Yearbook 2015

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In almost all welfare states, life expectancy has been rising across the social strata, but more rapidly so in the higher social classes, resulting in remarkable life-expectancy differentials between the lower and the higher social classes over time. Contributing factors are not only poorer life and working conditions of the lower social classes, but also different smoking, drinking, and dietary habits. Analyses of historical data indicate that social life-expectancy differentials emerged as late as in the 18th and 19th centuries. more
We are surrounded by microorganisms that adapt in their struggle to persist. In contrast to animals or plants, such adaptations don't take thousands of years but sometimes happen within weeks. To understand such rapid evolution, we need new theoretical frameworks and direct observations of the evolutionary dynamics. The research group develops such theory and uses it to analyze sequence data from influenza and human immunodeficiency virus populations. The results provide insight into the properties of the evolutionary process and allow predicting the composition of future virus populations. more
The basic features of the body organisation of adult plants are established during embryogenesis. This process starts from the fertilized egg cell (zygote), which divides into an apical embryonic cell and a basal extra-embryonic cell. How this initial difference originates with input from the YODA pathway is briefly discussed. These cells give rise to embryo and extra-embryonic suspensor, respectively. The embryonic cells then generate, in response to the plant hormone auxin, a signal that stimulates the adjacent extra-embryonic cell to initiate the formation of the embryonic root meristem. more
For more than ten years, researchers have pushed for open access initiatives. While the amount of freely available scientific papers on the internet is growing continuously, no joint strategy is on the horizon yet to achieve a large-scale shift in the near future. In 2015, the Max Planck Digital Library published a much-noticed study showing that a large-scale transformation to open access publishing is possible without added expense. Based on this analysis an international initiative has been launched in December 2015 with a view to pursuing the open access transformation on a global level. more
Cities all over the world are becoming more and more diverse. The CityDiv project looks at local responses to the diversification of urban populations in Germany and France. By responses to diversity the project refers to the measures taken at the local level to deal with the changing characteristics and needs of urban populations. Two main research questions guide the CityDiv project. First, do cities respond in similar or different ways to the diversification of their populations? Second, do, and if so how, issues related to diversity enter into cities’ governance networks? more
The complex structures which emerge when a fluid invades a porous medium are of great relevance for many problems in the geosciences as well as in technology, engineering, and everyday life. Nevertheless, about fifty years of intense research have not been able to identify the dominant mechanisms at work. We have recently found that the solution is much simpler than anticipated. The mechanism is well hidden, but so elementary that high-school math is sufficient to come up with quantitative predictions. more
Phase field models are a crucial tool in the modeling of complex phenomena. In this context, simulation can help to avoid or reduce the number of costly experiments. For this it is necessary to work with efficient algorithms. Here, we describe iterative solvers that deal with the discretized differential equation models and thus allow for an accurate solution of the problems. more
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