Anniversary stories

Birthday cake upon an open book

Picture: iStock.com/ juliannafunk

The inventions and discoveries of our researchers change the world – time and again. We would like to thank all the talented men and women who have made a difference with their curiosity and instinct for innovation.

Here you can read just a few of the many success stories that shaped science here at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

Congratulations to
High-speed pods

US business magnate Elon Musk plans to turn his hyperloop vision for a future transport system that propels passengers between cities at the speed of sound into reality by 2030. Students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have won his Hyperloop Pod Competition for the second time – easily outpacing the rest of the field.

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Congratulations to
The Internet of the Future

Data streams are exploding the world over. Managing this data surge is one of the biggest challenges of the digital age. Three communications engineers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) developed an algorithm to do just this by pushing transmission rates close to their theoretical limits.

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Congratulations to
A live stream from the brain

For a long time, neuroscientists have dreamed about observing nerve cells live in the brain. Now they can – with extreme precision – thanks to the work of Arthur Konnerth and his research group at Technical University of Munich (TUM). Their discoveries have thrown up a few surprises – and pave the way for new therapies to treat dementia disorders like Alzheimer’s.

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Congratulations to
Protein map

They determine what type of hair we have, digest our food and fight against pathogens – nothing would work without proteins in the human body. A research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has identified 18,097 of these molecules and thus produced an almost complete inventory of the human proteome. The aim is to enable individualized treatment for all patients in the future – even for diseases such as cancer.

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Congratulations to
Robots capable of feeling

How does a robotics researcher help paralyzed people learn to walk again? By teaching robots the skills and needs of people. In an innovative new approach, Gordon Cheng from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is combining robotics with neuroscience to develop robots capable of feeling.

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Congratulations to
Messengers from outer space

What cosmic catastrophes can they be traced back to? That is a mystery we are finally starting to uncover. What has long been clear is that the high-energy neutrinos detected by physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) with the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole come from outside of our solar system. These elementary particles can pass through any kind of matter without difficulty – promising entirely new insights into the universe. In 2017, we were even able to identify a neutrino source for the first time: a blazar four billion light-years away.

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Congratulations to
DNA origami

DNA can do a whole lot more than just store genetic information. A physicist at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) specializes in folding and bending DNA molecules, assemling them into a completely new structrues. Its stability makes DNA an excellent building block for tiny tools – even for medical use.

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Congratulations to
Gravity satellite

The plan was for a satellite to measure the gravity of our planet – and thus reveal what it looks like deep inside the Earth. Even the European Space Agency (ESA) knew it was a tall order. But a large international research team, coordinated by the Technical University of Munich (TUM), managed to do just that. Using data from outer space, the researchers were able to put together a brand new image of the Earth – and discover that it looks just like a potato.

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Congratulations to
Mars Exploration Rovers

Once upon a time there was water on Mars! NASA discovered the evidence in minerals on the planet’s surface – using a method developed by a PhD student of theTechnical University of Munich half a century before. Aged just 32 at the time, Rudolf Mössbauer was awarded the Nobel Prize for this achievement.

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Congratulations to
Heart surgery

In open-heart surgery, the stakes are high. So when surgeon Rüdiger Lange inserts a new heart valve, he makes just a tiny incision in the skin. In 2000, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) physician became the first in the world to use this minimally invasive technique, which reduces the physical strain of the operation on patients.

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Congratulations to
A new form of matter

In 1995, a former physics student of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) accomplished something that Albert Einstein had once predicted. At ultra-cold temperatures – almost absolute zero – Wolfgang Ketterle succeeded in generating a new state of matter: a quantum gas. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his achievement.

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Congratulations to
Photosynthesis

For a long time, the most important chemical reaction on Earth, photosynthesis, was one of the greatest mysteries of biology. How can plants grow with just light, air and water? The puzzle was eventually solved in 1985 by a team led by chemist Robert Huber from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) – an achievement that won him the Nobel Prize a few years later.

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Congratulations to
Sandwich molecule

Ernst Otto Fischer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1973 for a seemingly impossible molecule called ferrocene. Working at what is now the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Fischer discovered its sandwich-like structure with an iron atom as the filling. This breakthrough helped scientists deepen their understanding of how atoms can bond to each other.

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Congratulations to
Plastic surgery

Survivors of serious accidents often have to deal with lasting consequences. Some are left with facial disfigurement or lose entire limbs. But plastic surgery can help. In 1958, a young female doctor brought this discipline to Germany and became a role model for a whole generation of surgeons.

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Congratulations to
The computing giant

Can you imagine a university with no computers? Seems impossible nowadays but that was the norm in the 1950s. But even back then, the predecessor to the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was already home to one of Germany’s first mainframe computers. Communications engineer Hans Piloty thus laid the foundation for today’s information technology landscape at Munich’s universities – although he had to overcome quite a few challenges in the process.

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Congratulations to
The pigments of life

Red and green are the colors that best symbolize life itself. At what is now the Technical University of Munich (TUM), chemist Hans Fischer was able to discover how red pigments in the blood and the green pigment chlorophyll in plants are structured. He even completely reproduced the blood pigment hemin in a test tube, which had long been considered impossible – and was thus awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930.

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Congratulations to
Palace of Justice

One of Munich’s most striking buildings is the Justizpalast or Palace of Justice just off the Karlsplatz (Stachus) square. Its creator, Professor Friedrich von Thiersch of what was later to become the Technical University of Munich (TUM), was a formative influence on the Bavarian capital during its regency period. The architect also inspired spectacular buildings in other German cities, deploying the latest construction methods and technologies.

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Congratulations to
An engine fit for the world

Today’s ocean liners, heavy goods vehicles and backup power generators all have one thing in common – they are generally powered by a diesel engine. Rudolf Diesel’s invention has been driving the world since 1893 – and its roots can be traced back to his studies at what would later become the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and a fire piston.

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Congratulations to
Glacier surveys

The rate at which climate change is causing the Alpine glaciers to melt can be determined from the 120-year-old mountain maps created by Sebastian Finsterwalder. For decades, this multi-talented scientist tirelessly trekked through the mountains, analyzed photos and took to the skies in a hot-air balloon to survey the land. In the process, he developed geometric methods which are still used today by the algorithms of modern 3D software.

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Congratulations to
Cooling technology

Bavaria without a cold beer? Unthinkable! But chilling drinks such as beer was actually very difficult until 1875, when the first viable refrigeration machine was developed by a young engineer called Professor Carl Linde from what was later to become the Technical University of Munich (TUM). His invention led to the creation of a global enterprise and still shapes everyday life today – with cold beer and a whole lot more besides.

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Congratulations to
Polytechnic School of Munich

In 1868, King Ludwig II of Bavaria – also known as the Fairytale King and famed for his love of technology – founded the “Königlich-bayerische Polytechnische Schule” or “Royal Bavarian Polytechnic School”. Later to become the Technical University of Munich (TUM), this institution not only paved the way for Bavaria’s transition from agriculture to industry, but gave rise to inventions that would change the world. Fast forward 150 years and TUM is now one of Europe’s top universities.

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