Land of Inventors The Horse and Cucumber Salad

Indonesian students being introduced to the Land of Inventors
Indonesian students being introduced to the Land of Inventors | Photo: Ramos Pane

Whether cars, televisions or computers – German ideas change the world. The Goethe-Institut is now dedicating a touring exhibition to them. It starts in Jakarta. By Sigrid Savelsberg

Yes, you’re right; the horse is not a German invention. Nevertheless it is incredibly pervasive at the touring exhibition Land of Inventors – Research in Germany. Perhaps this is due to the curious quotes by famous people introducing us to the various sections like Mobility and Communications. For instance, Kaiser Wilhelm II made a quite interesting assessment of the future of a certain mode of transport when he said, “The car is a temporary phenomenon. I believe in the horse.” A bold theory from today’s perspective but – and this is also nothing new – we always know better after the fact.

The horse was also involved, albeit only in a minor role, in a breakthrough in the field of telecommunications. On 26 October 1861, Johann Philipp Reis presented the first prototype of a telephone to the Physical Society in Frankfurt am Main. The first sentences that Reis spoke into the telephone receiver were “The sun is of copper” and “The horse eats no cucumber salad.”

Stop! Objection! There weren’t any receivers to talk into back then. But what were the first telephones like then? And how does a telephone work? Naturally, all of these questions are answered by Land of Inventors.

The exhibition put together by the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Max Planck Society presents groundbreaking inventions from Germany. The focus is on both historic discoveries and on forward-looking innovations from the fields of information technology, energy, communications, mobility, medicine, optics and materials.

Visitors are also interactively informed about Germany as a place for study and research. Each section contains five to six exhibits that are explained and illustrated with images. Due to language barriers or a lack of information about the options and programmes offered, young scientists do not always think of Germany first when they apply for scholarships or planning research visits.

The travelling exhibition is now first being shown in Indonesia as part of the German Season there before going on tour for a few years through Europe, Asia and North and South America with the Goethe-Institut. Its first stops include Ireland, Sweden and Denmark.