news from the lab 2015




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Health - Dec 6
Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, as a preventive measure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study by the University of Zurich now shows that this measure is recommended too often, as current guidelines fail to take into account the risks of side effects. Even healthy people who don't suffer from a cardiovascular disease are prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, if they meet certain risk criteria.
Life Sciences - Dec 5

In a study published in Neuron, researchers have demonstrated how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, unbiased, brain-wide activity maps of behaving mice.

Environment - Dec 3
Environment

The water in Swiss streams is contaminated with numerous micropollutants. However, very little research has been carried out to determine how these trace substances affect organisms in bodies of water.

Business - Dec 4
Business

Farmers in developing countries often rely heavily on their yearly harvest to feed their families. A bad crop can have severe consequences for their livelihood.

Environment - Nov 29
Environment

A new study found two types of climatic connection between the North Atlantic and Antarctica. One is a rapid atmospheric channel and the other a much slower connection through the ocean.


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Life Sciences - Physics - 23.12.2015
From gigantic planets to tiny images
From gigantic planets to tiny images
From the smallest ever printed colour image and the world's largest plant seeds to the darkest matter in the infinite expanse of the universe - over the past year, ETH research has focussed on all animate and inanimate aspects of the natural world, presenting fascinating results and ingenious inventions.

Physics - Computer Science / Telecom - 21.12.2015
Faster entanglement of distant quantum dots
Faster entanglement of distant quantum dots
Entanglement between distant quantum objects is an important ingredient for future information technologies. Researchers at the ETH have now developed a method with which such states can be created a thousand times faster than before. In many future information and telecommunication technologies, a remarkable quantum effect called entanglement will likely play an important role.

Health - Life Sciences - 21.12.2015
Eyes turn into skin: how inflammation can change the fate of cells
Eyes turn into skin: how inflammation can change the fate of cells
21.12.15 - EPFL scientists have found that chronic inflammation can cause regenerating cells to grow into new, aberrant types; this is called metaplasia, and is a disorder linked to prolonged inflammation. The study highlights a new concept of chronic inflammation and could lead to better treatments.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 20.12.2015
A multitool for cells
A multitool for cells
Cells have an infallible sense of smell that tells them which direction to grow in to move closer to the source of a scent. ETH researchers have now learned how this sense of smell works. A frequent problem faced by cells is that they are surrounded by a promising cloud of scent and must determine the direction of its source.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 18.12.2015
Scientists predict activity of human genes
Scientists predict activity of human genes
Genetically identical sibling cells do not always behave the same way. So far this has been attributed to random molecular reactions. Now systems biologists of the University of Zurich have discovered an overlooked consequence of the spatial separation of cells into a nucleus and a cytoplasm. Building on top of this insight they could predict with supercomputers the activity of genes in individual human cells.

Life Sciences - Health - 18.12.2015
Architecture of mTOR protein complex solved
Architecture of mTOR protein complex solved
It has long been known that the protein TOR - Target of Rapamycin - controls cell growth and is involved in the development of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Through a collaborative effort scientists from the ETH Zürich and from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have now succeeded in revealing the unique architecture of the mammalian TOR complex 1 (mTORC1) in detail.

Electroengineering - Physics - 18.12.2015
Spintronics, low-energy electricity take a step closer
Spintronics, low-energy electricity take a step closer
18.12.15 - EPFL scientists have discovered a new topological insulator that could be used in future electronic technologies. Topological insulators are recently discovered materials that differ from the familiar insulators and semiconductors in many ways. While topological insulators are fascinating for fundamental physics, they could one day enable electricity with less energy loss, spintronics, and perhaps even quantum computing.

Health - Life Sciences - 15.12.2015
Treating colon cancer with vitamin A
Treating colon cancer with vitamin A
15.12.15 - Scientists at EPFL identify the biological pathway behind the growth of colon cancer, and block it with vitamin A. A leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, colon cancer is famously resistant to treatment. There are many reasons for this, but one has to do with a group of persisting cancer cells in the colon that cause relapses.

Physics - 15.12.2015
The tiniest color picture ever printed
Researchers of ETH Zurich and ETH start-up company Scrona achieve a new world record! They have printed a color picture depicting clown fishes around their sea anemone home.

Business / Economics - 14.12.2015
Using algorithms to make a campaign go viral
Using algorithms to make a campaign go viral
14.12.15 - SThAR, an EPFL spin-off, draws on large quantities of tele data to identify where and when to deliver a message most effectively.

Physics - Life Sciences - 11.12.2015
Diagnostics with birefringence
Diagnostics with birefringence
ETH researchers led by Raffaele Mezzenga have developed a new diagnostic method. It is based on Birefringence, the ability of substances to change the polarisation state of light. With this method, doctors around the world can easily, rapidly and reliably detect malaria, Ebola or HIV to name only a few.

Earth Sciences - 11.12.2015
Upside-down lightning strikes
Upside-down lightning strikes
11.12.15 - Upward lightning strikes initiate on the ground and head skyward. These discharges, which usually begin at the top of tall and slender structures, pose a real risk for wind turbines.

Health - Life Sciences - 09.12.2015
Using
Using "big data" to fight flu
Thanks to "big data", researchers have identified new molecules that are instrumental in the replication of the flu virus. If these host proteins are blocked, influenza viruses are unable to multiply as effectively. The international study therefore makes a significant contribution towards the development of new treatments and flu drugs.

Life Sciences - Health - 09.12.2015
Out now: A microscope that sees live cells in 3D
Out now: A microscope that sees live cells in 3D
EPFL spin-off Nanolive has launched the 3D Cell Explorer, a microscope for observing living cells in 3D.

Civil Engineering - Social Sciences - 07.12.2015
City dwellers travel more but pollute less
City dwellers travel more but pollute less
Statistics show that urbanites travel thousands of miles during their leisure time. Is it an urgent need for greenery?

Computer Science / Telecom - Sport Sciences - 04.12.2015
Playing tennis on a smart court
Playing tennis on a smart court
Technis, an EPFL start-up, is bringing augmented reality to the tennis court. Their newly developed technology could be used for other sports in the future.

Astronomy / Space Science - Physics - 03.12.2015
Successful launch of LISA Path-finder
Successful launch of LISA Path-finder
After the successful lift-off of the Vega rocket in French Guiana, the LISA Pathfinder satellite uncoupled from its booster rocket at approximately 7.00 a.m. this morning. The satellite will spend the next 9 months floating in space. There it will enable scientists to test key measurement techniques for the detection of gravitational waves, which Albert Einstein predicted about 100 years ago in his general theory of relativity.

Computer Science / Telecom - 02.12.2015
All-terrain robot for nuclear decommissioning
All-terrain robot for nuclear decommissioning
ROVéo is a robot whose unique four-wheel design allows it to climb over obstacles up to two-thirds its height.

Health - Life Sciences - 01.12.2015
Genes for a longer, healthier life found
Genes for a longer, healthier life found
Out of a 'haystack' of 40,000 genes from three different organisms, scientists at ETH Zurich and a research consortium in Jena have found genes that are involved in physical ageing. If you influence only one of these genes, the healthy lifespan of laboratory animals is extended - and possibly that of humans, too.

Psychology - 01.12.2015
Making backup plans can be a self-fulfilling prophecy
Making backup plans can be a self-fulfilling prophecy
Is having a Plan B always a good idea? Or can these "safety nets" actually make you less likely to achieve your goals? Psychologists from the University of Zurich propose a new theoretical framework for studying the effects of backup plans. According to their model, the more effort people put into making backup plans, the more distracting and harmful those backup plans can become.
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