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08-08-2014 | Portrait: © Alfredo Brant | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 3 mins read

Proving the power of collaboration in mathematics

Artur Avila is a franco-brazilian leading mathematician and an ERC grantee since 2010. At the age of 16, he won the International Mathematical Olympic gold medal and before finishing high school, he received a scholarship for the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) of Rio de Janeiro. He is now senior researcher both at the National Center for Scientific Research - CNRS and IMPA. In this interview, Prof. Avila tells us about his international career and the research he conducts both in Brazil and France.  

29-04-2014 | © picture 4 mins read

Can machines crack the mystery of music creation?

Who has not wanted to compose as catchy a song as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney or Charlie Parker? French researcher Dr François Pachet has always been fascinated by the mystery of how these great musicians managed to create these amazingly iconic, and strangely addictive, melodies. Thanks to his ERC Advanced Grant, Pachet and his team are working on a software package, ‘FlowMachines’, which will help musicians or writers to explore the magic of creativity and compose music or write books in an easier way. By deciphering the intriguing relations between technology and musical creativity, he aims to offer clues to creators who wish to turn style and its various dimensions into malleable and interactive objects.

04-04-2014 | Image: ©convit/shutterstock.com 3 mins read

Cancer in 3D: in-depth research to uncover its secrets

In 2012, 2.8 million people in the EU were diagnosed with cancer. It is the second most common cause of death in the Union – three out of 10 deaths for men, and two out of 10 deaths for women – a figure that is expected to rise due to the ageing European population. Dr Danijela Matic Vignjevic’s STARLIN project is using ERC funding to understand how normal cells become cancerous and spread.

21-03-2014 | Portrait ©Julia Frey | Image ©Alain Anglade / ©shutterstock - Littlesam 5 mins read

A hot topic for mermaids

To study something in detail you need to look at it from all directions, whether it is the Venus de Milo statue in the Louvre Museum, a car you are thinking of buying, or when using a CAT-scanner to image inside the human body. In the ERC-funded GLOBALSEIS project Professor Guust Nolet is doing this on a truly global scale, by developing a worldwide network of marine-based seismic-wave sensors that can give a much better picture of deep-earth structures and resolve a major paradox in geoscience.

14-08-2013 | The skeletons of the siliceous sponges, here of Euplectella aspergillum, ©picture and illustration: W.E.G Müller 3 mins read

Sponge enzymes: nature’s little bio-builders

Sponges seem an unlikely source for innovation, yet they may hold the key to new nanotechnologies, innovative optical devices and new ways of regrowing human bone and preventing bone disease. Difficult to believe? Not for Werner E.G. Müller. In the BIOSILICA project, he and his team are developing ways to adapt the complex processes that natural glassy sponges use to build their wondrous biosilica structures for use in biodegradable implants that would facilitate bone healing after surgery or fractures.

24-04-2013 | An artist’s impression of the PSR J0348+0432 binary system. The pulsar is extremely compact, leading to a strong distortion of space-time (illustrated by the green mesh). The white-dwarf companion is shown in light-blue - ©J. Antoniadis/MPIfR 3 mins read

A heavyweight for Einstein: Probing gravity where no one has done it before

An international research team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR, Bonn, Germany) used a collection of large radio and optical telescopes to investigate a newly discovered pulsar, and its white dwarf companion. The observations revealed a system with unusual properties, which weighs twice as much as the Sun, making it the most massive neutron star to date. These findings partly result from the “BEACON” project led by ERC Starting grantee Dr Paulo Freire, and agree with Einstein’s theory on general relativity. They will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Science, April 26, 2013.

13-03-2013 | Piwi proteins activity (red) protecting the integrity of genetic material, DNA (blue) in the normal development of mouse male germ cells 4 mins read

Unveiling how our genome is protected

Conducting research in small RNAs, Dr. Ramesh Pillai attempts to understand how the genome protects itself from an internal threat, namely ‘transposons’ or ‘jumping genes’ which can cause mutations. Awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2010, Dr. Pillai is based at the European Molecular Biological Laboratory, Grenoble (France).

20-12-2011 | Microscopy image of a robot with internal reservoir for chemical reagents, By courtesy of F. Štěpánek 2 mins read

The new generation of microscopic robots

Toxic spills can be devastating to humans, animals and to the ecosystem The ERC-funded project CHOBOTIX has successfully created the first prototypes of chemical robots that could serve for "Intelligent Cleaning". These tiny robots could have applications in various fields, from seeking out a source of contamination and neutralise it in toxic waters to treating patients in a more efficient way by delivering them the exact amount of drug without dosing the whole body of patients.

19-09-2011 | Image credit: Cristoph Thomas, 2007 2 mins read

Forests to combat global warming

The DOFOCO project aims to better understand how forests can help lessen the effects of global warming, by bringing together advanced models and data from the life and earth sciences. Such research takes an additional dimension this year, in the context of the United Nations International Year of Forests 2011.

01-03-2011 | Image: Jan Hering, Courtesy Daniela Grunow 3 mins read

Who is left holding the baby?

Researchers are to carry out a comprehensive investigation into how parenting is perceived by professionals, the media, the parents themselves and look into differences across various European countries.The image of the woman in the home, cooking and holding the baby is fast becoming one of previous times. Traditional family roles are being reversed with fathers staying home and mothers going out to work. But is this gender division of labour so clear-cut?