Political elections are still conducted using paper ballots. In an age when we use the internet to find information and do our shopping, use apps to control home heating and even use online functions for ID cards, this is quite astounding. Wouldn’t it be much easier and more convenient to vote for our politicians from our home computers or smartphones? Our author thinks not – and warns that, even without online elections, many electronic methods threaten to manipulate such processes.
The human body is home to countless microbes. The intestinal tract, in particular, is colonized by innumerable bacteria. As a young environmental microbiologist, Ruth Ley never imagined that she would one day find herself interested in the human gut and the microbiota that reside in it. Today she conducts research at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, investigating the role the countless intestinal bacteria play in our health.
Doctors and patients can thank magnetic resonance imaging – and not least Jens Frahm – for the fact that many diseases can now be diagnosed far more effectively than they could 30 years ago. The research carried out by the director of the Biomedizinische NMR Forschungs GmbH (non-profit) at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen has greatly simplified the process of capturing images of the body’s interior. Now the team from Göttingen wants to bring those images to life.
Until recently, following the crowd was not seen as a desirable goal in life. These days, however, everyone is talking about swarm intelligence. But are swarms really smarter than individuals? And what rules, if any, do they follow? With the help of new computational techniques, Iain Couzin from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell imposes order on the seeming chaos of swarms.
Winfried Menninghaus, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, is studying how people react, not just mentally, but also physically to poetry and prose. For many classical philologists and Germanists, his work is a betrayal of their disciplines. But the scientist and his team have actually succeeded in rendering the effect of poetic and rhetorical language measurable for the first time – even in such intangible categories as elegance or such curious phenomena as the trash film cult.