News and Commentaries

Jan 212016

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL2015) was a global event in 2015 to increase the public interest and knowledge regarding optical technologies and research. Prof. Joe Niemela is the Global Coordinator from the IYL Secretariat and was responsible for the coordination of all activities.

Find the Interview here: International Year of Light 2015

Jan 202016

Susanne M. Hoffmann

JUnQ, 6, 1, X–XII, 2016

Thinking about light, we immediately realize three directions of human’s dealing with it: first, the observation of light, second, the myth of and praying to light and third, the usage and rationalization of light in physics and technology. All three directions of our modern world have roots in very old history and accompany mankind from their early beginnings and in every culture. The emotional connection humans feel with celestial games of light and darkness as well as warmth and coolness during seasons and lunar phases caused early and perpetuating observations and consequently, the knowledge of calendar signs. Since calendars have always been used for religious purpose to date public holiday and so on, making calendars and observing the celestial rhythms have been a special duty of priests and the gods have been located in or above the sky. To summarize, we can conclude that light influences all directions of our life. The question of this article is how long back in history we can pursue the traces of human relations to light.

Read the full article here: A Brief History of Light

Jan 202016

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is one of Germany’s most important research associations with its main emphasis on applied research. It was founded in 1949 and it goes all the way back to Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787 – 1826). He was famous for his way of how to conduct science with accuracy and precision combined with a sense for entrepreneurship, which is why he became the role model for the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. We spoke with Prof. Dr. Michael Maskos and Beate Koch. Prof. Dr. Michael Maskos is the director of Fraunhofer ICT–IMM in Mainz,which focuses among others on the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles for different applications. Beate Koch is head of internal and external communications of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Find the Interview here: Fundamental vs. Applied Research

Jul 162015

Markus Wei?kopf and Thorsten Witt
Wissenschaft im Dialog

JUnQ, 5, 2, XVI–XVIII, 2015

In the space of a few years, the internet has radically altered our media consumption. The average internet usage in Germany increased from 17 minutes per week in 2000 to 111 minutes per week in 2014, making the internet the third most popular media type after television and radio. Every day the internet is used for twice as long as print media. Among 14–19 year olds, who use the internet for an average of 233 minutes per day, the internet is the medium of choice, well ahead of all other media. Social media accounts for a significant proportion of internet use: 24% of 14–19 year olds spend over two hours a day on Twitter, Facebook, etc.; another 28% spend over an hour. Social media have also brought about major changes in our usage behavior – we are no longer merely recipients and consumers of information but have become active users and even creators.
Science communication has also changed as a result of these developments. According to a recent study, 45% of Germans use the internet as a source of information on scientific issues; among the under-30s, this figure is currently at 68%. Statistics from the USA and UK suggest that these percentages are likely to rise sharply in the coming years and that the internet is increasingly replacing classical media as a source of information.

What are the implications of these changes for one of the main players in science communication, namely the scientists themselves? In the following pages, we will explore this and related questions, including how scientists’ communication with the public has changed as a result of social media, and the opportunities and risks involved.

The Opportunities and Risks of Social Media in Science Communication
Jul 162015

“Kurzgesagt” is an educational YouTube channel of a Munich based design studio founded by two German graphic design students which features short movies about different scientific topics. “Kurzgesagt” is a good example for various informative YouTube channels created by professionals and non-professionals during the last years. These channels de- pict a new possibility of communicating science to the general public in a popular scientific way by using the internet as medium. They attract a great deal of interest as the featured videos are watched by millions of people. The popularity certainly comes from the fact that the short movie format allows to break complex topics down into easily understandable and entertaining narrations which can be complemented by illustrations. “Kurzgesagt”, for example, uses entirely animated videos which illustrate explanations about a certain topic spoken by a narrator. We had the opportunity to interview the team of “Kurzgesagt” about their project.

Read the Interview: Communicating Science via YouTube

Jul 162015

Dr. Andreas Fischer
Helmholtz Association

JUnQ, 5, 2, XXIII–XXIV, 2015

Science is not always clear. Take for example the robust climate change debate: “A big threat for humankind” says the one side, “Complete nonsense” says the other. How many meters is the sea level actually rising? And what about the extreme weather events, are they becoming more frequent or not? These are all questions both experts and laypeople are arguing about. After all, scientists agree about the existence of climate change itself, whereas its impact still splits the scientific community. But when even science has no clear opinion, how is the broader populace supposed to have one? Over time, doubts creep into both public perception and our trust in science.

Read the full article here: A Question of Mediation

Jul 162015

ResearchGate was founded in 2008 to support scientific collaboration and grew rapidly. Today it has more than 7 million members according to its website. The platform offers ways to share published and unpublished data, participate in open-review, and ask and answer questions.
To put ResearchGate simply as a social networking site, for researchers and others involved in the pursuit of independent research, would be an understatement. Not only has it enabled researchers connect across economic and cultural barriers and work towards a collaborative and global realm of sharing knowledge from Stockholm to Santiago and from Hokkaido to Hawaii but also enabled the labs in developing nations to get access to surplus equipment which would otherwise be an impediment to cutting-edge research for so many talented individuals.
We talked to Dr. Ijad Madisch, co-founder of ResearchGate and asked him about his motivations, the challenges he had to face and prominent examples of how ResearchGate influenced the scientific landscape.

Read the interview: Changing the Way Researchers Communicate

Jul 162015

Peter R. Wich is an Assistant Professor (Juniorprofessor, W1) of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Mainz (Germany) – Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry. His primary research interests are in the fields of bioorganic chemistry and the interface between nanotechnology and biomolecular materials (for more information: His internet presence is always up to date, he is informing his followers about the latest ongoings in his lab and we were interested in his motivations in doing so, as well as his experiences in the field of communicating science.

Read the Interview here: Communicating Science in the Digital Age

Jul 162015

Science for the Masses was a biotech grinding think-tank, aimed towards altering the human condition in the pursuit of new abilities and leveraging pre-existing technologies for accessibility. Prior projects include mammalian near infra-red vision, next generation functional implant coating technologies and techniques, as well as bacterial modifications for the human and environmental microbiome. Both Jeffrey and Gabriel continue to biohack independently since its dissolution in 2015.

Read the Interview: Science for the Masses