Brussels, 21 Jan 2005
As German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder kicked off celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and the 50th anniversary of his death, he called for a new culture of science in Germany.
Officially opening the Year of Einstein at the German Historical Museum in Berlin on 19 January, Mr Schroeder called on his fellow Germans, and scientists, to embrace innovation as Einstein would.
Einstein 'is one of the most important physicists of all time and one of the most famous natural scientists of the 20th century. He revolutionised science and changed the world through his thinking,' said the Chancellor. 'He has become a cult figure for all youth of the world through his moral incorruptibility.'
Highlighting the greater importance of science in a modern knowledge society, Mr Schröder beckoned German researchers to impart their knowledge in an understandable way and to fascinate people, especially children and young people.
'The older ones among us can perhaps correctly name all German football players who won the world championship in 1954 in Bern. But can we also give the names of eleven German scientists who won the Nobel Prize after the Word War II?' asked Mr Schröder, stating that science should be 'more natural' among Germans.
At the same event, Science Minister Edelgard Bulmahn stressed 'how important curiosity and interest in thinking is for the future of Germany', and said that young scientists need freedom for new and transverse thinking.
The German government wishes to country to take Einstein's iconic status as an opportunity to ponder the country's scientific innovations and think of ways of keeping its brightest people from leaving. Indeed, Germany, which has a long history as a nation of innovation and invention, and prides itself on being the homeland of some of the world's most famous scientists, has in recent years suffered from a severe brain drain.
Furthermore, high risks when an innovation fails coupled with high taxes and other factors have led to companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) not investing in innovation.
'Einstein finally stands for much that this country has badly needed: the desire to puzzle over and discover things,' commented the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. 'The cult of Einstein could have positive effects. The humorous physicist would certainly not be displeased if he fired up research in Germany 50 years after his death.'
The Year of Einstein in Germany will run alongside the World Year Of Physics, a UN-backed effort to encourage a renewal of interest in a discipline that is suffering from a strong decline. It is hoped Einstein's achievements will inspire today's school children to pursue a career in physics.
The celebrations will be marked with tours, a scientific conference and a major exhibition about Einstein's life and groundbreaking theories.