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.

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By Philipp A. Greif, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich

Recent advances in DNA sequencing technology allow, for the first time, identification of tumor-specific gene mutations for each tumor at a genome-wide level. Most such mutations are acquired accidentally during lifetime, for example, during cell division or from exposure to environmental factors. If a cell acquires too many mutations in genes that are critical for growth and/or differentiation, the cell will be transformed into a malignant or cancer cell. If this happens to a blood-forming cell in bone marrow, the result is leukaemia. There is increasing evidence that, although cancers may look identical to a pathologist, they are highly diverse genetically and each cancer cell is, therefore, a “malignant individual”.

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How Were Neolithic Burial Rituals Performed?

Por: | 27 de diciembre de 2013


By Núria Quintana, University of Barcelona Press

Neolithic skeletons were not buried; they were simply placed around the north wall of the cave, surrounded by some burial goods. Their extremities were bent; corpses’ extreme foetal positions indicate that they probably were tied and wrapped in a shroud. A Neolithic funeral was like that, according to the information received from the remains found in Can Sadurní cave (Begues, Barcelona). To be exact, four human skeletons dated at about 6,400 years ago were discovered there. Few caves have a necropolis dated to such an ancient period. Moreover, a light landslide on the outer part, which took place when corpses were complete or they had just began the decomposition process, protected the corpses, so at the moment when they were found, they still remained in the position in which they were buried.

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Touching the Cells: Robots in the Nanoworld

Por: | 27 de diciembre de 2013

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By Jorge Otero Díaz, University of Barcelona

Hippocrates, a Greek doctor from the 5th century BC, is commonly referred to as the father of medicine. Hippocrates made significant contributions to the techniques of prognosis and diagnosis, and the Hippocratic oath continues to the present times, although with modifications. But Hippocrates faced an insurmountable obstacle in his medical research: the Greek taboo against the dissection of corpses on religious grounds. Physicians in the olden days could not use post mortem surgery to determine the cause of any rare disease: all that they had to go by was a detailed study of external symptoms in their patients combined with dissection of animals. It was not until a brief period of about 40 years in the 3rd century BC when the ban on human dissection was lifted. Then, working in Alexandria, Herophilus and Erasistratus were able to dissect copses to better understand the working of the human body and the causes of its numerous dysfunctions.    

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Cutting Cancer’s Communication Lines

Por: | 23 de diciembre de 2013

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By Raymond Schiffelers, University of Utrecht

Image: Tiny messages from cancer cells (labelled red) are taken up by a cell isolated from a blood vessel, which has a blue-labelled nucleus.

When you have a message, you can shout it out loud. That is what cancer cells do. When a tumour grows, it needs more oxygen and nutrients. So, it starts asking for help from nearby blood vessels.  This call for help comes in the form of proteins that are secreted by the cancer cells and can bind and activate the capillaries to start sprouting towards them. Another message the tumour wants to deliver is: ‘Do not attack me, I am harmless’. This protein-message is for the immune system.  The message can convince the patrolling immune cells that the inflammation and tissue injury, which inevitably goes together with tumour growth, is nothing to worry about.

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By Silvia Busquets Rius, University of Barcelona

Cachexia is defined as a state of malnutrition and physical exhaustion and includes weight loss (up to 80% of lean and fat mass) due to a chronic disease. Cachexia occurs in many diseases such as cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, sepsis, diabetes, states immobilization, severe burns, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease or old age, among others. In particular, cancer cachexia appears in different degrees of severity in about half of cancer patients and is associated with more than 20% of cancer deaths.

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Recovering Fish Population in a Marine Reserve: No Easy Matter

Por: | 18 de diciembre de 2013


By Rosa Martínez, University of Barcelona Press

The recovery of fish populations in the Mediterranean coast is not an easily resolved issue. Quite the contrary: it is a long-term process that lasts for decades and, after many years of protection, only some fish species reach total recovery. Indeed, recent research reveals that fish populations that are more vulnerable to fishing will be destroyed if protection failures.

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Plant Skin: Of Interest to Humans and Insects

Por: | 16 de diciembre de 2013

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By Sophia Rhizopoulou, University of Athens

Millions of years before people began making and manipulating synthetic structures, plant biological systems were developing three-dimensional complex microstructures and special features to produce striking visual and functional effects. Such features are typically associated with the plants’ environmental conditions and their physiological circumstances. Currently, sophisticated imaging techniques are available for viewing and investigating living plant material at high resolution. Investigation of plant tissue microscupltures and assessing their functionality provides us with knowledge of many of the adaptations present in nature. Of note here is the catch phrase, “Art imitates nature”, which implies that much of humankind’s art may be based on a natural object. Some may ask, “Does it make sense to study the outermost layer of a plant?” Recent studies indicate that the appropriate answer is “Yes”.

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Universe of Dusty Galaxies

Por: | 12 de diciembre de 2013

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By Agnieszka Pollo, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

The expression ‘dusty universe’ is not uncommon in popular or even scientific writings, and we are certainly not suffering from lack of dust in everyday life. Grains of dust, in sizes of fractions of a micrometre, can be found not only on the Earth but also form 1% of the interstellar matter. However, to regard dusty galaxies as inert, immobile and insignificant would be a serious mistake; on the contrary, dust in cosmic space is a sign of activity, of creation and — quite literally — of life. Without interstellar dust, the Solar System itself cannot exist, let alone ourselves.

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Black Holes Push Away Heavyweight Jets

Por: | 11 de diciembre de 2013


By Bibiana Bonmatí, University of Barcelona Press

If you have a look at the Norma constellation, in the southern hemisphere, you could find 4U 1630-47, a binary system formed by a massive star and a black hole candidate that share matter. It is known that black holes launch relativistic jets both in stellar-mass binary systems and at the centres of galaxies, in what are known as quasars.

Although jets have been studied for decades, their composition remains uncertain. Now, research published in the journal Nature describes the detection of atomic nuclei in the relativistic jets from the black hole binary system 4U 1630-47.

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Parents of “Test Tube” Babies: Are They Super Moms and Dads?

Por: | 09 de diciembre de 2013


By Sofia Gameiro, University of Coimbra

The discovery of in vitro fertilization (IVF) at the end of the 1970s introduced a fundamental change in the way in which new family members can be created. Currently, more than two-hundred thousand children are conceived through IVF or other similar techniques every year. With more and more couples using IVF to conceive, it has become increasingly important to understand if and how families’ wellbeing is affected by the use of these techniques.


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