Albert Einstein was right: gravitational waves really do exist. They were detected on September 14, 2015. This, on the other hand, would have surprised Einstein, as he believed they were too weak to ever be measured. The researchers were therefore all the more delighted - particularly those at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, which played a major role in the discovery.
Terrorist attacks like those in Paris leave us fearful and horrified, but above all, bewildered. We’re unable – and usually even unwilling – to understand what motivates people to kill others indiscriminately. However, our author believes we should try to understand terrorists. Only then can we combat the causes of violence.
Sometimes a single discovery can change a whole life. For Emmanuelle Charpentier, deciphering the functioning of an enzyme previously known only to experts was such a moment. The trio comprised of one enzyme and two RNA molecules and known as CRISPR-Cas9 made headlines far beyond the world of science. Since then, a lot of things have changed in the French woman’s life. She became a Director at the Berlin-based Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in early October 2015.
Modern quantum physics holds quite a few promises in store: quantum computers and simulators will be able to trawl through huge quantities of data at lightning speed, accelerate the development of new drugs or facilitate the search for materials for, say, energy engineering. The research being carried out by Ignacio Cirac, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, is helping to fulfill these promises.
Environment & Climate
Bacteria are individuals that always operate in isolation? Not at all, says Christian Kost of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena. In fact, he thinks bacteria frequently can’t help but cooperate. His team is using cleverly devised experiments to test this hypothesis.
Decisions follow a script all their own. Sometimes current facts play a role, sometimes utility is the driving force – and sometimes they are rooted deep in human evolutionary history. Ralph Hertwig, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, studies the dynamics of choice, uncertainty and risk. And he advises grandparents to help look after their grandchildren.