The gentle swooshing of the sea, the ear-splitting din made by aircraft engines, voices chatting, the sound of string instruments: we perceive different sounds in all kinds of different ways. How can our hearing be optimised? How can ambient noise be reduced so that it disturbs us less? And how can technical systems learn to hear as well as our ears can? Many researchers in Germany are exploring ideas and solutions. In this edition we present some exciting projects. You can also read why an award-winning South Korean molecular biologist is conducting her research in Germany, learn about current funding programmes, discover our number of the month and find an answer to the fascinating question of why stars twinkle.