3/2015

Viewpoint

<p class="p1">We Have to Refocus Excellence</p>
How can we better use the potential for excellence we have in Germany to further advance German cutting-edge research vis-à-vis international competition? Cutting-edge research and good basic education are not a contradiction – even if, in the opinion of our author, the President of the Max Planck Society, the two still do represent conflicting priorities in Germany.

Physics & Astronomy

The Spin Doctor
This physicist changed our world: It was Stuart Parkin’s developments in spintronics that first made Facebook and Google possible, as well as many other computer applications without which our everyday lives are now barely conceivable. Parkin has been Director at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle for one year now. For his colleagues there, his energy is impressive and challenging in equal measure.

Material & Technology

Displays straight from the Printer
His research looks hip and colorful. The prototypes are made from wood, paper and plastic. Cut, printed or pressed. But there’s more to them than meets the eye: Jürgen Steimle and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and at Saarland University in Saarbrücken are concentrating their efforts on a fully interconnected world in which, for example, computing devices are activated via skin-worn sensors.

Environment & Climate

Balance in the Biotope
Biodiversity provides many ecological advantages. Using large-scale field tests, Gerd Gleixner and Ernst-Detlef Schulze, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, carry out research on biodiversity in meadows and forests, and explore its impacts on ecosystems and the Earth’s carbon balance. Their studies also yield surprising insights into the factors that really serve the purpose of species protection.

Culture & Society

The Master Plans of the Mandarins
The ancient Chinese invented not only fireworks, porcelain and the wheelbarrow, but the precursor of post-its as well – those self-sticking, yellow pieces of paper used for writing down all sorts of notes. These are the kinds of sources that Dagmar Schäfer and her team at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin examine to learn more about planning histories and their impact on society, thereby also challenging the paradigms of their own discipline.
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