news from the lab 2012
Why are the planets of the inner Solar System dry and rocky, but the outer ones are not? An international team of researchers with participation of the University of Zurich discovered that a two-step formation process of the planets can explain the chronology and split in volatiles like water and isotope content of the inner and outer Solar System.
The TRAPPIST-1 star is home to the largest batch of roughly Earth-size planets ever found outside our solar system. An international study involving researchers from the Universities of Bern, Geneva and Zurich now shows that the exoplanets have remarkably similar densities, which provides clues about their composition.
Nerve cells communicate with one another via synapses. Neuroscientists at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have now found that these connections seem to be much more powerful than previously thought. The larger the synapse, the stronger the signal it transmits. These findings will enable a better understanding of how the brain functions and how neurological disorders arise.
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Researchers have elucidated a century-old mystery: how hydrogen destroys steels. A new mathematical model predicts this failure in the presence of the destructive atoms. A veritable gangrene for steels and other structural metals, hydrogen is one of the most important causes of ruptures in industrial parts, such as pipelines.
One year after the MIR submersibles dove into the depths of Lake Geneva, the elemo program is delivering its first scientific results. The operation will be extended with a campaign to make observations above the lake surface from a sensor-packed ultralight aircraft. The same experiments are planned above Lake Baikal in Russia.
A virtual character produces the same facial expressions as its user. It makes a video game, chat, or an animated film both fun and fast.
For those familiar with its language, the face reflects much about an individual's identity and emotional state. Scientists are developing a tool that will be able to use facial information to make the cars of the future safer and more comfortable. Today's "intelligent" cars, equipped with multiple sensors and algorithms, can react to emergency situations, regulate speed, assist with parking and respond to voice commands.
Scientists are producing hydrogen from sunlight, water and rust. They're paving the way for an economic and ecological solution for storing renewable energy. How can solar energy be stored so that it can be available any time, day or night, when the sun shining or not? EPFL scientists are developing a technology that can transform light energy into a clean fuel that has a neutral carbon footprint: hydrogen.
FBI, a camera system to recognize the genetic identity of fruit flies and track their movements will revolutionize the study of their behavior. An article on this advance is being published today in PLOS ONE. A genuine star of the laboratory, for several decades now the fruit fly has been the model organism for research, particularly in the field of genetics and development.
Controlling and modifying at will the transparency, electrical properties, and stiffness of a gel - such are the promises of a new discovery by physicists. This marks an important step for materials used in healthcare, high-tech, and the cosmetics industry. At the mention of gel, we immediately imagine extravagant hairstyles.
Is post-war industrial and pre-fab architecture worth preserving and renovating? To answer this question, architects conducted a three-year pioneering study into the restoration of modern buildings.
It may soon be possible to test a person for cancer with just a drop of their blood and a small machine. Scientists have developed a device for detecting the HSP70 protein, which is over-expressed in patients with many types of cancer. The objective: to make a diagnosis extremely early in the disease process, thereby improving outcomes for patients.
A cell phone application enables Indian farmers to better negotiate the sale of their harvests. Farmbook is designed for use by this population segment, where illiteracy is very common.
We use bleach, pasteurization, and UV radiation to purify water and food, without really understanding how they work. A laboratory has discovered the effect these common disinfectants have on viruses. Boiling water, chlorinating a swimming pool, bleaching your bathroom - everyone's familiar with common disinfection methods.
Residents of a new eco-development on the coast can better control and understand their energy usage, thanks to a system that allows outlets to communicate with each other through the power grid.
Researchers have developed an imaging technique that can provide in situ observations of the internal ear, an area which has until now been inaccessible. This groundbreaking work may finally make it possible to understand the mechanisms underlying hearing loss. What actually causes hearing loss in humans? And what are the best therapeutic approaches to this problem? Modern medicine hasn't yet been able to provide doctors with the right answers in many cases, because there has been no way to observe the tissue of the inner ear, without destroying it.
Experiments investigate processes inside volcanic materials that determine whether a volcano will erupt violently or mildly. In the experiments, an international team of scientists used a laser-based heating system to heat small pieces of volcanic material similarly to conditions present at the beginning of a volcanic eruption.
New data extracted from Greenland's glaciers show that methane in the atmosphere follows the waxing and waning of civilizations. Humans have been producing substantial amounts of greenhouse gases since long before the industrial revolution 2012. By studying the tiny amounts of gases trapped in air bubbles in Greenland's glaciers, researchers have been able to add details to an emerging picture of historical human induced environmental change that reaches as far back as the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty.
In gigantic server farms around the world, billions of database entries are queried every second. Researchers have developed a system that drastically improves the circulation of this flow of information.
EPFL researchers have opened the door to a new strategy to fight tuberculosis, the second leading cause of death from infectious disease after HIV. In a study published in EMBO Molecular Medicine on September 17th, EPFL professor Stewart Cole takes a hard look at the natural product pyridomycin, first reported in the 1950s, and determines exactly how it kills Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Researchers simulate an arid climate using greenhouse tunnels to study the effects of increased dryness on forage grown on mountain pastures.
Researchers develop nano-strips for inexpensive testing of mercury levels in our lakes and oceans with unprecedented sensitivity Mercury, when dumped in lakes and rivers, accumulates in fish, and often ends up on our plates. A Swiss-American team of researchers led by Francesco Stellacci at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Bartosz Grzybowski at Northwestern University has devised a simple, inexpensive system based on nanoparticles, a kind of nano-velcro, to detect and trap this toxic pollutant as well as others.
Although the wind may blow smoothly onto a wind turbine, it comes out the other end shredded into a complex collage of whorls, large and small. In a wind farm, the turbulent wake generated by the first row of turbines drives the turbines in the next rows, which produce up to 40% less power and suffer more from bumpier winds.