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The Leopoldina Annual Assembly: Symmetry and Asymmetry in Science and Art


Press Invitation, 1 September 2015, Accreditation by 14 September at noon is required.

"Symmetry and Asymmetry in Science and Art" - this topic is the focus of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina´s Annual Assembly to which more than 400 participants from all over the world are expected on Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th of September 2015 in Halle (Saale). Symmetries and asymmetries are encountered by scientists from every discipline; hence does the spectrum of the 14 specialized lectures range from the investigation of symmetries in morality to the symmetries of the cosmos through to the emergence of cancer because of disturbances in the physiological equilibrium during the wound healing process. At the start of the assembly on Friday, awards and medals from the Leopoldina will be conferred. Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Sachsen-Anhalt Minister President Dr Reiner Haseloff are expected to attend the opening ceremonies on Friday.

The topic "Symmetry and Asymmetry in Science and Art" has a wide range of application and great significance beyond the boundaries of the scientific disciplines. Symmetries, which affect wide areas of human culture, play an equally significant role in the natural sciences, in mathematics, in art, music, technology, architecture, and in intellectual and cultural history. In his keynote lecture on Friday, the philosopher Prof. Dieter Birnbacher (Universität Düsseldorf) will examine „Breaches of symmetry in morality". He will thereby describe the symmetrical relationships in daily morality between the morally obligated and those that benefit from those obligations and show why the minimalist ethic which is founded on this symmetry does not cover essential moral obligations of our actions.

Further lecture topics will include the influence of symmetries in the search for the Higgs Boson (Prof. Peter Jenni, Geneva), in researching the neural control of movement in animals (Prof. Ansgar Büsches, Cologne), in the emergence of cancer as the result of excessive wound healing, and in many more fields. Prof. Martin Quack (Zurich), who proposed the Annual Assembly's topic and formulated the programme jointly with a team drawn from all the Leopoldina´s specialized sections, will speak on Friday about the reflection symmetry of space and its importance for research in physics, chemistry and molecular biology.

The Friday evening lecture by the astrophysicist Prof. Günther Hasinger (USA) entitled "Is the Sky Symmetrical?", in which he probes the symmetries in the cosmos, will be one of the highlights of the Annual Assembly. In the talk, he as much examines the emergence and development of galaxies, stars and planets as he does the development of black holes and their impact on the galaxies. The physicist Prof. Daniel Shechtman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011 for the development of quasicrystals, is also among the lecturers at this year's Annual Assembly.

The Annual Assembly also serves as an opportunity for the Leopoldina to honour outstanding scientists for their scientific achievements by conferring seven different awards and medals. The Cothenius Medal, the Carus Medal, the Schleiden Medal, the Mendel Medal, the Leopoldina Prize for Junior Scientists, the Georg Uschmann Award for the History of Science and the Thieme Award of the Leopoldina for Medicine are traditionally awarded every two years at the Annual Assembly.

The Leopoldina and the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors (GDNÄ) have invited around 30 gifted students from all over Germany as guests to the Annual Assembly. They will sit in on all the scientific lectures at the Annual Assembly and be able to interact with distinguished scientists.


The Annual Assembly's complete programme and further information can be found at the Leopoldina website under

Accreditation using the form is required for all media representatives and must be completed by 14 September. The accreditation form can be downloaded at

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