news from the lab 2017


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Earth Sciences - Media
24.03.2017
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) The striking North Face of the Bernese Alps is the result of a steep rise of rocks from the depths following a collision of two tectonic plates.
Life Sciences - Mathematics
23.03.2017
Fighting malaria through metabolism
Fighting malaria through metabolism
EPFL scientists have fully modeled the metabolism of the deadliest malaria parasite. The model offers unprecedented tools for developing a new generation of antimalarial therapies to overcome drug resistance. Image: Computational analysis of the malaria parasites' metabolism aids in the understanding of observed phenotypes.
Astronomy - Earth Sciences
22.03.2017
Sunbathing meteoroids
Sunbathing meteoroids
When a meteoroid travels in space, solar radiation leaves distinctive imprints on its outer layer. Together with colleagues, ETH researcher Antoine Roth has developed novel analytical techniques to detect these imprints, allowing the team to reconstruct meteorites' space journeys. The inconspicuous, small stone that was analysed with high-tech equipment is named Jiddat al Harasis 466.
Physics/Materials Science - Business/Economics
22.03.2017
Camouflage apples
Camouflage apples
On the long journey from the fruit plantation to the retailer's shelf, fruits can quickly perish. In particular, the refrigeration inside the cargo containers is not always guaranteed and existing methods for measuring the temperature are not sufficiently reliable.
Computer Science/Telecom - Medicine/Pharmacology
22.03.2017
When deep learning mistakes a coffee-maker for a cobra
When deep learning mistakes a coffee-maker for a cobra
‘Is this your sister'' That's the kind of question asked by image-recognition systems, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday devices. They may soon be used for tumor detection and genomics, too. These systems rely on what is known as ‘deep-learning' architectures - an exciting new development in artificial learning.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
21.03.2017
Testing the Efficacy of New Gene Therapies More Efficiently
Testing the Efficacy of New Gene Therapies More Efficiently
Chronic Granulomatous Disease is a hereditary disease of the immune system. Due to a gene defect, phagocytes of affected patients are unable to kill ingested bacteria and fungi.
Social Sciences - Media
17.03.2017
European teens - especially girls - dream about cars
European teens - especially girls - dream about cars
A study on mobility patterns among young people shows that under-18s have a very positive image of cars. The researchers' approach relied heavily on social media. What is it about cars? ‘They're fast, practical, comfortable and safe.' That's what young people think - and girls more than boys - according to a study by EPFL researchers.
Architecture - Environment/Sustainable Development
16.03.2017
Measuring the impact of a city's buildings on the weather
Measuring the impact of a city's buildings on the weather
A new model developed at EPFL can help engineers and meteorologists quickly calculate the effect that city buildings have on local weather patterns. A blinds manufacturer is already interested in it, and climate scientists could be next. The shape of city buildings, how they are arranged, and the heat they generate all affect the local weather.
Microtechnics/Electroengineering - Computer Science/Telecom
15.03.2017
'Instrument Flight' to the Inner Ear
‘Instrument Flight’ to the Inner Ear
A team of surgeons and engineers of Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, University of Bern (Switzerland), have developed a high-precision surgical robot for cochlear implantation.
Life Sciences - Environment/Sustainable Development
14.03.2017
Flies and bees act like plant cultivators
Flies and bees act like plant cultivators
Not much plant sex happens without pollinator insects: Bees, flies or butterflies transfer the male pollen grains to the stigma of a plant's female style, thereby ensuring its sexual reproduction.
Chemistry - Microtechnics/Electroengineering
14.03.2017
Liquid fuel for future computers
Liquid fuel for future computers
In the future, a new type of tiny redox flow battery will supply tightly packed electronic components with energy, while also dissipating the heat they produce.
Physics/Materials Science - Chemistry
09.03.2017
Storing data in single-atom magnets
Storing data in single-atom magnets
Scientists at IBM and EPFL have shown for the first time that it is possible to store in and retrieve information from single-atom magnets. The breakthrough can have significant implications for the miniaturization of magnetic memory devices. As memory devices are becoming increasingly smaller, it was hypothesized whether the elementary storage unit could one day be as small as a single atom.
Physics/Materials Science - Microtechnics/Electroengineering
09.03.2017
Artificial magnetic fields for photons
Artificial magnetic fields for photons
Light particles do not usually react to magnetic fields. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now shown how photons can still be influenced by electric and magnetic fields. In the future that method could be used to create strong artificial magnetic fields for photons. In modern information technology there is a rather clear division of labour between light particles (photons), used for transmitting data fast and reliably over large distances, and electrons, which are responsible for data processing in computer chips.
Physics/Materials Science
09.03.2017
Soft sensors for smart textiles
Soft sensors for smart textiles
Researchers from Empa in St. Gallen have succeeded in producing optic fibers for sensors that are ideal for textiles. This would enable hospitals to monitor whether a patient is developing pressure sores, for instance. Thanks to a melting technique, the team headed by Luciano Boesel from the materials research institution Empa produced what are known as polymer optic fibers in a particularly flexible form.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
08.03.2017
The proteins that domesticated our genomes
The proteins that domesticated our genomes
EPFL scientists have carried out a genomic and evolutionary study of a large and enigmatic family of human proteins, to demonstrate that it is responsible for harnessing the millions of transposable elements in the human genome. The work reveals the largely species-specific gene-regulatory networks that impact all of human biology, in both health and disease.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
08.03.2017
How stable manure protects against allergies
How stable manure protects against allergies
Researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) studied laboratory mice growing up in a cowshed. This enabled them to investigate how the farm environment modifies the immune system and provides protection against allergies. Improved hygiene has largely eliminated infectious diseases from everyday life.
Earth Sciences - Astronomy
06.03.2017
Earth is bombarded at random
Earth is bombarded at random
Asteroids don't hit our planet at regular intervals, as was previously thought. Earth scientists have reached this conclusion after analysing impact craters formed in the last 500 million years, concentrating on precisely dated events. Do mass extinctions, like the fall of the dinosaurs, and the formation of large impact craters on Earth occur together at regular intervals? ‘This question has been under discussion for more than thirty years now,' says Matthias Meier from ETH Zurich's Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology.
Earth Sciences
03.03.2017
Snow and Sand Erosion Explained
Snow and Sand Erosion Explained
Scientists at EPFL and SLF describe with precision how snow and sand surfaces erode when exposed to wind. Their description can contribute to better predictions of dust emissions from deserts and snow transport in Antarctica, and can be adapted to other planets. Wind and water transport a multitude of particles with them, leading to erosion or deposits, like dust emissions from the Saharan desert that can reach Europe and snow transport that can...
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
02.03.2017
Genome Editing: Pressing the «Delete» Button on DNA
Genome Editing: Pressing the «Delete» Button on DNA
Until recently, genomics was a «read-only» science. But scientists led by Rory Johnson at the University of Bern and the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, have now developed a tool for quick and easy deletion of DNA in living cells. This software will boost efforts to understand the vast regions of non-coding DNA, or «Dark Matter», in our DNA and may lead to discovery of new disease-causing genes and potential new drugs.
Life Sciences - Chemistry
01.03.2017
Molecular structure of the cell nucleoskeleton revealed for the first time
Molecular structure of the cell nucleoskeleton revealed for the first time
Compared to bacteria, in eukaryotes the genetic material is located in the cell nucleus. Its outer shell consists of the nuclear membrane with numerous nuclear pores. Molecules are transported into or out of the cell nucleus via these pores. Beneath the membrane lies the nuclear lamina, a threadlike meshwork merely a few millionths of a millimeter thick.
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