Rituals of degradation have been used throughout the ages as a means of exercising authority. Judges made a public show of people by having them placed in the pillory, teachers made unruly pupils the object of ridicule with dunce caps. Such practices have been consigned to the past, but modern society has developed new methods for publicly stigmatizing outsiders, as our author describes.
To alter properties of materials with light as if with the wave of a magic wand: that is Andrea Cavalleri’s mission. The Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg uses lasers to change the behavior of crystals, fleetingly producing superconductors that conduct electricity without loss at room temperature.
Wherever people live, there are mice. It would be difficult to find another animal that has adapted to the habitats created by humans as well as the house mouse has. It thus seemed obvious to Diethard Tautz at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön that the species would make an ideal model system for investigating how evolution works.
Techniques that provide insights into the nanoworld continue to garner Nobel Prizes. However, none of those methods has made it possible to observe exactly how enzymes and other biomolecules function. Frank Vollmer, Leader of a Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, has now changed all that – with a plasmonic nanosensor.
Sometimes it takes a while for a person to find their vocation. Henrik Hartmann, for example, didn’t attend university until he was at an age when others have already earned a doctorate. Today, the forestry scientist heads a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. And the things he experienced prior to studying were no less exciting.