MPI-DS articles in the yearbook of the MPG


  • All the world – a game? 

    2022 Godara, Prakhar; Aléman, Tilman; Heidemann, Knut; Herminghaus, Stephan
    We develop model agents whose cognitive capacity can be constrained and who act human-like in public goods games. Exploring their collective behavior in networked game geometries will pave the way to predictive simulations of social equilibria and instabilities. Initial results show remarkable universalities in the dependence of willingness to invest in public goods on the degree of connectedness of game groups. These correlate well with everyday experience, which renders the agent model promising for further exploration.


  • Understanding the physics of life: from molecules to systems

    2021 Agudo-Canalejo, Jaime; Mahault, Benoît; Golestanian, Ramin
    Despite numerous research approaches it is still not well-understood how the individual components of a cell self-organize to form a living cell. In the recently established Department of Living Matter Physics, we search for new physics in living systems, bridging the scales from individual molecules to macroscopic systems to uncover general principles in the organization and emergence of living matter as well as synthetic, life-like active matter.


  • Theory and practice of COVID-19 containment

    2020 Priesemann, Viola; Wilczek, Michael
    In early 2020, the world was taken by surprise by a virus: SARS-CoV-2 spread at blazing speed and confronted everyone with unexpected challenges. Within weeks, we in Göttingen produced groundbreaking new insights into the spread and containment of COVID-19: We analyzed and predicted the spread, quantified aerosol exposure and effectiveness of masks, and designed realistic containment strategies. We made all of these findings available to the public as quickly as possible via press releases, interviews and position papers.


  • statistical physics and future mobility

    2019 S. Herminghaus*, L. J. Deutsch, C. Hoffrogge-Lee, M. Patscheke, M. Timme, A. Sorge, N. Molkenthin, N. Beyer, P. Marszal, D. Manik, F. Jung, C. Brügge, J. Simons, M. Schäfer, D. Gebauer, A. Hahn, C. Malzer, F. Maus, W. Frühling, J. Schlüter, V. Chifu, I. Gholami, T. Baig-Meininghaus
    In order to reduce the volume of traffic on our roads, the number of passengers per vehicle must be increased. This can be achieved by ride-pooling and by strengthening scheduled services. Using statistical physics methods, we have developed a general description whose predictions we have been able to confirm through experiments (i.e. pilot projects). We have now brought this system close to market maturity. We are aiming at large scale commercial deployment in the near future, with the aim of increasing sustainable mobility in the countryside and the quality of life in cities.


  • In the Clouds  

    2018 Bodenschatz, Eberhard; Wilczek, Michael; Bagheri, Gholamhossein

    The insufficient understanding of cloud physics is a major source of uncertainty in weather and climate models.  In addition to water vapour, clouds consist of water droplets and ice particles. Their dynamics are significantly influenced by the high degree of turbulence within the clouds. The question of better weather and climate predictions is therefore closely linked to the understanding of turbulence and its role in cloud microphysics. A better understanding of these phenomena is the goal of new experimental and theoretical investigations at the MPIDS.


  • Random Focussing of Tsunami Waves

    2017 Fleischmann, Ragnar; Geisel, Theo
    The effect of branched flow explains how even minute fluctuations in the ocean depth can focus the energy carried by a tsunami wave. A tsunami wave can focus the energy of a seaquake in certain directions where it causes devastating destruction. Current research from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization shows that minute fluctuations in the ocean depths can lead to focusing effects and generate strong height fluctuations in the tsunami wave. This formation of a branched flow has severe implications on the way we have to think about predicting tsunamis.


  • Coordinated fluid transport by ciliated surfaces

    2016 Westendorf, Christian; Gholami, Azam; Faubel, Regina; Guido, Isabella; Wang, Yong; Bae, Albert; Eichele, Gregor; Bodenschatz, Eberhard
    Active and directed fluid transport are crucial for the survival of eukaryotic organisms. This is often carried out by ciliated tissues e. g., the inner wall of the ventriclar system in the mammalian brain. Using a novel method the complexity of the cilia driven fluid flow in the third ventricle of the brain is revealed. Furthermore, ciliated tissues, which are capable of driving such complex flows are interesting for synthetic biology and applications in technology. Therefore, our working group at the MPI for Dynamics and Self-Organization currently attempts to rebuild such ciliated carpets.


  • Fluid invasion structures in porous media

    2015 Herminghaus, Stephan
    The complex structures which emerge when a fluid invades a porous medium are of great relevance for many problems in the geosciences as well as in technology, engineering, and everyday life. Nevertheless, about fifty years of intense research have not been able to identify the dominant mechanisms at work. We have recently found that the solution is much simpler than anticipated. The mechanism is well hidden, but so elementary that high-school math is sufficient to come up with quantitative predictions.


  • Biodiversity and extinction

    2014 Stollmeier, Frank

    Today's biodiversity is the result of a long-lasting process of origination and extinction of species. The history of this process can be explored by fossil databases. A new mathematical model for the network of dependencies between species helps to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of this process. For instance, the model can explain in which circumstances the extinction of a single species may initiate a mass extinction, and why the growth of the biodiversity on land and in the sea has been qualitatively different from each other.


  • The intrinsic pace of the actin cytoskeleton


    Beta, Carsten

    Actin-driven cell motility is a key process that governs many essential biological phenomena. Recently, it was demonstrated that an intrinsic clock governs actin dynamics and determines the timing of cellular responses to external chemical stimuli.
  • Network Dynamics: Growth, Risk, Design and Control - Mathematical Concepts for “intelligent” self-organizing processes in Nature and Technology

    2013 Timme, Marc; Nagler, Jan

    The dynamics of networks determines our lives. From biochemical reactions in cells and neural circuits in the brain to networks of social contacts and the power grid − all these are networks of units that generate complex emergent functions through multiple nonlinear feedback. Yet we do not understand them. Researchers are now breaking new ground on the way to a future “science on the dynamics of complex networks”, a unique cross-disciplinary enterprise that cannot be captured by individual traditional subjects such as physics or biology, engineering or social sciences alone.


  • The role of noise in spreading processes

    2012 Hallatschek, Oskar
    Spreading processes occur in many complex systems. They play an important role, for instance, in the formation of epidemics and the spread of evolutionary novelties. Until recently, most theories of those processes ignored or approximated the role of noise. The example of evolution illustrates, however, that random chance effects should not be neglected. We report a substantial advance in the analysis of these and more complex models.
  • Turbulent patterns

    2012 Schneider, Tobias M.

    The transition to turbulence in a fast moving fluid often starts from a localized turbulent seed that grows until it fills the whole domain. Methods stemming from dynamical systems theory allow first steps towards understanding the observed spreading: Recently constructed special solutions of the underlying equations capture aspects of the characteristic spatiotemporal dynamics. The new solutions are created by known pattern formation mechanisms also believed to underlie the characteristic spots and stripes on leopards and tigers.


  • Resolving Reynolds riddle: the critical point of pipe flow

    2011 Hof, Björn
    At low speeds fluid flows are laminar and they turn turbulent as the flowrate is increased. The point at which turbulence first occurs cannot easily be predicted even for flows in very simple geometries. Ever since an investigation by Osborne Reynolds in the 19th century scientists tried to determine this point for the fundamentally most important case: pipe flow. Despite many attempts this problem remained unresolved for over 125 years. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Selforganization and colleagues from the University of Warwick could finally answer this question.
  • High-Performance-Computing and Efficient Server Cooling at MPIDS

    2011 Fliegner, Denny
    During the last years HPC-clusters have become common even beyond the established computing centers. The increasing computing power implies higher technical demands on the infrastructure. In particular the efficient cooling of these systems poses a challenge.


  • Autonomous emulsions

    2010 Herminghaus, Stephan
    A concept is put forward which should allow for the realization of functional nano-systems by means of self-assembly of soft matter. The choice of soft matter suggests itself from the fact that nature chose that class of materials for the development of life. It is demonstrated that gel-emulsions with a well-defined droplet size, which self-assemble in defined geometric environments in a predictable way, are in fact suitable for the implementation of complex function.
  • Controlling of spatio-temporal dynamics of the heart

    2010 Luther, Stefan
    Life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias are associated with complex, often chaotic, spatial-temporal patterns of electrical excitation. Understanding the underlying dynamical processes opens new perspectives for diagnostics and therapy.


  • The brain on the edge of chaos

    2009 Levina, Anna; Herrmann, Michael J.; Geisel, Theo
    The general principles that underlie the function and structure of the brain are not yet fully understood. Recent experimental findings put forward one of the theoretical hypothesis, namely that cortical networks are organized such that they keep themselves near the so called critical point. In many different contests it was shown, that the critical state can be beneficial for brain functions, for example by optimizing sensitivity to the external input. We study analytically and numerically how the neuronal network can reach and maintain criticality.


  • Göttingen high-pressure turbulence facility

    2008 Bodenschatz, Eberhard
    Advances in key economical and societal issues facing the world, like energy generation, climate change, and pollution, are obstructed by the lack of understanding of turbulence. Turbulence occurs whenever fluid viscous forces are small compared to the dominant driving forces of the flow; in practice this includes most macroscopic natural and technological flows. High turbulence levels under controlled conditions are imperative to allow a systematic investigation. For the first time this is becoming possible at the Göttingen Turbulence facility, which is presented here.


  • Collective phenomena far from thermal equilibrium

    2007 Herminghaus, Stephan
    If many similar systems are coupled to each other, quite unexpected collective phenomena are sometimes observed. These are important in processes of pattern formation and emergence, as found in the universe as well as ubiquitously on earth. In order to understand these mechanisms, we study simple model systems, such as wet granular matter. A number of interesting similarities is found with well-understood equilibrium systems. This suggests a promising path for in-depth investigation of this lively field of research.


  • „Feel Sick? Follow the money!“ - New models for the geographical spread of diseases

    2006 Brockmann, Dirk
    Increasing human mobility is a key cause of the geographic spread of modern epidemics. Bacteria and viruses can be transported across great distances and transmitted to other people. In order to understand and predict the spread of disease, we need to know the statistical rules that govern human travel – in the light of an imminent flu pandemic a knowledge of great importance.


  • Pattern Formation in Biophysics

    2005 Luther, Stefan; Beta, Carsten; Bodenschatz, Eberhard
    The mechanisms of spatiotemporal pattern formation in biology and medicine is key to the understanding of living matter from cell to organs. The phenomenon of self-organization is observed in the chemotactic motion of cells forming complex behavior and structures. On an organ level, the nonlinear interaction of cardiac cells is evident in the transition from periodic heart rhythm to spatiotemporal chaos associated with sudden cardiac death. We describe our experimental and numerical approach to gain further understanding of these biophysical systems.


  • The Spumo-Processor: a New Concept in Micro-Fluidics

    2004 Seemann, Ralf; Herminghaus, Stephan
    A novel concept is presented for fluidic microprocessors, which allows to run a huge number of (bio-) chemical reactions in complex sequence on a microchip. It is based upon the interaction of the channel geometry with the foam-like inner topology of dry emulsions


  • Hamiltonian ratchets: propulsion by chaos

    2003 Dr. Holger Schanz
    In future mechanical and electronic devices, nanometer scale transport of material, energy and information will rely on novel physical principles. While the role of quantum effects will increase, dissipative processes causing unwanted heating will be reduced as much as possible. We study one particular transport mechanism, the so-called ratchet effect, in the limit of vanishing dissipation. For that purpose an analysis of the complex phase-space structure of Hamiltonian systems is necessary, in which regular and chaotic dynamics typically coexist.
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