Research

Right-handed or left-handed?

Are you born or do you become right-handed or left-handed? A study led by Valentina Parma, researcher at the International School for Advanced Studies - SISSA of Trieste, and Professor Umberto Castiello of the University of Padua, just published on Scientific Reports, shows that hand preference is already well defined at the 18th week of gestation. Analysing the characteristics of several foetal movements, the researchers have been able to accurately foresee the motor preference observed in the same boys and girls at age nine.

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Paired mutations to discover the shape of proteins

It is a bit like business partners: if one of the two parties changes strategy – voluntarily or otherwise – to keep the business going, the other  has to adapt in turn. The leap from business ventures to the structure of proteins might seem a little bold. Yet, this concept of “balanced changes” is precisely the guiding principle of an important new study that just appeared in PNAS, the journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

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Studying heat transfer with supercomputers

“Our goal? To radically innovate numerical simulations in the field of thermal transport to take on the great science and technology issues in which this phenomenon is so central. This new study, which has designed a new method with which to analyse heat transfer data more efficiently and accurately, is an important step in this direction”. This is how Stefano Baroni describes this new research performed at Trieste’s SISSA by a group led by him, which has just been published in the Scientific Reports journal.

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Laser beams for superconductivity

A laser pulse, a special material, an extraordinary property which appears inexplicably. These are the main elements that emerge from a research conducted by an international team, coordinated by Michele Fabrizio and comprising Andrea Nava and Erio Tosatti from SISSA, Claudio Giannetti from the Università Cattolica di Brescia and Antoine Georges of from the Collège de France. The results of their study have recently been published in the journal Nature Physics.

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The nose reveals our relationship with emotions

Do you express your emotions? Are you able to name them, talk about them, relate to your feelings? If your answer is not an unqualified yes, you might be among the 10 percent of the healthy population who has difficulty processing the emotions they experience: a psychological condition known as alexithymia. An alexithymic individual has difficulty, to a greater or lesser degree, in relating to the sensations – ranging from joy to fear, from disgust to anger – which make up our experience.

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Rett Syndrome: a new therapeutic project

A novel research path for a rare variant of Rett Syndrome might turn into therapy for several other neurological pathologies. This is what is hoped for by the project of the Cerebral Cortex Development Lab of Trieste’s SISSA, recent winner of a funding provided by the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, a French institution engaged, among other things, in supporting research on Rett Syndrome.

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Parkinson’s and prion diseases: a link discovered

Parkinson’s disease and prion diseases are very different from each other as regards both origins and course.

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Exchanges of identity in deep space

Like in a nail-biting thriller full of escapes and subterfuge, photons from far-off light sources, such as blazars, could go up against a continuous exchange of identity in their journey through the Universe.

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How to move objects at the nanoscale

To move a nanoparticle on the surface of a graphene sheet, you won’t need a “nano-arm”: by applying a temperature difference at the ends of the membrane, the nanocluster laying on it will drift from the hot region to the cold one. In addition, contrary to the laws ruling the world at the macroscale, the force acting on the particle – the so-called thermophoretic force – should not decrease as the sheet length rises, sporting a so-called ballistic behavior.

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Shedding light on Galaxies’ rotation secrets

The dichotomy concerns the so-called angular momentum (per unit mass), that in physics is a measure of size and rotation velocity. Spiral galaxies are found to be strongly rotating, with an angular momentum higher by a factor of about 5 than ellipticals. What is the origin of such a difference? An international research team investigated the issue in a study just published in The Astrophysical Journal. The team was led by SISSA Ph.D.

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