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ELECTION SERIES #1
There is now more information circulating than at any other time in history. Every day mind-boggling amounts of data are produced, reaching over 2.5 quintillion bytes. With the European elections just around the corner, we take a look at an ERC funded project on how politicians stay knowledgeable amidst this information overload. The research by grantee Prof. Stefaan Walgrave from the University of Antwerp compares how different politicians process information and then act on it in three western, post-industrialist parliamentary democracies - Israel, Belgium and Canada. An original study, which unveils some optimistic findings just as voters prepare to head to the polls.
Teaching is certainly one of the most important professions in our society, yet its status and attractiveness have been systematically diminishing in the last decades. At the Université catholique de Louvain, Prof. Xavier Dumay is using his ERC Starting Grant to investigate the cultural and institutional transformations that have led to this "teaching profession crisis".
Dr Joaquim Alves Gaspar is a man of the sea. After many years in the Portuguese Navy, he gave up plans to become an admiral in favour of pursuing a PhD in the History of Cartography. This second career led him to receive an ERC Starting Grant, the first awarded in this budding discipline. With his highly multidisciplinary team (he likes to say that, to work with him, one must be a mathematician fluent in Latin), and the experience obtained as a navigator and navigational instructor, Dr Gaspar hopes to understand how and when the first nautical charts were created. The MEDEA-CHART team is the best place in Portugal, and probably in the world, to study the history of nautical cartography, hoping that this work will provide the domain with its rightful recognition within world history.
First published on 13-07-2016Updated on 08-05-2018
What is the lifespan of a sun-like star? Well, it may not be quite what we thought. The outcomes of EU-funded asteroseismology research conducted by Professor Conny Aerts and her team show that the cores of red giants don’t spin nearly as fast as expected – and this, in turn, means that our understanding of the future of our sun was flawed.
In 2016, a team of researchers led by EU-funded astronomer Michaël Gillon at the University of Liège, Belgium, discovered three temperate Earth-sized planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth. A few months later, Gillon surprised the world with the discovery of a whole planetary system made of a total of seven planets around this star. A set of new studies reveals today the nature and composition of the planets, shedding light on their potential habitability.
Almost 30 million children across the world are currently forcibly displaced and many of them, the unaccompanied refugee minors, are travelling without the protection and support of parents or caregivers. What do we know about the impact of their often harsh experiences on their psychological wellbeing? Dr llse Derluyn aims to gather evidence that will support the development of policies and clinical and social interventions for these unaccompanied children who face multiple traumas, also in a view to facilitate their integration in the host countries.
Some school systems in Europe are highly segregated, the Belgian one especially. Poorer standards of education are seen in schools where pupils are predominantly of immigrant background. Researchers are compiling new datasets and information about school composition and teaching cohesion to ensure segregation does not have to mean a difference in education standards.
Michaël Gillon, astronomer and ERC grantee from the University of Liege, stunned the world with his recent discovery of seven potentially inhabitable planets orbiting Trappist-1 star, some 40 light years from Earth.
While computers can calculate or recognise faces, they are not aware of themselves (yet?). Consciousness is in the essence of human beings; its nature, however, appears to lack a reliable explanation. Prof. Axel Cleeremans is developing a new theory, the Radical Plasticity Thesis, maintaining that consciousness is a long-lasting property of our brain rather than just a static feature. In order to test it, he is taking a multidisciplinary approach including psychological studies and advanced brain imaging.
A team of researchers, led by ERC grantee Michaël Gillon, has discovered three potentially habitable planets that orbit an ultra-cool dwarf star, no further away than 40 light years from Earth.