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Stars are younger

The latest data release from the ESA satellite Planck consortium – just published in Astronomy and Astrophysics – reveals a surprise: star formation in the Universe may be more recent than previously indicated by the analysis of Planck’s predecessor, the NASA WMAP satellite. The observation was made possible by the new maps of Planck’s low-frequency instrument (LFI), produced by the Trieste Data Processing Centre run by INAF-OATS in collaboration with the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) and the LFI Consortium. 

Movements/objects: “evolutionarily old”?

Human beings are born with a visual system already predisposed to see (and mentally representing) objects as discrete perceptual units. Movement is an important visual feature, but how early in a child’s development is it represented independently from the object itself? And what function does this skill serve in the development of cognitive abilities? Research conducted with the collaboration of SISSA, and published in Cognition, shows that this skill develops very early in infancy. Not only: its presence in mice suggests a genetic basis for it.

Still doubts on gravitational waves

In March last year the BICEP2 team (the Antarctic observatory) claimed to have observed, for the first time, the effects of gravitational waves in cosmic background radiation. In September Planck demonstrated that the signal observed might be the result of “contaminants” due to the polarised radiation produced by our Galaxy. The Planck and BICEP2 teams therefore joined forces to better investigate the problem, and will publish a paper in Physical Review Letters (announced by an ESA press release).

In 500 dalle scuole del Friuli Venezia Giulia

Circa cinquecento ragazzi delle scuole superiori del Friuli Venezia Giulia (e dal Veneto) si ritroveranno alla Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA) di Trieste l’11 febbraio 2015, per una mattinata di seminari, conferenze, laboratori interattivi, incontri con i ricercatori e molto altro ancora. L’evento, che vedrà coinvolta tutta la SISSA, nasce per offrire  un’immagine più autentica e seducente della Scuola e della ricerca scientifica ai ragazzi che presto dovranno decidere il futuro dei loro studi. L’evento diventerà un appuntamento fisso negli anni a venire.  

Science: there’s no success without failure

Stuart Firestein

28 January, 3.00 pm

SISSA, “P. Budinich” Main Lecture Hall

Via Bonomea 265, Trieste

It wasn’t the successes that allowed science to progress. To the contrary, it was the failures that made it so important and influential in human society. This is the view held by Stuart Firestein, biologist at Columbia University, who will be discussing this topic at the next appointment with the SISSA Colloquia. The meeting, open to the public and held in English, is scheduled for 28 January 2015, at 3.00 pm in the “P. Budinich” Main Lecture Hall of SISSA.

Il dolore della cognizione

Giuseppe O. Longo

29 gennaio, ore 18.00

Caffè San Marco

Via Cesare Battisti 18, Trieste

Giuseppe O. Longo parlerà del rapporto di Carlo Emilio Gadda con la scienza in un incontro pubblico, nell’ambito del ciclo “Scienza, letteratura e impegno civile” organizzato dal Laboratorio Interdisciplinare della SISSA di Trieste. L’evento si terrà al Caffè San Marco giovedì 29 gennaio alle 18 e sarà moderato da Giuseppe Mussardo, direttore del Laboratorio Interdisciplinare della SISSA.

The brain’s electrical alphabet

The brain’s alphabet is a mix of rate and precise timing of electrical pulses: the observation was made by researchers at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) of Rovereto, and has been published in the international journal Current Biology. The study shows that the nervous system features a “multichannel” language that makes up the neural code, or the alphabet that processes information in the brain. 

No gain if unfair

For human beings, implementing and having others implement social equity is important, so much so that we are prepared to forego a sure advantage if this derives from an unfair distribution of resources, regardless of whether we ourselves or others are the target of the unfairness.

Inside the big wormhole

Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole (or space-time tunnel, have you seen “Interstellar?”) and, if that were true, it would be “stable and navigable”. This is the hypothesis put forward in a study published in Annals of Physics and conducted with the participation of SISSA in Trieste. The paper, the result of a collaboration between Indian, Italian and North American researchers, prompts scientists to re-think dark matter more accurately.

Tightly packed in its shell

A study, in which the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) collaborated with the Josef Stefan Institute of Ljubljana, analysed how genome mutations of RNA viruses tend to be lethal for these infectious agents. It takes very little to make the RNA too messy and bulky to fit into the capsid - the shell that contains the viral genome – and by doing so disrupt the reproductive process.

Smile to remember a smile

Smiles are contagious, even when we’re trying to remember them. A study carried out by a research team of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste shows that in order to recall an emotion (positive or negative) we “re-enact” the motor sequence of the facial expression corresponding to that emotion. In other words: when remembering a smile, we smile.

DOWNLOAD > Press release

Here’s how the prion protein protects us

The cellular prion protein (PrPC) has the ability to protect the brain’s neurons. Although scientists have known about this protective physiological function for some time, they were lacking detailed knowledge of the molecular mechanism underlying it. This gap has been filled by a new SISSA study published in Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, the leading journal dedicated to the understanding of redox principles governing health and disease.

Faces that distract from actions

The sudden appearance of a face within our visual field can affect the motor action accompanying a gesture even if the face is totally unrelated to what we are doing and even if we try to ignore it. At one condition, though: the face must display an emotionally significant expression. A study conducted by scientists of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, and just published in Psychonomic Bullettin & Review, describes the phenomenon in detail.

Eleven maps for eleven rooms

The hippocampus – a structure in the brain – contains the representation of the environment we move in. But how many maps is it able to store without confusing one place with another? Quite a few, more than had been observed until now. That is the main finding of a study just published in PNAS and carried out by a research team led by May-Britt and Edvard Moser, scientists who were recently awarded the Nobel Prize. SISSA was also involved in the study.

Characteristics of a universal simulator

According to many scientists, quantum computers will have great importance in the future but, despite all efforts, research in this field is still in its infancy. One of the difficulties is understanding what criteria a quantum system should meet to be able to solve problems that are impossible for conventional computers. An international research team headed by SISSA has just published a study that establishes a basic characteristic that universal quantum simulators should possess.

Linguaccecongliocchialidasole

2 dicembre, 18.30

SISSA, Aula Magna “P. Budinich”

Via Bonomea 265, Trieste

 

Terzo appuntamento con Il Centro Universitario Teatrale di Trieste (CUT) negli spazi della SISSA. Questa volta siete tutti invitati al cabaret “Linguaccecongliocchialidasole” uno spettacolo di “folli avventure ed evidenti allusioni al contemporaneo”. Lo spettacolo si terrà nell’Aula Magna “P. Budinich” della Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati SISSA di Trieste, il 2 dicembre a partire dalle 18.30.

Weight and eating habits in Parkinson

A review of the scientific literature on Parkinson’s disease, conducted by SISSA research scientists, shows that even the non-motor symptoms associated with the disease can contribute to the changes in body weight seen in patients (including those subjected to deep brain stimulation). Among the factors affecting eating habits and body weight there could be, for example, an impaired ability to derive pleasure from food and changes in motivation.