news from the lab 2016


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Environment - 17.05.2016
The shape of cities shapes the weather
The shape of cities shapes the weather
17. The features that make cities unique are important to understanding how cities affect weather and disperse air pollutants, researchers highlight in a new study. Compared to their surroundings, cities can be hot - hot enough to influence the weather. Industrial, domestic, and transportation-related activities constantly release heat, and after a warm day, concrete surfaces radiate stored heat long into the night.

Physics - Chemistry - 13.05.2016
Physicists Measure van der Waals Forces of Individual Atoms for the First Time
Physicists Measure van der Waals Forces of Individual Atoms for the First Time
Physicists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the University of Basel have succeeded in measuring the very weak van der Waals forces between individual atoms for the first time. To do this, they fixed individual noble gas atoms within a molecular network and determined the interactions with a single xenon atom that they had positioned at the tip of an atomic force microscope.

Physics - Materials Science - 12.05.2016
How nanoparticles flow through the environment
How nanoparticles flow through the environment
Carbon nanotubes remain attached to materials for years while titanium dioxide and nanozinc are rapidly washed out of cosmetics and accumulate in the ground. Researchers from the National Research Programme 'Opportunities and Risks of Nanomaterials' (NRP 64) have developed a new model to track the flow of the most important nanomaterials in the environment.

Life Sciences - 10.05.2016
Bacterial Individualism: A Survival Strategy for Hard Times
Bacterial Individualism: A Survival Strategy for Hard Times
10. No two bacteria are identical - even when they are genetically the same. A new study reveals the conditions under which bacteria become individualists and how they help their group grow when times get tough. Whether you are a human or a bacterium, your environment determines how you can develop.

Health - Life Sciences - 09.05.2016
Diagnosing Alzheimer's earlier rather than later
Diagnosing Alzheimer's earlier rather than later
09. Looking into the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, scientists led by EPFL have found clues that could help doctors diagnose or even treat Alzheimer's disease in its early stages. A hallmark of Alzheimer's disease is the appearance of plaques in the brain. The plaques are gradually made up by the aggregation of a small protein called amyloid-beta or "Abeta".

Health - Chemistry - 05.05.2016
Intestinal worms boost immune system in a surprising way
Intestinal worms boost immune system in a surprising way
05. While studying worm infections, EPFL scientists have discovered a surprising ability of the immune system. In order to fight invading pathogens, the immune system uses "outposts" throughout the body, called lymph nodes. These are small, centimeter-long organs that filter fluids, get rid of waste materials, and trap pathogens, e.g. bacteria or viruses.

Life Sciences - Health - 04.05.2016
Your brain suppresses perception of heartbeat, for your own good
Your brain suppresses perception of heartbeat, for your own good
04. EPFL researchers have discovered that the human brain suppresses the sensory effects of the heartbeat. They believe that this mechanism prevents internal sensations from interfering with the brain's perception of the external world. This mechanism could also have something to do with anxiety disorders.

Health - 03.05.2016
Yoga and Aquatic Exercise Can Help Combat MS symptoms
Yoga and Aquatic Exercise Can Help Combat MS symptoms
Exercise can have a positive influence on certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis: Patients who do yoga and aquatic exercise suffer less from fatigue, depression and paresthesia, as reported by researchers from the University of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics Basel in a joint study with colleagues in Iran.

Physics - Chemistry - 02.05.2016
Nuclear Pores Captured on Film
Nuclear Pores Captured on Film
Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed "living" nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published , the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular "tentacles" inside the pore.

Environment - Innovation - 02.05.2016
Using CO2 for heating and cooling in urban areas
Using CO2 for heating and cooling in urban areas
02. Carbon dioxide is commonly used as an industrial liquid refrigerant but could also be effective in heating and cooling buildings in urban areas.

Physics - Materials Science - 02.05.2016
Quantum Sensors for High-Precision Magnetometry of Superconductors
Quantum Sensors for High-Precision Magnetometry of Superconductors
Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel have developed a new method that has enabled them to image magnetic fields on the nanometer scale at temperatures close to absolute zero for the first time. They used spins in special diamonds as quantum sensors in a new kind of microscope to generate images of magnetic fields in superconductors with unrivalled precision.

Life Sciences - Health - 28.04.2016
A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs
A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs
28. By administering nicotinamide riboside to elderly mice, EPFL researchers restored their organs' ability to regenerate and prolonged their lives. This method has potential for treating a number of degenerative diseases. Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is pretty amazing. It has already been shown in several studies to be effective in boosting metabolism.

Astronomy / Space Science - 26.04.2016
Switzerland sends chocolate into space
Switzerland sends chocolate into space
26. In addition to high precision and a desire to tidy things up, another Swiss value enters the space world: milk chocolate.

Social Sciences - Law - 26.04.2016
The law enforcement system is ill-prepared for dying prisoners
The law enforcement system is ill-prepared for dying prisoners
In Switzerland, an increasing number of offenders are aging and dying in prison. Penal institutions need to better adjust to this situation, and uniform rules are needed to ensure a dignified end of life in prison.

Materials Science - 25.04.2016
Cycling helmets with optimum ventilation
Cycling helmets with optimum ventilation
Any cyclist who wears a helmet knows the feeling: heat builds up under your helmet and the sweat starts to flow, especially in summer. As a result, many cyclists will take a risk and not even wear a helmet. A research team at Empa has now studied the flow of heat under cycling helmets in detail - the first step towards "sweat-free" protective headgear.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 22.04.2016
The gates of serotonin: cracking the workings of a notorious receptor
The gates of serotonin: cracking the workings of a notorious receptor
22. EPFL scientists have elucidated for the first time how a notoriously elusive serotonin receptor functions with atom-level detail. The receptor transmits electrical signals in neurons and is involved in various disorders, meaning that the discovery opens the way for new treatments. Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter, regulating mood, appetite, sleep, memory, learning, and other functions by binding to dedicated receptor proteins.

Environment - Life Sciences - 21.04.2016
How effective is fish stocking in Swiss lakes?
How effective is fish stocking in Swiss lakes?
In the last century, the natural reproduction of whitefish and Arctic char in several Swiss lakes was adversely affected by high levels of nutrient inputs. So far, stocking measures have been implemented in efforts to support fish populations and maintain yields. The effectiveness of these measures varies according to the particular species and lake.

Environment - 20.04.2016
Using turbulence to keep dams clean
Using turbulence to keep dams clean
20. Sediment builds up in reservoir water and can prevent dams from operating properly. EPFL researchers have come up with a method of keeping sediment in suspension and allowing it be flushed out. All dams on earth, from the Mauvoisin Dam in Valais Canton to the Xiaowan Dam in China, have the same problem: sediment accumulating in the reservoir.

Health - Innovation - 19.04.2016
Protective suit against Ebola and future epidemics
Protective suit against Ebola and future epidemics
19. Following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, EPFL is joining forces with Geneva University Hospitals and the University of Geneva to develop a new protective suit.

Physics - Chemistry - 15.04.2016
A single-atom magnet breaks new ground for future data storage
A single-atom magnet breaks new ground for future data storage
15. Scientists at EPFL and ETH Zurich have built a single-atom magnet that is the most stable to-date.
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