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Begrüßung durch Prof. Dieter Lenzen


Begrüßung durch Prof. Dieter Lenzen, Präsident der Freien Universität Berlin

Dear Mr. Hawking, dear Minister of State Kerstin Müller, dear Senator Körting, dear Minister Rupprecht, Excellencies, dear Mr. Donovan, dear Colleagues, dear Students, honored Guests,

It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you today at this extraordinary event at the Freie Universität Berlin. Our 2nd Einstein Lectures at Dahlem is being held under the title “The Origin of the Universe“, and we are sure to learn much today about one of the most captivating questions of our times: the question of existence itself.

We opened the ‘’Einstein Lectures Dahlem’ in April of this year with a new colloquium, one that emerged from a proposal by Prof. Günter Kaindl of the Department of Physics in recognition of Albert Einstein’s epochal impact during his nearly two decades as head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics at Berlin-Dahlem. For it was during those Berlin years that Einstein produced the pioneering works in physics that continue to enthrall scientists up to the present day.

The ‘Dahlem Einstein Lectures,’ which will continue beyond the current Einstein Year, are conceived in an interdisciplinary manner, and with the intention of encompassing all of the scientific fields that have experienced the impact of Einstein’s discoveries. In this centennial year of the formulation of the Special Theory of Relativity, the accent lies on physics, while lectures in subsequent years will be addressed to adjacent natural-scientific disciplines.

At this point, I want to express my thanks to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and to the Office of the Einstein Year 2005 in Berlin for supporting this event in the framework of the Einstein Year. My gratitude also to the daily newspaper Tagesspiegel, which has accompanied the series as our media partner.

It is no accident that with the Dahlem Einstein Lectures, the Freie Universität Berlin has organized an additional series of interdisciplinary events to take its place alongside the Dahlem Conferences.

In fact, the facilitation of intensive exchanges between scientific disciplines has been a central concern at Dahlem ever since our university was founded here in 1948.

Standing here at Dahlem, at “Germany’s Oxford,“ as this southern suburb of Berlin came to be known at the turn of the 20th century, when numerous scientific institutes were installed here: how fitting it seems that the Freie Universität Berlin should be preserving and perpetuating this tradition of scientific investigation. For that tradition provides us with the indispensable condition of contemporary scientific activity, namely networked, interdisciplinary approaches that transcend the structural boundaries of individual subjects.

Stamped too by the same demand are the “Clusters of Excellence,” developed here at the Freie Universität as a novel structural configuration designed to respond to the macrotrends of our times and to provide prognoses for future social needs.

Today, it is a very special joy and honor to present Prof. Stephen Hawking as our 2nd Einstein Lecturer. Since 1979, he has been Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a prominent position occupied in the 17th century by Sir Isaac Newton.

Even early on, Prof. Hawking was preoccupied with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. His researches into the unification of Relativity Theory with Quantum Physics and his work on the topic of the Big Bang and the origin of black holes are scientific milestones.

Like very few scientists, moreover, Prof. Hawking has a gift for depicting highly complex scientific matters lucidly and accessibly. Books such as A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell have gained him the widest renown outside specialist circles.

In this spirit, I wish our honored guest a genial and stimulating experience at the Dahlem Einstein Lectures, and I thank Mr. Robert Donovan of the University of Edinburgh and my colleagues Herr Sedlmayr, Herr Wöste, Herr Kaindl, Herr Brewer and the Department of Physics for their engagement. But thanks mainly to you, Dr. Hawking, for your readiness to contribute to this series. And to all those present, a cordial welcome to the Freie Universität Berlin!