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Over the past months, a sudden influx of ‘Pokémon Go’ players could be observed across the globe. Youngsters, people of all ages scrutinise their surroundings silently, using their smartphones to catch those digital creatures with unlikely names. How could such a phenomenon take over the world so fast? Part of the answer may be the game’s strong interaction with the real-world and its impressive mapping, offering a whole new virtual experience of spaces that seem to be familiar and yet so different.
Stronger than steel, conducting electricity better than copper and heat better than diamonds: these are some of the promises held by carbon nanomaterials. Although not as well-known as graphene, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) show these properties – offering also a great advantage: they can be produced in larger quantities. Prof. Michael De Volder now explores new ways to manufacture CNTs-based devices with optimal features, potentially opening the way to their broader commercial use.
The Earth is made of layers, just like a big onion, composed of different materials. However, the compounds forming these layers are not static, flowing from one stratum to another, following patterns still not entirely understood. Prof. Patrick Cordier tries to model the real conditions minerals are subjected to beneath the Earth’s crust. His aim is to understand the forces driving tectonic plates so we can better comprehend phenomena like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Through her work with the fruit fly Drosophila santomea, Dr Virginie Orgogozo aims to answer one of the most challenging questions of modern evolutionary biology: how do observable characteristics change between species and yet remain stable in a given species?
Women and sex offenders have been relatively neglected in existing sociological studies on prisons, particularly in debates about the relative severity of penal systems. Still, Dr Ben Crewe finds the treatment of these two prisoner groups symptomatic of wider social sensibilities. These and other issues will be investigated in the frame of COMPEN, an extensive comparative analysis of different prisoner groups and penal jurisdictions.
Acetylsalicylic acid, most commonly known as aspirin, was already part of the Egyptian pharmacopeia, used also in ancient Greece and in the Middle Ages to break fevers. Taken all over the world to kill pain and reduce inflammation, today aspirin helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Its emerging role in preventing and treating cancer is on the rise too. But how does this drug act on your blood cells? ERC grantee Prof Valerie O’Donnell works on the answer.
A ground-breaking anthropological discovery took place in East Africa, where ERC Advanced grantee Dr Marta Mirazón Lahr and her team have been studying human origins. At the excavation site in Nataruk in northern Kenya, they have stumbled upon a real archaeological rarity – the earliest historical evidence of warfare.
Researchers supported by the ERC have sampled magmatic gases derived from the Earth's mantle in the Eifel region in Germany. Their analysis of xenon, a rare and inert gas, sampled in bubbling mineral water could bring new insights into the origin of volatile elements, water and gases, that allowed life to develop on Earth.
While women inherit two X chromosomes, the expressions of one of them is shut down during embryonic development. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. The switching off of women’s second X chromosome is thought to compensate for the presence of only one X in males versus two in females, to balance for X-linked gene products between the sexes. X-chromosome inactivation is also one of the clearest examples of what epigenetic mechanisms do to our genetic material: the DNA of the genes on the X is still present but not actively expressed or needed. Prof. Edith Heard was awarded ERC grants to understand the intricate processes behind the phenomenon, with unexpected results that changed the way gene regulation is now looked at.
The advanced technologies designed by researchers working on the SURFUND project go beyond the current state-of-the-art techniques in metrology, the science of measurements applied to manufacturing and other industrial processes. These novel measurement tools could have a large application potential in optics, aerospace, automotive, precision engineering, electronics and biotech industry and they have already attracted the attention of several companies working in these fields.The innovations generated by this ERC project could bring significant economic benefits to Europe.