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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.  

03-07-2014 | © picture 3 mins read

The next generation of 3D printers

3D printers are emblematic of what the future of technology could look like. Versatile, flexible and highly adaptable, they promise to produce everything from customised furniture to transplantable organs. Yet the concept of the 3D printer, its place in our imagination, has outstripped its current technical capacity. At the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, Professor Frank Niklaus and his research team have set themselves a challenge: to engineer a 3D printer fitted to the modern manufacturing world, capable of producing micro- and nano-structures and, ultimately, superior micro-materials.

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.

10-02-2014 | Research image courtesy of Yannik Fontana | Sketch of a forest of standing nanowires, ideal for the efficient capture of the solar radiation 4 mins read

Throwing light on to nanowires

At the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, Professor Anna Fontcuberta i Morral’s ERC-funded UPCON project (Ultra-pure nanowire heterostructures and energy conversion) is investigating new concepts and technologies that point the way to the next generation of photovoltaic systems. Prof Fontcuberta i Morral is a speaker at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Chicago, where she will give a talk entitled 'Nanowires have the power to revolutionize solar energy'.

28-09-2012 | © Mathcard project 3 mins read

Taking mathematics to heart

Mathematics might seem like an abstract discipline, remote from real-world applications but their equations can significantly help understand and simulate the functioning of nature. Professor Alfio Quarteroni of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) is leading the Mathcard project in developing mathematical models of the blood flow in our cardiovascular system. On the occasion of World Heart Day, he explains how his project could help surgeons and save lives.

13-09-2012 | ©Grantee's picture: INRIA 3 mins read

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.

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.

28-02-2011 | © iStockPhoto 2 mins read

Materials biodegrading without a trace

Preventing excess waste is a challenge and the need to recycle and produce sustainable materials is increasing. ERC-funded project PARADIGM could influence the design of future plastic-like materials that would break down in the environment the way natural materials do. This innovative technology will also be used for body repair by creating materials that mimic our native tissues and organs.