Research

Flashes of light on the superconductor

A study just published in Nature Communications and carried out by a collaboration of several Italian and international centres, including SISSA, used a technique based on applying short flashes of light to observe and analyse the features of a superconductor at high critical temperature, a material with major prospects for technological applications. In addition to providing an explanation for the peculiar behaviour of the material, the study also opens to the possibility of controlling its characteristics by means of laser pulses.

A simple solution for big data

Categorizing and representing huge amounts of data (we’re talking about peta- or even exabytes of information) synthetically is a challenge of the future. A research paper from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, published in Science, proposes an efficient procedure to face up to this challenge.

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Studiare i gemelli per capire il pregiudizio

Il pregiudizio verso le altre etnie ha basi culturali, ma anche componenti innate. Comprendere questi aspetti ereditari, meno studiati dei primi, è importante per contrastare il fenomeno e migliorare l’integrazione sociale. Parte fra pochi giorni uno studio della SISSA di Trieste in collaborazione con l’Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) di Roma, che studierà le componenti innate del pregiudizio nei gemelli.

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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.

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