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.


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


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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How Philosophy Was Saved Thanks to a Slaughter

Por: | 29 de mayo de 2014


Professor Theodoris Pelegrinis, University of Athens

Ever since philosophy appeared (in the 6th century BCE), its fate has been insolubly linked to the operation of schools — not necessarily in the sense of buildings or shared spaces where philosophers would meet to discuss matters of their concern, but rather in the sense that any opinion on a given subject, no matter whose it might have been, could be challenged by somebody else, even though the challenger could well be — and usually was — a disciple of the former. Provided that the disciple had spotted some kind of structural weakness in his or her teacher’s approach, or in case he or she felt an innovative one was applicable, any opinion could be challenged.

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How Does the Brain Memorize a Sequence of Events?

Por: | 26 de mayo de 2014


By Robert Schmidt, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Walking from the hall to the kitchen may take a few seconds. Remembering this event is an ability we all expect to have, but this should not be taken for granted. Memorizing a sequence of events requires certain connections between nerve cells to undergo a long-term strengthening. This also happens in the brain of rats running along a certain path between sources of food — preferably not the path between your hall and your kitchen.

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Reliable Research through Biobanking

Por: | 22 de mayo de 2014


By Wolfgang Thasler, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich

The immense faith that patients have in their physicians greatly promotes the healing process, along with their hope to continue living. Sadly, in the case of advanced cancers, faith and hope do little.

Nevertheless, new knowledge about cancer gives rise to new hope. Studies have shown that with cancer, a damaged cell fails to disintegrate into its components and continues to replicate instead. Cell death in which the cell breaks into fragments is called apoptosis and this healthy process forms a vital balance with the complex healing process of regeneration. Signaling pathways strongly affect this balance. Researchers examining regeneration have been able to distinguish goodand bad factors within these signaling pathways. For example, the lack of a certain growth factor that improves liver regeneration seems to favor the development of liver cancer. Signaling pathways can malfunction in various ways and to different extents, and these malfunctions develop in various ways. This is why, apart from surgery to remove the cancerous part, there is no universal cure for cancer, and it is also why there are some cancers for which there is no cure.

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Graphene: The Future of Electronics Lies in Quantum Theory

Por: | 19 de mayo de 2014


By Adam Rycerz, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

Could solving the problems of theoretical physics, seemingly distant from reality, influence our daily life? The story of graphene, already called the wonder material, suggests that the answer is Yes.

Let’s consider one of the most relevant elements to human life, carbon. The best-known allotropes of carbon are diamond and graphite. Graphite, which is the more commonly found form, consists of separate layers, each only one atom thick, which have a honeycomb-like structure. These layers are relatively weakly bound to each other and separate easily — a property that makes writing possible, pencil-lead simply transferring to paper. In fact, graphite gets its name from the Greek word γράφω, which means to write. In 1984, Gordon W. Semenoff showed that electrons in a single layer of graphite are described by the Dirac equation in its simplest form, valid for particles in a two-dimensional world that have no mass. Isolating a single layer of graphite (later called graphene), however, seemed a remote possibility at that time. A breakthrough in our knowledge of different forms of carbon followed soon enough in the form of fullerenes (1985) and nanotubes (1990). But it took another 15 years to rid ourselves of the dogma that such a truly two-dimensional system cannot exist in our world. Finally, in 2004, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov from the University of Manchester succeeded in producing the first isolated graphene flakes.

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By Pietro Rocculi, University of Bologna

The alarming increase in the number of people who are obese in Western countries stands paradoxically in contrast with the number of starving or undernourished people in developing countries—500 million obese men and women (with forty million children overweight) compared to 827 million people starving or undernourished in developing countries, according to recent estimates. Yet both those in the West and those in developing countries are malnourished — in the first case because of consumption of nutrient-poor junk food and in the second because of the lack of food and other economic problems.

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Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: A Perspective from the Very Small

Por: | 12 de mayo de 2014


By Stefano Zacchini, University of Bologna

As a chemist, I have had to deal with the very small since the beginning of my studies. Although I started my research career as a molecular chemist at the University of Bologna, my interest has moved towards the tiny realm of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In particular, I focus on the possibility of shedding light into this nanoworld using the knowledge and experimental experience of large molecular metal clusters gained by chemists through the years. In fact, these clusters are “large” only in an atomic sense — some are so small that they can only be found at the very end of the nanoscale.

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