Atomium Culture

Atomium Culture

The Permanent Platform of Atomium Culture brings together some of the most authoritative universities, newspapers and businesses in Europe to increase the movement of knowledge: across borders, across sectors and to the public at large.
La plataforma permanente Atomium Culture reúne a las universidades, periódicos y empresas más prestigiosos de Europa para promover el flujo del conocimiento más allá de fronteras, entre sectores y hacia el público en general.

About us

Leading young European researchers have been selected by European research universities and the Scientific and Editorial Committees of AC to write an article about their work and the potential impact of this.

Raising Gaia, Europe’s Brainchild

Por: | 30 de junio de 2014

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By Xavier Luri Carrascoso, University of Barcelona

Working on a space mission is a bit like raising children: it takes years, patience and some suffering, but it is also very rewarding. For me parenthood and the work on a space mission started around 2001, when my wife, Isabel, gave birth to our daughter Ana and the European Space Agency (ESA) approved the Gaia mission.

Gaia’s main goal is to measure the distance to one billion stars (as I tell my kids, this is about two stars for each member of the European Union, so four stars are for them). Precisely measuring stellar distances is very difficult. It is done by measuring the stellar parallax, a very small angular displacement of the apparent position of a star in the sky caused by the movement of the Earth around the Sun (a perspective effect). The parallax is smaller for large distances and larger for short distances, which allows us to derive the distance to the star.

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Viral TV: Watching Influenza Reproduction Live in Living Host Cells

Por: | 26 de junio de 2014

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By Susann Kummer, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

What do the smallest living creatures look like? What happens in cells? How are they constructed? What exists that cannot be seen with the naked eye?

These and similar questions have always fascinated researchers trying to explain the origins of our being. Efforts to find answers have inspired ideas and developments exploring the secrets of life.

The first microscope, which resembled a telescope, was invented and — presumably — manufactured in around 1595 by the Dutch glasses grinder Hans Jansson. The design was adapted by Galileo Galilei, finally being named the microscopium (by the Italian Accademia dei Lincei). Galilei could not have envisioned what today's high-capacity microscopes can accomplish: insects like fleas (typical size 1.5–4.5 mm) can be shown by means of a scanning electron microscope in gigantic detailed exactness. Using a laser confocal microscope, yeast cells (just 1 to 5 µm across) as well as cell organelles such as the nucleus, cytoskeleton or mitochondria (around 500 nm in size) can be visualised on a screen.

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Talking Technology

Por: | 23 de junio de 2014

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By Matthew Aylett, University of Edinburgh

“Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he” — Publilius Syrus Roman author, 1st century B.C.

We know there is something special about speech. Our voices are not just a means of communicating, although they are superb at communicating, they also give a deep impression of who we are. They can betray our upbringing, our emotional state, our state of health. They can be used to persuade and convince, to calm and to excite. So, what can we do if a person loses the power of speech? What can we do if we want to grant the power of speech to our machines and tools? The answers lie with speech synthesis technology.

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Eternal Youth with Tannins? How a Worm Can Outwit Ageing

Por: | 19 de junio de 2014

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By Nadine Saul, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

The pursuit of eternal youth and immortality has a long tradition. As far back as 2000 years ago, Alexander the Great was searching for the mystic Fountain of Youth. Nowadays scientific efforts are more realistic, though no less ambitious. Numerous reports describe genetic manipulations that result in an extension of lifespan in laboratory animals. Surprisingly, this can also be achieved by a controlled but drastic reduction in nutritional uptake. But how realistic is starvation or genetic engineering as life-prolonging techniques in humans? These are certainly not desirable options, but do alternatives exist? In fact, nature offers a suite of molecules — namely the tannins — that may prove to offer attractive alternatives.

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Nanostructured Materials for a Cleaner Future

Por: | 16 de junio de 2014

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By Daria Setman, University of Vienna

Image Caption: A highly deformed metal, with small grains and sharp grain boundaries. The fuzzy regions are represented by a high density of dislocations.

Modern society can be characterized by the desire for individual mobility and for independence from public transportation. However, that freedom is now dependent on fossil fuels, with the added cost of environmental pollution.

Carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of fossil fuel combustion, now attracts attention as a greenhouse gas, but it is not the only pollutant: even more serious for individual health are soot and other chemicals, which also contribute to smog. A safe and easily available alternative to fossil fuels is therefore essential, and the best so far is the fuel-cell-based car.

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By Melanie Meyer-Luehmann, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of senile dementia worldwide. Its debilitating effects create enormous social and economic problems. With an ever-aging population, its incidence is expected to increase exponentially in the years to come, giving a particular urgency to research. There is a multitude of theories about the causes and potential risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, yet none have been conclusively proven — or most crucially — have led to an efficacious therapy for patients.

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A Lethal Cocktail for Melanoma

Por: | 09 de junio de 2014

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By Jedrzej Malecki, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

Melanoma is a highly invasive and aggressive tumour; it does not respond to currently available forms of chemotherapy and its incidence continues to rise worldwide. Those who are light-skinned or spend a great deal of time outdoors and are thus heavily exposed to the sun are thought to be at greater risk. Melanoma cells originate from melanocytes (Greek melas, black or dark, and -cyte, sac or bladder that contains a fluid), the pigmented cells of the skin that are responsible for skin colour. Primary melanoma tumours originate mostly in the skin, but some also originate in the mouth or in the eye. The tumours can be surgically removed but only if detected early enough; early diagnosis is therefore crucial. Once the tumour penetrates deeper into the skin and becomes metastatic, the chances of a successful cure are remote. This is because the melanoma is able to evade apoptosis, also called ‘programmed cell death’, which is induced by anticancer treatments.

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Digital Plant Wizards for Everyone

Por: | 05 de junio de 2014

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By Tiina Randlane and Andres Saag, University of Tartu

Image: Dichotomous interface of a digital plant key showing two alternative states of a plant characteristic; the user then chooses which more closely matches the specimen.

Protecting or sustainably managing wildlife in any part of the world is possible only if species are recorded and recognised not merely by specialists but also by the widest of audiences — by everyone.

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Molecular Machines Powered by Light

Por: | 02 de junio de 2014

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By Alberto Credi, University of Bologna

Imagine if we were able to make mechanical machines so exceedingly small that we could target individual protein or DNA molecules inside a living being. A similar scenario was the subject of the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage, in which a submarine and its crew are miniaturized and injected in a patient to remove a blood clot in the brain. Just a few years before, in 1959, the famous physicist and Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman had mentioned, for the first time, the possibility of making machines at the extreme level of miniaturization: machines the size of molecules.

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