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18-05-2015 | Portrait: © Studio Brega

Towards simpler, smarter artificial hands

Will robots ever have the same dexterity as humans? Professor Antonio Bicchi is working on the next-generation of artificial hands that can be programmed to adapt to different tasks and environments. The  promising results of his research could have a strong impact on engineering robotics as well as on rehabilitation technologies.  

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

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

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.  

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

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.

28-10-2013 | Portrait: © Bruno Siciliano, PRISMA Lab | Illustration: © Ciro Fusco, ANSA

From pizza maker to physiotherapist: Italian robot's promising skills

Why should people waste their time executing some repetitive time-consuming everyday tasks which do not require creativity and intellectual capacity? Such a reasoning stands behind Professor Bruno Siciliano’s ERC funded project aiming at the creation of a new generation of service robots.

16-05-2013 | © picture

Unbreakable materials on the horizon

Since Leonardo da Vinci, scientists and engineers have investigated how things break or irreversibly deform, with a view to discovering unbreakable materials. This issue is at the core of Stefano Zapperi’s research. In 2011, he received an ERC Advanced grant to explore the response of materials when they are exposed to an external driving force. The long-term outcomes of his research could contribute to enhancing the safety of materials and daily products.

20-12-2012 | © Prof. F.R. Ferraro, Mosaic of 9 globular cluster images ranked in order of increasing dynamical age as measured from the observed radial distribution of their blue straggler stars. From top-left, to bottom-right: omega Centauri, NGC 288, M55, M4, M13, M

How to look young when you’re not – stars reveal the secret of aging well

Some people are in great shape at the age of 90, while others feel unfit before they are 50. How fast people age is not really linked to how old they actually are — and has a lot to do with their lifestyle. A new study led by Prof. Francesco Ferraro, Advanced grantee of the European Research Council (ERC), reveals that the same is true of star clusters. This groundbreaking discovery was made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and is featured this week in the renowned scientific journal Nature. 

13-09-2012 | ©Grantee's picture: INRIA

Optimised crowd and traffic management: QED!

On the occasion of the European Mobility Week (16-22 September 2012), cities are encouraged to take initiatives to promote a sustainable urban mobility. Noise and air pollution have become sources of concern in many urban areas. Major European cities have to take crowd and traffic management ever more seriously - as populations grow and infrastructure has to cope with rising demand and increased traffic congestion.

22-06-2012 | © Prof. Sessoli

When molecules become magnets –Roberta Sessoli alla giornata informativa dedicata all'ERC

Many of the electronic gadgets we currently take for granted already use ‘spintronics’ – for instance, the high-capacity hard disks that we find in today’s laptops. With the help of her ERC funding, Professor Roberta Sessoli is advancing our knowledge of the fundamental properties of molecular magnets and quantum spin, research which may lead to new molecular spin-based technologies. Prof Sessoli will attend the conference ERC – 5 years of achievement and the Italian National Information Day on the ERC funding schemes in Rome on 25 June 2012.

28-10-2010 | © picture

From Europe to China: 13,000km pioneering expedition with driverless vans led by an ERC grantee reached end goal

Prof. Alberto Broggi's "Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge" has arrived at its final destination after a 13,000 km trip across two continents.