MPR 4/2012

Viewpoint

A New Arena for Science
The viability of science rests on results – and these should be freely accessible. Reduced to a common denominator, this is what the term “Open Access” implies. But this form of publishing is still far from being the norm in the world of science. Our authors urge politicians and research institutions to pave the way and proactively contribute to changing attitudes.

Physics & Astronomy

Elemental Metamorphosis
The inside of planets, stellar shells and numerous other uncomfortable spots in space have one thing in common: matter there is under extreme pressure of several million atmospheres. Mikhail Eremets and his colleagues produce such cosmic pressures in their lab at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz – and they do so in surprisingly simple experiments. They are researching which unique transformations gases, but also metals, undergo under these conditions.

Biology & Medicine

Untrue to Type
When plant pollen fertilizes an ovum, the genetic material in the nucleus and the chloroplasts must harmonize. Stephan Greiner from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm, near Potsdam, would like to find out which factors in the chloroplasts prevent the interbreeding of plant species. To do this, he works with a model plant that’s not too particular when it comes to the species boundary: the evening primrose.

Materials & Technology

<p>Building Blocks for Nanotransporters</p>
Active ingredients for chemotherapy, corrosion protection products or vitamins: packaging substances in tiny containers, transporting them to their intended destination – if need be, even in the human body – and unloading them there would be of interest for many applications. Helmuth Möhwald and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces are developing the methods that will make all this possible.

Environment & Climate

The Power of Flames
Fire has existed on earth ever since land plants colonized the continents. To date, however, surprisingly little is known about the role that fire plays in the global climate system – even though vegetation fires have always influenced the climate with their emissions. Silvia Kloster from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology is looking to close this gap in our knowledge. She is researching the complex relationship between fire and climate. Humans also play a key role in this closely woven web.

Culture & Society

Law and Anthropology
Many different conceptions of law exist side by side in multicultural societies – a reality that formal legal systems have ignored for far too long, according to Marie-Claire Foblets. As Director of the new Department for Law and Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, she hopes to help change this situation.
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