Pomp and Circumstance at the Opening Ceremony
The importance of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum really hit home for me when I saw how much effort was being put into making the event special for both the laureates and young researchers. From the smallest details, like the quality of the conference bags, to the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremony, the organizers sure are doing things right.
The opening ceremony felt a bit like a wedding at first. We were asked to stand, the music started courtesy of a very talented saxophone quartet, and then we stared at an open door for a good few minutes before the laureates proceeded in. Cue the huge round of applause to honour the 26 laureates, winners of the ACM Turing Award, Abel Prize, Fields Medal, and Nevanlinna Prize. I’m sure each and every of the 200 young researchers present were honoured to be in their presence, and eventually even meet them personally.
There was a touching moment of silence for those we have lost since last year’s forum, including the founder of HLF, Klaus Tschira. The rest of the ceremony featured welcome speeches, including two from politicians: Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Vice Chancellor of Germany; Dr. Eckart Würzner, Lord Mayor of the City of Heidelberg. I found it quite refreshing that not only did these politicians seem to understand the importance of science and technology, but genuinely cared about it.
We were treated to some more sweet sounds of the saxophones at several interludes, and lead by the quartet Balanced Action out of the building and along the historic cobblestone streets to the opening reception nearby. Hard to make a group of mathematicians and computer scientists feel any more special than that (that is, until dinner at the castle, but that’s a story for another time).
The video of the opening ceremony is available online.