Klaus von Klitzing displays his Nobel Prize gold medal to German ambassador Holger Michael while attending German Unification Day celebrations at the German Embassy in St Clair, Port of Spain, on Wednesday. Photo: CURTIS CHASE 

“If you want to be a great scientist, do not live in one country. Move to another country after five years.”

Visiting German physicist/ Klaus von Klitzing, 75, shared this kernel of wisdom while attending German Unification Day celebrations hosted by German ambassador Holger Michael, at St Clair,  on Wednesday.

On 18 January 1871, Germany became a nation for the first time in history after a nationalistic war against France masterminded by the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck. The ceremony took place in the palace of Versailles outside Paris rather than in Berlin – and this overt symbol of militarism and conquest would foreshadow the first half of the next century as the new nation became a major power in Europe.

Do not lock yourself in a room

Asked about his recipe for phenomenal success, Von Klitzing said: “Be enthusiastic. Be curious about nature. Be curious about the environment. Look at the trees. See what is happening around you. Do not lock yourself in a room. Read a lot about other people’s work and theories.” 

During his visit, guests took the opportunity to pose with him for selfies and accepted a steady stream of congratulations. No matter which corner of the room he was socialising, people made a beeline to chat with him. He also allowed people to admire his gold medal and even cracked jokes.

Asked about his short visit, he said: “I am enjoying myself. You have a beautiful country. I leave tomorrow (Thursday) morning.” 

One guest said: “He’s hilarious. I find him so cool.”

Another added: “Being in his presence is awesome.” 

Everyone enjoyed German beer, red wines, cheeses, olives and freshly cooked German sausages, sauerkraut (German cabbage) and buns. 

Von Klitzing, who was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovery of the integer quantum Hall effect, was accompanied by his wife.

Among those present were Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam, Chilean ambassador Juan Anibal Barria and Portuguese Honorary Vice Consul William Ferreira. Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith were also present.

About Von Klitzing

Born in Germany on June 28, 1943, near the Polish border, Von Klitzing parents, Bogislav von Klitzing and Anny Ulbrich, had relocated their family due to World War II several times by the time he finished his secondary education in the town of Quakenbrück in Lower Saxony. He went on to study physics at the Technical University of Brunswick, graduating in 1969.

Next, he began research toward his Ph.D. at the University of Würzburg, earning it three years later after completing his thesis, Galvanomagnetic Properties of Tellurium in Strong Magnetic Fields. Von Klitzing continued at Würzburg for several more years, teaching, carrying out additional research and earning his habilitation, a requirement for professorship in Germany, in 1978. Von Klitzing needed access to increasingly stronger magnetic fields for his research, so he spent a year at Oxford University in the mid-1970s and, a few years later, a year at the High-Field Magnet Laboratory of the Institute Max von Laue-Paul Langevin in Grenoble, France. (Courtesy Wikipedia)




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