greetings from politicians and scientists introduce the festschrift. The book is rounded off with a multifaceted outlook into the future.

Editor and co-author of the commemorative publication is Professor Martin Lohse, President of the GDNÄ. The work was designed by Thomas Liebscher, graduate graphic designer, founder and owner of the Leipzig publishing house Passage-Verlag. Here are some sample pages:

Impressionen vom Vorbereitungstreffen des Schülerprogramms im Juni 2022 in Leipzig.

From the commemorative volume for the great anniversary of the GDNÄ. © Thomas Liebscher, Passage-Verlag

Further information:

A society with history(s)

United in advancing the sciences, in open discussion and a friendly atmosphere – that was what the group around Lorenz Oken wanted when they founded the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians (GDNÄ) in Leipzig in 1822. Initially ridiculed as a “scientific nomadic horde,” the research society quickly developed into a meeting place for Europe’s scientific and medical elite. To this day, the GDNÄ remains committed to its core concerns –interdisciplinary exchange, dialogue with society and the promotion of young scientists.

The book contains contributions by Christiane Angermann, Marie-Luise Beck, Lilo Berg, Rainer Blatt, Matthias Bochtler, Angelika Brandt, Dietrich von Engelhardt, Georg Ertl, Jörg Hacker, Günther Hasinger, Heribert Hofer, Robert Huber, Sandra Kumm, Benjamin List, Martin Lohse, Thomas Lohse, Jochem Marotzke, Ansgar Schanbacher, Robert Schlögl, Jörg Vogel, Wolfgang Wahlster, Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, Ekkehard Winter and many others.

Lohse, Martin (ed.): Wenn der Funke überspringt, Passage-Verlag Leipzig 2022, ISBN 3954151308, 29 euros (to be published on beginning of September 2022).