Impressions from the 6th HLF

Illustration by Constanza Rojas-Molina

At the 6th HLF, 32 laureates of mathematics and computer science spent a week of networking and scientific exchange with 200 carefully selected young researchers from 60 countries. Characterized by a unique atmosphere that enables both highly scientific and informal exchanges among the participants, the format of the HLF is distinctive to other conferences. Laureate lectures highlight the scientific program that is reinforced by postdoc workshops, PhD poster presentations and panel discussion. When infused with a diverse social program, the participants were able to cultivate connections and had the opportunity to expand their personal networks.

Illuminating the technology behind blockchain and distributed ledgers was the goal of the Hot Topic this year. Many organizations are examining the new technology with a growing interest due to some big promises: reliability, transparency and absolute security. A panel of experts unraveled how distributed ledgers work, discussed their potential and sought to answer whether or not these promises are valid. The Hot Topic was organized and moderated by the award-winning science journalist Eva Wolfangel.

Each year, one of the program highlights is the Lindau Lecture, and 2018 was no exception to the rule. William D. Phillips, who received the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, gave this year’s Lindau Lecture entitled Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe, which was a sub-zero, action-packed spectacle.

Relevant issues in science were also focused on, such as the fact that women are still massively underrepresented in STEM. During the Scientific Interaction session on September 28, women that were able to overcome the roadblocks and have successful scientific careers addressed why that is the case and discussed how best to navigate the scientific and academic environments.

Running parallel to the Forum, the HLFF presented the traveling exhibition, Women of Mathematics throughout Europe, which consists of the portraits and biographies of 13 women mathematicians. Check here to find out where the exhibition is headed next.

As a guest speaker for the final evening at Heidelberg Castle, former president of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, José Ramos-Horta took the stage and addressed the participants about the role of science in the pursuit of peace. Ramos-Horta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor.

The elemental purpose of the HLF was threaded throughout the entire week, enhancing as the exchanges enabled connections to strengthen. Download your favorite moments on HLF Flickr gallery.

The 7th HLF will take place from September 22-27, 2019, and we encourage young researchers in mathematics and computer science to save the date. The application tool will be opened for young researchers this November 15.