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Category: German Language Media

Sascha Karberg
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Last night German president Christian Wulff honored the winners of the 2011 Deutscher Zukunftspreis (German Future Prize award). It is considered one of the most prestigious here and is sometimes regarded as the German Nobel Prize for engineers, worth 250,000...

Sascha Karberg
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"Freedom is always the freedom of the dissident to express himself", said the German...

"Freedom is always the freedom of the dissident to express himself", said the German socialist Rosa Luxemburg, emphasizing the freedom of speech. But how factual does the "speech" have to be? What's the definition of a scientific fact at a given time, especially during a process of knowledge gain as in climate research? Is it legitimate to personally attack people, who publicly interpret facts differently or even get it completely wrong? And what about the freedom of a scientist to publicly defend his field's reputation against seemingly unconvinceable sceptics including scientists and  journalists?

An instructive arena for such questions opened in April last year with an article (not online anymore) in the Frankfurter Rundschau....

Sascha Karberg
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Even without the rise of awareness for the climate change due to the UN climate conference in Durban, the news about the influence of the permafrost thaw would surely have made headlines in Germany. The basic message: "Permafrost thaw will release the same order of magnitude of carbon as deforestation, they [the Permafrost Carbon Network, 41 experts] calculate, but its effect on climate will be 2.5 times bigger",...

Sascha Karberg
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Almost every year in November a train load of...

Almost every year in November a train load of radioactive waste rolls through Germany. Each time it meets considerable public objection. UP to a few thousand protesters  turn out at the tracks to stop the convoy. Police, outnumbering them by far, try to keep the route clear.  Last year it took the shipment 92 hours to go the roughly 800 miles from the nuclear reprocessing plant in La Hague, France, to the destination - the interim storage facility at Gorleben in northern Germany. This year the train, its high-level waste in eleven dry-cask storage cars, started last Wednesday and did not finish before Monday night. That’s a new record  for the protesters, 126 hours, even though their numbers were way smaller than...

Sascha Karberg
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With the sound of great relief many media outlets welcomed a decision made by the EU...

With the sound of great relief many media outlets welcomed a decision made by the EU commission on Monday. It eventually allowed a sweetener made from the South American stevia plant to enter the European market. A ten-year struggle comes to an end – for now.

Stevia rebaudiana, also called sugar- or sweetleaf, originates from Paraguay and is used there as a sweetener for a long time. But it wasn’t approved for use in Europe because the legislation says, that novel foods need special authorization. According to the definition, novel foods have no history of "significant consumption" in the EU before the legislation became effective in May 1997.

Safety evaluations, initiated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), established an...

In May and June, an EHEC epidemic started in Germany. According to the Robert Koch...

In May and June, an EHEC epidemic started in Germany. According to the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin it was the worldwide most severe EHEC outbreak ever. About 3800 patients were diagnosed with the E.coli-variant bacteria EHEC O104:H4 and developed an enterogastritis or a hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), causing 53 deaths in Germany. The disease also spread over European countries and Northern America, too, mostly via tourists, adding 137 cases (2 deaths, one of them in the US).

As soon as the Robert Koch Institute got knowledge of the outbreak, it started an investigation. The source seemed to be salads, but whether the germ came from cucumbers or tomatoes or other ingredients was not clear, first. Later, through comparisons of recipes of restaurants...

Sascha Karberg
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The president of the German Medical Association, representing more than 400,000 German physicians, bluntly announced last week: "The truth is: During the Nazi-regime physicians caused, ordered or mercilessly administered death and harm to humans." And: German physicians admitted their guilt  "late, too late". Until today, the Medical Association president said the organization had not done enough...

Sascha Karberg
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The ongoing catastrophe in Japan, especially in Fukushima, still dominates the German media. But other topics were able to reconquer some news space last week.

The finding of a pre-Clovis culture in Texas, which antedates the first proven human colonization of the Americas...

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With a little bit more time between the bad news from Fukushima, the German language science sections have several interesting, more in-depth stories. Or at least with unique perspectives.

Hartmut Wewetzer (Tagesspiegel) had the right ...

Sascha Karberg
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The earthquake in Japan and the nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima power plant caused a political aftershock in Germany. It may sound hysterical, that people in Germany are very concerned about the so called Super GAU at Fukushima, more than 8000 kilometres away – some actually started to buy iodine pills and governmental radiation experts got thousands of...

Sascha Karberg
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The whole world is listening to the news from Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia, Lebanon etc. Political turmoil. The leap toward democracy. So much news. But what about the science in these countries? Isn't it important to get an idea about the scientific (and technological) background of Egypt and...

Sascha Karberg
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My first thought was: If this new discovery of stone tools at the Persian Gulf is right, and we are all Arabs, somehow, this will cause huge trouble on my next entry into the US. "Did you travel via an Arab country?" - well, not personally, but... you know, relatives...

The finding of British and German archaeologists, that humans might have...

Sascha Karberg
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It is by far the most popular...

It is by far the most popular Egyptian artifact in German museums - the 3,400 year old bust of Nefertiti, the wife of Pharaoh Echnaton. The German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt discovered the bust in 1912, and brought it to Berlin in compliance with the Egyptian law at that time. Nevertheless, from time to time (in 2009, e.g.), Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), demands the return of the bust - as once again on Monday. And again, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation rejected the request.

Hawass accuses archaeologist Borchardt of dishonesty to Egyptian officials about the importance of the bust, and believes it was taken illicitly.  The bust is not the only...

Sascha Karberg
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In just weeks a dioxin scandal has led to the closing of thousands of farms. Dioxin at levels that, while not quite toxic, are higher than allowed were found in eggs, chicken and pork, some already sold and consumed in Germany and some neighboring countries. The cause was contamination of animal feed. A German company delivered it, and had used cheap industrial grease...