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In just a couple of years, Africa has gone from possessing a total bandwidth availability comparable to that of Norway to having almost one hundred million internet users and seven hundred million mobile users. Could this growth in access to information and communication technologies (ICT) represent an opportunity for economic development? Many have described this moment of transition as "Africa's century", ERC grantee and Oxford scholar Prof Mark Graham, a leading authority on the topic of technology and development, aims to understand this "digital revolution".
As empirical experiments are almost impossible in astronomy, research in this field relies heavily on observation. Prof. Andrzej Udalski set new frontiers in observational astronomy, in particular in the search for extra-solar planets, using a cutting-edge gravitational microlensing technique which enables the study of celestial objects irrespective of the light they emit.
What is the nature of dark energy? How does it relate to dark matter? These are some of the key open questions in cosmology, which Prof. Luigi Guzzo intends to address in his research. Findings of his DARKLIGHT project, funded by the ERC, could add an important piece to the puzzle of the origin and evolution of the Universe.
More than 95% of our universe comes in the mysterious form of dark matter and dark energy that we can neither explain nor directly detect. Dr Catherine Heymans leads a team of researchers who were the first to “map” dark matter on the largest of scales. She now uses her research to confront Einstein’s theory of general relativity in an attempt to explain the nature of dark energy.
Since the early 1990s almost 2000 planets have been detected outside our solar system. These discoveries led to a new area of universe sciences which is rapidly expanding. Astronomers are currently searching for extra-solar planets using a huge array of telescopes and instruments. Funded by the ERC, Prof. Cardoso Santos’ team has developed new tools to be used in both ground- and space-based facilities, to detect and study these planets.
The widening gap between rich and poor is leading to segregation in more and more European cities. The rich and the poor are living at increasing distance from each other, and this can be disastrous for the social stability and competitive power of cities. These are the conclusions of joint research of Prof. Maarten van Ham, ERC grantee at Delft University of Technology, and Prof. Tiit Tammaru, Dr. Szymon Marcińczak and Prof. Sako Musterd.
To confront the current challenge of managing a city of 20 million, the Egyptian government has revealed plans earlier this year (2015) to build a new capital city, 45 kilometres east of Cairo. The ambitious project tackles growth over the next 50 years and has been set to adapt to future challenges, including population density and land constraints. Like Cairo, many other metropolises are currently under pressure. At the University College London, ERC grantee Prof. Michael Batty, a distinguished theorist and modeller of urban change, works to develop a new 'Science of Cities'.
The discovery, conquest, and subsequent colonization of the Americas gave rise to surprising, multifaceted encounters between the Old and New Worlds. These encounters were not limited to the first-contact phase or to the military subjugation of new lands by the Europeans. They have been long processes of cross-cultural communication—in which both sides participated equally—that continued to develop through the colonial and postcolonial eras up to the present day.
“The next war will be fought over water, not politics,” predicted United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1991. But environmental changes and pressures also have impacts that – though just as important – may be slower and more difficult to spot.
How can we explain the continuity of Chinese empires? Dr Hilde De Weerdt with her project "Chinese Empire" revisits this big question in world history.