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.

The Magic Bullet: Heat-Seeking Drugs

Por: | 28 de abril de 2014

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By Lars H. Lindner, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich

Image: Drug release from a temperature-sensitive liposome after heating from 37 to 41 °C.

The magic bullet. Scientists in the sixties believed they had discovered this when they prepared small bubbles composed of natural components of the cell membrane. These artificial vesicles, named liposomes, can be made simply by mixing natural lipid molecules. This leads to liposomes with an aqueous interior forming spontaneously. Drugs can easily be incorporated in the interior of the liposomes, raising the possibility that drugs can be transported specifically to their target. Such a drug delivery strategy would improve therapy, especially in cancer treatment where the patients’ life quality is significantly compromised by the severe systemic side effects of conventional treatment.

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Plants Solving the Da Vinci Code

Por: | 24 de abril de 2014

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By Henrik Jönsson, Lund University

“Sunflower seeds grow in opposing spirals. Can you guess the ratio of each rotation's diameter to the next?”The number that Professor Robert Langdon, the main character of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, is asking his students for is the golden ratio, or 1.6180339887(...). How can it be that the symmetric patterns seen in plants connect to this almost magical number? With the help of new microscopy technology and the use of mathematical modelling, scientists have today started to resolve this question in great detail.

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By Matthew Bolton, London School of Economics

What can a study of landmine clearance tell us about the countries, their values and the national policies behind these efforts? Apparently quite a lot.

The nature of armed conflict is changing. Globalization and privatization have produced conflicts that incorporate non-state actors like rebels, fundamentalist networks and organized crime and link with global flows of information, finance and illicit trade.

As governments realize that managing the insecurity from these conflicts is not as simple as sending a tank division or bombing raids, they have developed responses that mirror the networked, privatized and globalized nature of such wars.

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By Ewa Zuba-Surma, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

From the time of the ancient Greeks, people have always dreamed about ambrosia — the food of the gods, bestowing immortality. Today, we still ask whether any of our inventions, medicines or the benefits of civilization have become such a blessing and fulfilled the dream. I don’t think so, unfortunately.

But the 20th and 21st centuries have brought us several outstanding discoveries that significantly extend human life. I will only mention two of them, representing distinct and important groups of inventions: those directly restoring healthy homeostasis, or stability (such as antibiotics applied in standard therapies); and those leading indirectly to the development of novel therapeutic approaches. The latter group includes the identification and characterization of both the structure and role of nucleic acids. This became the cornerstone of a multitude of scientific and medical inventions and eventually enabled us to decipher the complete human genome. However, despite the knowledge emerging from the identification of genes responsible for several disorders, we are still unable to prevent and treat them: in other words, we are still pursuing our quest for the best therapeutic approaches.

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What Helps Immigrant Youth Succeed in Society?

Por: | 14 de abril de 2014


By Anne K. Reitz, Columbia University

Migration is at the heart of many current social, economic and political debates in Europe. This is not surprising, given that in some European countries, including the UK, Spain and Germany, the number of foreign-born residents and their children is higher than ever before, making up more than 10% of the total population. Policymakers have realized that this change in the composition of the population brings new challenges as well as opportunities. However, the big and yet unsolved question is this: How to realize the full potential of immigration? The first important step is to focus on immigrant youth, because most of their potential is yet to unfold and their future is linked to the future sustainability and prosperity of our society.

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Tolerance, Experience and Morality

Por: | 10 de abril de 2014


By Dennis Badenhop, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Do you believe that one should work hard or enjoy life? How important is it to keep promises? Is progressive taxation — higher taxes for the affluent — justified? Whatever your answer may be, it is likely that some others will see those answers as a mere expression of your taste or attitude and not something to be taken seriously. Such moral sceptics tend to view political and ethical debates about what’s good or bad, right or wrong, as an exchange of mere opinion. This philosophy of taste, they believe, engenders tolerance. However, this notion of tolerance can prove fatal for our democratic commitment to rational public debates on matters of society. For starters, moral sceptics tend to forget that if everything in the realm of values is a matter of taste, so is tolerance. In the face of ethical dissensus, tolerance is only the second-best option. We tolerate only what we cannot accept, possibly because of its deviation from our own perspective. Interestingly, when it comes to non-moral subjects, we are open to entertaining the option of empirical enquiry to achieve a common understanding of the world; we do not find the need to resort to tolerance. However, such an approach is not considered feasible within the realm of ethics. In fact, according to the “taste theory”, there is no single moral world that we could share a common understanding about.

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How Does Earth’s Magnetic Field Reverse?

Por: | 07 de abril de 2014


By François Petrelis, Ecole Normale Supérieure

Earth’s magnetic field has been used for a long time to find north using a compass. As a good approximation, Earth’s magnetic field can be visualised as a magnetic dipole, with the South Magnetic Pole presently located near Earth’s geographic North Pole, and the North Magnetic Pole near the Earth’s geographic South Pole. This magnetic field is generated by the flow of liquid metal in the earth’s liquid core. Since this liquid conducts electricity (it is, in part, molten iron), it is able to generate currents and thus a magnetic field at the expense of some of the energy of its motion — this is the dynamo effect.

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By Julia Schaumburg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Let us assess the breakdown risk of a building. Most of us would consider specific individual factors such as engineering statics and the age of the building, and others would also include environmental parameters such as the weather and the territory in the area where it stands. It is equally important, however, to identify the load-bearing walls of the building, and to investigate and monitor their condition within the system of the object’s other components. The breakdown of one load-bearing wall may bring down the others and therefore the entire building. Being blind to possible domino effects in the maintenance of buildings might lead to catastrophic consequences.

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