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The most powerful source of misperceptions about important issues such as immigration and climate change are false beliefs rooted in people’s political or social preferences, but having people who question authority is also important for a society, according to ERC grantee Jason Reifler, from the University of Exeter, UK.
A European biologist has pioneered a new way of looking at biodiversity change, with the help of the European Research Council (ERC). A key result of this work has been the launch of an open-access biodiversity database, which will help researchers and conservation managers find sustainable solutions to protect wildlife.
The human brain is outstanding among mammalian brains, containing around 100 billion neurons (more than the number of stars in the Milky Way) and over 100 trillion connections between them. Yet, when it comes to making decisions, this impressive organ does not prevent us from making errors – even avoidable ones.
When you think of the Renaissance period in Europe, what springs to mind? Perhaps the Medici family in Italy where the Renaissance is said to have begun, or the discovery of the ‘New World’ by Europeans like Christopher Columbus or Abel Tasman. But have you heard of the Jagiellonians?
Food security is one of the grand challenges of our time, but many factors hinder meeting global targets set in the “Zero Hunger” UN Sustainable Development Goal. Two billion people are thought to be micronutrient deficient, yet in many poor countries, fish could provide a readily available and cheap source of micronutrients and protein. Prof. Christina Hicks is particularly interested in fish micronutrients and small-scale fisheries, a sector that holds potential for feeding people in coastal areas but is often forgotten in world strategies against malnutrition.
There is a web of filaments – essentially long strands of gas – that connects all the galaxies in the universe. This is known as the Cosmic Web and, so far, astrophysicist had only a partial idea of what it may have looked like. Now, ERC funded astronomer Michele Fumagalli, and his collaborators from the University of Durham and the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan, are able to show the stunning images of this common thread that runs through our stars.
Water vapour has been detected in the atmosphere of a remote planet with habitable temperatures. Two ERC grantees at the University College London (UCL) were among the coauthors of study.
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?
The deep seafloor covers around 70% of our planet’s surface and is home to a diverse community of microorganisms, mostly bacteria. These single-cell life forms inhabit some of the most extreme places in the world, with freezing waters, permanent darkness, high pressure and little food. ERC grantee Antje Boetius studies these microbes in the abyss and their important role for the Earth’s nutrient cycles.
Honey bees are an important species for ecology and economy, but their population has shrank worryingly. Prof. Philipp Engel focuses on gut microbiota, a critical factor for bee health, to understand how it evolved and diversified over time. His study addresses timely questions about evolution, ecology, microbiology and could eventually contribute to new strategies for managing bee colonies’ health.