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Research

Discovering the structure of RNA

It is the less known member of the nucleic acid family, superseded in popularity by its cousin DNA. And yet RNA, or ribonucleic acid, plays an essential role in many biological processes: not only as messenger molecule with the task of transmitting genetic information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm for protein production, but also as protagonist of different and significantly important cellular mechanisms.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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