news from the lab 2016


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Physics/Materials Science - Microtechnics/Electroengineering
22.12.2016
The fight against creeping cables
The fight against creeping cables
Switzerland's overhead power lines are showing signs of old age and can be damaged by power surges. But how long will they actually last? Empa researchers have developed a tool to keep tabs on the aging process.
Environment/Sustainable Development - Life Sciences
22.12.2016
Global warming disrupts fish stocks
Global warming disrupts fish stocks
The global catches of fishes would largely benefit from achieving the 1.5°C global warming target.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
22.12.2016
Forces at play: A new infection route for bacteria
Forces at play: A new infection route for bacteria
Snapshots from a Molecular Dynamics simulation of a single shigella toxin particle binding to its lipid partners in the vesicle membrane (side and top views).
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
21.12.2016
Aging & cancer: An enzyme protects chromosomes from oxidative damage
Aging & cancer: An enzyme protects chromosomes from oxidative damage
EPFL scientists have identified a protein that caps chromosomes during cell division and protects them from oxidative damage and shortening, which are associated with aging and cancer. When cells divide, they pack up all of their genetic material in the tightly wrapped chromosomes. The ends of our chromosomes have a unique structure, named a telomere.
Life Sciences
21.12.2016
Store and Supply - How the Brain Saves Time
Store and Supply - How the Brain Saves Time
Neurons in the brain store RNA molecules - DNA gene copies - in order to rapidly react to stimuli. This storage dramatically accelerates the production of proteins. This is one of the reasons why neurons in the brain can adapt quickly during learning processes. The recent results of a research group at the University of Basel's Biozentrum have been published in the current issue of ‘Neuron'.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
19.12.2016
How complex cells originated
How complex cells originated
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Mitochondria are the ‘power plants' of complex cells. In order to provide the cell with energy they need protein building blocks, which are imported from the outside. Over billions of years the ‘protein import machines' necessary for this process have developed differently than previously assumed, as biochemists in Bern have discovered.
Physics/Materials Science - Chemistry
16.12.2016
Towards energy-saving data storage
Towards energy-saving data storage
A new material retains its special magnetic properties even at room temperature A new material could become the basis for future data storage devices, since it may enable significant reductions in energy demands in comparison to present-day hard drives. This is a material from the class of so-called magnetoelectric multiferroics, whose distinguishing characteristic is that their magnetic and electrical properties are coupled to each other.
Life Sciences - History/Archeology
16.12.2016
Battlefield of the sexes
Battlefield of the sexes
How the differences between the sexes evolve depends not only on which parts of the genome are sex-specifically active. The question also arises concerning the sex in which such changes take place. ETH researchers demonstrate this using a closely related pair of plants. Scientists have been asking a fundamental question ever since the time of Darwin: how do the different sexes evolve when the genes of females and males are for the most part the same? Take the example of humans: a small but obviously important genetic difference between women and men is that a man has a Y chromosome.
Psychology
13.12.2016
Sleep helps process traumatic experiences
Sleep helps process traumatic experiences
Does sleep help process stress and trauma? Or does it actually intensify emotional reactions and memories of the event? This previously unanswered question is highly relevant for the prevention of trauma-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How extremely distressing experiences are processed right at the outset can influence the further course and development of posttraumatic stress disorders.
Mathematics - Event
10.12.2016
From chance to order
From chance to order
In Nymphenburg on Friday, the ETH probabilist Wendelin Werner was awarded the Heinz Gumin Prize, the highest-value mathematics prize in Germany.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
08.12.2016
New weapon against Diabetes
New weapon against Diabetes
Researchers have used the simplest approach yet to produce artificial beta cells from human kidney cells. Like their natural model, the artificial cells act as both sugar sensors and insulin producers. Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.
Medicine/Pharmacology
07.12.2016
"Pulling" bacteria out of blood
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection. This involves the blood of patients being mixed with magnetic iron particles, which bind the bacteria to them after which they are removed from the blood using magnets.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
07.12.2016
Miraculous proliferation
Miraculous proliferation
Bacteria able to shed their cell wall assume new, mostly spherical shapes. ETH researchers have shown that these cells, known as L-forms, are not only viable but that their reproductive mechanisms may even correspond to those of early life forms. Researchers from a group led by ETH professor Martin Loessner discovered a few years ago that rod-shaped Listeria can become spherical.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
07.12.2016
Gene
Gene "bookmarking" regulates the fate of stem cells
A protein that stays attached on chromosomes during cell division plays a critical role in determining the type of cell that stem cells can become. The discovery, made by EPFL scientists, has significant implications for stem cell biology and their use in medicine. When cells divide, DNA is neatly wrapped up into chromosomes, and the normal expression of genes into proteins stops until the new cells are formed.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Social Sciences
06.12.2016
Honey bee teenagers speed up the ageing process of their elders
Honey bee teenagers speed up the ageing process of their elders
Bern, 06.12.2016 - Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies are complex societies, in which work is not distributed by a central power. How tasks are allocated among workers is still poorly understood. A research team from the Swiss Bee Research Center at Agroscope and the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern (both Switzerland), discovered that young adults influence this process by promoting older individuals to perform duties outside the hive, which shortens their life expectancy.
Chemistry
05.12.2016
Flexibility increases water resistance
Flexibility increases water resistance
Butterfly wings are a prime example of how flexible and elastic materials can be extremely water-repellent. The relationship between elasticity and water resistance has now been described for the first time by researchers at ETH Zurich. The new finding could help to improve water-repellent textiles for use in tents or clothing.
Physics/Materials Science - Medicine/Pharmacology
02.12.2016
High-precision magnetic field sensing
High-precision magnetic field sensing
Scientists have developed a highly sensitive sensor to detect tiny changes in strong magnetic fields. The sensor may find widespread use in medicine and other areas. Researchers from the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, which is operated jointly by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, have succeeded in measuring tiny changes in strong magnetic fields with unprecedented precision.
Environment/Sustainable Development - Life Sciences
01.12.2016
Intensification of Land Use Leads to the Same Species Everywhere
Intensification of Land Use Leads to the Same Species Everywhere
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Intensive use of grasslands by humans reduces species diversity and makes the landscape more monotonous, so that the same species end up everywhere. Nature is then no longer able to provide us with many essential ‘services', which range from soil formation for food production to pest control.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
30.11.2016
A method for storing vaccines at room temperature
A method for storing vaccines at room temperature
Several simple and inexpensive techniques make it possible to store antiviral-vaccines at room temperature for several months.
Medicine/Pharmacology
30.11.2016
An agent used to treat psoriasis may be aimed at the wrong target
An agent used to treat psoriasis may be aimed at the wrong target
Common psoriasis, also called psoriasis vulgaris, is an inflammatory skin disease that is characterized by severely scaling skin in areas ranging from small to palm-sized. The disease is estimated to affect between two and three percent of all Europeans. The cause is said to be immune system malfunctions: the underlying mechanism involves the immune cells reacting to skin cells.
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