MaxPlanckResearch 2/2018

Viewpoint

<p class="p1">Trawling in Outer Space</p>

Luxembourg is the first European country to pass a law guaranteeing companies entitlement to raw materials obtained in outer space – as long as the companies are based in the country. The Grand Duchy is also using loans and research investments as incentives. The rationale behind this is Luxembourg’s desire to become the leading international center for mining in outer space, in the hope that the companies involved will then pay tax on their profits there. However, this farsighted policy is more than a little dubious with respect to international law, as our author explains.

Physics & Astronomy

<p class="p1">In the Cosmic Chemistry Lab</p>

As a young girl, she was a talented painter and had a keen interest in art. The course for her future seemed set. Then she happened upon a book − a book that transported her into the vastness of space and ultimately decided her career aspirations. Paola Caselli thus became, not an artist, but an astrochemist. As a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, she is still just as fascinated by cosmic clouds as she was when she was 12.

Materials & Technology

<p class="p1">Plastics – Kind to the Environment</p>

Plastics are practical – not least because they last. But when they find their way into the environment, this is precisely what becomes a problem. The amount of plastic waste in the environment is constantly increasing. A team headed by Frederik Wurm at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz is therefore developing polymers that can be broken down by microorganisms once they have served their purpose. The researchers are applying what they’ve learned from their work on biodegradable polymers for medical use.

Environment & Climate

<p class="p1">Climate Slashing</p>

Public debates on global warming focus on one main cause: CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. But humankind is also changing the climate by clearing forests and through farming, forestry and animal husbandry. Together with her Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Julia Pongratz is investigating the consequences of these activities for the climate – and how these interventions could be used to counter global climate change.

Culture & Society

<p class="p1">Anti-Espionage Strategies</p>

The competition isn’t sleeping, it’s spying. And especially small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly falling victim to criminal competitors or being targeted by foreign intelligence services. Nevertheless, most cases remain shrouded in mystery. Michael Kilchling and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg are now attempting to shed some light on the phenomenon. Together with colleagues at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, they are conducting research into the scale of industrial espionage in Germany, how companies are combating it and how the authorities could better support them in their efforts.

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