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.

Cancer’s Chromosomal Chaos

Por: | 22 de julio de 2014


By Geert Kops, University Medical Center Utrecht

This year, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of an astonishing prediction by one of the great biologists of the past. Theodor Boveri had been observing the many ways in which the development of a sea urchin embryo could go awry when an egg was fertilized by multiple sperm cells. He noticed that those eggs made many errors in how they distributed the chromosomes during the first cell divisions and he deduced that the problems with development were caused by the wrong combination of chromosomes ending up in cells of the embryo. Surely, he thought, these chromosomes must contain information that dictates how a cell should behave. Knowing that another German biologist, David von Hansemann, had seen tumor cells with abnormal amounts of chromosomes, Boveri did what all great scientist do: he merged the two seemingly unrelated observations. Boveri realized that tumor cells might be tumor cells because they lost certain chromosomes that carried information on how to behave.

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By Carles Mancho, University of Barcelona

Virtual tools are helping art historians in Barcelona to “reconstruct” the isolated church interiors where romanesque murals once appeared, in order to visualize their scattered pieces as an integral whole. With the new tools and the creation of the Virtual Romanesque Documentation Centre (Ars Picta), Spain’s cultural heritage is now viewable by everyone everywhere. Problems of remote location, difficult access and dispersal to the world’s museums and similar obstacles are being minimized.

Catalan painter Joan Vallhonrat had an unpleasant surprise in the summer of 1919. He was making his second visit to the castle and church of Santa Maria de Mur (Pallars Jussà, Catalonia) to finish the colour reproduction of the magnificent 12th century Romanesque paintings there. The trip was difficult and long because there were no roads. Yet when he arrived in the isolated location he was surprised — and shocked — to discover an antiquarian and his team doing something unexpected: they were removing the mural paintings from the walls.

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Quantum Mechanics Returns to Ancient Greece

Por: | 14 de julio de 2014



By Frédéric Chevy, Ecole Normale Supérieure

Image: Artist's view of atoms in an optical lattice. When the atomic density is extremely high, the atoms block each other’s way, and atoms are stuck at the bottom of their optical wells.

For a hundred years now, we have known that some compounds lose their electrical resistance at low temperatures, a phenomenon known as superconductivity. Electrical current flows without resistance in these materials, offering unique possibilities such as carrying electrical current without loss or storing electrical energy for a nearly infinite time. However, even for the “hottest” compounds (known as high critical temperature superconductors), superconductivity only happens below about 150 degrees Celsius, a temperature way too low for large-scale practical applications.

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Evaluating the Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Por: | 10 de julio de 2014


By Alessandra Bendini, University of Bologna

Have you ever found yourself looking to buy a bottle of vegetable oil at the supermarket only to find yourself staring at the display of many different products without being able to choose one? If you look long enough, you may find yourself going from seed oil to pomace olive oil, to olive oil, and in the end, to extra virgin olive oil. Consumers from the Mediterranean area, based on their cultural heritage and traditions, may choose to buy a type of oil derived from olives. Similarly, well-informed consumers may choose virgin olive oil for its nutritional, health and sensory properties.

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How to Be on Time: Internal Clock Lessons from Blue-Green Algae

Por: | 07 de julio de 2014

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By Stefanie Hertel and Anne Rediger, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

“Turn the night into day!” Are these not the mottos of our modern times? To party the night away or, for unfortunate individuals, to work at night is now the norm. In doing so, however, we encounter an opponent that should not be underestimated — the internal clock — which governs the daily rhythm, from gene expression and metabolism to behavior of not only humans but also insects, plants, and unicellular cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae). As such, the internal clock is biologically fundamental — a part of life like reproduction or cell divisions. Therefore, an understanding of the underlying mechanism is highly relevant to human health and quality of life.

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Raising Gaia, Europe’s Brainchild

Por: | 30 de junio de 2014


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


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


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


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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