50 years IMAU – a great celebration and a day to be remembered
June 23rd , 2016, will enter the history books as the day IMAU celebrated its 50th anniversary. The location of this memorable event was beautiful Fort Voordorp at the outskirts of Utrecht. Curiously, it was on this same day that the people of a strange island voted to leave the European Union and the European soccer championship took place without a team from the Netherlands. Enough reason for more than 200 present and past IMAU-ers to enjoy a program of music, entertainment, plenary talks, with plenty of opportunities to mingle and reconnect with old friends. Good spirits and general well-being were further enhanced by delicious food and drinks.
After the opening by our director Will de Ruijter, former IMAU professor Jos Lelieveld, now director of the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, showed examples of how IMAU is and has been frontrunner in addressing urgent scientific questions. Achievements every IMAU-er can be proud of, indeed. Of course much also remains to be done, and Jos shared his perspective on how climate research can contribute to combat epidemics, and how further pollution reductions will increase human life expectancy. A highlight for many was the talk by Fred Jansen, manager of the Rosetta mission. Fred shared details on how ESA accomplished, for the first time in human history, to land a vehicle on a comet of only 3 km diameter at a huge distance of approximately 30 light minutes. We enjoyed stunning images of the intense and fast geology taking place on this celestial body and learned to appreciate how this research addresses important questions about the origin of life on Earth. This talk was a real treat to many IMAU-ers – food for the mind and a great example of what humankind is able to accomplish.
IMAU is not only home to great scientific talent, but also to musical and poetic talent as was demonstrated by the IMAU choir led by Claudia Wieners, and by the ensemble of Maarten Krol, Sander Houweling and Thomas Röckmann, who performed a musical homage to our soon-to-retire professors Hans Oerlemans and Will de Ruijter. Realizing the amount of talent that flourishes at IMAU we are ALL touched.
So, what will we remember besides talks and music, and the fact that this celebration was also a big reunion? When columnist and comedian Jan Beuving interviewed Hans Oerlemans and Will de Ruijter, he managed to unlock this secret from the latter: ‘We really like each other and care for each other. No tensions and no making mischief as you often see around’, he said before camouflaging this important statement by a joke. But we noticed, and we agree…