The German economy is booming, with research and development seeing welcome growth in recent years. However, our author, Chair of the German government’s Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI), warns that we shouldn’t content ourselves with our achievements to date. Germany still has some catching up to do, particularly when it comes to digital infrastructure and the internet offerings of German public authorities and ministries. But higher education institutions and young, innovative businesses need support from the new federal government, as well.
It’s the question of all scientific questions: How did the universe come into being? Jean-Luc Lehners at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam-Golm is addressing the question using state-of-the-art mathematical tools. In the process, he is also investigating the possibility that there was a precursor universe.
Egg and sperm cells are highly sensitive during their development. When, for example, there is an error in the way the genetic material is divided between the individual gametes, the resulting embryo will often either be nonviable or suffer from severe birth defects. Melina Schuh from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen wants to find out why egg maturation is so error-prone. The results of her research could one day help couples who are unable to have children.
Every cabbage plant conceals a bomb – a mustard oil bomb. For many insects, this makes the plant unpalatable. Franziska Beran from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena now knows, however, how insects can avert this danger: flea beetles, for example, outsmart the plants’ defensive weapon and even commandeer it for their own protection.
Whether it’s security, environmental protection, infrastructure or the internet – everybody has to play by the rules if we are to reap the benefits of collective goods. Fabian Winter of the Max Planck Institute for Researchon Collective Goods in Bonn is studying the conditions needed for this to happen, and also providing surprising support for political intervention in social media.