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14-06-2015 | © picture 2 mins read

Exploring the history of Central European forests

Significant changes in woodland vegetation pose a long-term threat to native flora and fauna. To understand the functioning of current ecosystems, we need detailed knowledge on management history and on the driving forces of historical forest changes.Portrait: © Martin Rychlik, LN  Image: © Radim Hédl  

12-06-2015 | Portrait: © Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 2 mins read

Our impact today on tomorrow’s world

Most of our actions can have an impact on the environment, be it minor, long-lasting or simply irreversible. But how can this effect be measured, avoided, predicted? What are the specificities of long-term risks and how can collective decisions be taken effectively to tackle those threats?

19-05-2015 | © LAAS-CNRS | Portrait: © LAAS-CNRS 2 mins read

Geometry at the service of robotics

Embodied intelligence is a very dynamic research field. With this ERC project, Doctor Jean-Paul Laumond intends to contribute to the advancement of basic research in this field bridging the gap between robot engineering and neuroscience thanks to geometric models.  

18-05-2015 | Portrait:© Inria / Photo J.M. Ramès | Image:© Inria - Photo Poppy Project, M. Lapeyre 4 mins read

Poppy, the 3-D printed robot set to inspire innovation in classrooms

It has long been a sci-fi dream to have a humanoid robot in our everyday life. Soon that dream may seem even more vivid, thanks to Dr Pierre-Yves Oudeyer’s ERC-funded project. His team has developed the first complete open-source 3D printed humanoid robot, called “Poppy”. Poppy is a robot that anybody can build – its body is 3D printed and its behaviour programmed by the user. The technology will be of benefit to the fields of science, engineering, education and even the arts.

 

08-08-2014 | Portrait © Brigitte Eymann – Académie des sciences | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 3 mins read

How abstract maths can help physicists better understand the universe

Mathematicians are similar to historians in that they are devoted to finding and interpreting patterns. Like historians, they have to deal with criticism that some theories are of little practical benefit. This is a futile debate, says mathematician Dr Francis Brown who is attending the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) taking place in Seoul this summer (South Korea). Through an ERC-funded project, he has developed an algorithm of immense importance to particle physics, using numbers first developed for their aesthetic appeal over 300 years ago. Sometimes the significance of mathematics – as with history – takes time to be revealed.  

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.