MaxPlanckResearch 4/2021

The legal legacy of the colonial era
Colonization has become a thing of the past. However, its impact can still be felt today in the form of coloniality – the way in which the world is perceived, understood and governed. One example are European legal concepts that continue to apply as a standard worldwide. Our author demands that this Eurocentric perspective be abandoned, and makes the case for a new, pluriversal understanding of law.

Visit to
Originally from Iran, physicist Hanieh Fattahi was attracted to Germany because it offered many more research opportunities and greater freedoms in everyday life. Of course, once she arrived, she had to come to terms with the cultural differences. Nevertheless, she has since established her own research group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, Germany, where extremely short laser pulses are used to study biological microscopy. And with her talent for motivating people, Hanieh Fattahi is also active in climate protection.

Biology & Medicine

Hearing colors, seeking genes
Synesthesia is one of the most fascinating phenomena in psychology and the neurosciences. But only very slowly are its scientific mysteries being uncovered. Research in this field is gathering momentum, thanks to the studies being conducted by Simon Fisher from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Dutch city of Nijmegen.

Physics & Astronomy

Cosmic detective work
The chemistry of a star contains valuable information such as its history or affiliation with a particular stellar population. But accurate detection of abundances of chemical elements based on spectral fingerprints require highly sophisticated methods. Maria Bergemann from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg has set new standards here.

Environment & Climate

Thawing permafrost
Over a trillion tons of carbon are sequestered in permanently frozen soils (permafrost), especially in the Arctic Circle. But this frozen ground is steadily thawing as a result of climate change. Whether or not this will lead to the release of large quantities of greenhouse gases is one of the vital unresolved questions in climate research. Mathias Göckede, who heads a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, is among those looking into this question and he has already come up with some surprising answers.

Post From

Post from Lima, Peru
Max Planck researchers are currently collaborating with partners in over 120 countries. In the following article they talk about their personal experiences and impressions. Andrea Müller from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena spent four months in Peru. She has been studying plants that live symbiotically with ants in the Tambopata National Reserve in the southeast of that country. Below, she shares her enthusiasm for the rainforest and how, in addition to the coronavirus, protesting coca farmers can jeopardize scientific field work.
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