MaxPlanckResearch 3/2022


Diagnosing Digital Disease
Hate speech, propaganda, and disinformation are increasingly presenting problems on the internet and social media. Efforts to regulate undesirable online content through platform-specific rules or legislation have been unsuccessful. Johanna Rinceanu and Randall Stephenson believe that what is needed is a more precise diagnosis of the underlying causes. Such a legal approach should be inspired by lessons from social medicine.

Visit to

Visit to Thomas Vilgis
Crispy jellyfish, milk mayo, and crackling vegan sausage – just a few of the specialties from the laboratory of Thomas A. Vilgis. The research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz approaches cooking with scientific precision and has thus found the perfect synthesis of his two passions.

Biology & Medicine

A copying machine for genes
Nothing works with incomprehensible code – not even a cell. Patrick Cramer is carrying out research on the enzyme that transcribes the DNA code to enable a protein to be synthesized from a gene. To do so, he relies on high-resolution microscopes and artificial intelligence.

Material & Technology

It’s a threatening scenario for online communications: the arrival of powerful quantum computers will make current encryption techniques vulnerable overnight. Peter Schwabe, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy, is therefore developing methods of post-quantum cryptography with international partners. Four such processes are now being standardized by the National Institute for Standards and Technology in the USA – Peter Schwabe was involved in the design of three of them.

Physics & Astronomy

The Universe in a new light
Six months after its launch, the James Webb telescope has delivered its first images, revealing fascinating insights into distant galaxies as well as turbulent scenarios encompassing the birth and death of stars. The space observatory has also captured the spectra of exoplanets. The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg was involved in building the instruments.

Environment & Climate

The overfertilized earth
No animal, plant, or single-celled organism can do without nitrogen, but humans are putting more and more of it into circulation – with various consequences for health and the environment. Sönke Zaehle, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, is studying the nitrogen cycle and its relationship to the climate. The findings are important for environmental policy.

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Big Bear Lake, USA
Hans-Peter Doerr from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research spent three weeks working at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in California. He explains why the solar telescope stands on the water and tells us about anglers, gun enthusiasts, and alternative ways of transporting data.
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