Gestures that speak

When you gesticulate you don’t just add a “note of colour” that makes your speech more pleasant: you convey information on sentence structure and make your meanings clearer. A study carried out at SISSA in Trieste demonstrates that gestures and “prosody” (the intonation and rhythm of spoken language) form a single “communication system” at the cognitive level, and that we speak using our “whole body” and not only our vocal tract.

Unified superconductors

Superconductors are promising materials, with applications ranging from medicine to transport. Unfortunately, though, their use is for the time being limited to the very low temperatures (close to absolute zero) necessary for superconductivity to occur.

Some materials, however, could be improved so as to obtain higher and energetically less "costly" critical temperatures. A team of researchers coordinated by SISSA investigated a class of conductors at high critical temperature, adding insight into the physics of these phenomena.

Altruism/egoism: a question of points of view

Sociality, cooperation and "prosocial" behaviours are the foundation of human society (and of the extraordinary development of our brain) and yet, taken individually, people often show huge variation in terms of altruism/egoism, both among individuals and in the same individual at different moments in time. What causes these differences in behaviour? An answer may be found by observing the activity of the brain, as was done by a group of researchers from SISSA in Trieste (in collaboration with the Human-Computer Interaction Lab, HCI lab, of the University of Udine).

In search of the origins of the Universe

One of the major challenges of astrophysics today is to trace the origin and earliest development of the Universe. Planck is one of the most important missions in this respect. Today about one hundred scientists are busy analyzing the picture of fossil radiation "taken" by the ESA Planck satellite.

Many of these researchers will be meeting on May 12 at SISSA in Trieste for the "Planck Joint Core Team" conference, to assess what has been discovered so far. The conference is organized by SISSA and INAF-OATS.

The “rings” of the ribosome

Loren Williams

19 May 2014, 11.00 am

SISSA – Room 128

Via Bonomea 265, Trieste

Mapping the history of life by "peeling back" the layers of ribosome as if they were growth rings of a tree. This is the research focus of Loren Williams, a biologist from Georgia Tech (USA), who will be explaining his latest findings at a public lecture at SISSA.

Universal syllables

Languages are learned, it's true, but are there also innate bases in the structure of language that precede experience? Linguists have noticed that, despite the huge variability of human languages, there are some preferences in the sound of words that can be found across languages.

So they wonder whether this reflects the existence of a universal, innate biological basis of language. A SISSA study provides evidence to support to this hypothesis, demonstrating that certain preferences in the sound of words are already active in newborn infants.

Liquid spacetime

If spacetime were a fluid, it would have very low viscosity, just like a "superfluid". A study carried out jointly by the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich shows how the "atoms" making up the fluid of spacetime should behave, according to models of quantum gravity.

The secret life of knots

The scientific journal Macromolecules dedicates the cover of this month's issue (available online from June 11th) to a research coordinated by Cristian Micheletti of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA). Micheletti and his colleagues,

that include Luca Tubiana (a former SISSA student, now working at the Josef Stefan Institute of Ljubljana) and Angelo Rosa (a researcher at SISSA) simulated the dynamics of the movements with which a polymer tends to knot.


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