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Prof. Dr. Johanna Stachel, Heidelberg
am 8. Mai 2012

Rede der Präsidentin
anlässlich des 500. Wilhelm und Else Heraeus-Seminars, Physikzentrum Bad Honnef


Dear colleagues  Ernst Rasel and Wolfgang Schleich,

dear Dieter Röß,

dear Anton Zeilinger,

dear colleagues and friends,


It is my great pleasure to welcome you at our head quarter of the German Physical Society, where on the one hand our administration of the 60+ k member society resides and that lives on the other hand via the numerous scientific meetings, such as the one you are holding this week: the 500th Seminar of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation on “Highlights of Quantum Optics”.


The seminars of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation – the first one was held 37 years ago in 1975 – are by now a well established format, with up to 20 yearly, most of them in the Physikzentrum here in Bad Honnef. For the Physikzentrum they are the flagship events. Via these seminars of the Heraeus Foundation the Physikzentrum is known to colleagues internationally, ask physicist in the US or Japan and they are likely to know the little town of Bad Honnef. The seminars make the Physikzentrum a center of scientific discussion and exchange benefiting the DPG, the German physics community and the physics community worldwide.  They attract the world leadership in physics and that is of course thanks to the workshop organizers. Nobel Prize winners like Thed Hänsch, Klaus von Klitzing, Tony Legett, Konstantin Novoselov, Peter Grünberg or Albert Fert have all been here.


But it is also due to the informal and convivial atmosphere of this house offering plenty of room for personal contacts. This is exactly how the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, the generous sponsor of these seminars (you will hear more about the foundation in the following talk by Dieter Roess) imagines these meetings on its webpage: the seminars of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation should be a forum for scientific exchange with a limited number of participants and sufficient occasion for discussion and reflection on the topics of the workshop among all or smaller groups of participants; an important aspect here is the inclusion of the young generation of physicists.


As I said, these seminars are financed by the Heraeus Foundation with local support for all participants, travel funds for the invited speakers and logistic support that makes it easy for the organizers. Topics are selected by the scientific advisory committee of the Heraeus Foundation either acting on proposals from the community or soliciting them via members of the SAC. This is one of the most important activities by which the Heraeus Foundation supports physics activities in Germany and the DPG. Another activity is the one week long DPG schools specifically for students.

Another is this lecture hall: It was completed in 2003 as a modern and comfortable lecture hall, good technical infrastructure and beautiful vistas into the green park. Besides using funds of the DPG, this was made possible by generous financial support of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, the State of North Rhine-Westfalia (NRW), the VW Foundation and the Elly Hoelterhoff-Boecking Foundation at the University of Bonn (DPG 950 k, Heraeus Foundation 565 k, NRW 511 k, VW 399 k, EHB Stiftung 89k). And actually later today we will inaugurate the social meeting room in the basement, formerly known as “Bürgerstube” and before that as the “Bügelkeller”; again the extensive and badly needed renovation was made possible by a donation of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation.


Physikzentrum Bad Honnef: this is the home of the DPG, housing it's small staff of 15. We are very happy that it is embedded into a lively physics center comparable on an international scale to Les Houches, Erice, St Andrews etc. Yearly about 5500 scientists participate in meetings here, about 12000 people spend the evening and the night here. It benefits from the proximity to the University of Bonn with its excellent department of physics and astronomy, the nearby universities of Cologne and Aachen, the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the DLR, several Max-Planck-, Leibniz- and Frauenhofer institutes and the various science funding organizations, the BMBF, DFG, Humboldt foundation, the DAAD and offices of the Helmholtz and Leibniz societies. On the other hand, to reach it, if you don't come by car, takes a bit of patience. From Frankfurt airport, the train takes only 40 minutes to Siegburg, but then the street car another hour. Advantage: this keeps people together at the meetings.


This house is very important for the DPG and therefore we are very happy that a few years ago we could negotiate with the University of Bonn, who is the owner, a contract that secures the cooperation in using the house for at least another 30 years. This was the basis for the DPG to start in 2010 the by then very urgent renovations in the historical building. The renovations are nearly completed, all DPG funded measures will be completed this summer. But there are still a number of smaller projects that we cannot afford by our own means: their realization depends on donations from the community as well as sponsors. Every Euro helps and I ask all of you to consider supporting us. If every meeting participant and every DPG member with a salary would donate just 10 Euro, this would fund all renovation measures needed.


Coming back to the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus workshops: they cover all areas of physics, applied as well as basic research and also topics bordering intersections with other disciplines. Your workshop is a typical example: Quantum optics already has plenty of applications and expectations are very high for the future. Nevertheless, mostly the workshop is about basic research at the frontier of your discipline. While there is understandably pressure that research should be directed towards the problems of society and the so-called 'great challenges', I am firmly convinced that innovation for the future generation will only come from the basic, curiosity driven research we are conducting today. We all have to work to convince our society of this concept: funding of basic science is not only an investment into our culture, it is the basis of our future. One product that we can definitely offer: the young people leaving our universities well trained and highly motivated. Society needs physicists in many areas and in Germany with our yearly number of about 2500 graduates we cannot fill the current need.


Let me end by extending my heartfelt thanks to Wilhelm und Else Heraeus Foundation represented here today by its president Dieter Röß as well as the CEO Ernst Dreisigacker for the close collaboration and partnership since nearly 50 years, the continued and very significant financial support. Physics in Germany and in particular the DPG would not be what they are without the Foundation. Thank you very much.

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