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Concept: Otto Hahn


Emmanuelle Charpentier is a French microbiologist, geneticist and biochemist. She is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Honorary Professor at Humboldt University, Visiting Professor at Umeå University and recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. Prior to her current appointments, she worked at several other institutions in Germany, Sweden, Austria, the US and France. Emmanuelle Charpentier’s research on a bacterial immune system laid the foundation for the ground-breaking CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology. She has received numerous prestigious awards and distinctions, and is an elected member of several renowned academies of sciences. She is co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics and ERS Genomics.

Concepts: Bacteria, Germany, Max Planck, Alexander von Humboldt, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn, Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin


Julius Hallervorden, a distinguished German neuropathologist, admitted on several occasions that he had received some five hundred brains of “euthanasia” victims from the Nazi killing centres for the insane. He investigated the brains in the summer of 1942; however, their traces were subsequently lost. The present study shows, that the Series H, which was part of the Hallervorden collection of brain sections in the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, comprises the brain sections of the above mentioned five hundred euthanasia victims. The provenance of 105 patients could be reconstructed and 84 are for sure euthanasia victims. Most of them were killed in Bernburg or in Sonnenstein-Pirna. Hallervorden used the brain sections of Series H until 1956 for his studies and never publicly regretted this abuse of the brains of euthanasia victims.

Concepts: Time, Brain, Traumatic brain injury, Human brain, Germany, Summer of Love, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn


Günther Wilke, Director of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Coal Research from 1969 to 1993 passed away on December 9, 2016 at the age of 91. He profoundly influenced the field of organometallic chemistry and catalysis research, in particular homogeneous transition-metal catalysis. His findings have become fundamental elements of contemporary science, and many former co-workers whom he influenced and supported have held, or currently hold key positions in both academia and in industry.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Physics, Olefin metathesis, Inorganic chemistry, Germany, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn


Front Cover: Investigating materials for optoelectronic applications under the focus of self-organization is fascinating, both from a scientific and industrial point of view, bringing together scientists from different countries and areas of knowledge. The design symbolically represents the transnational cooperation within the International Research Training Group “Self-Organized Materials for Optoelectronics” (IRTG 1404) as an assembly station: Within the IRTG 1404 the knowledge and resources from Korean and German supply lines-Seoul National University, Hannam University, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research-are combined together to generate new scientific results on this interdisciplinary topic.

Concepts: Science, Germany, Printing press, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn, Johannes Gutenberg, Mainz, University of Mainz


The discovery that imido analogs of actinyl dioxo cations can be extended beyond uranium into the transuranic elements is presented. Synthesis of the Np(V) complex, Np(NDipp)2(tBu2bipy)2Cl (1), is achieved through treatment of a Np(IV) precursor with a bipyridine co-ligand and lithium-amide reagent. Complex 1 has been structurally characterized, analyzed by NMR and UV/vis/NIR spectroscopies, and the electronic structure evaluated by DFT calculations.

Concepts: Mathematics, Atom, Chemical element, Valence electron, System, Periodic table, Otto Hahn, Synthetic element


The 83 institutes and research facilities of the Max Planck Society, established in 1948, include some of the world’s leading scholars in the life sciences, including 17 Noble Prize winners, and publish 15,000 research papers annually. For the past 18 years, biologists have stood at the helm of the prestigious German organization. But last month, an electrochemist and materials scientist, Martin Stratmann, began a six-year term as president of the Munich-based society.Stratmann, who is 60, served as the director of the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Düsseldorf since 2000, where he helped develop self-healing coatings that can protect steels and other metals from rust. Stratmann spoke with David Levine about his vision for the Max Planck Society and about what the change of guard will mean for biomedical research. The conversation has been edited for clarity.

Concepts: Iron, Academic publishing, Germany, Corrosion, Rust, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn


The fascinating story of the discovery of nuclear fission began with an error that earned Enrico Fermi a Nobel Prize for the apparent but incorrect discovery of the transuranic elements. Careful repetition and extension of the experiments finally led to the correct interpretation by Hahn, Meitner, Strassmann, Frisch, and Bohr as an effect from nuclear fission of the “small impurity” of 0.7 % ${{}_{\hskip 0.3em 92}^{235} {\rm{U}}}$ contained in natural uranium.

Concepts: Nuclear physics, Uranium, Nuclear fission, Enrico Fermi, Manhattan Project, Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, Fritz Strassmann


Scratching the surface: For over 100 years the interactions of molecules at surfaces have been studied at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin. Nobel Laureate Gerhard Ertl looks back at some of the key developments in this time, and the people who made them.

Concepts: Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn, Humboldt University of Berlin