Yearbook 2012

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Insights into the nanoworld of mitochondria and the organisation of their genome

Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Kukat, Christian; Wurm, Christian A.; Spåhr, Henrik; Falkenberg, Maria; Larsson, Nils-Göran; Jakobs, Stefan
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells. They produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a “currency of energy” which is needed in all tissues. Damaged mitochondria or complexes that are producing the energy are known to be involved in different diseases and ageing symptoms. The mitochondrial genome is packed with additional factors in organisational units, the nucleoids. The presented data provide fundamental insights into the structure of nucleoids which in future might help to find new ways of handling mitochondrially inherited diseases. more
One of the most remarkable capacities of human beings is their ability to work together, to solve problems or to create things that no individual could have solved or created on its own. In current studies, researchers look at the early ontogeny of children’s abilities for collaboration and provide evidence that young children have species-unique skills and motivations of shared intentionality, including skills such as forming joint goals and joint attention with others, along with cooperative motives for helping others and sharing with others. more

Legal Pluralism as Fight for Culture

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Benda-Beckmann, Franz von; Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von
After the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998 in West Sumatra the political freedom led to a threefold and contradictory revitalisation process of legal, political and ideological principles of social order: democratic principles, the role of Islam in public space, and a wider recognition of tradition (adat) based rights in the local government and natural resource management. This has led to discussions over the „true“ Minangkabau ethnic identity and culture that is a struggle over the new balance between the co-existing legal orders of state law, Islamic law and adat law. more
In 2011 the archives published the chronicle for the centenary of the Kaiser Wilhelm and Max Planck Society as a result of many years of stuy of sources. The second and third parts are in preparation. The second part compiles selected sources of this dual research society from the archives' holdings. These reference books are supposed to help scientists to orient in the history of this non-profit research organization which is permanantly in change and has been honored for important discoveries by more than 30 Nobel Prizes. more

The unsettled inner life of a young star cluster

Max Planck Institute for Astronomy Rochau, Boyke; Brandner, Wolfgang; Gennaro, Mario; Gouliermis, Dimitrios; Da Rio, Nicola; da Rio, Natalia; Henning, Thomas
Measurements were made of the velocities of a large number of stars in a young galactic cluster, whose age is only about one million years. The cluster is embedded in the bright emission nebula NGC 3603. It is one of the most massive objects of its kind within the Milky Way. To determine the individual stellar velocities, the astronomers compared the positions of the stars on two images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope ten years apart. From this comparison the motion of hundreds of stars could be determined, showing that the cluster stars have not yet reached a dynamically configuration. more
Spiral galaxies grow by swallowing smaller dwarf galaxies. As they are digested, these dwarf galaxies are severely distorted, forming structures such as surreal tendrils and stellar streams that surround their captors. Now, for the first time, a new survey has detected such tell-tale structures in galaxies more distant than our immediate galactic neighbourhood. This opens up the possibility of testing our current views of galaxy evolution in a new way. more
Astronomers have so far found more than five hundred "exoplanets", i. e. planets orbiting other stars. A group of these are large planets with orbits very close to their host stars, the so-called "hot Jupiters". Their mass is similar to our Jupiter but they are often much bigger, indicating that their interior is much hotter. Left to themselves, they should cool down and deflate fairly rapidly to a size similar to the Jupiter in our solar system. more
The Lambda CDM model of cosmological structure formation has very successfully matched many observational aspects of the Universe. However, the nature of the main ingredient of this model, the so-called Dark Energy, is currently still a mystery. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics have recently performed the largest ever computer simulation of cosmic structure formation. Combined with new observational campaigns, this might help to constrain the properties of the Dark Energy and solve one of the most important puzzles in modern cosmology. more