Laureates don’t bite! [ENG]

Last updated on 11. November 2014

Dieser Artikel ist auch auf Deutsch erschienen.

A really exciting and interesting week in Heidelberg is over. More than 250 people are back home all over the world and the daily life returns slowly. But the toughts on the forum are still in mind.

A report from my point of view as a blogger for the german HLF-blogging-team.

Before the forum…

When I was told, I could be part of the german blogging-team, I was very happy, but there were also some questions I asked myself about what will happen at the forum. There were many questions: Will I get close to the people there? Will I have enough storys and things to write about? Will I have enough time to write? Will I get the chance to talk to the laureates? And if yes: What to talk about?

In the time I was preparing for the forum I’ve already knew that one week before the forum starts, the blog will go online and that there have to be some articles to fill it up. Additionally there were some research tasks about the laureates and I prepared an interview with Stefano V. Albrecht. I also had to do some planning for travelling. So I had a huge workload even before the forum started.

But even though I was really looking forward to the forum, it didn’t really got into it until one week before the start of the forum. Just when I was at doing some research about the laureates and I had begun to write the first two articles and collecting ideas, the forum was right in my mind. This was when I wrote my second article.

A difficult start

The day of arrival had a planned travel time of about eight hours and was very chaotic. I was going by train and every of the three trains I had to take had a delay which gave me a delay of one hour over all. And so my travel time increased to nine hours. But when I arrived at the station in Heidelberg there were a big HLF-banner in the hall, which gave me a big welcome!

Während der Zugfahrt nach Heidelberg
Sketches while going by train

I wanted to meet with my uncle but as his car were striking in the middle of Heidelberg and we had to wait for about two hours for the car to get towed away we cancelled any other activites and I walked through the old city looking for my hotel.

Der rote Faden in Heidelberg
„Der rote Faden“ in Heidelberg

Surprisingly I found the „Roter Faden1 of Heidelberg which helped me to find my hotel. And finally I reached my hotel after 12 hours!

Laureates gallery

On my way to the hotel I also passed the laureates gallery. Although I was tired, I stopped for a minute and looked at the pictures of the laureates. From this spot I had a fantastic view to the Heidelberg castle. This wonderful view removed my anger about the problems while travelling and brought my anticipation for the beginning of the forum back.

Grand Opening

The first day of the forum was exciting! I reciewed my press kit and my name tag, I met the first people from the organization team and also themembers of the blogging team. From now on one rule was activated for me: „English, please!“. The forum combines poeple from all over the world which is the main reason to speak english there. This was a big opportunity to improve my English!

Mein Presse-Kit mit Konferenzmappe, Pressemitteilungen und Namensschildchen
My press kit with the conference folder, some press releases and the name tag

After a first meeting with a short consultation with the blogging team the grand opening started. In the new auditorium the 200 young researchers, politicians and organizers got together and first words were told to the audience. And then – finally – the laureates walked in: Applause, excitement and lots of respect!

All of the participating laureates were introduced one after another, some politicians gave a speech and the heads of the organizations for mathematics and computer science told some words to the audience. In between al the speeches a saxophone quartet played some nice music.

Turm im Innenhof der Neuen Uni Heidelberg
Tower in the atrium of the New University Heidelberg

Atfer the ceremony we went to the congress hall for relaxed talking and after that we could listen to a concert from the SAP Symphony Orchestra. This was the chance to get to know some of the young researchers. And finally I could talk to Stefano – the interview with him was only done by email.

The concert was filled up with music by Mozart and tried to connect music, mathematics and computer science. The music was really good – the second part, where there was no text, was the best part in my opinion. The first part included a little play with some nice ideas but also some parts I didn’t liked that much.
Most of the audience didn’t understand German so they couldn’t keep up with the story and the jokes. The little lovestory was kind of misplaced but the idea to include the Turing test was quite nice and well done.

Behind the scenes

The first evening was also the beginning of my behind the scenes series which contains three articles. I’ve meet Gewn Spencer – a young mathematician who has a necklace which shows a diagram of her first paper. Later on my way back to the hotel I found Manish Mishra a little bit confused at a bus stop. I „rescued“ him by sketching a little street map which helped him to find his hotel. So he got also into my first behind the scenes article.

As is was clear that the athmosphere on the forum was quite loose some of the laureates put out their nice T-shirts. – The perfect story to tell about for my sequel!

During the boar trip it happend I got my third story. Barry Cipra, journalist and mathematician, showed us a game called „Coercion“ which he has developed. I’ll talk about this game in an other article on my blog. If you like to read it by now, just take a look at the HLF-blog and the third behind the scenes entry of mine. But it is written in German.

These are my behind the scenes articles (in German):
Hinter den Kulissen des Forums – Young Researcher
Hinter den Kulissen des Forums (2) – Kleidungsfragen für Laureaten
Hinter den Kulissen des Forums (3) – Ein Spiel für unterwegs

Laureates don’t bite

While the first days were gone and I had the chance to talk to some of the laureates2 and I just figured out that they are not some supernatural creatures – they’re just human! Laureates don’t bite!
I had very nice conversations and great moments with the laureates! So far I did some nice photos for my behind the scenes article, had the chance to draw two of them including a nice personal signature! And I couldn’t resist the chance to take a photo with Manuel Blum.

Portrait Cédric Villani
Portrait Cédric Villani
Manuel Blum und Marlene Knoche
Manuel Blum and Marlene Knoche
Portrait Manuel Blum
Portrait Manuel Blum

Inspiration on several layers

Overall this week was extremely inspiring, motivating and interesting. The inspiration didn’t only came with the sketches from Heidelberg and the laureates but also with the interesting lectures and the crowdsourcing workshop I’ve visited. I’ve also written an article about the crowdsourcing workshop.

Heiliggeistkirche Heidelberg
Heiliggeistkirche Heidelberg

One of the most inspiring and in my opinion best lectures was the one from Curtis T. McMullen: „Billards and curves in moduli space“. Although I didn’t understood everything of the theory, I loved to follow his talk. He has a very good presentation style whith great pictures and in the end he showed a really interesting video to us! A little post of mine about his lecture including the video is also on the HLF blog.

McMullens lecture and Avi Widgersons lecture about „Randomness“ – which is quite good by the way – I’ve got some inspiration for my art. You will get to know what my idea is in a later article here on my blog.

But Heidelberg itself was a source of inspriation for me. Many wonderful old buildings, a beautiful view to the castle and the old bridge, and the wonderful freen landscape with the mountains and the river were all part of it.

Torbogen Alte Brücke in Heidelberg
Old bridge in Heidelberg
Schloss Heidelberg
Heidelberg castle

Eventful leisure activities

The program of the HLF was not only filled by lectures, workshops and discussions. A very varied mix of leisure activities and cultural program with dinner and time for nice conversations made a very nice week. A part of this cultural program were the symphony concert on the first day, the dinner at Schetzingen castle with a concert of a big band, a boat trip with dinner on the Neckar and a guided tour at the Heidelberg castle with a really nice dinner and farewell ceremony.

On wednesday there was also an Oktoberfest where I did some sketches and I was photographed by one of the young researchers.

Kulturelle Unterhaltung beim Oktoberfest Heidelberg
Oktoberfest Heidelberg
Beim Zeichnen. Foto: Mohamed Yahya
Me while drawing. Photo: Mohamed Yahya

There also was a free evening for everyone except the laureates, who met with some representants from the town. I used the evening to sketch the castle and the old bridge (as showed above) and went to dinner and to a cocktail bar with some of the young researchers.

This week wasn’t boring at any point. The whole time was filled with nice events and there was much to view. But also the catering was very good – everyone had the chance to find some nice food and even for those who wanted to eat alternative fare got a nice menu.

Sleep is overrated

Whith all those activities in the evening, the trips in the city and my task to write some articles for the blog I had a huge lack of sleep. Therefore it was a really exhausting week.

But on the other side I’ve managed to write 8 articles overall (between 10pm and 2am), which documented the forum. But it’s a lot of fun to write articles! Especially the article about the game of Barry Cipra3 was a real pleasure. I wrote until 4am this day. But I have to confess the TV was not that innocent.4 Unfortunately the next day I overslept, but as I had this great article it was kind of okay for me.

Royal finish

The last day of the forum was very nice, eventhough I knew it was time to say goodbye. After we moved to the EMBL Heidelberg (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) the last lectures started and after it a discussion about the forum with positive and negative feedback as well as wished for upcoming meetings.

EMBL Heidelberg Foto: Mohamed Yahya
EMBL Heidelberg

It was the opportunity to talk to the young researchers and and the other bloggers and to say goodbye to the first people. After it we went to Heidelberg castle and got a nice guided tour with some facts about the architecture and the history of the castle and the royal family. And in the evening we had a beautiful view over Heidelberg.

Ausblick vom Schloss
View from the castle

I also found some time for sketching when we were at the castle, which makes me very happy. Such a castle is a great scene which I can’t find in Görlitz.

Auf dem Schloss in Heidelberg
On Heidelberg castle

The royal finish with dinner was in the royal hall. The photos taken during the week were showed at the wall with a projector, a band played some music and really delicious three-course meal topped all of the already gread food. Also here I had the chance to draw. This time I drew a portrait of one of the young researchers who sat at my table during dinner.

Portrait Kamran Kalbasi
Portrait Kamran Kalbasi

The evening ended with the farewell of many great people. It was really great that every participant recieved a poster with pictures of all of the laureates. A very nice memory for this first Heidelberg Laureate Forum!

… is after the forum!

In combination with the first und this last header: „Before the forum is after the forum!“ I want to finish my report. The preparations für the 2. Forum will start soon and I hope that the next forum will be as good as this one!

So in the end I have to thank you all for this fantastic week! I thank all the organizers, the laureates, young researchers and especially the whole blogging team! It was a very nice week full of great events, interesting lectures, nice conversations and a huge load of inspiration and motivation!


  1. Roter Faden is the german equivalent for golden thread. []
  2. A little hint for future young participants: Most of the laureates were really nice and liked it a lot to talk with the other participants. Just go to them, say ‚hello‘ and start a little discussion about the topics you research about or topics you’re interested in. It really works quite well! []
  3. Hinter den Kulissen 3 []
  4. You know, suddenly there is this one show you like and you think ‚Just this one episode and then you will go to sleep.‘, but then the next episode starts and you watch it aswell. And suddenly it’s 2.30am. []
Marlene Knoche Verfasst von:

Informatikerin mit Hang zur Kunst. - Theaterbegeistert, mag Katzen und Kaffee.

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