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uni'alumni 2013_ENG

Nikolaus Piper enjoyed eating goulash soup in the cafeteria. Photo: Süddeutsche Zeitung Nikolaus Piper enjoyed eating goulash soup in the cafeteria. Photo: Süddeutsche Zeitung TALES FROM THE CAFETERIA: NIKOLAUS PIPER Goulash Soup, the Smell of Chlorine, and Political Ideas HISTORICAL GREATS: HANS SPEMANN Nobody knows why the zoology profes- sor Hans Spemann began studying amphibians early on in his career, but the fact that he was very successful in this area of research is known far beyond the doors of biology departments even today. Born in Stuttgart in 1869, Spemann began researching and teaching in Freiburg in 1919. He became the first developmental biologist to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1935 for his dis- covery that the cells of certain transplant- able germ layers in the newt embryo influence neighboring cells. He gave the name of “organizer” to groups of cells like these that can change the function of other cells. “These were epoch-making findings for the time and even from our perspective,” says the Freiburg develop- mental biologist Prof. Dr. Klaus Sander. Hans Spemann’s grandson Wolf remembers his grandfather as a scientist who referred to himself as a “naturalist” and was always engrossed in his work. “He was a tall, slender man who could be very witty.” Despite his time-consuming research, he always found time for his family. “I still have a really beautiful drawing of a bellflower he made for me with exquisite strokes.” The Nobel laure- ate passed on his artistic talent to his four children: They chose professions in which it is necessary to have skills in drawing or artistic design. Eva Opitz Naturalist and Nobel Laureate Girls like to eat rice pudding – each Friday in the cafeteria. Photo: Kunz There are other beautiful cities besides Freiburg. One of them is New York. I have worked there for almost six years as a newspaper correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a position I see as a privilege. I also see myself as privileged to have lived in Freiburg, where I learned my profession at the Badische Zeitung, earned my degree in economics in summer semester 1978, and was introduced to good food – but not necessarily in the cafeteria. To be honest, my memories of the cafeteria are mixed. My strongest impression was that it usually smelled of chlorine. Also memorable were the lines of bookstalls set up by communist groups that you had to pass by while standing in the line to get your food. I really liked the goulash soup, which I remember was often served on Satur- days. On the other hand, I refused to eat the rice pudding they always had on Fridays, which – for reasons I still haven’t figured out – girls were particu- larly crazy about. As I already hinted at above, the caf- eteria was a forum for all kinds of political ideas in the seventies. Perhaps the most curious thing I expe- rienced in this regard: On 1 May 1975, the Vietnam War ended with the defeat of the American troops. The next day there were two students from a group called “Communist Party of Germany” in front of the cafeteria waving flags, a red one and a blue and red one with the star of the Vietcong, in order to cel- ebrate the victory of the communist north. I asked one of them if he had gone completely nuts. He answered: “Just you wait until the world revolution comes.” I’ve been waiting for the world revolution ever since. It hasn’t hap- pened yet. Hans Spemann was the first developmental biologist to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Photo: University of Oldenburg uni'alumni 2013 Alumni Network 21