For Research. For Berlin.

#AskDifferent – the Podcast of the Einstein Foundation

#AskDifferent – the Podcast of the Einstein Foundation
#AskDifferent, the Einstein Foundation’s podcast series, offers a unique behind-the-scenes opportunity to learn more about the pioneering minds affiliated with and funded by the Foundation, and to find out how their outstanding careers were shaped both by chance and circumstance. What is it that drives them to ask differently, to perpetually ask new questions, and explore the world in all its detail?

#18: Vittorio Gallese

We Are Relational Beings

As a social neuroscientist, Vittorio Gallese has a unique understanding of how we live together. Until recently, he headed a research group at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain focusing on the development of socio-cultural identities. Back in Italy, the Professor of Psychobiology from Università di Parma, who is widely known for his discovery of mirror neurons, continues to explore the cognitive structures of empathy and sympathy. In addition, he is interested in how the brain adapts to life in the pandemic. For #AskDifferent, we spoke about the lockdown experience, the ambivalences of digital media, and the role of effort and coincidence in scientific breakthroughs. Photo: Florian Büttner
Language: English

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#17: Talja Blokland

Where Our Paths Cross

What do sports clubs, cafés, shisha bars, and football stadiums tell us about society? Talja Blokland, urban sociology professor at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, has answers. As a member of the Einstein Circle ”Large-Scale Organization”, she has studied a wealth of locations seeking to understand how urban space is structured, and how inequalities are perpetuated. Our community lives are shaped by unpredictability, neighborhood gossip, and new acquaintances, she explains, highlighting the effects of gentrification in urban centers, or the pandemic, which has left many people feeling isolated. Photo: HU Berlin/Falk Weiß.
Language: German

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#16: Viola Vogel

The World Is a Laboratory

Viola Vogel, a biomedical engineer at ETH Zurich and Einstein Visiting Fellow at Charité – Universtitätsmedizin, explores the ways in which mechanical forces affect cells and impact their growth and movement. By better understanding nanoscale cell processes, she and her colleagues hope to unlock a range of new therapies to prompt the regeneration of tissue damaged by diseases such as COVID-19 pneumonia or cancer. In this podcast episode, Vogel not only shares her enthusiasm for research, but also her experiences in bringing together science and politics as well as her discontent with hierarchies that impede innovation – showing ultimately that she focuses not only on the granular details of research, but also looks at the bigger picture.
Language: German

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#15: Carsten Finke

The Memory Researcher

Can you rely on your memory? To what extent are memories constructed? Can lost knowledge be restored after a brain-damaging illness? The research of the neurologist Carsten Finke from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin and the Berlin School of Mind and Brain touches on both cognitive and philosophical questions. In the podcast, he reports on amazing studies, and makes it clear how adaptable the human brain really is.
Language: German

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#14: Felix Biessmann

Transparent Data

Algorithms and machine learning have become part of our everyday lives. These technologies are also paving the way for innovations in scientific research, e.g. into brain-machine interfaces (BMI). But their various applications, for instance in speech and image recognition, still require at least some human intervention. The ethics of these pioneering technologies must be considered to ensure they are used responsibly. As Professor of Machine Learning at the Einstein Center Digital Future and the Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Felix Biessmann focuses on the data that powers these automated technologies and argues for greater transparency in the field.
Language: German

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#13: Günter Stock

Freedom and Responsibility

For this year's final episode of #AskDifferent, we spoke about freedom and responsibility in research with Günter Stock, Chair of the Einstein Foundation's Executive Board. In this episode, we look back on how Berlin evolved into an international science and research hub, and outline the criteria that make public-private partnerships successful. Not least, our guest identifies ways to promote good scientific practice by looking at the newly established Einstein Foundation Award.
Language: German

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#12: Richard Samuels

What It Takes to Be a Brave Scholar

For a special episode in the wake of the US presidential elections, we spoke with Richard Samuels, Director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, about American national identity and the current role of the United States on the geopolitical stage. Find out why, according to the former Einstein Visiting Fellow anarchy in international affairs is endlessly fascinating, and what he thinks it takes to be a “brave scholar”. Photo: Pablo Castagnola
Language: English

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#11: Irene Sibbing-Plantholt

Letters from the Past

Irene Sibbing-Plantholt is passionate about micro-history: the multiple, often relatable stories of everyday life in a past era. As an Assyriologist and research associate at the Einstein Center Chronoi, Sibbing-Plantholt examines textual and archeological findings from Ancient Mesopotamia, mostly letters inscribed on clay tablets, some of them around 5000 years old. When she went to Syria for an excavation in 2004, she got inspired to do further research on ancient concepts of lifetime and death.
Language: English

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#10: Georg Duda

Mechanisms of Healing

What do materials science and mathematics have in common with medicine and biochemistry? Georg Duda, Professor for Engineering Regenerative Therapies at the Berlin Institute of Health, offers an answer: The combination of these areas, called biothinking, promises a deeper understanding of the forces that affect body tissues and cells. Furthermore, Duda is Spokesman at the Einstein Center for Regenerative Therapies.
Language: German

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#9: Isabel Dziobek

Teaching an Invisible Language

Isabel Dziobek's research helps people living on the autistic spectrum. For that, the professor for Clinical Psychology of Social Interaction at the HU Berlin works closely with those affected: Together they decode the complex language of emotions and develop tools to better navigate through the daily flood of non-verbal communication. Dziobek, who is a member of the Einstein Center Neurosciences, is furthermore a dedicated mentor for young scientists - especially women.
Language: German

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#8: Markus Ralser

The Inner Power Station

Einstein professor Markus Ralser is a molecular biologist and an expert in metabolic research: An important basic research that after being increasingly moved into the background of genetic research in the 1980s, is now experiencing a renaissance. Understanding metabolic regulation processes provides crucial insights for future therapies, such as cancer and immune diseases. Ralser gives an insight into how today machine learning contributes to understanding metabolism, and why you sleep better after n exhausting canoe tour. Language: German

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#7: Christoph Markschies

The Time Traveler

Acceleration, migration, inflation: In conversation with Christoph Markschies, the newly appointed President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, it immediately becomes clear that these experiences are hardly exclusive to modernity. Markschies, who is Professor of Ancient Christianity and co-director of the Einstein Center Chronoi, is a perpetual time traveler who seeks to help us better understand the present. His self-defined mission as a researcher: to contribute to a just and peaceful society. Language: German

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#6: Michel Chaouli

Rethinking Critique

As readers, how do we respond to a book? Does it spark our creativity? Does it trigger pain? Michel Chaouli, German studies scholar and Einstein Visiting Fellow at FU Berlin’s Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School, thinks of literary studies as an experiment, and treats texts as laboratories. His research inspires us to look beyond the sober side of critique and to also explore its playful and poetic aspects. Photo: Pablo Castagnola
Language: German

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#5: Claudia Buß

Stress in Early Life

The effects of maternal stress on fetal development are poorly researched. Claudia Buß, Professor of Medical Psychology at Charité – Universitätsmedizin and the Einstein Center for Neurosciences, is determined to change this and has set out to explore the prenatal factors that determine women’s health during pregnancy.
Language: German

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#4: Tilman Santarius

The Perpetual Optimist

Tilman Santarius, Professor of Socio-Ecological Transformation and Sustainable Digitalization at the Einstein Center Digital Future, is convinced that digital transformation has to be fair both on society and on the climate. In this episode of our podcast, he asks what role science and industry – and ultimately, all of us – have to play as we move forward. Language: German

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#3: Friedel Gerfers

Silicon Valley and Back

Friedel Gerfers's career has taken him from Germany’s “rust belt”, the Ruhrgebiet, where he worked as an electrical engineer laying underground cables, to the R&D departments of Silicon Valley’s tech giants. Today, he is Einstein Professor of Mixed Signal Circuit Design at TU Berlin, where he focuses on improving data transmission efficiency. In this episode, he explains why he feels as comfortable in the lab as he does back home on his parents' farm. Photo: TU Berlin/Arnoldt
Language: German

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#2: Valentina Forini

You Will Be Challenged

Valentina Forini first graduated in classical piano. Looking for an additional challenge, she decided to study physics. Today, Forini conducts research in string and quantum field theory as an Einstein Junior Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She told us what drove her to follow this path - and why we need more female role models in top-notch science. Photo: Henning Maier-Jantzen
Language: English

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#1: Surjo Soekadar

I’ve Always Been a Technophile

Surjo Soekadar is Einstein Professor of Clinical Neurotechnology and a senior physician at Charité – Universitätsmedizin. In this episode, he explains why researchers need to be good at handling setbacks, and how high-tech mind reading works. Language: German

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#0: Welcome to the Einstein Podcast

Why Researchers #AskDifferent

Twice a month, we will be releasing new episodes of our podcast, #AskDifferent. Hosted by journalists Nancy Fischer and Leon Stebe, each episode will feature an interview with a brilliant mind who asks differently.

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