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Health - Materials Science - 04.02.2021
Safe to cross: low risk of coronavirus infection from high-touch surfaces
Safe to cross: low risk of coronavirus infection from high-touch surfaces
Surfaces which are frequently touched by many different people may be contaminated with the coronavirus, but the risk of infection via this route is low. However, regular collection of samples from door handles, buttons or keypads could be useful for monitoring the course of the pandemic. Have you ever tried pressing the button at a pedestrian crossing with your elbow?

Health - Pharmacology - 03.02.2021
Artificial aorta can reduce patients' blood pressure
Artificial aorta can reduce patients' blood pressure
Engineers at EPFL's Center for Artificial Muscles have developed a silicone aorta that can reduce how hard patients' hearts have to pump. Their breakthrough could offer a promising alternative to heart transplants. "Over 23 million people around the world suffer from heart failure. The disease is usually treated with a transplant, but because donated hearts are hard to come by, there is an ongoing need for alternative therapies.

Social Sciences - 03.02.2021
Marmoset Monkeys Eavesdrop On and Understand Conversations Between Other Marmosets
Marmoset Monkeys Eavesdrop On and Understand Conversations Between Other Marmosets
Marmoset monkeys perceive the vocal interactions between their conspecifics not just as a string of calls, but as coherent conversations. They also evaluate their content. These are the findings of a study by researchers at the University of Zurich which combined thermography methods with behavioral preference measures.

Health - Pharmacology - 03.02.2021
3D-printed bioresorbable airway stent
An ETH Zurich research team is using 3D printing to produce a new type of bioresorbable airway stent. This could greatly simplify the future treatment of upper airway obstruction. Narrowing of the trachea or the main bronchi due to injury or illness can end very badly. If patients get too little oxygen, they risk suffocating and often need medical help as quickly as possible.

Health - Pharmacology - 03.02.2021
Better poison dosages for better prostate cancer therapies
A given substance may be fundamental for life or may serve as a poison. All depends on the specific dose. At first glance, this somewhat paradoxical principle in medicine was first coined by the Swiss physician Paracelsus more than half a millennium ago when he stated: "All things are poison, and nothing is without poison.

Agronomy / Food Science - Social Sciences - 02.02.2021
What did the Swiss eat during the Bronze Age?
What did the Swiss eat during the Bronze Age?
Scientists from the University of Geneva and UPF have analysed the skeletons of several Bronze Age communities that lived in Western Switzerland in order to reconstruct the evolution of their diet. The Bronze Age (2200 to 800 BC) marked a decisive step in the technological and economic development of ancient societies.

Life Sciences - 02.02.2021
Unusual mutation causes defective sperm in boars
Unusual mutation causes defective sperm in boars
Researchers have found a gene mutation that causes the sperm of boars to immobilize. Their discovery will help pig breeders to exclude animals with this genetic defect from breeding in future. In pig farming, natural mating between a boar and a sow has become rare. It is much more common for sows to be artificially inseminated.

Pedagogy - 01.02.2021
Parental control apps behaving badly
Parental control apps behaving badly
Researchers from EPFL and Spain's IMDEA Software Institute and IMDEA Networks Institute , have found that many parental control applications collect and share data without consent, and fail to comply with regulatory requirements.

Chemistry - Environment - 29.01.2021
Replacing toxic chlorine and bromine
Replacing toxic chlorine and bromine
Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Mainz developed a new method to replace molecular chlorine and bromine in chemical synthesis with less toxic molecules. The technology helps to make chemical processes safer and more sustainable and to remediate contaminated soils. Chlorine and bromine in their molecular form (as Cl2 and Br2 molecules) are notoriously toxic and corrosive chemicals.

Earth Sciences - 29.01.2021
Witnesses to Earth's early history
Witnesses to Earth’s early history
Determining the composition of rock in the deepest layer of the Earth's mantle is impossible to do directly. But thanks to isotope measurements of volcanic rocks, ETH researchers are now able to show that the mantle is still home to material from the planet's earliest days. What exactly are the deepest parts of the Earth made of? Geoscientists apply highly sophisticated techniques in pursuit of this question.

Environment - Innovation - 29.01.2021
Testing the Blue Diversion Autarky toilet in situ
Testing the Blue Diversion Autarky toilet in situ
For three months, an extended family in South Africa tested the standalone Autarky toilet cubicle. Everyone was very happy with the quiet hideout. "I am really proud of our technology and can see huge potential in it", says Eva Reynaert, who was involved in the project and was one of the advisors during the field testing.

Health - Mathematics - 29.01.2021
On the trail of Sars-CoV-2 in cable cars
On the trail of Sars-CoV-2 in cable cars
Where do the greatest risks of infection lurk? How can you protect yourself and others even better? Scientists all over the world are working to expand knowledge about Covid-19 - including at Empa. Researchers are now using measurements and simulations to take a close look at cable cars and cabins in ski resorts.

Pharmacology - Health - 28.01.2021
New treatment helps patients with a spinal cord injury
Spinal cord injuries disrupt the mechanism by which our bodies regulate blood pressure. A team of Swiss and Canadian scientists have developed a treatment that allows patients to regain control of their blood pressure, using targeted electrical spinal-cord stimulation. No medication is required. The team's findings were published today in Nature.

Transport - 28.01.2021
Cucumber with twin
Cucumber with twin
Vegetables and fruits often have a long way to go on the supermarket shelf. How can quality be intelligently maintained on long journeys and possible spoilage prevented? In cooperation with Coop, Empa experts are developing a system that keeps an eye on freshness during transport - and at the same time allows optimization.

Life Sciences - Health - 28.01.2021
Risk-Taking Linked to Particular Brain Features
Risk-Taking Linked to Particular Brain Features
There is a common genetic and neurobiological basis for risky behavior - the genetic disposition for risk-taking is mapped in several areas of the brain, a UZH study shows. The study combines genetic information and brain scans from more than 25,000 people for the first time. Risky behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, speeding, or frequently changing sexual partners result in enormous health and economic consequences and lead to associated costs of an estimated 600 billion dollars a year in the US alone.

Physics - 28.01.2021
Physicists develop record-breaking source for single photons
Physicists develop record-breaking source for single photons
Researchers at the University of Basel and Ruhr University Bochum have developed a source of single photons that can produce billions of these quantum particles per second. With its record-breaking efficiency, the photon source represents a new and powerful building-block for quantum technologies. Quantum cryptography promises absolutely secure communications.

Life Sciences - Mathematics - 27.01.2021
A NEAT reduction of complex neuronal models accelerates brain research
A NEAT reduction of complex neuronal models accelerates brain research
Unlike their simple counterparts in artificial intelligence (AI) applications, neurons in the brain use dendrites - their intricate tree-like branches - to find relevant chunks of information. Now, neuroscientists from the University of Bern have discovered a new computational method to make complex dendrite models much simpler.

Environment - Life Sciences - 27.01.2021
Major discovery helps explain coral bleaching
Major discovery helps explain coral bleaching
An EPFL scientist has made a major breakthrough in the understanding of coral bleaching - a process that causes corals to lose their color and eventually leads to their death. The process is triggered by warmer ocean temperatures, and, according to the study, it begins much earlier than previously thought.

Physics - Chemistry - 27.01.2021
Size of helium nucleus measured more precisely than ever before
In experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, an international research collaboration with ETH Zurich involvement has measured the radius of the atomic nucleus of helium five times more precisely than ever before. With the aid of the new value, fundamental physical theories can be tested. After hydrogen, helium is the second most abundant element in the universe.

Physics - 26.01.2021
Physics challenges the optimal size of parliaments
Physics challenges the optimal size of parliaments
Analyzing a classic paper that has influenced the size of parliaments for almost half a century, an EPFL physicist discovers major flaws with its methodology, challenges its fundamental assumptions, and calls for a complete and careful re-think of its government-governing rule. What is the best size of a parliament? That is a question at the center of many countries today, including the 2020 referendum in Italy where almost 70% of voters selected to slash the number of members of parliament by about a third.
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