Have you ever thought of turning poetry into DNA? And then letting it mutate?
No, nor had we in the editorial office of the Junge Akademie Magazin (JA M). That is, until JA-member Tobias Erb came up with the following idea: for a JA M exclusive, he worked at home and in the lab to expose a poem, which he had synthesised into a DNA molecule, to random mutagenesis, biologically, chemically and under UV radiation. The aim was to use the different degrees of change in the DNA and thus in the poem to visualise chance. You can see and read about the outcome of the experiment in our Dossier on chance. The extent to which chance plays a role in science is also addressed by other members of the Junge Akademie (JA), involving disciplines such as immunology, electrical engineering and IT, psychology, politics and Big Data, particle physics and neuroscience. And maybe democracy can benefit from chance, too? The legal scholar Emanuel V. Towfigh describes how lotteries can promote public engagement.
Chance fertilises our research. Yet it is extraordinarily difficult to identify. Why this is and what tasks it generates for academia is explained by Wolfgang Gaissmaier, social psychologist, decision researcher and member of the Junge Akademie. To what extent the “coincidence of tradition” – the uncertainties of source material – distort our insights was the subject of a conversation between JA-member and theologian Katharina Heyden and the historian Arnold Esch.
In the second part of the magazine you will find reports on the activities of the Junge Akademie’s Research Groups and projects. JA-member Gordon Kampe has sonified climate data collected by the geoecologist and JA-alumnus Alexander Knohl. And should you happen to be in Bielefeld on 29 April 2015, you could attend the premiere. If not, give chance a helping hand, buy a train ticket and head to Bielefeld!
The editorial team and I hope you will enjoy this issue. Evelyn Runge