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Quantum “gruyères”

They are “strange” materials, insulators on the inside and conductors on the surface. They also have properties that make them excellent candidates for the development of spintronics (”spin-based electronics”) and more in general quantum computing. However, they are also elusive as their properties are extremely difficult to observe. Now a SISSA study, published in Physical Review Letters, proposes a new family of materials whose topological state can be directly observed experimentally, thus simplifying things for researchers.

Non-Euclidean geometries for grid cells

Grid cells, space-mapping neurons of the entorhinal cortex of rodents, could also work for hyperbolic surfaces. A SISSA study just published in Interface, the journal of the Royal Society, tests a model (a computer simulation) based on mathematical principles, that explains how maps emerge in the brain and shows how these maps adapt to the environment in which the individual develops.

Shedding light on rods

By using “unusual” optic fibres in a novel fashion, an international team of researchers led by the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, scrutinized the response to light of rods, the light-sensitive cells of the retina, and demonstrated that the intensity of response varies according to the region of the cell hit by the light.

Brilliant eccentric heroes

Collaborators and friends of John Nicholls, pioneer of neurobiology studies and Professor at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, celebrate the publication of his autobiographical book “Pioneers of Neurobiology: My Brilliant Eccentric Heroes”, a very personal take on the evolution of neurobiology, but especially on the protagonists of this field of research, today one of the most important in neuroscience. The event is open to the public and will be held in English.

Semantic processing and its disorders

June 29-30, 2015

SISSA, Big Meeting Room, 7th floor

Via Bonomea 265, Trieste

SISSA will host a workshop entitled “Semantic processing and its disorders” in honor of Prof. Tim Shallice. Alfonso Caramazza, Maria Gorno-Tempini, Alex Martin, Morris Moscovitch, Matthew Lambon-Ralph, David Plaut, Caterina Silveri, Lorraine Tyler, Gabriella Vigliocco and others will attend the event. 

The most powerful learning “tool”

We learn how our world works by observing the frequency of events: if (almost) every time I press a button a light comes on, by repeating the same experience over and over again I will learn that to turn on the light I need to press that button. In addition to this sort of “statistical evaluation” of observed events, there is another very powerful instrument that the brain uses for learning and that sometimes clashes with the former: communication.

The killer protein, properly explained

The hope is to be able, one day, to fight the pathogenic action of the amyloid-beta protein, whose build-up is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In the meantime, scientists (including a group from the International School for Advanced Studies, SISSA, in Trieste) have synthesised the knowledge acquired about this protein over the last few decades in a review paper that is destined to become a milestone for future research.

An important appointment at CERN

Guido Martinelli, Director of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, has been appointed to the Scientific Policy Committee of CERN in Geneva, a prestigious appointment given solely on the basis of scientific competence. The appointment of the School’s Director confirms once again the high international standing of SISSA’s scientific personnel.

A new grant for supercomputing

SISSA has received European Community funding equivalent to 18 million hours of supercomputing, corresponding to almost half the hours that the SISSA supercomputer, inaugurated last September, can provide in a whole year. The grant was awarded thanks to a research project in particle physics. SISSA is placing high stakes on high performance computing, as also confirmed by the second edition of the Master in High Performance Computing (MHPC) which has just opened enrolments.

Molecular Lego of knots

Trefoil, Savoy, or simple … how do you fashion a “molecular” knot that has one of these shapes? Or better still, what are the most suitable “building blocks” for enabling the knot to assemble itself? A team of scientists coordinated by the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste has studied and catalogued the shapes that molecular building blocks should have so as to be able to assemble spontaneously into knots having specific forms, each with a possible utility in nanotechnology. The study has been published in Nature Communications.

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