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Latest Max Planck Institute Stories

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2010-11-19 06:25:00

A close-up image of the eyes of a Daddy Longlegs has beaten out nearly 2,000 other life science-related microscope photos and movies to win the 2010 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition, officials announced on Wednesday. The picture, which was taken by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz of the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Munich, Germany, "showcases the bug-eyed splendor" of the Phalangium opilio, an arachnid species also known as a Harvestman, contest representatives said in a...

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2010-11-09 13:58:32

Whether cognitive differences exist between modern humans and Neanderthals is the subject of contentious disputes in anthropology and archaeology. Because the brain size range of modern humans and Neanderthals overlap, many researchers previously assumed that the cognitive capabilities of these two species were similar. Among humans, however, the internal organization of the brain is more important for cognitive abilities than its absolute size is. The brain's internal organization depends on...

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2010-10-15 08:35:00

Eastern marsh helleborine mimics aphid alarm pheromones to attract pollinators Even Darwin was a self-admitted orchid lover. Dictionaries describe orchids as exotic ornamentals. Indeed, these plants "“ more than 30000 different species are thought to exist "“ are exotic due their extraordinary and diverse flower morphology. However, they are also exotic from a point of view other than beauty: as crafty imposters in order to achieve reproduction and to make sure that their ovaries...

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2010-10-08 12:30:00

Solomon's lily imitates a yeasty odor to lure vinegar flies into a trap Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have solved a case of fraud that has been pending for 40 million years. Arum palaestinum, also called the Solomon's lily, attracts drosophilids (vinegar flies) as pollinators by emitting odor molecules that resemble those produced during alcoholic fermentation of rotting fruit initiated by yeast. The plant accomplishes the illusion of yeast...

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2010-10-08 10:15:00

Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed Scientists from the MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen on board the German research vessel Meteor have discovered a new hydrothermal vent 500 kilometers south-west of the Azores. The vent with chimneys as high as one meter and fluids with temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius was found at one thousand meters water depth...

2010-09-27 17:25:27

Nectar production in lima beans depends on light quality Flowering plants produce nectar to attract insect pollinators. Some plant species, such as Lima bean, also secrete nectar from so-called extrafloral nectaries to attract ants which in turn fend off herbivores. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, have discovered that the production of extrafloral nectar is light dependent. They have shown that the plants are able not only to distinguish between day and night, but...

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2010-09-09 10:56:05

A simple device measures the quantum noise of vacuum fluctuations and generates true random numbers Behind every coincidence lies a plan - in the world of classical physics, at least. In principle, every event, including the fall of dice or the outcome of a game of roulette, can be explained in mathematical terms. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light in Erlangen have constructed a device that works on the principle of true randomness. With the help of quantum...

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2010-09-01 11:20:18

High social status and maternal support play an important role in the mating success of male bonobos Success makes sexy - this does not only apply to human beings, but also to various animals. Male bonobos appear to benefit from this phenomenon as well. A team of researchers led by Gottfried Hohmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has discovered that the higher up a male bonobo is placed in the social hierarchy, the greater his mating success is with female bonobos....

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2010-08-25 13:51:46

Pathogens make themselves feel at home in the human body, invading cells and living off the plentiful amenities on offer. However, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, together with colleagues at Harvard University, reveal an opposite strategy used to ensure infection success. Pathogens can actually delay their entry into cells to ensure their survival. Upon cell contact, bacteria trigger a local strengthening of the cellular skeleton with the aid of...

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2010-08-13 06:55:00

Idle computers are the astronomers' playground: Three citizen scientists "“ a German and an American couple "“ have discovered a new radio pulsar hidden in data gathered by the Arecibo Observatory. This is the first deep-space discovery by Einstein@Home, which uses donated time from the home and office computers of 250,000 volunteers from 192 different countries. (Science Express, Aug. 12, 2010.)The citizens credited with the discovery are Chris and Helen Colvin, of Ames, Iowa and...