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On a clear summer night, look up to the sky and what do you see? Ordinary matter such as planets, stars maybe even an asteroid. Millions of little specks, as far as the eyes can reach. This ordinary matter, also known as baryonic matter, is the primary observable component of our universe. But is what we see all that is out there?
Microwaves are widely employed in the technologies we use in our daily life - from global navigation systems (like GPS or Galileo), to the satellites used for the weather forecast. They are also important for more ambitious endeavors such as space navigation. The work of Prof. Yanne Chembo has contributed to the next generation of microwaves.
Space has a wealth of resources for humanity. Scientific missions enable new discoveries and increase knowledge of our solar system. Satellites orbiting around the Earth provide us with a broad range of services for telecommunications, weather forecasting, marine and air traffic, forest mapping, etc. However, intense space activity comes at a cost both in terms of energy consumption and dangerous space debris produced.
This 8 March, the ERC celebrates the achievements of grantee Dr Mariana Graña, a determined researcher in a branch of physics where women are still noticeably underrepresented. She reflects on how far women have come in Theoretical Physics and what is still needed to overcome the gender-role stereotypes associated with this appealing but abstract field of science.
Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.
Emulsions play a key role both in natural and industrial processes, as they allow the combination of two liquids that do not normally mix and make the blend stable. Yet, when materials solidify or freeze, the complex interactions that take place and affect the final microstructure of the solidified components, are still poorly understood. ERC grantee Sylvain Deville and his team at CNRS have showed that it is possible to use an optical imaging technique to study the freezing of emulsions while the process takes place, a novel method presented in the prestigious journal Science.
ERC grantee Erik van Sebille is developing advanced modelling tools to help assess the full extent of the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and how it is affecting the marine environment. The tools will help policymakers design targeted measures to address a big and growing issue.
Metal fatigue and ice-layer accumulation are challenges faced by the aviation industry and prove costly in terms of fuel waste. Sometimes nature can provide solutions to problems such as these. ERC grantee Nicola Pugno combines biological observations with nanotechnology to create some of the most remarkable materials in the world.
Everyone who has ever been stuck in traffic knows how frustrating and time-wasting it can be. ERC grantee Carlos Canudas de Wit is working on a global approach to improve traffic management systems using the new technologies and innovations that have not yet been fully exploited.
The increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere as a result of human activity is impacting the natural carbon cycle, modifying how the element travels between land and atmosphere. How will our future climate impact this exchange? How will ever-growing concentrations of greenhouse gases influence future biosphere CO2 fluxes? The answer may lie at our feet; in the soil beneath us.