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If you raise your eyes to the sky, you won't see it but you might sense it passing by. On 12 January just before sunrise in Europe, PicSat, a cube satellite as big as a shoebox and barely as heavy as a brick, will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Supported with a grant from the European Research Council, it is the first nanosatellite to embark on one of the greatest space adventures: exploring, from afar, an exoplanet.
Two newly-discovered security flaws in computer processors, named Meltdown and Spectre, could allow unauthorised users to gain direct access to the heart of computer systems and steal personal data. The vulnerabilities were discovered by an international research team, in which Graz University of Technology’s Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications (TU Graz, Austria) played a central role. The EU's European Research Council (ERC) has been supporting this research project since 2016, to the tune of two-million euro.
This year the European Research Council turned 10. But 2017 also marked two other important milestones: 20 years of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships, which offer career development opportunities to early-career researchers, and 30 years of ERASMUS, that has shaped the new generation of young Europeans, launching students' mobility. What do researchers think about the impact of these European programmes on their professional and personal life? Let's hear from those who have benefitted from all three.
Could migration lead to more respect for ethnic and cultural diversity not only in receiving communities but also in sending countries? By observing the effects of Polish migration to the UK and Germany, as a result of the country’s entry in the EU in 2004, Prof. Magdalena Nowicka explores possible answers to this question.
While migration’s impact is global in scale, the decisions that regulate it tend to be taken at the national and regional level. Indeed migration policy can be a defining issue for national sovereignty, touching on the very definition of borders and citizenship. But what are the drivers behind the way States respond to migration?
Jojo is an epidermal cell - as was his father and his grand-father before him. While the dream of his life is to become a neuron, he faces the hard and fundamental dogma of biology: once a skin cell, always a skin cell…
Prof. Gregoire Courtine believes paralysed patients will be able to walk again. This belief has represented the focus of years of work aimed at regenerating the functions of the spinal cord after injury. Thanks to his ERC funding in both 2010 and 2015, Prof. Courtine and his team have been able to develop so-called “personalised neuroprosthetics” that have led immobile rats, and more recently monkeys, to overcome their paralysis.
Did you know that the Persian fairy tale “The Three Princes of Serendip” provided the inspiration for the first noted use of the word “serendipity” in the English language? In this story, the heroes are always making happy and surprising discoveries. In science, this concept of a pleasant surprise covers the mismatch between what the researchers expected to find and what they actually discovered, as introduced in this newsletter’s editorial. It has given us innovations such as the microwave, Teflon, X-rays, penicillin, the World Wide Web and much more. What started off with a fairy tale, ended up as a byword for an influential idea in research policy-making and even headlining a recent ERC-funded project.
EU-funded researchers are carrying out a comprehensive analysis of urban food-sharing schemes, examining how they embrace modern technologies like the internet and smart phones. The worldwide study could help people living in cities make more sustainable use of food resources.