achitecture of IFW, skyway in the courtyard

On board the MS Wissenschaft

The floating Science Center presents the exhibition "Our Universe". On board is a journey through the cosmos. We take part.

The floating Science Center MS Wissenschaft is presenting an exhibition on "Our Universe" until September. The Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden is demonstrating in an exciting experiment how the lack of molecules in space affects very everyday processes.

At first glance, our materials research does not seem to have that much to do with the universe. Pure astrophysics is the business of other institutions. However, this is not quite so true in two respects.

First, there is our ongoing search for new and sustainable materials. After all, in order to find suitable materials for future technologies and finally bring them to application, we first have to fundamentally investigate and understand the special properties of these materials. However, these properties are rarely obvious. For the most part, they only reveal themselves under extreme conditions such as freezing temperatures or in strong magnetic fields. In addition, they are not visible to the naked eye. Special experimental setups are required that work under these extreme conditions so that the properties can be measured at all or, in the best case, become visible. Conditions such as those we are aware of from outer space: Here, the greatest possible temperature differences prevail, from the inconceivable heat of the stars to a cold that is barely above absolute temperature zero. Here, there are extensive magnetic fields lasting millions of years and in the interstellar space there is an almost perfect vacuum. A space which is characterized by such an extremely low density of particles that a molecule can move indefinitely until it collides with another molecule.

On the MS Wissenschaft, little and grown-up researchers can now try out an experiment on the extreme condition of vacuum from May 9 onwards. They will find out what effect this special condition has on our bodies, which are adapted to "normal" terrestrial conditions.

In addition to extreme conditions, researchers at IFW Dresden are bringing another fascinating phenomenon to the institute - albeit only theoretically. Physicist Lotte Mertens is working on synthetic black holes. She and her team have devised an experiment in which so-called Hawking radiation can be simulated. Until now, this form of radiation, which emanates from every black hole in the universe, has never been detected. This is because the intensity of Hawking radiation is so low that it cannot be distinguished from the radiation of other cosmic objects with our current technology. Lotte Mertens is now trying to simulate this radiation in the laboratory with the help of the theory and by transferring the properties to her experiment.

Read more:
Leibniz-Magazin "Kein Entrinnen?"(in German)
Press Release Synthetic black holes radiate, just like the real ones


Patricia Bäuchler
(0) 351 4659 249


About the MS Wissenschaft

The voyage of the MS Wissenschaft in the Year of Science 2023 - Our Universe will last around five months. From May 9 to September 27, the exhibition ship will be touring Germany and Austria.
The ship has a length of 102 metres and a loading area of around 600 square metres. As a cargo ship, the MS Jenny has a loading capacity of 1,919 tons. This is roughly equivalent to the loading capacity of about 76 trucks.

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During Science Year 2023 – Our Universe, researchers, policy-makers and civil society will be looking into outer space from a wide variety of perspectives. Copyright: Simon Esser

eine junge Frau und ein junger Mann stehen vor einem weißen Tisch mit einer Hlasglocke. Die junge Frau drückt auf einen Druckknopf.

Our Exhibit "The emptiness of the Universe in the Lab". In the vacuum experiment, visitors can explore the effects of this specific condition. Copyright: Ilja C. Hendel / Wissenschaft im Dialog