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A new grant for supercomputing

SISSA has received European Community funding equivalent to 18 million hours of supercomputing, corresponding to almost half the hours that the SISSA supercomputer, inaugurated last September, can provide in a whole year. The grant was awarded thanks to a research project in particle physics. SISSA is placing high stakes on high performance computing, as also confirmed by the second edition of the Master in High Performance Computing (MHPC) which has just opened enrolments.

Molecular Lego of knots

Trefoil, Savoy, or simple … how do you fashion a “molecular” knot that has one of these shapes? Or better still, what are the most suitable “building blocks” for enabling the knot to assemble itself? A team of scientists coordinated by the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste has studied and catalogued the shapes that molecular building blocks should have so as to be able to assemble spontaneously into knots having specific forms, each with a possible utility in nanotechnology. The study has been published in Nature Communications.

Half spheres for molecular circuits

Corannulene is a carbon molecule with a unique shape (similar to the better known fullerene) and promising properties. A team of scientists from SISSA and the University of Zurich carried out computer simulations of the molecule’s properties and discovered that it might help overcome the difficulties building molecular circuits (i.e., of the size of molecules). The study has just been published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

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.

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.

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.

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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.