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Helmholtz and the light of the future

31st August 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of Hermann von Helmholtz's birth. The eponym of Germany's largest scientific organization was the pioneer of precision measurements and one of the last great polymaths. We invite you to join us on a search for clues. Who was Helmholtz and why does HZB feel inspired by him when it comes to our future plans for BESSY III and our energy research.

Date and Time: 30th August at 1 p.m. (Admission from 12 o'clock)

Location: Bunsensaal of WISTA, Volmerstr. 2, 12489 Berlin and via livestream

Event language: German

Registration is no longer possible.

The key to gaining scientific knowledge, Helmholtz believes, lies in experimentation. Industry would need precision measurements to develop innovative products, Helmholtz said. Together with Werner von Siemens, he established the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt, today Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt, PTB. With its foundation,in 1887, Germany took the first steps toward efficient non-university research. Today, the PTB with its Institute of Metrology is one of our most important strategic partners for further developments of BESSY II.

Science must solve challenges

Helmholtz took the view that science must always serve the good of society. It had the task of helping to solve social problems. Today, he would see climate change as the greatest challenge facing society. Helmholtz would call for research into solutions that would enable us to live and do business in a climate-neutral way.

HZB is advancing such solutions. With our world record solar cells, our contribution to catalyst research in the newly founded CatLab and many other examples from our energy and materials research, HZB embodies the Helmholtz claim. With the operation of the light source BESSY II, we are clearly putting experimentation and precise measurement at the forefront of our research approach. Entirely in the spirit of Helmholtz.

And just as he did, we are also planning big. With conceptual work on BESSY III, we are already looking to the future.

On 30.8. we do this artistically and entertaining. Let us surprise you.


from 12:00 Admission
13:00 Dialogue Anna und Hermann von Helmholtz Anita Zieher und Christoph Gareisen from the Portraittheater. Direction: Sandra Schüddekopf
13:10 Welcome Bernd Rech, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin
13:15 Lecture "Helmholtz 200" Angela Bittner-Fesseler, Communication Scientist
13:30 Discorvery machine BESSY: our vision
13:35 Moderated round table Discussion
  • Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers
  • Joachim H. Ullrich, President of the Physikalisch-Technischen Bundesanstalt
  • Jan Lüning, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin
13:50 Speech Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin
from 14:00 Talks and Snacks at the end of the event

Challenge 200 Campaign

On the occasion of the 200th birthday of our eponym Hermann von Helmholtz, the Helmholtz Association is presenting piece by piece throughout the year 200 major scientific challenges of our time - the challenges our researchers are working on every day. These are ours (only available in German):