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ERC grantee Dr Kazuya Koyama, originally from Japan, tests gravity, specifically whether Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity can be applied beyond our solar system. At present general relativity works in our galaxy but is less convincing at the far borders of our universe which is rapidly expanding and needs weird energy to explain this. Dr Koyama is hoping that observations in deep space will show that the theory can be modified to work on a larger scale so that this strange 'dark energy' is not needed – removing one of cosmology's biggest mysteries.
On the occasion of the signing of a new agreement with the Japanese Science and Technology Agency to encourage top Japanese researchers to temporarily join ERC-funded teams in Europe, the ERC interviewed Dr Kazuya Koyama about his international career and how he believes this helps strengthen scientific partnerships between researchers in Europe and Japan.
The amount of currently available biomedical data is overwhelming. Large databases exist at different scales, from genes, to proteins, to patients' histories. But what do scientists do with all this information? Serbian-born Professor Nataša Pržulj, from University College London, works with Big Data to establish patterns and gain knowledge that could revolutionise how we treat diseases.
Chaotic systems are everywhere: the weather, molecules in a gas, the stock market. Small variations in initial conditions can lead to a drastically different time evolution, a phenomenon known as the butterfly effect. Systems can be classified according to how fast different, nearby initial conditions diverge in time. Supported by the ERC, Prof. Corinna Ulcigrai is investigating systems for which nearby initial conditions diverge slowly in time, to uncover mechanisms which explain their complex behaviour.
CRISPR is a widely used molecular biology tool exploiting an immune process discovered in bacteria. Dr David Bikard studies CRISPR in bacterial cells, in conjunction with different DNA repair systems, to create even newer tools. He hopes to gain insight into bacterial genetics, and develop increasingly effective medical treatments.
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.
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.
If you raise your eyes to the sky, you won't see it but you might sense it passing by. On 12 January just before sunrise in Europe, PicSat, a cube satellite as big as a shoebox and barely as heavy as a brick, will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Supported with a grant from the European Research Council, it is the first nanosatellite to embark on one of the greatest space adventures: exploring, from afar, an exoplanet.
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.