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  • Date Submitted: 06/10/2013 07:35 AM
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Wolfgang Ketterle – Autobiography (for “Les Prix Nobel”) I was born on October 21, 1957, in Heidelberg, a small town in Germany with a charming old city and a famous castle. My parents had come to Heidelberg after the second world war, when many people relocated within Germany searching for better economic opportunities. My mother’s parents were farmers in Silesia, which has now become part of Poland. My father grew up in Memmingen, a small city in the southern part of Germany, where his parents had a canteen. I enjoyed a childhood of stability and peace, in contrast to my parents who had grown up amidst the conflicts of war. When I was three, we moved from Heidelberg to the village (now city) of Eppelheim, three miles away, where my parents still live. I grew up with an older brother (Günter, 15 months older) and a younger sister (Monika, three and a half years younger). My parents worked hard to provide security and prosperity for our family. My father first joined an oil and coal distribution company as an apprentice and retired as a director. My mother ran the household and cared for the children; later, she managed a small business distributing first-aid products. In our family, work was not regarded as sheer necessity, but as a defining feature and rewarding aspect of life. My parents supported all our interests in music, sports and sciences. As they hadn’t been exposed to many of these activities themselves, they did not steer us in certain directions, but rather observed our interests and then reinforced and supported them. That may be one of the reasons why my brother and sister are successful in quite different areas: finance and education. My explorations of the technical world started with Legos, with which I was quite

W.K. (second from right) with his parents and siblings in 1971.

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creative in constructing moving objects with the basic building blocks that were then available. (Legos have become much more fancy since then!) I remember...

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