What is it about nature that fascinates you?


I am just as enthusiastic about the amazing behavior and interaction of animals as it is about gravitational waves in space. However, what fascinates me most when dealing with natural phenomena - and at the same time makes me shudder - is the realization that we humans will never really look behind the scenes in the course of our lifespan. We are not given the opportunity to find ultimate answers, even if many people think they know them. Why does the universe, the earth, the living beings exist? Many people get around the problem by indulging in beliefs and teachings that ultimately spring from their hearts, bellies, or brains. If you are not satisfied with that, if you really want to know, then looking at the world becomes a unique, dizzying fascination.

Dr. Patrick Illinger (Head of Knowledge at the Süddeutsche Zeitung), Munich.


What fascinates me about nature is that it is partially understandable, that the laws of nature can be described mathematically, that it represents incredible beauties. Apprehending nature requires a mixture of reason and wonder. Nature, together with mathematics, give the strong indication of an underlying, unchangeable, eternal reality, a creative force.

Prof. Martin Nowak (mathematician, biologist and professor at Harvard University), Cambridge, USA.


For my next ARD show "Ask the Mouse" I was in the forest with the forester Peter Wohlleben. He opened my eyes to the ingenious ways that plants communicate with one another, warn each other and protect their offspring. Since we are only just beginning to understand how each species has its role in this system, we must not allow insects to be exterminated as a current example. Man is part of nature. We cannot do without nature! Nature needs us less ...

Eckart von Hirschhausen, (doctor, comedian, moderator and founder of the “Humor helps heal” foundation), Berlin.


There is life on our planet, on earth. But life doesn't just exist on the surface. We also find life in the rocks down to a depth of 3 to possibly even 5 kilometers. How did life get there? How did life on earth come about? At the same time in different places? Has our planet been "inoculated" from the outside? Is there any extraterrestrial life? Are there other habitable planets? Our earth is full of surprises. It's just a shame that the whole thing will have a beginning, but also an end.

Prof. Reinhard Hüttl (forest and soil scientist and head of the Geo Research Center Potsdam), Potsdam.


I find it fascinating when I stand on a warm, white sandy beach and listen to the surf waves. The sound of the waves coming and going is incessant and seemingly endless. You can hear the regular rhythm of nature; a calming sound that seems unchanged since time immemorial. At the same time I see and know that no two waves, no spray are alike. “Nothing is as constant as change” - said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The ocean waves have their own laws and no one, even if only for a second, can this cyclical return of nature ever last. The sea never stands still.

Prof. Beate Ratter (geographer, professor of geography at the University of Hamburg), Hamburg.


The earth, a tiny sphere in the unbelievably huge universe, as the ark of life. The diversity of life on earth is the most fascinating thing I can imagine. The interlocking of innumerable dependencies and feedbacks, to which we ultimately owe our own creation and existence. From the simplest building blocks such as viruses to highly organized insect states such as honey bees, evolution creates solutions to problems that arouse the greatest admiration and respect. We have a responsibility to preserve these uniqueness. We are part of it ourselves, not spectators.

Prof. Jürgen Tautz (behavioral scientist, sociobiologist and Germany's leading bee scientist), Würzburg.

Plain and simple: Everything! It is fascinating how quickly nature is able to heal the wounds we have inflicted if we give it a chance (example: newly created biotopes in the cleared cultural landscape). Since my early youth, I have been particularly fascinated by birds, the group of creatures that inspire people the most, and among them especially the star due to its vitality, hard work and character as an almost unsurpassable spring herald, similarly to the capercaillie as an extremely rustic companion of original fairytale forests, of the plants among others Mosses with their world of bizarre small creatures that have got such wonderful names as broom-shaped fork-toothed moss etc., furthermore the intoxicating abundance of fruits from cranberries, which can survive a Siberian winter to delicious grapes, definitely also a delicious crispy brown roasted Christmas goose, and The speed with which many organisms can adapt to new environmental conditions through microevolution from the many research results, some of which have been achieved in-house.

Prof. Peter Berthold (ornithologist, behavioral scientist and Germany's leading scientist in bird migration research), Radolfzell.


Nature, and in my case especially the cosmos, always fills me with joy and a kind of satisfaction that is usually difficult to describe. When I look at the starry sky, I just feel at home. These expanses make me curious because it is so fascinating what the universe has to offer - planets, stars, galaxies, black holes - even if we only roughly understand the details so far in most cases.

The longer I work as an astronomer, the more respect I have for all of nature. Everything depends on each other and is so wonderfully interconnected. Recognizing these small and large connections is exciting and a great challenge. This not only applies to space, but also to everyday life. Because even if astronomers would soon find planets with traces of life on them, we should not forget that there is only one earth about which we still have a lot to research.

Anna Frebel (astronomer, astrophysicist and assistant professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Cambridge, USA.


What fascinates me about our nature is the immense variety of species and systems that it has produced, but also the inspiration that comes from it, the beauty as well as the sometimes bizarre manifestations and interactions. For example, the fascinating life of blue ants - butterflies that live as caterpillars predatory in ant nests. But also the functioning of agro-ecosystems, where a balance between the forces of so-called pests and beneficial insects has established itself in old cultural landscapes, which has a stabilizing effect on the systems - for example in the highly complex and species-rich irrigated tropical rice terraces, which are also often a legacy of cultural human history represent.

Prof. Josef Settele (biologist, scientist at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ and lepidopterist), Halle.


Nature, and thus in a broader sense, the universe, is full of wonders and surprises. On a small scale, with its elementary particles as well as on a large scale, with star systems, galaxies and galaxy clusters, there are innumerable puzzles that lure the curious to ever new discoveries. Nature rewards the curious researcher with an ever deeper insight into the infinite beauty of the universe.

Dr. Florian Nebel (physicist and author of the book “The colonization of the moon”).