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De Rerum Natura

Registrations for the “De Rerum Natura – Science in a click” photographic contest organised by SISSA Interdisciplinary Laboratory in partnership with Circolo Fotografico Triestino are now open. There are two themes for the third edition: “The Beauty of Nature and its Laws” and “The Soul of a City of Science: Trieste – Light and Vision”. Registration is free and open to all amateur photographers of any age or nationality. There are three prizes per category worth €500, €300 and €200 respectively and a total of six prizes.

Natural vs transformed

«It can be considered an instance of ‘embodiment’ in which our brain interacts with our body». This is the comment made by Raffaella Rumiati, neuroscientist at SISSA in Trieste, on the results of research carried out by her group which reveals that the way we process different foods changes in accordance with our body mass index. With two behavioural and electroencephalographic experiments, the study demonstrated that people of normal weight tend to associate natural foods such as apples with their sensory characteristics such as sweetness or softness.

What happens when people hear voices that others don’t

People who hear voices — both with and without a diagnosed psychotic illness — are more sensitive than other subjects to a 125-year-old experiment designed to induce hallucinations. And the subjects’ ability to learn that these hallucinations were not real may help pinpoint those in need of psychiatric treatment, suggests a new Yale-led study published Aug. 11 in the journal Science. The research has been carried out by Philip Corlett and Al Powers, Yale University, and Chris Mathys, SISSA.

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.

People with autism are less surprised by the unexpected

Dr Rebecca Lawson and Professor Geraint Rees from UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, and Dr Christoph Mathys from SISSA found that adults with autism were less surprised by unexpected images in a simple learning task than adults without autism, and those who were the least surprised had the most pronounced symptoms. The results suggests that differences in how people with autism build visual expectations may link to social difficulties. The study shed new light on our understanding of how people with autism see the world differently.

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