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Dr. Elke Müller
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Max Planck Institutes at ‘Girls’ Day’ and ‘Future Day’ for girls and boys in the Federal State of Brandenburg

April 27, 2016

Girls’ Day and ‘Future Day’ (Zukunftstag) for Boys and Girls takes place in the Federal State of Brandenburg on 28 April 2016. At the three Max Planck Institutes based in the Potsdam-Golm science park girls can find out all about gravitational waves, learn why bacteria stick to surfaces and discover the secrets of plants.

Gravitational waves are generated when two black holes orbit each other in the Universe and eventually merge to form a single black hole. These ripples in the space-time continuum were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916. One hundred years later, in February 2016, the first direct measurements recorded by the LIGO detector hit the headlines. At the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) the girls can learn everything there is to know about this discovery. They can test how the detectors that captured the ripples in the space-time continuum operate and hear the signals in the noise of the measuring equipment with their own ears.

Plants form the very basis our life. This is due to photosynthesis, certainly the most important biochemical process on our planet. Although we have been cultivating and using plants successfully for millennia, certain aspects of them remain a mystery. For this reason, at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, biologists, chemists, computer scientists and mathematicians work hand in hand with gardeners and technicians to reach a better understanding of the processes at work in plants. The Institute invites the girls to take a tour of the climate chambers and greenhouses, to learn about model plants, tissue cultures and current research topics, and to step into the role of research scientists in the laboratory.

The scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces study structures that are larger than an atom but too small to be seen by the naked eye, for example membrane pores for fuel cells and microcapsules for drug delivery. Although it is impossible to see such nano- and micro-structures, they are everywhere. The visiting girls will learn why bacteria adhere to surfaces and exactly how an atomic force microscope works. They will also witness the production of biomolecules and learn how solid phase synthesis unfolds. In their visit to the laboratory, the girls will be able to generate a rainbow in a glass jar or an ocean in a bottle.

But how exactly do you become a scientist, and why is it so much fun to discover and research new things? The girls will be given an opportunity to ask any questions they might have about training and working at a scientific institute.

The event is aimed at girls in the 7th to 10th classes.

 
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