Physikzentrum Bad Honnef Ein Platz für Dialog und Inspiration

Im Jahr 2006 feierte das Physikzentrum Bad Honnef sein 30-jähriges Bestehen und das Gebäude den 100. Geburtstag. Das Physikzentrum ist nicht nur ein Begegnungs- und Diskussionsforum von herausragender Bedeutung für die Physik in Deutschland, sondern auch Markenzeichen der Physik auf internationalem Niveau, in dem sich Studierende und Spitzenwissenschaftler bis hin zum Nobelpreisträger zum wissenschaftlichen Gedankenaustausch treffen. So wird das unter Denkmalschutz stehende Gebäude zu einem lebendig genutzten kulturhistorischen Objekt, das seine besonderen Qualitäten gerade aus der Spannung zwischen Gründerzeitarchitektur und modernster Physik bezieht. Trägerin dieser renommierten Einrichtung ist die Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e. V. (DPG), die das Physikzentrum mit Unterstützung der Elly Hölterhoff Böcking-Stiftung der Universität Bonn betreibt.



Physics, alike the other sciences, thrives on the achievements of its protagonists, on their genius and efforts, and on its acceptance in and support by society. However physics is, to a large extent, also fuelled by scientific communication, the exchange of knowledge, and scientific dispute. Science would not be as successful or as efficient without frequent interaction on conferences and seminars, and the direct exchange between the scientists, be it between the youthful beginners and the experienced senior scientists, or the PhDs and the internationally renowned experts. However, major conferences and international meetings do not suffice as catalysts for this exchange; in fact, it is often smaller seminars and workshops with far less than a hundred participants that are of much greater importance for scientific discussions and the exchange of knowledge. Supported by spatial closeness such seminars enable the participants to enter into a very intensive exchange of opinions, to discuss the finer details, and to resolve scientific discrepancies or at least define them clearly, even if this often only occurs in the evenings after a glass or two of wine and beer.

A scientific community that works to uphold this exchange of knowledge – and actually has a suitable meeting venue for doing so – is a blessed one! The physics community has such a venue in the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef, a place that is not only home to the German Physical Society, but also serves as a meeting place for physicists and colleagues from neighbouring disciplines. Without such a scientific forum, German physics would not be as successful on top international scale, nor would physicists enjoy communicating and cooperating with each other as much as they do; this is especially a merit of the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef at the foot of the Seven Hills looking onto the Dragon’s Rock.

It is therefore with great pleasure that we commemorate this year’s double anniversary: the 30th anniversary of the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef and the 100th anniversary of the buildings of the Elly Hölterhoff-Böcking Foundation. A review of the past on the 100th anniversary brings to mind the rapid temporal and cultural change. The listed stately mansion was established by the University of Bonn between 1904 and 1906 in honour of the last will and testament of the Hölterhoff Family. Otto Hölterhoff, a Bad Honnef merchant, had already donated his considerable fortune to the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University of Bonn in 1897 under the condition that the Elly Hölterhoff- Böcking Foundation be established as a “home for ladies of higher descent” and as “household school for girls of lower descent”, which finally occurred in 1906. However, since 1947 the University of Bonn has used the building for special purposes in the fields of research and education, and the building has also functioned as an old-age home “for upper class ladies”. In 1976 the building was transformed into a conference and meeting venue for the physics community, with the ability to also provide overnight accommodation, thus the birth of the present day physics center.

This physics center, which is jointly run by the German Physical Society (DPG), as the carrier (since 1986), the University of Bonn (Elly Hölterhoff-Böcking Foundation) and the Federal State of North- Rhine Westphalia, quickly developed into an outstanding scientific meeting and discussion forum for the physics community in Germany. It soon also became a trademark for physics on an international scale. And it is this aspect that, at the mention of the name Bad Honnef, even makes colleagues in distant Japan or in the USA immediately start to enthusiastically recall a past seminar that is so memorable for its excellent scientific atmosphere and special ambiance – and that has often been promoted by the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation. Of course it comes as no secret that the world’s most famous search engine returns a result that mentions the physics center at least once on each of the first ten pages for a search using the term “Bad Honnef”. Even Chinese and Japanese Internet pages show hundreds of results. Many a German physicist, including the author of this foreword, owes much to the Physikzentrum, for example, acceptance into the physics community, exciting seminars and workshops, many important acquaintances and friendships, and maybe even a stimulus for the career.

The DPG is inseparably linked with the Physikzentrum. It has its headquarters there and regularly meets there for the DPG Day or meetings. The DPG supports the exchange of ideas within the community, takes part in public discussions in society and issues public statements on topics such as climate protection, education and further education, as well as research and energy policies. Although the DPG is the oldest (and largest) physical society in the world, the median age of its members is only 34, making it a very young society. Its spectrum of activities ranges from the promotion of the young generation with school competitions, such as “Jugend forscht”, and awards for high-school graduates, to teacher further training, all the way to the scientific exchange of knowledge, for example with the famous “Spring Conferences”. The DPG is a society for all physicists, be it school pupils, teachers, students, professors, or scientists in research and industry, and including those physicists who have found a home in other professions.

The Physikzentrum in Bad Honnef is therefore an outstanding institution of international repute that need not shy away from any comparison with its partner institutions, Les Houches (France), Varenna (Italy) and St. Andrews (Scotland). It is a lighthouse on the physics landscape and one that helps many physicists to set or maintain the right course. The Physikzentrum has therefore rendered the DPG, the town of Bad Honnef and the Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia a great reputation and provides the physicists with a home.

Ad multos annos.

Prof. Eberhard Umbach
President of the German Physical Society



Table of Contents


Eberhard Umbach


Geleitwort / Foreword


Kurt Seelmann


Vorwort / Preface


The Buildings


Dunja Harenberg


Die Gebäude der Elly-Hölterhoff-Böcking-Stiftung


The Buildings of the EHB Foundation (Summary)


Dieter Scheven


Der neue Hörsaal — Moderne Kommunikationstechnik zieht ein


The New Lecture Hall — Modern Communication Technology Moves in (Summary)


Norbert Schöndeling (Leseprobe)


Planen für ein Denkmal — Vom Laserscan zur Bauplanung


Planning for a Monument — From Laserscan to Construction Planning (Summary)


Jost-Michael Broser


Die Bestandserfassung


Registration of the Existing Building Substance (Summary)


Jürgen Felbinger, Stephan Retterath


Das Raumbuch


The Room Book (Summary)


Volker Kirsch


Planen im Baudenkmal


Planning in a Building Monument (Summary)


Günter Kaindl


Das Magnus-Haus Berlin — Das andere Haus der Physik


The Magnus-House in Berlin — The Other House of Physics (Summary)


The Physikzentrum


Theodor W. Hänsch (Leseprobe)


Jugend trifft das Original


Youth Meeting the Original


Claude Cohen-Tannoudji


Ein Brief (Faksimile) / A Letter (Facsimile)


Herbert Walther


Ein Zentrum für die Physik — Gedanken zum Jubiläum des Physikzentrums


A Center for Physics — Reflections at the Anniversary of the Physikzentrum


Frederick Koch


Die Zukunft gedacht — Physikschulen im Physikzentrum Bad Honnef


Thinking the Future — Physics Schools at the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef


Volkhard Nordmeier, Werner B. Schneider, Michael Vollmer


Physiklehrerweiterbildung der DPG am Physikzentrum


Advanced Training of the DPG for Physics Teachers at the Physikzentrum (Summary)


Bernhard Nunner


Das Physikzentrum — Treffpunkt der DPG


The Physikzentrum — The Meeting Place of the DPG (Summary)


Dieter Röß


Die Zukunft unserer Gesellschaft — Was kann die Wilhelm und Else Heraeus Stiftung beitragen?


The Future of Our Society — And the Possible Contribution of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation (Summary)


Designing the Future


Immanuel Bloch


Die Atomphysik


Atomic Physics (Summary)


Ulrich Schollwöck


Theoretische Festkörperphysik


Theoretical Solid State Physics (Summary)


Christian Weinheimer


Kern- und Teilchenphysik


Nuclear and Particle Physics (Summary)


Peter Schneider


Astronomie und Kosmologie


Astronomy and Cosmology (Summary)



Autoren und Mitwirkende / Authors and Collaborators



Anhang / Annex