As at: August 2015

VGH Prize for outstanding Leibniz dissertations

Date: 21 July 2016 (5 to 7 p.m.)
Place: Atrium of the Leibniz University of Hannover

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Society and the endowed Leibniz professorship of the Leibniz University of Hannover announce jointly a prize for outstanding Leibniz dissertations. The prize money has been donated by the VGH Versicherungen (insurance company) in Lower Saxony (Germany) and bears the company’s name.

The competition announcement is addressed to young researchers in all disciplines worldwide, whose dissertations are largely concerned with Leibniz, his ideas and works. The doctoral thesis should not be older than 1 August 2011.

The first prize is worth 2000 Euros, the second prize 1500 Euros and the third prize 1000 Euros.

The jury reserves the right to bestow the prize money elsewhere. The jury’s decision is final. The jury’s decision is final.

Ausschreibung / Announcement


Automata, machines, organisms

International conference at the Leibniz University of Hannover, organised by the Leibniz endowed professorship

Date: To be announced


Leibniz and the miracle

International conference
Conception: Prof. Dr. Peter Nickl

Date: To be announced


1716 – The last year of Leibniz’s life

Exhibition in the redesigned Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library

Date: June–December 2016
Place: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library

The exhibition focuses on Leibniz’s life and his work in 1716 as well as the historical context. Original exhibits from the library’s collection will be at the centre of attention. An accompanying book will address itself to the general public. Regular guided tours will be offered around the exhibition.


“Leibniz is alive: There is nothing dead!”
An “Interdisciplinary Art Spectacle” on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the death of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

“Leibniz für everyone!”– Art, science and philosophy in Leibniz Year 2016: join in and get thinking!

The project “Leibniz is alive: There is nothing dead!” pivots around the gripping insight of the last German polymath, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz that “There is nothing waste, nothing sterile, nothing dead …!”(Monadology, 69). This is exemplary for his profound, interdisciplinary thinking. As the last German polymath, he is an indispensable example for us – both in theory and in social and sustainable practice.

The project focuses on Leibniz’s valuable insight “There is nothing dead!” It stages the insight, using art and philosophy, in three interacting spheres of activity in an easily understandable way, connecting it with current and sustainable ideas.

1. Using interdisciplinary installation art,
2. An interdisciplinary school project and
3. An interactive DenkWerkStadt (Idea Studio Hannover)

The aim is to visualise and bring to life how relevant to the present Leibniz’s ideas (Leibniz is alive) are for a broader public – particularly for pupils.
In addition: The project invites pupils and visitors to grapple with selected philosophical, social and sustainable ideas by Leibniz in a playful and artistic way.

In all three spheres of activity the visitors and pupils themselves become the protagonists.
Completely in tune with the thinking of the last German polymath, the project fosters an interdisciplinary culture of thinking and being creative as well as promoting the ideas of Leibniz in and around Hannover. It poses question, connects the humanities and sciences and opens up new space for thought. The project’s main focus is on general understandability, direct experience and perception as it touches deeper layers in us and opens up new horizons.

Initiator and contact:
Prof. Dr. Marion Pusch, Tel.: 0177–271 59 72,, “Point of Smile“ Society (currently being established)

More here:



Leibniz’s Harmonies
International Composition Contest

The international Composition Contest “Leibniz’s Harmonies” explores Leibniz’s ideas about musical harmony and how they are seen today. By this means he will bring science and art all over the world into a dialogue with each other and with society.
The contest is being announced globally in eight languages in the four categories Orchestra, Ensemble of traditional Chinese and Western instruments, Solo instrument and Radiophone composition / sound art.* The world premiere and repeat performances will be in Hannover and in the partner towns in coordinated events and will be performed by the NDR Radiophilharmonie and Das Neue Ensemble Hannover as well as the Con Tempo Ensemble Beijing.

German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Berlin,
Shi Mingde

Musik für heute e. V.
Alte Grammophonfabrik, Edwin-Oppler-Weg 5,
30167 Hannover

All categories have a selection of Leibniz texts on the relationship of harmony and dissonance and of arithmetics and music in common as their basis (see for example the letter to Christian Goldbach from 17 April 1712, Leibniz, Opera Omnia, vol. III, ed. Dutens, Geneva 1768):

“Music is subordinate to arithmetics, and if one knows several fundamental experiments with harmonies and dissonances, then one knows that all its other principles depend on numbers. Music is a hidden arithmetic exercise of the mind that is not aware that it is counting. (…) In music we count only to five (…) If we were capable of a little more subtlety then we could also include the interval with the prime number 7. And I believe that it does truly exist. But there will hardly be anyone who can also use the intervals from the next prime numbers 11 and 13.”

With the support of the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung
and the Sparkasse Hannover.
Together with Musik 21 Niedersachsen.

Ausschreibung | Announcement
Leibniz’s Harmonies – Official website


Leibniz-Schatzsuche / Geocaching Tour

Date: Throughout the year
Place: 5-17 places in the region of Hannover

Leibniz has left behind many treasures. We want to help young people gain access to samples of his work and to episodes from his life in a playful way. Using modern treasure-hunting, the participants are conducted to many historical places connected with the polymath. The small treasure chests – in modern treasure-seeking jargon called ‘caches’ – are hidden out in the open. At the same time they are close to the more or less well-known places where Leibniz worked, developed ideas or had some influence. Or they could be places that we have erected to commemorate him or set up especially for the treasure-hunt.


Series of lectures on the life and works of Leibniz
Excursions to places in Lower Saxony where Leibniz was influential
Excursions to the Harz mountains

Topic: Leibniz’s influence on the Upper Harz silver mines

In Leibniz’s time, mining was the high-tech industry. To keep the mines dry it was largely reliant on water power, which was limited in the Upper Harz.

The excursion will focus on three main topics: 1) Introduction to the Upper Harz water resources management (today part of the UNESCO World Heritage), which Leibniz sought to improve, 2) the places where Leibniz worked (1679-1686) to employ wind power as a solution for the energy problems (replacing water), 3) the places where Leibniz worked (1692-1695) to introduce various improvements in mine production to save energy (saving water).

Leibniz hiking trail in the Upper Harz

The Leibniz hiking trail in the Upper Harz and around Clausthal-Zellerfeld will consist of the following elements:

  • A Leibniz knowledge trail
  • Two Leibniz in-depth trails (both in Clausthal-Zellerfeld)
  • A Leibniz network in the whole Upper Harz and on the edge of the Harz mountains
  • An illustrated guidebook of the Leibniz knowledge trail, the in-depth trails and the Leibniz network.

The Leibniz hiking trail in the Upper Harz and around Clausthal-Zellerfeld will be incorporated in the UNESCO World Heritage site “Upper Harz water resource management”. It is part of the Harz World Heritage together with the historic town centre of Goslar, the Rammelsberg mine and Walkenried monastery. To make the extensive UNESCO World Heritage Upper Harz water resources management site (200 km²) accessible, the administration of the World Heritage site is planning five visitor information centres and 15 knowledge trails. In Clausthal-Zellerfeld itself, there will be a visitors’ centre at the mining museum in Zellerfeld as well as three knowledge trails. One of these knowledge trails will relate to Leibniz.

Knowledge trails are intended to introduce normal visitors of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Harz water resources management site to a certain topic, in this case Leibniz and his influence on the Upper Harz silver mining, in about 2 hours on a route of 2 to 3 km. This involves giving explanations about the social, cultural and technical environment of the period. For those who would like to find out in more detail about Leibniz’s activities in the Upper Harz there are two in-depth trails attached to the knowledge trails. The Leibniz network in the Upper Harz and on the edge of the Harz will draw the attention of visitors to the Harz to the Leibniz knowledge trails and the in-depth trails in Clausthal-Zellerfeld.

Leibniz joined the court of Hannover in 1676. Soon after taking up his post, Leibniz began to take an interest in the silver mining in the Upper Harz. The Upper Harz was the only industrial region in the Duchy. At that time the Harz mountains, with their lead-silver mines and the surrounding ironworks, constituted one of the leading industrial belts, if not the leading belt, in Europe. Leibniz believed he could realise here his lifetime motto, “theoria cum praxi”. Leibniz made various suggestions for improvements for using wind power to supplement water power and for improvements to mine production. Mining and metallurgy were the high tech industries of that age. Leibniz said of the Harz in 1679:

“For the Harz is a true source of experience and discoveries in mechanics and physics; I believe that with 5 or 6 practicians from the Harz I could discover more than with 20 of the greatest scholars of Europe.” (Translated from the French from a memorandum to Duke Johann Friedrich in February 1679.)

Towards the end of the 17th century and during the 18th century , the Upper Harz was the most important silver mining area in Germany, producing more than 50% of the total German mine production. In addition, the Harz mining area was an important tax-payer for the Guelph court in Hannover; besides, the Hannoverian Guelph duke was himself a sometime mine owner. In Leibniz’s time, silver was the main metal for minting coins. In relation to the value of gold, it was three times more valuable than today.

The silver mining in the Upper Harz was carried out in galleries. Galleries are fissures in the mountains that healed with the help of ores. As a result of the mountain’s perviousness, the groundwater collected in the shafts, and rain and meltwater seeped in. So the miners had the permanent task of extracting not only the silver ore but also the water, in order to keep the shafts dry and to render the ore at all accessible. The pumps used for this purpose were powered by water wheels. Since water for driving the pumps was always a scarce resource, Leibniz wanted to introduce a further driving force, wind power, and to improve the production technology in order to save energy.

Leibniz had an influence in the Upper Harz silver mines during two phases: 1680-1685/86 (main focus: attempt to introduce windmills (wind machines) to pump water out of the mines and 1692-1695 (attempts to improve the production and pumps for mine drainage). In a third phase from 1712 to 1715, Leibniz attempted to develop barometric measurements of altitude as an underground surveying instrument. In this phase, however, he no longer journeyed to the Harz; he strove to speed up this development by cooperating with Ripking, the socalled Markscheider (underground surveyor) and with Caspar Calvör, the General Superintendent (church administrator), both in Clausthal.

Leibniz’s involvement in the Harz meant a great deal of work for him. Between 1680 and 1686 he travelled to the Upper Harz 31 times and spent about 165 working weeks there, so that during this period he was in the Upper Harz almost longer than in his actual place of work in Hannover. In the second phase Leibniz mostly had an assistant deputise for him. He spent only eight weeks in the Upper Harz in connection with seven journeys.

All of Leibniz’s ideas and inventions for the Harz mining were in fact failures. He was well ahead of his time. Most of his ideas are now modern state-of-the-art technology: the endless cable for counterbalancing weights, the conical drum and the bobbin of the winding engine for torque compensation and finally the concept of the ponds or reservoirs (Kunstteiche) for storing water.e
In connection with planning the water cycles, Leibniz developed the ponds by employing horizontal windmills to recycle the water needed at a high level to drive the pumps to keep the mines dry. It is the concept of today’s pumped-storage power station, of great importance for storing intermittently available renewable energy – one which was anticipated by Leibniz. Leibniz’s problem of how to incorporate a new “unconvential” energy such as wind energy into a traditional, well-functioning energy system (previously water power, today fossil energy), has again become an issue of current interest.


Guided tours through the Leibniz permanent exhibition

Place: Leibniz Universität Hannover

In 2011 the Leibniz permanent exhibition in the LUH’s main building was extended to include a second pavilion. In 21 picture and text displays, Leibniz’s signicant contributions and new insights into philosophy, theology, linguistics, mathematics (supplementary), law, historiography and political science, the foundation of academies as well as the science of art and actuarial sciences; the buildings and memorials dedicated to him are also included. The texts were written by 13 authors from institutes in 6 faculties.


Operatic and theatrical performances
1716 – the last year of Leibniz‘s life. Unknown facts about a well-known universal genius

Editing workshop: 3 to 5 December 2014
Publications: Late 2015 / early 2016
Exhibition: 21 June to 31 December 2016

The last year of Leibniz’s life was a fateful day not only for the universal genius himself but also for the claim of Barock science to universal learning.
At the same time, Leibniz’s death marks the culmination and end of the dreams of omniscience of the 17th-century scientific revolution. Again, all this exceptional scholar’s scientific endeavours and efforts concerning science policy came to a head in 1716. For the first time the Leibniz Archive (Leibniz Research Centre Hannover) is making it possible to gain hitherto unknown insights into Leibniz’s last year by placing valuable transcriptions of Leibniz’s unedited letters from 1716, enriched with editorial comments, successively into the internet. Thus new and exciting knowledge can be gained about this ambiguous scholar of Barock universal science, at whose death a whole epoch of early modern science also perished. In close cooperation with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, an editing workshop is planned with a book publication and an exhibition.