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The European Research Council (ERC) funds frontier research across all fields, including Social Sciences and Humanities (SH). To date, nearly 500 projects are financed by the ERC in the SH domain, with a total budget of around €700 million. The ERC budget is divided in three domains, namely Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities. Around 17 % of the ERC budget goes to projects in the domain of Social Sciences and Humanities.
During United Nations Disarmament Week (22-28 October 2012), the danger of the arms race and the need for its cessation will be discussed. The project led by Professor Christoph Meyer, an ERC grantee based at King's College in London (UK) is particularly relevant. He recently presented the final results on his ERC-funded project on forecasts for the prevention of armed conflicts.
Almost 200 research projects are supported for a granted budget over €250 million. About 15% of ERC-funded projects in life sciences have a neuroscience component. These projects aim at: advancing our knowledge of the nervous system in health and disease conditions; contributing to the development of new cellular, molecular, genetic and animal models and tools to investigate the activity of the nervous system in normal and pathological situations; and testing new concepts, ideas and techniques before transferring them to patients.
The ability to fine-tune the functioning of blood vessels and the circulatory system is essential for combating the remodelling of the arteries that leads to heart attacks and strokes. It is also needed for the controlled repair of blood vessels after injury – which may otherwise result in a number of serious conditions. ERC grantee Professor Stefanie Dimmeler and her team at Frankfurt University are studying the role ribonucleic acid (RNA) plays in fine-tuning vascular functions – with the aim of developing new therapies for cardiovascular diseases, which are the most prevalent in Europe, due to growing obesity and longer lifespans.
Mathematics might seem like an abstract discipline, remote from real-world applications but their equations can significantly help understand and simulate the functioning of nature. Professor Alfio Quarteroni of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) is leading the Mathcard project in developing mathematical models of the blood flow in our cardiovascular system. On the occasion of World Heart Day, he explains how his project could help surgeons and save lives.
After another anomalous summer, and with climate change still at the top of the political agenda, it seems that weather and climate forecasting have never been so topical. With the help of the ERC, Professor Sergej S. Zilitinkevich of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) is hoping to revise the way physics treats turbulence in the atmosphere and ocean – with important consequences for weather and climate modelling and prediction.
On the occasion of the European Mobility Week (16-22 September 2012), cities are encouraged to take initiatives to promote a sustainable urban mobility. Noise and air pollution have become sources of concern in many urban areas. Major European cities have to take crowd and traffic management ever more seriously - as populations grow and infrastructure has to cope with rising demand and increased traffic congestion.
The ‘Gothic’ architectural style, which flourished during the high- and late-medieval periods, from the 12th to 16th centuries AD, gave Europe some of its greatest cathedrals, minsters and churches as well as an architectural treasure house of palaces, town halls and guild buildings among others. Importantly, the soaring open spaces conceived and constructed by the architects of the period were only made possible by the innovative ways of designing and constructing ambitious vaulted ceilings. How did those medieval builders go about designing these huge complex monuments? And in an era without computers and design software, how did they set down their visions and transmit them in usable form to the master builders and masons who created them?
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.
In cooperation with the CNRS and University of Bergen When did human behaviour as we know it begin? Work conducted by an international team of researchers suggests that modern culture emerged 44,000 years ago. Their analysis of archaeological material discovered at Border Cave in South Africa has demonstrated that much of the material culture that characterized the lifestyle of San hunter-gatherers in southern Africa was part of the culture and technology of the inhabitants of Border Cave 44,000 years ago. This research, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, is published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.