14. September 2016 Extension, Petra III

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Rede des Ersten Bürgermeisters Olaf Scholz.

Extension, Petra III

Professor Dosch,
Bundestag Vice President Bulmahn,
Secretary of State Quennet-Thielen,
Honorable Minister Vardhan,
Representatives from India, the Russian Federation and Sweden,
Professor Yonath,
Members of the Ewald family,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the new north hall of Petra III. Welcome to what is probably the world’s most exciting campus for structural research. The prevailing speed in Bahrenfeld is breathtaking, and by that I don’t only mean the research results or the things that happen at the heart of the experimental arrays. The campus itself is growing at a tremendous speed. While we are inaugurating two new halls for Petra III, two other new centres are being built nearby – one for hybrid nanostructures, the CHyN, and one for structural systems in biology (CSSB). One can’t help but notice these construction sites – but please don’t let them bother you. They serve good causes such as the battle against infectious diseases and a better understanding of biological materials and systems.

Since the first beam was generated at PETRA III seven years ago, research scientists have actually been able to see what happens when, for example, cells grow or a catalyst is active. The unique opportunities offered by the particle racetrack at Bahrenfeld have led to many different insights.
I would like to talk about just three of the highlights registered in the past few months in order to illustrate the wide range of uses for this facility.

  • 1st example – life sciences: How can we get the better of resistant hospital germs? For example by manipulating the pathogen’s metabolism. This was made possible when the PETRA III measuring stations at the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology (EMBL) revealed the exact atomic make-up of a specific enzyme.
  • 2nd example – geophysics: For the first time ever researchers at PETRA III were able to measure the thermal conductivity of iron under the conditions found deep inside the Earth. This resolved the discrepancy between calculations made in the past and the actual age of the Earth’s magnetic field, which is 3.4 billion years.
  • 3rd example – the history of art: For decades a mysterious white spot on Edvard Munch’s most famous painting has puzzled experts. It is bird lime? White paint? Neither nor. The marks on “The Scream” were made by wax, which may have dripped from a candle in Munch’s studio.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Word has spread among laymen and the international research community alike that the work being done at PETRA III is very exciting. In the past, 2,000 research scientists a year have used PETRA III for their experiments – but three times as many would have liked to use the facility. From today, we can satisfy this demand.

With two new experimental halls and up to ten new measuring stations, the research facility is not only increasing its capacity, it is also increasing the range of experiments possible. For example the new giant press in this hall can be used to simulate volcanic and seismic activity or create new kinds of materials under extreme conditions. And new possibilities for analysis open up, for example in chemical crystallography or what is known as nanodiffraction.

We are pleased that Hamburg, as a centre of research, has thus been able to satisfy the exacting expectations of the science community. PETRA III remains the source of the world’s most brilliant X-ray radiation and, apart from the ESRF [European Synchrotron Radiation Facility] in France, is set to remain the only source of synchrotron light for high energy X-ray radiation in Europe.

Many people play a part in this success. They include the Helmholtz Association, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and, obviously, DESY. Today, however, I should especially like to talk about our partner countries – India, Sweden and Russia. In Hamburg we are delighted about this collaboration.

For quite some time now, scientists from all three nations have closely cooperated with DESY, and the results have been highly successful. Germany has also created joint platforms with Sweden and Russia to facilitate basic research using large scale research infrastructures. For example, Germany and Sweden provide each other mutual support to build the European neutron source, ESS, in Lund and the European X-ray laser, XFEL, in Hamburg. Russia also plays a significant role in this latter project. All three countries will in future also have their own dedicated beamlines at PETRA III.

Increasingly, the success of large-scale research projects depends on broad-based international cooperation. However, scientific cooperation across many national borders has certainly not always been such a widespread practice. It is – if I may point out – the result of European unity, which has brought us a measure of freedom and security never before seen in the history of Europe.

Science needs a united Europe. Only because it was firmly integrated into the European community was Hamburg able to grow into a major, international centre of science and innovation. We are now beginning a new chapter at the Bahrenfeld research campus, a success story that would be unthinkable without this environment. And to come back to the reason why we are gathered here today, the family and personal life histories of the people for whom these new facilities are to be named remind us likewise of these facts. 

Professor Yonath, Honoured members of Paul Peter Ewald’s family,

It is a fine tradition here at DESY to name new buildings after important scientists known for their integrity. And Ada Yonath and Paul Peter Ewald most certainly fall into that category. 

You, Professor Yonath, are the pioneer of X-ray crystallography to research the structure of ribosomes, a Nobel laureate for chemistry and – something we must mention at this juncture – holder of an honorary doctorate from the University of Hamburg. For almost twenty years you headed the Max-Planck working group for ribosome research here at DESY while also holding a position at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. Thanks to your research we now have reason to hope that new antibiotics will make it harder for pathogens to develop resistance.

More than a hundred years ago, at the beginning of his career, Paul Peter Ewald contributed crucial insights into the diffraction of X-rays by crystals. But above all he belongs – as does Max von Laue – to the founding fathers of the science of X-ray scattering. Here at DESY and other sources of X-ray radiation his method for analysing the structure of crystals continues to be developed further.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly delighted that the two new halls at PETRA III will be bearing the names of such impressive researchers as Paul Peter Ewald and Ada Yonath. I am sure that it will be both inspiring and pleasant to work in the “Paul P. Ewald Hall” or the “Ada Yonath Hall”.

Thank you very much.

Danke für Ihr Interesse!

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