Powerful technologies may help overcome future challenges

How will the field of artificial intelligence (AI) develop in the coming years? What sort of risks, what chances will open up? Professor Stefan Kramer of the Institute of Computer Science at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is to find answers to these questions – in an interdisciplinary research project in which he and his colleagues will investigate core aspects of AI over the next six years.


How flies and humans see the world

Professor Marion Silies joined the Faculty of Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in early 2019. Here she has been investigating the organization and function of circuits in the visual system of the fruit fly. Her work has already earned her numerous awards.

Doris Prechel und Frank Maas präsentierten in der Ausstellung "Bringing the Past to Light" die ersten Ergebnisse ihrer interdisziplinären Kooperation. (Foto: Peter Pulkowski) BRINGING THE PAST TO LIGHT

Nuclear physics and cuneiform studies working hand in hand

Doris Prechel, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Philology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), and Professor Frank Maas of the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) have teamed up to throw light on the past. With the help of state-of-the-art analytical devices developed for use in physics, they are busy deciphering thousand-year-old cuneiform tablets. The two researchers now presented the initial results of their cooperation in an exhibition.

 Gutenberg alumnus Benjamin Eberhardt is currently living and undertaking research at the South Pole for a whole 12 months. (photo/©: Raffaela Busse, NSF)GUTENBERG ALUMNI

A long winter in Antarctica

Physicist Dr. Benjamin Eberhardt from Mainz will be living and conducting research at the South Pole for an entire year. Together with his colleague Dr. Kathrin Mallot, he is overseeing the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. The observatory is operated by an international consortium in which Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is a major participant.

Professor Jairo Sinova has set up new research infrastructures in the area of ​​spintronics at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)SPINTRONICS

"We need to get out of our comfort zone"

Professor Jairo Sinova came from Texas A&M University to Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 2014 to take up an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. He is one of the world's leading researchers in the field of spintronics and has already set-up the Spin Phenomena Interdisciplinary Center (SPICE) and the Interdisciplinary Spintronics Research (INSPIRE Group) at Mainz University.

Prof. Dr. Holger Tost vom Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre der JGU forscht zu Klima- und Wettereinflüssen. (Foto: Peter Pulkowski)ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS

Tracking the climate using MESSy

Professor Holger Tost wants to find out what is going on in the atmosphere and uses computer simulations to investigate the processes influencing our climate and weather. He was appointed to the Carl Zeiss Foundation Endowed Professorship on Environmental Modeling in the Climate System at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 2016.

Professor Michael Bruse has been working on the development of an urban climate planning software for 25 years. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)GEOINFORMATICS

A model of urban climate

With the help of ENVI-met, it is possible to determine the microclimate of a city down to the square meter, while effects of construction projects, soil sealing, and green spaces can be exactly predicted. Professor Michael Bruse of the Institute of Geography of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has been working on this software for 25 years.  As time went by, the specialist in geoinformatics incorporated increasingly more factors and made the 3D simulation more complex. ENVI-met is now in use around the world.

Zhiyuan Wang had the opportunity to work on his own project in a nuclear physics research group at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)PRISMA CLUSTER OF EXCELLENCE

Attractive internship program for young talent

A special internship program regularly succeeds in getting talented young people to come to PRISMA, the Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter Cluster of Excellence at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Seven students were welcomed this summer. Zhiyuan Wang is one of them. He took the opportunity to work on his own project in nuclear physicist Professor Dmitry Budker's team.

Dr. Michael Pirie of the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution (IOME) has been studying the Ericaceae (heather) family for about a decade now. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)EVOLUTIONARY SBIOLOGY

On the trail of biodiversity

In order to research the mechanisms involved in speciation, Dr. Michael Pirie has selected a plant genus which actually originated in Europe but which has developed into an unbelievable number of varieties mainly in South Africa. The botanist, who works at the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution (IOME) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), has been following the trail of the Ericaceae (heather) family for a decade now.

Professor Edward Lemke undertakes research into the formation and function of special protein complexes in cells. (photo: Bernd Eßling)BIOPHYSICS

The mystery of flexible proteins

Professor Edward Lemke conducts research into intrinsically disordered proteins. Among other things, he has developed new methods of observing these albumins. He has been a professor at the Faculty of Biology of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) since January 1, 2018. Here he works in collaboration with the Faculty of Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Geosciences. He is also Adjunct Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) and a Fellow of the Gutenberg Research College (GRC).

Professor Randolf Pohl conducts research at the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence, among other things measuring the size of the proton in muonic hydrogen. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)PRISMA CLUSTER OF EXCELLENCE

The proton radius puzzle

His results have made headlines beyond the academic world of physics. In May 2016, Randolf Pohl was appointed to a professorship at the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Using a new technique, he succeeded in measuring the size of the proton, one of the fundamental building blocks of the atomic nucleus. According to his results, the radius of the proton is four percent smaller than the previous value accepted by science. This result is puzzling and could have serious consequences for the Standard Model of particle physics.

The MAIUS-1 sounding rocket with the entire mission team (photo/©: Thomas Schleuss, DLR)RESEARCH ROCKET

Pioneering measurements in space

The MAIUS-1 sounding rocket mission has enabled physicists to generate a Bose-Einstein condensate in space for the first time. This will allow them to measure the Earth's gravitational field more precisely in the future and, crucially, to test Einstein's equivalence principle more accurately than ever before. The research group Experimental Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is closely involved in the project. 

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) ICE LABORATORY

The riddle of the icy droplets

In order to understand atmospheric processes, it is necessary to discover how ice nuclei form within clouds. This is the task of the INUIT research group, to which Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is contributing. A team in the laboratory of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics is working with small drops, a wind tunnel like no other in the world, and a special cold chamber that will help find answers to these fundamental questions.

Professor Peter Hoor undertakes research and teaches at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. (photo: Peter Pulkowski) ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS

Tracking the climate by airplane

Professor Peter Hoor and his Airborne Measurements and Transport Processes work group at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are studying the processes that occur in the tropopause. The events that take place in this boundary layer between the stratosphere and the troposphere are still puzzling scientists but have significant effects on the climate of our planet.

Professor Dmitry Budker (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) RESEARCH COOPERATION

Not everything in the universe is symmetrical

Research into fundamental symmetries and a unique nationwide cooperation between Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Association have brought Professor Dmitry Budker to Mainz. He will be heading up the Matter Antimatter Symmetry section at the JGU-based Helmholtz Institute Mainz, which collaborates with the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt.

The interior of the BES-III detector at the Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, China (© Institute for High Energy Physics, Beijing) NUCLEAR PHYSICS

What holds matter together?

Subatomic particles, muons, quarks, gluons, and their cousins: Physicists working with the MAMI electron accelerator at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are also playing an important role in the BESIII Experiment in Beijing in China. They are on the trail of the basic building blocks of matter and are thus hoping to pave the way for a New Physics.

Circuit board (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) COMPUTER SCIENCE

Research at the interface of disciplines

Thirty years ago the first Professor of Computer Science was appointed at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). A lot has since changed in this relatively recent field. This special anniversary is a good reason to take a quick look back, despite the fact that the professors at the Institute of Computer Science prefer to talk about their current work and projects. After all, the present and future are far more interesting to them than a brief history of their discipline.

View over the ice at the geographic South Pole to the above ground measuring station of the IceCube observatory, where the data from the photo sensors in the ice is extracted and analyzed. (photo/©: Sven Lidstrom, IceCube/NSF)ICECUBE

Hunting neutrinos in the Antarctic

Over the past three years, the IceCube neutrino observatory at the South Pole has managed to detect extreme high energy neutrinos originating from the depths of the universe. Even experts doubted for a long time whether the idea would work, but reports of success came in 2013. Professor Lutz Köpke of the Institute of Physics at Mainz University and his work group are involved in the international research project.

(photo/©: Joachim Burger)ANTHROPOLOGY

Cattle, milk, and Europeans

With their article on "The milk Revolution," Professor Joachim Burger and his work group at the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) managed to catapult themselves into the media headlines. But milk in fact only represents an incidental aspect of their research. Their real concern is the history of the settlement of Europe.


A journey through 470 million years of plant history

There is hardly any other place at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) that is as inviting to relax or take a stroll as the Botanic Garden. However, it is much more than simply a recreational facility. The garden is a place of research and teaching while it also provides a storehouse of rare plants, which is the largest of all the collections present on campus.


History in skulls

Over the past three years, PD Dr. Holger Herlyn of the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has assembled a modern teaching collection of replica skulls that document the development of human beings and their relationship to other primates. The exhibits in the collection's display cabinets are ready to be investigated by the probing hands of the students.

Professor Frank Sirocko (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)GEOSCIENCES

The climate remains a mystery

In his book Geschichte des Klimas (A history of the climate), one of the leading paleoclimate researcher takes us on a journey through the geological eras. Professor Dr. Frank Sirocko of the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) provides insight into the past while also venturing to forecast the future.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HERBARIUM

The collection is growing and growing

The herbarium at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is hardly known – although it includes a number of rare plants and fungi, some of which are still awaiting proper classification. In addition to the extensive array of fungi and plants native to the Rhineland-Palatinate region and gathered from the Mainz Sand Dunes nature reserve, there are also exotic specimens from Costa Rica and Rwanda. Dr. Gudrun Kadereit shows what the herbarium has in store.

High-altitude research aircraft Geophysica (photo: Stephan Borrmann)METEOROLOGY

Hunting down clouds in a spy jet

Two of the most important factors influencing climate events are still a mystery: The clouds and the aerosols in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Professor Dr. Stephan Borrmann is tracking them both down. A new, large-scale project is ready to start in the skies above India. The European Union is providing EUR 2.75 million in financial support.

Mussels of the genus Glycymeris from the Mainz Basin, ca. 30 million years old (photo: Peter Pulkowski) GEOSCIENTIFIC COLLECTIONS

Mollusks chronicle the climate

Mammoths and mussels, dragonflies and corals: the Paleontology Collection at the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is incredibly diverse. What's missing is a proper curator. Because the million or so specimens in the collection are too much for anyone to manage on a part-time basis.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

When ants stir up a rebellion

It has long been known that certain ants keep other ants as slaves. However, Professor Dr. Susanne Foitzik of the Institute of Zoology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has discovered that these slaves have what it takes to rebel. And she can explain how this ability has developed during the course of evolution.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)CLIMATE

Finnish trees tell the story of 2,000 years of climate history

Over the past 2,000 years, the climate in northern Europe has cooled more than previously assumed. This is the conclusion drawn by an international group of researchers following the examination of the growth rings of fossilized pines from Finnish Lapland. Scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) also took part in this major project, most notably the climate geographer Professor Dr. Jan Esper.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ECONOMIC PLANTS

Renewable resources

The magic word that promises to facilitate energy transition is "renewable resources". They seem like the perfect solution: environmentally neutral, versatile, and constantly replenishing themselves. But are they really a panacea? Dr. Ralf Omlor, custodian of the Botanic Garden at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), is using the occasion of the "Renewable Resources – Plants, Products, Perspectives" Week to put his case that we need to take a more critical approach to this complex aspect.


Immortal minerals

The Mineralogical Collection of the Institute of Geosciences is housed in a simple room with 60s charm. Here, rubies, emeralds, gold, and much more sparkle in plain glass cabinets. Professor Dr. Wolfgang Hofmeister guards these treasures and is responsible for adding new items – sometimes even vaporizing a diamond in the service of science.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski)BIOLOGY

A molecule folds itself into a solar sail

Professor Dr. Harald Paulsen and his team are researching the characteristics of the light-harvesting protein LHCII. The protein and its unusual self-organization skills have fascinated biologists for twenty years. It plays an important role in photosynthesis and may one day majorly increase the efficiency of solar cells.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)PARTICLE PHYSICS

Higgs boson electrifies Mainz physicists

Matthias Neubert and his team are elated since scientists at Geneva's CERN research center found the first indications of the existence of the Higgs boson. This is the last building block missing from the standard model of physics. The head of the Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics unit at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) now expects his area of research to take off.