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Each event in this year's Pint of Science Cologne features different scientists from the fields of microbiology, plant sciences, molecular medicine and physics. On the second evening in Bumann&SOHN we will learn about interactions in nature - between plants and fungi but also between light particles. Speaking of learning, we will see how our health affects how we learn. And finally, we will listen to a ballad inspired by the power of evolution on how we can save our water for the generations to come.
Speak friend and enter: How do plants communicate with mycorrhiza fungi?
Most of the plants are in a tight relationship with mycorrhiza fungi. Indeed, more than 80% of terrestrial plants establish mycorrhiza symbiosis. This is a mutualistic interaction that evolved over 450 million years ago, before dinosaurs, and most likely together with land plants. Here, both partners exchange resources in the form of nutrients. The fungal mycelia forage phosphorus and nitrogen from the soil into the plant in exchange for sugars and fats. But which signals do plants and fungi use to communicate with each other? And how can we profit from this symbiosis to improve food security?
Making photons interact - why Star Wars is flawed?
Andrea Bergschneider (Postdoctoral researcher in quantum physics and quantum optics at the University of Bonn)
In everyday situations, light particles called photons typically don't interact with each other, they just pass by one another. However, scientists have found a way to make photons interact by connecting them to matter inside something called an optical resonator. This creates a new kind of particle that's a mix of light and matter. Doing so, interactions between the matter can be transferred to the photons, as has been observed in experiments. Interacting photons are particularly exciting for developing things like quantum networks and quantum computers that use light instead of electricity.
How inflammation affects our behavior
Polina Zhigulina (PhD student at Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research)
There is a link between chronic inflammation and the dopamine system - the center of motivation and reward learning. We now know that signals from the body to the brain influence our behavior, preferences, and habits. Contributing to this picture of interactions, I explore the effect of chronically inflamed state of the body on the brain. Normally, inflammation is a short-term response of the body to harmful stimuli. However, under certain conditions, such as aging or depression, it can become chronic, thus affecting the dopamine system and leading to decreased sensitivity to rewards.
Microbes for water treatment- a song of engineering and evolution
Have you ever wondered how safe the water we drink really is? Even in the cleanest waters, tiny substances called 'micro-pollutants' can sneak in, including antibiotics and hormones. Even small amounts of these can harm the environment and public health. What if we used nature to help us solve this problem? By engineering the ancient relationship between microalgae and bacteria, we may find new ways to keep our water clean. Join us for a short talk about the story of a team which tried to address this challenge, narrated through songs and snippets of science!
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