Max Planck Institute News

Modern Humans Triggered the Demise of Neanderthals

April 27, 2015

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Scientists Decipher the Demise of Neandertals

A newly published study reveals that Homo sapiens belonging to the Protoaurignacian culture may have been the ultimate cause for the demise of Neanderthals. Researchers from the University of Bologna, Italy, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, analyzed two deciduous teeth from the prehistoric sites of Grotta di Fumane and […]

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Scientists Provide Novel Tools to Study Enzyme Catalysis

April 23, 2015

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Controlling Enzyme Reactions at Atomic Level

A newly published study details how scientists used a chemical probe to dissect individual catalytic steps of enoyl-thioester reductases, validating an active site tyrosine as the cryptic proton donor and explaining how it had eluded definitive identification. Enzymes are naturally existing biocatalysts of great potential for application in sustainable chemistry. Yet, controlling enzyme reactions at […]

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Oldest Known Human Ancestors May Have Had Precision Grip Capabilities

April 20, 2015

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Oldest Human Ancestors May Have Had Precision Grip Capabilities

Researchers present a kinematic model of thumb–index precision grip and manipulative movement based on bony hand morphology in a broad sample of extant primates and fossil hominins, revealing that even the oldest available fossil hominins may have shared comparable precision grip manipulation with modern humans. Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability […]

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New Method of High-Resolution Whole-Brain Staining

April 13, 2015

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New Staining Method to Reveal Circuit Diagram of the Brain

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have developed a special staining method that brings the reconstruction of all nerve cells and their connections within reach. Learning, it is widely believed is based on changes in the connections between nerve cells. The knowing which nerve cells is connected to which other nerve cell would […]

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Reg3beta Regulates Healing Process after Myocardial Infarction

March 25, 2015

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Reg3beta Controls Healing Process in the Heart

A new study from the Max Planck Institute details how Reg3beta controls the wound-healing process in the myocardium by attracting immune cells to the infarct tissue. In the wake of a myocardial infarction, parts of the myocardium die and are replaced by scar tissue. The formation and stability of scar tissue is key to the […]

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“Chemical Fingerprints” Could Help Scientists Recognize Life on the Surface of Exoplanets

March 20, 2015

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Surface Biosignatures of Exoplanets May Help Detect Extraterrestrial Life

A new catalog of reflectance spectra for a diverse range of pigmented microorganisms may help scientists recognize life on the surface of planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. A team of astronomers and biologists has recorded the “chemical fingerprints” of 137 different species of microorganism. In future, this could help to recognize life on […]

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Merlin Protein Promotes Effective and Rapid Wound Healing

March 5, 2015

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Merlin Promotes Rapid Wound Healing

New research from the Max Planck Institute details how the protein merlin regulates collective cell movement, promoting effective and rapid wound healing. Cells also follow a herd instinct, and they thereby communicate in a magical collective way. This is because a protein known as merlin, named after the mythical wizard of medieval England, plays an […]

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Scientists Discover a Gene for Brain Size

March 4, 2015

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Scientists Identify a Gene for Human Brain Size

A team of researchers has identified for the first time a gene (ARHGAP11B) that is only present in humans and contributes to the reproduction of basal brain stem cells, triggering a folding of the neocortex. About 99 percent of human genes are shared with chimpanzees. Only the small remainder sets us apart. However, we have […]

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Nanotubular Structures Enable a Direct Exchange of Nutrients Between Bacteria

February 23, 2015

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Bacteria Connect to Each Other Via Nanotubes

New research from the Max Planck Institute shows that some bacteria can form nanotubular structures between single cells that enable a direct exchange of nutrients. It is well-known that bacteria can support each others’ growth and exchange nutrients. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and their colleagues at the […]

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Astronomers Discover a Rare Planet, Kepler-432b

February 13, 2015

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Astronomers Discover Rare Planet

Astronomers have discovered a rare red planet that has the six times the mass of Jupiter, but is about the same size. Two research groups of Heidelberg astronomers have independently of each other discovered a rare planet. The celestial body, called Kepler-432b, is one of the most dense and massive planets known so far. The […]

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HESS Discovers New Gamma Ray Sources in Large Magellanic Cloud

January 27, 2015

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New Gamma Ray Sources Discovered in Large Magellanic Cloud

The H.E.S.S. telescope system has discovered three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Once again, the gamma ray observatory H.E.S.S. has demonstrated its detecting capabilities: in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the High Energy Stereoscopic System discovered most luminous high-energy gamma-ray sources. These are three objects of different type: a powerful pulsar wind […]

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Magnetic Fields in Dark Clouds Help Form Massive Stars

January 20, 2015

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Astronomers Observe Polarized Dust Emission of Two Dark Clouds

A new study shows for the first time that high magnetization sets the stage for the formation of massive stars with 8 solar masses or more. Magnetic fields in massive dark clouds are strong enough to support the regions against collapse due to their own gravity. A study lead by researchers at the Max Planck […]

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New Insights Into Why Some Crystals Jump, While Others Crumble

January 13, 2015

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Why Some Crystals Jump and Others Crumble

A team of researchers has discovered the force that makes the organometallic compound palladium hexafluoroacetylacetonate jump. This thermosalient effect could potentially be applied in artificial muscles and actuators. Crystals are not as stationary as you might think. A crystal of an organometallic compound containing palladium, for example, downright jumps from a hotplate once it reaches […]

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Signal Molecule Gives Rise to New Blood Stem Cells in Embryos

January 2, 2015

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Molecule Gives Rise to New Blood Stem Cells in Embryos

A newly published study from the Max Planck Institute details how interferon gamma plays a key role in the development of blood stem cells during the early phase of embryonic development. In the early stage of embryonic development, stem cells with defined tasks, including blood-forming stem cells, gradually emerge. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute […]

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Physicists Image and Control the Motion of the Two Electrons in a Helium Atom

December 18, 2014

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Image of the Motion of the Two Electrons in a Helium Atom

Using attosecond-timed laser flashes, a team of physicists has become the first to image and control the motion of the two electrons in a helium atom. Physicists are continuously advancing the control they can exert over matter. A German-Spanish team working with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg has now […]

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Toxic Fruits Increases Fertility in Female Drosophila Sechellia Flies

December 9, 2014

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Dopamine Precursor in Toxic Fruits Increases Fertility

In a new study, researchers from the Max Planck Institute reveal that a dopamine precursor in the toxic fruits of the morinda tree increases fertility in female Drosophila sechellia flies. In the course of evolution, animals have become adapted to certain food sources, sometimes even to plants or to fruits that are actually toxic. The […]

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Researchers Demonstrate Superconductivity without Cooling

December 4, 2014

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Superconductivity without Cooling

New research details how scientists used an infrared laser pulse to briefly modify the structure of a high-temperature superconductor, removing its electrical resistance at room temperature. Superconductivity is a remarkable phenomenon: superconductors can transport electric current without any resistance and thus without any losses whatsoever. It is already in use in some niche areas, for […]

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