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Life Sciences - 21.06.2021
Mini-guts reveal crucial forces that shape the intestinal lining
Mini-guts reveal crucial forces that shape the intestinal lining
Using miniature guts grown in a dish and 3D biophysical modelling, FMI researchers and their collaborators have uncovered the forces that give the intestinal wall its classic brushlike appearance. The findings can help to understand how the gut takes form during development — and how this process goes awry in disease.

Campus - 18.06.2021
The secret to acquiring professional skills
The secret to acquiring professional skills
While it is important for students to work in groups during their studies, that is not enough for them to acquire many of the transversal skills needed in the professional world. A recent EPFL study highlights the need for engineering courses to explicitly address professional skills through a combination of theory and feedback.

Astronomy / Space Science - Environment - 18.06.2021
Scientists detect signatures of life remotely
Scientists detect signatures of life remotely
It could be a milestone on the path to detecting life on other planets: Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bern and of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS detect a key molecular property of all living organisms from a helicopter flying several kilometers above ground.

Life Sciences - Environment - 18.06.2021
Silent witnesses
Silent witnesses
Once of interest only to enthusiasts, ETH Zurich's Entomological Collection now offers researchers a treasure trove of hidden knowledge.   Four tightly closed doors protect the Entomological Collection of ETH Zurich from heat and daylight. The cold, dry air is the perfect environment for the two million insects that call these specimen drawers home - although it's not particularly comfortable for their human keepers.

Health - Life Sciences - 18.06.2021
Next-generation implants will be biodegradable and non-invasive
Next-generation implants will be biodegradable and non-invasive
EPFL engineers have developed a neural interface that disappears harmlessly in the body after several months and allows natural tissue to grow back. What's more, it can be implanted in a patient's blood vessel rather than inside the brain, thereby avoiding the need for invasive surgery. Some implants like pacemakers can last for years, while others wear out quickly due to technical weaknesses.

Life Sciences - Health - 17.06.2021
Slowed cell division causes microcephaly
Slowed cell division causes microcephaly
Scientists from the University of Geneva demonstrate how the mutation of a single gene can slow down cell division and lead to an abnormally small brain. The birth of a human being requires billions of cell divisions to go from a fertilised egg to a baby. At each of these divisions, the genetic material of the mother cell duplicates itself to be equally distributed between the two new cells.

Life Sciences - Environment - 17.06.2021
Detoxifiers from the landfill
Detoxifiers from the landfill
Bacteria from an Indian landfill could help eliminate contaminated chemicals. The focus is on pesticides such as lindane or brominated flame retardants, which accumulate in nature and in food chains. Researchers at Empa and Eawag used these bacteria to generate enzymes that can break down these dangerous chemicals.

Environment - Life Sciences - 17.06.2021
Excess nitrogen puts butterflies at risk
Excess nitrogen puts butterflies at risk
Nitrogen from agriculture, vehicle emissions and industry is endangering butterflies in Switzerland. The element is deposited in the soil via the air and has an impact on vegetation - to the detriment of the butterflies, as researchers at the University of Basel have discovered. More than half of butterfly species in Switzerland are considered to be at risk or potentially at risk.

Life Sciences - Health - 17.06.2021
Tailored optical stimulation for the blind
Tailored optical stimulation for the blind
Scientists in a European collaboration propose a personalized protocol for optimizing stimulation of optic nerve fibers, for the blind, which takes into account feedback from the viewer's brain. The protocol has been tested on artificial neural networks known to simulate the physiology of the entire visual system, from the eye to the visual cortex.

Health - Pharmacology - 16.06.2021
Immune defense: How immune cells are activated
Immune defense: How immune cells are activated
Immune cells protect our body against invading pathogens. The chemokine receptor CCR5 on the surface of T cells plays an important role in this process. However, CCR5 also is used by the HI-Virus as entrance gate into T cells. A research consortium led by the University of Basel has now deciphered the mechanism of CCR5 receptor activation.

Mathematics - 14.06.2021
Modeling the friction between pages in a book
Modeling the friction between pages in a book
Engineers at EPFL and École Polytechnique in France analyzed the friction between pages in a book and the mechanical force needed to bend them. Drawing on their experiments, they developed a new theoretical model for predicting the elasto-frictional behavior of stacked layers. It all started with a shaky washing machine.

Environment - 14.06.2021
When hydropower plants emit carbon dioxide
When hydropower plants emit carbon dioxide
Hydropower is considered to be CO2-neutral, but certain power plants in tropical regions produce large quantities of greenhouse gases. Researchers at Eawag have now studied how much carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere below the Kariba Dam in southern Africa. Such previously ignored emissions must be taken into account by future carbon budgets.

Life Sciences - Health - 11.06.2021
New glial cells discovered in the brain: Implications for brain repair
New glial cells discovered in the brain: Implications for brain repair
Neurons, nerve cells in the brain, are central players in brain function. However, a key role for glia, long considered support cells, is emerging. A research group at the University of Basel has now discovered two new types of glial cells in the brain, by unleashing adult stem cells from their quiescent state.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 11.06.2021
Understanding the evolution of viruses
Understanding the evolution of viruses
Researchers at ETH Zurich have recreated a key step in the evolutionary history of viruses in a laboratory experiment. They succeeded in remodeling a natural protein to create capsids capable of storing genetic material. Viruses have always had a major influence on life. They emerged a few billion years ago, precisely when is difficult to estimate.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 10.06.2021
Chamoli Disaster Could Happen Again
Chamoli Disaster Could Happen Again
Some four months ago, a devastating flood ravaged the Chamoli district in the Indian Himalayas, killing over 200 people. The flood was caused by a massive landslide, which also involved a glacier. Researchers at the University of Zurich, the WSL and ETH Zurich have now analyzed the causes, scope and impact of the disaster as part of an international collaboration.

Social Sciences - 09.06.2021
Language Extinction Triggers Loss of Unique Medicinal Knowledge
Language Extinction Triggers Loss of Unique Medicinal Knowledge
Indigenous peoples pass on their knowledge of medicinal plants orally. If their languages go extinct, valuable medical knowledge will be lost. A study by the University of Zurich estimates that 75 percent of the world's medicinal plant applications are only known in one language. Language is one of our species' most important skills, as it has enabled us to occupy nearly every corner of the planet.

Physics - 09.06.2021
Microscope reveals the secrets of a material's structure
Microscope reveals the secrets of a material's structure
Scientists have made an important discovery about the structure of barium titanate, a material used in everyday objects. Their findings refute existing theories on the displacement of the material's atoms.  Barium titanate is a ferroelectric material used in nearly all electronic devices - computers, smartphones and even electric cars.

Innovation - Career - 09.06.2021
Innovation projects can reinvent the UN
Innovation projects can reinvent the UN
A study conducted by researchers suggests innovative projects carried out within UN entities can drive institutional change and foster a culture of entrepreneurship in the entire organization. Researchers at the University of Geneva demonstrate that innovative projects spearheaded by United Nations (UN) country offices are remodeling the institution and expanding its role.

Physics - Chemistry - 09.06.2021
Expanding the limits of ferroelectrics
Chiara Gattinoni, a materials theorist and Marie Curie Fellow at ETH Zurich, uses the "Piz Daint" supercomputer at CSCS to investigate a special class of materials: ferroelectrics. In the future, these materials could constitute the heart of low-energy-consuming, miniaturised data storage in electrical devices.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 09.06.2021
Research efforts to reduce pesticide contamination
Research efforts to reduce pesticide contamination
With the latest analytical methods, potentially toxic substances can be detected even at very low concentrations. However, the aim of research is not merely to document such contamination but also to understand how it occurs in streams and groundwater, and to propose mitigation measures. In agricultural areas, large volumes of water from fields, roads and paths enter streams via manholes or other artificial drainage systems.
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