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Water is a peculiar liquid. In fact, it's thanks to some of its peculiarities that our "blue" planet looks the way it does, and that life has evolved most of the characteristics we recognise today. ERC grantee Prof. Anders Nilsson has made his career out of studying water, in particular trying to understand the secret double life water leads at extremely cold temperatures.
After the birth of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century, this branch of physics evolved from being primarily the conceptual framework for the description of subatomic particle phenomena to providing inspiration for new technological applications. New hybrid architecture of quantum systems is now being developed in order to foster the implementation of cutting-edge quantum technologies.
The impact of migration on the economies of receiving countries is a fundamental question in economics. According to Prof. Christian Dustmann, current research is coming to different conclusions about the impact immigration has on wages and employment of native workers.
In physics, scientists can predict the existence of a particle which is eventually, soon after or considerably later, observed experimentally. The Higgs boson is one of the most striking recent examples. ERC grantee Leo Kouwenhoven has recently made such a demonstration proving the existence of the “Majorana fermion”, a particle theorised in the 1930s. Detecting Majorana’s particles is not only exciting for particle physicists; thanks to their properties they could prove useful as stable “quantum bits” of information that could make quantum computers a reality.
Most of our actions can have an impact on the environment, be it minor, long-lasting or simply irreversible. But how can this effect be measured, avoided, predicted? What are the specificities of long-term risks and how can collective decisions be taken effectively to tackle those threats?
As Europe continues to confront the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis it becomes ever-more important to fathom not only how Europe can return to productive levels of employment, but why it is failing to do so. Professor Pissarides’s ERC research examines both what kind of jobs Europeans do and future trends in employment. He will present his research to the public at TEDx Brussels event on 1 December.
A good and balanced diet is central to overall healthy living. However, diet-related diseases have increased in the last decades and became a major public health concern in most developed countries. Consumers’ information and responsiveness are therefore crucial when they purchase goods. On the occasion of the consumers’ rights week, Prof. Rachel Griffith, an ERC Advanced grantee 2009 based at the Institute of Fiscal Studies (UK), explains her research about consumer food purchasing behaviour, firm food pricing behaviour and their impact on nutrition.
Quantum theory, despite being one of the most successful scientific theories in history, throws up some bizarre ideas: quantum spin, the uncertainty principle, wave/particle duality, quantum entanglement and non-locality - or “spooky action at a distance” as Einstein once called it. But these are not just abstract concepts or the preserve of theory: Dr Szabolcs Csonka is working on isolating fundamental particles so as to study these phenomena first hand in electrons and thus bring quantum computers one step closer to reality.
Many of the electronic gadgets we currently take for granted already use ‘spintronics’ – for instance, the high-capacity hard disks that we find in today’s laptops. With the help of her ERC funding, Professor Roberta Sessoli is advancing our knowledge of the fundamental properties of molecular magnets and quantum spin, research which may lead to new molecular spin-based technologies. Prof Sessoli will attend the conference ERC – 5 years of achievement and the Italian National Information Day on the ERC funding schemes in Rome on 25 June 2012.