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Did you know that the Persian fairy tale “The Three Princes of Serendip” provided the inspiration for the first noted use of the word “serendipity” in the English language? In this story, the heroes are always making happy and surprising discoveries. In science, this concept of a pleasant surprise covers the mismatch between what the researchers expected to find and what they actually discovered, as introduced in this newsletter’s editorial. It has given us innovations such as the microwave, Teflon, X-rays, penicillin, the World Wide Web and much more. What started off with a fairy tale, ended up as a byword for an influential idea in research policy-making and even headlining a recent ERC-funded project.
EU-funded researchers are carrying out a comprehensive analysis of urban food-sharing schemes, examining how they embrace modern technologies like the internet and smart phones. The worldwide study could help people living in cities make more sustainable use of food resources.
Ever since observing a map of a marine landslide as a young geology student, Dr Aaron Micallef was hooked on the beauty of the sea floor. Now, he works on understanding the forces that shape the Earth’s landscapes, both above ground and below the sea level. His MARCAN project studies the impacts of groundwater on canyon formation in Malta and New Zealand. This investigation may reveal where we will be getting our drinking water in the future.
For the first time ever, a team of scientists and clinicians led by the EU-funded researcher Mickael Tanter has managed to record the brain activity of a premature new-born baby during resting and during an epileptic seizure. Using a non-invasive ultrasound technology, this world premiere is a real game changer for researchers and the medical profession, offering a massive range of applications in neuroimaging and beyond. It is published today in Science Translational Medicine.
Pour la toute première fois, une équipe de scientifiques et des cliniciens dirigée par le chercheur Mickael Tanter, financé par l'UE, a réussi à enregistrer l'activité cérébrale d'un nouveau-né prématuré en phase de repos et lors d'une crise d'épilepsie. À l'aide d'une technologie d'échographie non invasive, cette première mondiale marque un véritable tournant dans le domaine de la recherche et la pratique médicale. Elle offre par ailleurs une vaste gamme d'applications en neuroimagerie et au-delà. L'étude est publiée aujourd'hui dans Science Translational Medicine.
Beyond the orbit of Neptune, there is a belt of objects composed of ice and rocks, among which four dwarf planets stand out: Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea. Because of their small size, low reflectance, and far distance, these trans-neptunian objects are difficult to study and remain partly mysterious. A group of astronomers supported by the EU report on their unexpected finding on Haumea.
There is no easy cure for obesity nowadays, as scientists have an incomplete understanding of what controls body weight. With ERC funding, Dr Lydia Lynch has returned to Europe from the US to work on an entirely new field in the treatment of obesity.
In only three years’ time, Dr Jan Tkač went from being the first ERC grantee in Slovakia to obtaining the “2015 Scientist of the Year” award. His research in the field of glyconomics could emerge as a turning point for the diagnosis of cell-related diseases.
Our immune system recognizes and fights infections in a constantly changing environment, where new pathogenic threats emerge. At the crossroad between physics and biology, Prof. Aleksandra Walczak investigates the fascinating process that allows the immune system to be always ready to adapt and evolve to face new dangers.
How do proteins trigger complex signal processing tasks, such as neurotransmission, in cells? Thanks to the development of innovative molecular simulation techniques, this ERC-funded project has brought new insights into the transmission of messages inside and between cells.