JUPITER, Fla. (January 5, 2012) -- The human brain and our solar system — up until now our understanding of both of these wonders has been somewhat limited. However, thanks to new advancements in technology and increased collaboration among scientists with expertise in a wide array of disciplines, we are closer than ever to unlocking their mysteries. The general public will have a rare opportunity to get an insider’s view of these advancements with the return of the Max Planck Florida Institute’s (MPFI’s) winter lecture series.
The popular series kicks off its second season on Wednesday, February 15 with a lecture titled, “Illuminating Brain Circuits” by MPFI Scientific Director and CEO Dr. David Fitzpatrick, who also heads the Institute’s Functional Architecture and Development of Visual Cortex research group. This lecture will focus on the use of light to explore the structure, function and development of neural circuits in the living brain. As the complex synaptic networks of the brain, neural circuits hold the key to understanding who we are, why we behave the way we do, and how we can develop more effective treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. What scientists are leaning about your brain will amaze you!
On Wednesday, March 7, Dr. Tobias Bonhoeffer, director of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, Germany, will present the second lecture in the series, “How the Brain Stores Information.” Memory is central to all aspects of behavior and forms the basis of the human experience, but, until recently, understanding the brain mechanisms responsible for memory has been limited by the lack of investigative tools. However, thanks to technological advances, scientists now use special microscopes to peer into the brain and see, quite literally, what happens when information is stored. Join Dr. Bonhoeffer for an insider’s look into how memories are made.
The lecture series concludes about 8.3 light minutes away — on the sun. On Tuesday, March 27, Dr. Sami Solanki, director at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, will uncover the secrets of the Sun in a lecture titled, “Exploring our fiery star, the Sun.” With a focus on the physics of the Sun, including its influence on the Earth’s climate, Dr. Solanki is leading the SUNRISE Mission of the German Space Agency, DLR, NASA and the Spanish Space Agency and is the principal investigator of the SO/PHI instrument on the European Space Agency’s Orbiter mission, which will study the Sun from a distance closer than any spacecraft previously and provide images and measurements in unprecedented resolution and detail. Dr. Solanki’s talk will include highlights of recent space missions and feature some of the most spectacular film footage recorded during these missions. He will also outline plans for future missions.
“We had an overwhelming response to last year’s lecture series, so we are very pleased to announce this season’s lineup of speakers,” said Dr. Claudia Hillinger, MPFI’s vice president of institute development and president of the Max Planck Florida Foundation. “We are fortunate to be a part of the Max Planck Society’s network of 80 institutes and research institutes around the world, which gives us access to scientists who are on the cutting-edge of research today in a variety of different fields. As the first U.S. Institute, we are also excited to share our own ground-breaking research with the community.”
This year the Max Planck Florida Foundation, which is tasked with supporting MPFI’s scientific research as well as its educational programs by attaining private philanthropic support from individuals, corporations, and foundations across the United States, will also host a private reception prior to each lecture, giving invited guests an opportunity to meet these world-class scientists and speak with them about their work in greater detail.
The Max Planck Florida Institute lecture series is free and open to the public. All lectures are scheduled from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Royal Poinciana Chapel Fellowship Hall, 60 Cocoanut Row in Palm Beach. Seating is limited and can be reserved by calling 561-972-9007 or email@example.com.