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The cockchafer speech

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The what???

Well, you see, one of the traditional events at the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting is the annual cockchafer speech. Let me explain that.

The first conference in 1951 ended with a gathering of all attending Nobel laureates and their host, Count Lennart Bernadotte, to take a group photograph. Unfortunately it turned out that the laureates felt quite uncomfortable in front of the camera – and a group photograph of annoyed men would not have given the right impression of the successful first meeting.

So, when Count Bernadotte saw a cockchafer lying on the ground, he picked it up and handed it to the Nobel laureate Adolf Butenandt. “Please hold a speech about the immortality of cockchafers,” he requested him. While Butenandt was irritated the rest of the attending laureates burst out laughing.

Ever since it has become a tradition that one laureate holds a speech about cockchafers during the group photograph. Unfortunately the speech has been neglected in the last years because of two actual serious speeches on the last day of the conference – one held by a laureate, one held by a young researcher. But who knows, the bug might find its way into one of this year’s speeches…

More information on the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting can be found here!
(We do have an English section.)

PS: My British friend Sarah just announced that she’s never heard of that beetle before. I’m feeling insecure and irritated. It seems to be the right name though. For your information, the beetle does not have a rude name in German – we call it “may bug”.

Comments

  1. #1 Monado
    June 26, 2009

    May bug!? I’ve heard of May-flies. In Canada I think we call those things leaf chafers or June beetles.