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Programme Matter and the Universe

Relevance for Society

The programme Matter and the Universe must address its societal relevance, for which we provide here a few examples in the sectors public awareness, education and innovation.


Public lectures on astrophysical topics or particle physics experiments ll lecture halls of any size: the public interest is overwhelming. We appreciate the desire of the public to learn about our work and to hear why and how we make use of the taxpayers' money. Outreach and public education are important assets in the programme and also prepare the ground for educating the next generation of researchers.


All Helmholtz programmes are vigorously engaged in education and research training, and Matter and the Universe is an excellent example. The overall fraction of doctoral researchers is 30 percent of all personnel, and on average 60 dissertations are completed every year. These numbers would approximately double if the doctoral researchers funded by our direct local partners were included. Half of our alumni are employed by industry, which is a proof of their excellent and diverse qualification.


Basic science both requires and in turn advances technologies. As an example of the first direction, the 3,000 km2 detector array of the Pierre Auger Observatory relies on radio data transmission and GPS timing. An example of the second direction is the wide-spread car navigation systems. The fundamental science base for both technologies are Maxwell's equations and General Relativity, which were discovered more than a hundred years ago. This illustrates that the long-term impact of basic science is essentially unpredictable and potentially huge. Hence it is a good and fruitful strategy that society should invest in basic science.