Max-Planck-Institute of Developmental Biology, Tuebingen, Germany
  •  51
    Molekulare Theorie der Mikroreibung - Molecular theory of microfriction
    with Karl Wirtz
    Zeitschrift Für Naturforschung Section A 8 532-538. 1953.
    The layers of a solvent liquid flowing around a moving molecule have a finite thickness corresponding to the finite dimensions of the solvent molecules. Taking this feature into account leads to a modification of Stokes’ laws of the relation between friction and viscosity in continuous media. We derive the observed order of magnitude of the microfriction, for rotation as well as translation, and its approximately correct dependence on the radii of moving and solvent molecules.
  •  191
    An abstract in English is included in the download. Wolfgang Pauli war einer der Grossen unter den Physikern des 20. Jahrhunderts, nicht ganz so berühmt wie Heisenberg und Einstein, aber annähernd ebenso bedeutend. Er war es, der bei der Entwicklung der Quantenphysik das sogenannte Ausschließungsprinzip entdeckte und damit den Weg zu unserem physikalischen Grundverständnis der ganzen Chemie eröffnete. Seine Gedanken galten aber auch hintergründigen wissenschaftsphilosophischen Fragen, und die gä…Read more
  • Zufall und naturgesetzliche Notwendigkeit
    In O. Marquard G. V. Graevenitz (ed.), Kontingenz, Poetik und Hermeneutik XVII, Wilhelm Fink Verlag. pp. 123-139. 1998.
    Die Reflexion der Grundlagen der Wissenschaft mit ihren eigenen Mitteln, wie die gedankliche Vermessung des Messprozesses, die in die Begründung der Quantenphysik eingeht, und die logische Analyse der Logik im Rahmen der mathematischen Entscheidungstheorie zeigt schließlich prinzipielle Grenzen des möglichen Wissens auf. Eine Theorie des Leib-Seele-Zusammenhangs läuft auf das Bewusstsein von Bewusstsein hinaus und ist damit von dem gleichen Typ des Selbstbezugs, der auf prinzipielle Grenzen der …Read more
  •  43
    Pattern formation by local self‐activation and lateral inhibition
    with Hans Meinhardt
    Bioessays 22 (8): 753-760. 2000.
    In 1972, we proposed a theory of biological pattern formation in which concentration maxima of pattern forming substances are generated through local self- enhancement in conjunction with long range inhibition. Since then, much evidence in various developmental systems has confirmed the importance of autocatalytic feedback loops combined with inhibitory interaction. Examples are found in the formation of embryonal organizing regions, in segmentation, in the …Read more
  •  22
    Unlike Aristotelian physics with its teleological notions, modern physics was developed exclusively in relation to the nonliving domain. This raised the question as to whether mechanics applies to organisms, and if so, to what extent. From the seventeenth century on, mechanistic ideas became prominent in biological and medical theory. Contemporary biology explains essential features of life on the basis of physical laws and processes. This does not prove, however, that the early mechanists were …Read more
  • There is increasing evidence for directional guidance of growing axons by molecular gradients in target tissues. Aside from biochemical studies on gradients and their role, the capability of axons to approach their target position from different aspects of a two-dimensional field is itself an indication for guidance by gradients. According to this criterion, such guidance is expected to be involved not only in map-formation in the visual system but also in targeting of receptor cell axons in the…Read more
  •  55
    A summarizing English version on “Theory of Innovation and the Evolution of General Human Capabilities, such as Cognition-based Empathy” is included in the download. Den biologisch modernen Menschentyp charakterisieren sehr allgemeine Fähigkeiten, wie begriffliche Sprache, strategisches Denken und kognitionsgestützte Empathie. Neurobiologisch kann Empathiefähigkeit als eine Verbindung von Repräsentationen von Mitmenschen mit dem je eigenen Gefühlszentren im Gehirn angesehen werden. In Grundzüg…Read more
  •  1014
    Understanding cooperative human behaviour depends on insights into the biological basis of human altruism, as well as into socio-cultural development. In terms of evolutionary theory, kinship and reciprocity are well established as underlying cooperativeness. Reasons will be given suggesting an additional source, the capability of a cognition-based empathy that may have evolved as a by-product of strategic thought. An assessment of the range, the intrinsic limitations, and the conditions for act…Read more
  •  291
    The book on "Science and the image of man" pursues different pathways by way of which science contributes to the understanding of human beings as a species: the scope and limits of human cognition are revealed by the history and the mental structure of science in a more precise manner than by any other cultural effort. Insights into the evolution and function of the human brain elucidate the origin and the range of general human capabilities, such as language, self-representation and strategic t…Read more
  •  209
    A strong motivation for the human genome project was to relate biological features to the structure and function of small sets of genes, and ideally to individual genes. However, it is now increasingly realized that many problems require a "systems" approach emphasizing the interplay of large numbers of genes, and the involvement of complex networks of gene regulation. This implies a new emphasis on integrative, systems theoretical approaches. It may be called 'holistic' if the term is used with…Read more
  •  363
    Ancient Greek philosophers were the first to postulate the possibility of explaining nature in theoretical terms and to initiate attempts at this. With the rise of monotheistic religions of revelation claiming supremacy over human reason and envisaging a new world to come, studies of the natural order of the transient world were widely considered undesirable. Later, in the Middle Ages, the desire for human understanding of nature in terms of reason was revived. This article is concerned with the…Read more
  •  147
    The explanation of nature in theoretical terms was first postulated and initiated by Ancient Greek philosophers. With the rise of monotheistic religions, however, curiosity about our transient world was widely regarded as contributing nothing to salvation. There was a decline in natural philosophy, which lasted for several centuries and was then reversed both in Islamic philosophy and in Christian theology in the Middle Ages. At this point, the "Book of Nature" was recognized as a complement to …Read more
  •  453
    In biological terms, human consciousness appears as a feature associated with the func- tioning of the human brain. The corresponding activities of the neural network occur strictly in accord with physical laws; however, this fact does not necessarily imply that there can be a comprehensive scientific theory of conscious- ness, despite all the progress in neurobiology, neuropsychology and neurocomputation. Pre- dictions of the extent to which such a theory may become p…Read more
  •  134
    The short paper introduces the concept of possible branches of double-stranded DNA (later sometimes called palindromes): Certain sequences of nucleotides may be followed, after a short unpaired stretch, by a complementary sequence in reversed order, such that each DNA strand can fold back on itself, and the DNA assumes a cruciform or tree-like structure. This is postulated to interact with regulatory proteins.
  •  11
    Georg Ernst Stahl in wissenschaftlicher Sicht
    with Engelhardt
    NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 7 (1): 248-248. 1999.
  •  210
    Diese Schrift enthält eine Reihe von sieben Artikeln, in der es um die Beziehung der Wissenschaften zu aufgeklärten, liberalen Formen religiöser Vorstellungen geht. Im Gegensatz zu verbreiteten Ansichten zumal des vorigen Jahrhunderts führt die moderne Naturwissenschaft zu einer zwar weitgehenden, aber prinzipiell nicht vollständigen Erklärung der Wirklichkeit. Sie kann die Rätselhaftigkeit der Welt für uns Menschen nicht aufheben; die Grundfähigkeiten des menschlichen Denkens sind schließlich n…Read more
  • Kontingenz, Poetik und Hermeneutik XVII
    Wilhelm Fink Verlag. 1998.
  •  135
    Networks of Gene Regulation, Neural Development and the Evolution of General Capabilities, Such as Human Empathy
    Zeitschrift Für Naturforschung C - A Journal of Bioscience 53 716-722. 1998.
    A network of gene regulation organized in a hierarchical and combinatorial manner is crucially involved in the development of the neural network, and has to be considered one of the main substrates of genetic change in its evolution. Though qualitative features may emerge by way of the accumulation of rather unspecific quantitative changes, it is reasonable to assume that at least in some cases specific combinations of regulatory parts of the genome initiated new directions of evolution, leading…Read more
  •  260
    Eriugena and alKindi, 9th Century Protagonists of pro-Scientific Cultural Change
    Abridged English translation of: Acta Historica Leopoldina 29. 1999.
    Ancient Greek philosophers were the first to postulate the possibility of explaining nature in theoretical terms and to initiate attempts at this. With the rise of monotheistic religions of revelation claiming supremacy over human reason and envisaging a new world to come, studies of the natural order of the transient world were widely considered undesirable. Later, in the Middle Ages, the desire for human understanding of nature in terms of reason was revived. This article is concerned with the…Read more
  • Hydra as a Model for the Development of Biological Form
    Scientific American 231 (6): 44-54. 1974.
    Cells isolated from this freshwater polyp can aggregate and form a complete new animal. Experiments with the system lend support to a physico-chemical scheme for the creation of biological pattern.
  •  158
    The full text of this essay is available in an English translation (also in philpapers) under: Alfred Gierer, Science, religion, and basic biological issues that are open to interpretation. Der Artikel bildet das Schlusskapitel des Buches " Alfred Gierer: Wissenschaftliches Denken, das Rätsel Bewusstsein und pro-religiöse Ideen", Königshausen&Neumann, Würzburg 2019. Reichweite und Grenzen naturwissenschaftlicher Erklärungen ergeben sich zum einen aus der universellen Gültigkeit phys…Read more
  •  217
    Within the sedimentation diagram of infective RNA preparations isolated from Tobacco Mosaic Virus, undegraded molecules form a sharp peak with a molecular weight corresponding to the total RNA content of the virus particle. Degradation kinetics by ribonuclease is of the linear, single-target type, indicating that the RNA is single-stranded. The intact RNA of a virus particle thus forms one big single-stranded molecule. Quantitative evaluation of the effect degradation by RNA-ase on the infectivi…Read more
  •  272
    Infectivity of ribonucleic acid from Tobacco Mosaic Virus
    with Gerhard Schramm
    Nature 177 702-703. 1956.
    Upon separation of the protein from the nucleic acid component of tobacco mosaic virus by phenol, using a fast and gentle procedure, the nucleic acid is infective in assays on tobacco leaves. A series of qualitative and quantitative control experiments demonstrates that the biological activity cannot depend on residual proteins in the preparation, but is a property of isolated nucleic acid which is thus the genetic material of the virus.
  •  1520
    A theory of biological pattern formation
    with Hans Meinhardt
    Kybernetik, Continued as Biological Cybernetics 12 (1). 1972.
    The paper addresses the formation of striking patterns within originally near-homogenous tissue, the process prototypical for embryology, and represented in particularly purist form by cut sections of hydra regenerating, by internal reorganisation of the pre-existing tissue, a complete animal with head and foot. The essential requirements are autocatalytic, self-enhancing activation, combined with inhibitory or depletion effects of wider range – “lateral inhibition”. Not only de-novo-pattern for…Read more
  •  228
    The Hydra model - a model for what?
    International Journal of Developmental Biology 56 437-445. 2012.
    The introductory personal remarks refer to my motivations for choosing research projects, and for moving from physics to molecular biology and then to development, with Hydra as a model system. Historically, Trembley’s discovery of Hydra regeneration in 1744 was the begin¬ning of developmental biology as we understand it, with passionate debates about preformation versus de novo generation, mechanisms versus organisms. In fact, seemingly conflicting bottom-up and top-down concepts are both requi…Read more
  •  1
    Physics, Life and Mind: The scope and limitations of science
    In Iain Paul Jan Fennema (ed.), Second European Conference on Science and Religion, Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 61-71. 1988.
    What, precisely, are the ‘changing perspectives on reality’ in contemporary scientific thought? The topics of the lecture are the scope and the limits of science with emphasis on the physical foundations of biology. The laws of physics in general and the physics of molecules in particular form the basis for explaining the mechanism of reproduction, the generation of structure and form in the course of the development of the individual organism, the evolution of the diversity and complexity of or…Read more
  •  262
    Applying mild methods of preparation, part of the ribosomes of rabbit reticulocytes are found in aggregates (later called polyribosomes) of up to six ribosomal units. Upon treatment with RNA-ase, they desintegrate into single ribosomes. The fast-sedimenting aggregates are found to be more active in protein synthesis in terms of incorporation of radioactive amino acids, whereas the single ribosomes are more receptive to stimulation by the artificial messenger RNA poly-U. The findings indicate tha…Read more
  • Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734) in wissenschaftshistorischer Sicht (edited book)
    with Dietrich von Engelhardt
    Acta Historica Leopoldina 30. 2000.
    Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734) was a German physician and chemist. The book (in German) documents a symposium of the Academy Leopoldina on his works and thoughts that contributed to the Enlightenment. Der weite Horizont seines Denkens und seiner Arbeiten umfasst die Phlogiston-Theorie der Verbrennung, die später mit der Entdeckung des Sauerstoffs widerlegt wurde, aber dennoch wichtige Erkenntnisse zur Reversibilität von Reaktionen und zur unsichtbaren Persistenz der beteiligten chemischen Kompo…Read more
  •  183
    Socioeconomic Inequalities: Effects of Self-Enhancement, Depletion and Redistribution
    Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie Und Statistik 196 (4): 309-331. 1981.
    Socioeconomic inequalities are functions not only of intrinsic differences between persons or groups, but also of the dynamics of their interactions. Inequalities can arise and become stabilized if there are advantages (such as generalized wealth including “human capital”) which are self-enhancing, whereas depletion of limiting resources is widely distributed. A recent theory of biological pattern formation has been generalized, adapted and applied to deal with this process. Applications include…Read more