Video series "Aha Moment" with sparkling ideas from the world of science

In cooperation with the Max Planck Society

In the video series "Aha Moment - The Fascination of Research", scientists from various research areas of the Max Planck Society come to the BIOTOPIA Lab and talk about their research. The researchers use simple but unexpected demonstrations to show what particularly fascinates them about their field of research and what unexpected discoveries they have made in the course of their careers. They also provide an exclusive insight into their careers and explain how their field of research can influence our lives.

Aha Moment is hosted by actress and presenter Annika Preil, known from film and television - especially from the hit documentary series "Anna und die wilden Tiere".

Check it out and learn about these interesting people and their groundbreaking work!

All videos are available with English subtitles!

Elena Conti: Tiny, molecular machines!

Aha Moment in Cell Biology

Elena Conti from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry gives us a fascinating peek into the tiny world of protein complexes that are 1000 times thinner than a human hair and serve as tools in our cells that move and build or tear apart other molecules. Tiny machines that build or destroy parts of our cells? Learn about a molecular machine that she calls a "shredder" and what research methods are used to learn more about the inner workings of our cells!


Elena Conti is Director of the research department for Structural Cell Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (Martinsried, Germany).

Nadine Gogolla: Emotions in the brain!

Aha Moment in emotion research

What are emotions? Nadine Gogolla from the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry researches the biological basis of emotions and feelings. Joy, disgust, fear or pain - we can immediately read emotions in another person's face, but where do they actually come from? Neurobiologist Gogolla explains why emotions in animals such as mice are much more complex than thought, and what can be learned from research on emotions in the brain for the treatment of mental illness.


Dr. Nadine Gogolla is Director at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich. Previously, she was a PostDoc at Harvard.

Tobias Bonhoeffer: Learn and forget!

Aha moment in brain research

A look into our brain: Neurobiologist Tobias Bonhoeffer from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence explains what goes on in our head - including nerve cells, dendrites, axons and synapses. In this video, you'll learn how learning and forgetting work, why it's good that we can't remember everything, and how Tobias Bonhoeffer found tiny " spines of thought" during his "aha moment" that enable us to learn in the first place!
Prof. Dr. Tobias Bonhoeffer is a neurobiologist, director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence in Martinsried and member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. One focus of his research is the structure of synapses and ranges from molecular biological studies to the analysis of the intact nervous system.

Reinhard Genzel: Black Holes!

Aha Moment in astrophysics

What is at the center of our galaxy? What is it about black holes? And why can't we actually see them? Nobel Prize winner Reinhard Genzell explores the vastness of the universe. This requires a lot of patience, brain power and the best and largest telescopes in the world - and all as a team. In this episode, you can find out how Reinhard Genzel came to what is probably the longest "aha moment" in our series...


Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel is Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Honorary Professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and Full Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics along with Roger Penrose and Andrea Ghez by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for their research on black holes.


Johannes Krause: Biological Ancestry

Aha Moment in archaeogenetics

How far back does our family tree go? Are we all somehow related to each other? What other species of humans existed on earth in the past and do we still carry a part of them within us? Archaeogeneticist Johannes Krause explains how biochemical methods can be used to discover spectacular things about our past. And he tells us how a tiny bone led to his big Aha Moment.


Johannes Krause is an archaeogeneticist and director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. His research focuses on the analysis of ancient to very old DNA. Among other things, he contributed to the decoding of the genome of the Neanderthal and in 2010 he succeeded for the first time in proving the existence of a new human form, Denisova Man, based on genetic data from a fossil.

Antje Boetius: Down to the deep sea!

Aha Moment in marine biology

Dive down! Marine biologist Antje Boetius explores the secrets of the deep sea: In this video, you'll learn which strange organisms live far below the ocean's surface and why some of them are even true climate savers. Immense pressure, icy cold and deepest darkness - it's hard to imagine that there is life down there!


Antje Boetius is a marine biologist, head of the Bridge Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology (AWI, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology Bremen and MARUM Bremen) and professor at the University of Bremen. Since January 2015, she has been chair of the steering committee of Science in Dialogue, and since November 2017 she has also headed the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven.


Petra Schwille: Bricks of life!

Aha Moment with proteins

How and when did life come into being? And how do cells and proteins, the building blocks of life, work? Biophysicist Petra Schwille uses colorful and hypnotic images to show us what proteins can do. And explains how her Aha Moment could bring new insights into evolution.


Petra Schwille is a biophysicist. She is director of the department "Cellular and Molecular Biophysics" at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. Schwille is also coordinator of the large Max Planck research consortium "MaxSynBio" on synthetic biology.

Herwig Baier: Hunger in the brain!

Aha Moment in neurobiology

How does the brain work? Why do we do what we do? And what influence does our environment have on the decisions we make? Herwig Baier is a neurobiologist and conducts research on precisely these topics. He looks into the brains of zebrafish and studies their behavior. His personal "aha" moment has something to do with these tiny animals and with the question of why it makes a difference whether we are hungry when we go shopping...


Herwig Baier is a neurobiologist and has been director of the Gene Circuit Behavior Department at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology since 2011.

"Aha Moment" will continue!
Look forward to more exciting personalities of the Max Planck Society!

Curious now? There is much more to discover at BIOTOPIA Digital:




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