MaxPlanckResearch 1/2020


Bettina Hitzer: Between guilt, anxiety and hope
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is always a shock. There is probably no other physical illness that has such a severe psychological impact on the person concerned. For a long time, researchers sought to find the cause of the disease in the personalities of the patients themselves. This was a fatal mistake, as our author shows on the basis of how the issue was treated in the past.

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The philosopher of the Big Bounce
Humankind has always been fascinated by the mythical concept of a cyclic universe that ends in a cosmic conflagration and is then reborn. Modern Big Bang theory that suggests an infinitely expanding universe rules out this possibility. But has the final word been spoken on the issue? Anna Ijjas investigates this fundamental question at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover.

Biology & Medicine

The Methuselah Cocktail
Linda Partridge and her colleague Sebastian Grönke at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne can’t promise eternal life – but they are at least discovering ways to lead a healthier one. The researchers’ findings in fruit flies and mice have revealed astonishing new insights into ageing that will also benefit us humans.

Physics & Astronomy

The mystery of the heavenly bursts
A cosmic lightning storm is playing out all around us. At any given moment, somewhere in the sky, a burst of radiation flashes and then fades away. Only observable with radio telescopes, these bursts last one-thousandth of a second and are one of astrophysics’ greatest mysteries. Scientists rather doubt this is evidence of warlike aliens fighting “star wars” in the vastness of space. Experts have named them “fast radio bursts” – but where do they come from?

Culture & Society

Just be patient!
For many people, waiting is simply a waste of time. According to Matthias Sutter, however, “those who can wait get more out of life.” At the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, the behavioral economist is studying how children and young adults can be trained to manage money sensibly and follow a stable path in life.

Materials & Technology

Ivory from a test tube
For a long time, pianists have had to live without the sensation of playing on ivory keys. One remedy for this is synthetic ivory, a substitute developed by Dieter Fischer, Sarah Parks, and Jochen Mannhart, who usually spend their time researching quantum electronic phenomena at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart. Now, a start-up is planning to produce the material on a large scale – and not only for use in piano keys.
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