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1 December 2004

Heidelberg Has One of the Fastest Computer Systems in the World

Research magazine "Ruperto Carola" 3/2004: Title story on the status of cluster computing at the University of Heidelberg—Broad range of topics—From cluster computing and neurophysiology to philosophy and archaeology

The range of topics dealt with in the new issue (3/2004) of the research magazine "Ruperto Carola" is broad indeed, ranging from cluster computing and neurophysiology to philosophy and archaeology.

In the Editorial, vice-Rector Prof. Dr. Silke Leopold relates two of the countless success stories stemming from state grants for post-graduate research. But now things have changed: "According to the dictates of academic bureaucracy there is to be no more financial support for individual doctorates." Leopold's verdict is that, for the humanities at least, this is a severe blow.

Helics: A Top-of-the-Line Computer

Cluster computing investigates how a collection of individual computers can be used to produce a virtual high-performance computer. A device of this kind is required for work on computer-intensive applications from all sectors of research. But it is only supposed to cost a fraction of a "genuine" high-performance computer. From the viewpoint of researchers at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing and the Institute of Computer Science, Peter Bastian and Thomas Ludwig take a look at the exciting prospects involved.

From Image to Information

Modern image processing extracting quantitative information from image data has a huge range of potential uses, from the investigation of processes going on within the cell and industrial welding with laser beams all the way to the determination of gas exchange on the surface of the sea. The article by Fred Hamprecht and Bernd Jähne of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing tells of the challenges facing scientists in this field and the way they go about tackling them.

The Uninterrupted Dialogue: Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jacques Derrida

Among the philosophical fraternity the "reassurers" and the "seducers" are like the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. They seldom meet and even more rarely do they join forces to build a nest. But when such an attempt is undertaken, the results make for an exciting chapter in the recent history of philosophy described here by Martin Gessmann of the Department of Philosophy with reference to the unlikely friendship between two great 20th century thinkers: Hans-Georg Gadamer and the French intellectual Jacques Derrida, who died last year.

Swinging in the Brain

Can we find a direct explanation for fascinating achievements of the human brain such as learning, memory, perception and planning by investigating the "behaviour" of nerve cells? Modern neuroscience claims that we can. An especially high degree of research effort is being invested in finding out how the brain stores information and keeps it available for retrieval—in other words, how memory works. Andreas Draguhn of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology describes the complex issues involved and gives a graphic count of the latest state of play on the research front. It appears that cells coordinate their activities by means of self-organised synchronisation. Such "network oscillations" are what enables them to store information. This represents an initial approach to the understanding of memory formation that traces the brain function we call "remembering" stepwise to the activity of individual nerve cells.

Often Overlooked and Unexploited: The Productive Powers of the Elderly

Present-day debates about the aging of society are normally conducted from the viewpoint of the strains this places on social security systems. Much too little heed is paid to the assets society stands to gain from the social commitment of elderly persons. Andreas Kruse of the Institute of Gerontology describes the productive powers of old age and calls for a revision of our image of the elderly in society.

A Tale of Two Cities

Sheer coincidence took researchers from Heidelberg into a gorge in Anatolia, where a sensational discovery awaited them: the remnants of an ancient building cut into the face of the rock. In 2000 this find set off a spate of research endeavour now involving over 60 scholars and scientists from various disciplines and countries under Heidelberg leadership. Vera Hirschmann and Peter Lampe of the Faculty of Theology outline the exciting story of the discovery and the ongoing work of bringing to light what was once thought to have gone forever.

"Good Scientists Play Intelligent Games"

Just under a year ago, Professor Peter Krammer, director of the Immune Genetics Department of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, was awarded the Lautenschläger Research Prize bringing him research monies amounting to 250,000 euros for his pioneering work on apoptosis (programmed cell death). "Ruperto Carola" asked him about the significance of the prize for his present research, the applications that derive from the investigation of apoptosis and the problems scientists have to master in implementing and valorising their ground-breaking insights.

1,000 Events So Far at the International Science Forum of the University of Heidelberg

In 1986 the University of Heidelberg celebrated its 600th anniversary. Thanks to an initiative by then Rector Gisbert Freiherr zu Putlitz, the University received a very special gift to mark the occasion: the International Science Forum of the University of Heidelberg (IWH for short). This spacious jugendstil mansion in the heart of the city, with its pleasant conference halls, comfortable apartments for guests and a superb garden looking onto the Castle, has now been serving intensive research exchanges for 18 years. Director Michael Welker sums up the developments so far.

"Ruperto Carola" is published by Universitätsverlag C. Winter Heidelberg GmbH. Single copies cost EUR 5 plus postage. Like the special subscription offer (EUR 30 for four issues) they can be ordered from: Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg, Postfach 10 57 60, D-69047 Heidelberg. Gratis copies of earlier issues are available in the entrance area of the Old University (Grabengasse 1). For more information and the complete articles of earlier issues (in German) go to

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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