When new technologies literally touch us, the general discussion about their opportunities and risks becomes more intense. Nanotechnology applications in medicine, nutrition and cosmetics, for example, are particular subjects of public debate. Our authors have observed that there’s a lot more to these debates than just scientific facts.
Physics & Astronomy
Physicists can solve many puzzles by taking more accurate and careful measurements. Randolf Pohl and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, however, actually created a new problem with their precise measurements of the proton radius, because the value they measured differs significantly from the value previously considered to be valid. The difference could point to gaps in physicists’ picture of matter.
Biology & Medicine
When they hear the word sugar, the first thing most people think of is candy. Some may also think of diabetes. Peter H. Seeberger from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Golm, in contrast, wants to use sugars to develop more effective drugs and vaccines. He hopes his work will benefit primarily poorer countries.
Material & Technology
Creativity is as much in demand in research as in music. Nuno Maulide has a wealth of creativity. A chemist working at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung (Coal Research) in Mülheim an der Ruhr, he not only develops new synthetic methods for valuable organic compounds, he also continues to impress people with his piano concerts.
Culture & Society
In an age of modern anatomy atlases and freely available online body-browsers, Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of organs and body parts done with quill, ink and red chalk may strike us as aesthetically pleasing, yet antiquated. Nevertheless, almost everyone in Germany carries a reproduction of his famous Vitruvian Man with them – on their health insurance card. Alessandro Nova, Director at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, on the other hand, explores Leonardo’s work in the light of the scientific knowledge it generates.