Publication date: 2010-07-09
CORDIS Express this week brings a vacation-time grab bag of stories from the world of European science, technology and research. EU-funded researchers are developing innovative software, models and services to enhance collaboration between rescuers in disaster situations. Two young scientists have received the first Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award. Continuing your education may lower your risk of dementia, according to new findings. Online games are helping researchers understand human interaction and complex human networks. Greater emphasis should be placed on feedbacks that exist between the terrestrial biosphere and Earth’s atmosphere. Plug-ins may cut back on energy waste, thanks to the EU-funded Fit4green project. Read more in Finally and Briefly about the extensive testing of a critical element of manned space flight... food for astronauts.
News - Top Stories
Tragic crises, such as the recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti, prove how crucial the coordination of relief work is for saving lives. The EU-funded 'An adaptive peer-to-peer software infrastructure for supporting collaborative work of human operators in emergency and disaster scenarios' (Workpad) project rose to the challenge of giving relief work a boost by developing innovative software, models and services to enhance collaboration between disaster workers. Rescue teams can communicate on the ground with handheld devices, enhancing the efficiency of complex relief operations. Workpad was supported with EUR 1.85 million under the 'Information society technologies' (IST) thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). 'When an earthquake, forest fire or flood hits, we need to deploy all our available resources to save as many lives as possible and to provide urgent rescue services,' stressed EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes. 'EU research funds have helped to develop a great ICT (information and communication technologies) tool that makes emergency response even better and faster.'
Two young scientists have received the first-ever Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award, an initiative of the ERA-NET 'Network for European funding for neuroscience research' (Neuron) project. Neuron received EUR 2.7 million under the ERA-NET scheme of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to better coordinate national research funding programmes and activities in Europe in the field of disease-related neurosciences. Dr Heidi Nousiainen from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland and Dr Asya Rolls from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel were announced as winners at the Seventh Forum of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in July 2010. The Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award acknowledges outstanding scientific publications by young researchers in the field of disease-related neurosciences. Drs Nousiainen and Rolls were selected out of a 2009 nominations list of seven candidates.
Researchers in Finland and the UK have established that people who continue their education have a lower risk of developing dementia in the future. The results, published in the journal Brain, are an outcome of the 'Epidemiological clinicopathological studies in Europe (Eclipse) collaboration, which is supported in part by a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship. Several past studies have shown that spending more time in education - which is linked to higher socioeconomic status and a healthier lifestyle - lowers one's risk of developing dementia. However, it has been unclear whether this is because education protects the brain against dementia-related pathologies, or whether more education gives individuals the mental reserves they need to cope with such neurological changes. To answer this and other important questions, the Eclipse researchers analysed data from 872 people participating in three large-scale studies of ageing and dementia.
These articles have been taken from CORDIS News, a daily news service updated every weekday lunchtime. For more research and innovation headlines, go to the CORDIS News homepage.
Focus on Innovation
Researchers in Austria, the UK and the US have proved an important social theory using a massive multiplayer online game (MMOG). The findings provide the first quantitative evidence for the ‘Structural balance theory’ (SBT), which holds that some networks of relationships are more stable than others in a society. SBT focuses on the positive and negative links between three individuals, and supports the idea that people are more likely to believe that 'the friend of my enemy is my enemy' than to make an enemy of a friend of a friend. The work, presented in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, also paves the way for scientists to develop more realistic models of complex human networks. Most contemporary studies of social networks are based on the analysis of electronic data including e-mails, mobile phone communications and online shopping. These offer substantial benefits over traditional methods, such as questionnaires, as they permit researchers to study social dynamics on a larger scale than ever before.
Future of Research
The impacts of biogeochemical feedbacks should not to be ignored in climate change studies, say EU-funded scientists. In order to understand how the Earth is likely to evolve in this century and beyond, the team believes greater emphasis must be placed on the feedbacks that exist between the terrestrial biosphere and the Earth's atmosphere. Results from the study, published in Nature Geoscience, suggest that biogeochemical feedbacks could be important in modulating future climate change. The research was supported by the 'Biogeochemistry and climate change research and training network' (Greencycles) project, which received EUR 2.84 million under the Marie Curie Actions - Human resources and mobility activity of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The four-year project, which ended in 2008, fostered new developments in the multidisciplinary field of biogeochemical cycles research including training for a new generation of Earth system scientists.
Two percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are attributed to the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector. This figure represents 1 billion kilowatts of electricity required to keep 3 billion PCs and mobile devices and over 500 million host computers running! The EU-funded team under the 'Federated IT for a sustainable environmental impact' (Fit4green) project has set itself the ambitious goal of tackling this overconsumption. The project is funded with EUR 3.18 million under the ICT Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Videoconferencing, e-commerce and a host of other technologies produced by the ICT sector have helped to reduce the amount of energy we use simply by eliminating the need for us to travel. But with the ICT sector's staggering amount of global CO2 emissions currently equalling that of the aviation sector (1.75% of carbon emissions result from the use of ICT products and services and 0.25% from their production), the industry must find drastic ways to reduce its energy bill.
A conference entitled 'Joint strategy and networking event 2010, thinking ahead to the European Green Cars Initiative' will be held in Berlin, Germany on 10 September 2010. The second phase of the Public-Private Partnerships European Green Cars Initiative was launched on 20 July with the announcement of calls in several themes of the Seventh Framework Programme. While the major focus is on electric and hybrid vehicles, research for heavy duty vehicles based on internal combustion engines and logistics and co-modality are also included. The event will seek to facilitate the participation of interested stakeholders in the European Green Cars Initiative and particularly in these calls. Sessions during the event will include:'Thinking ahead - the European Green Cars Initiative', 'Smart manufacturing for the full electric vehicle', 'European projects and programmes for the Green Car'and 'Proposals and consortia for the 2011/12 Calls'..
The Fourth Vienna Games Conference on the topic of 'Future and reality of gaming' will take place in Vienna, Austria from 24 to 26 September 2010. Vienna's annual games conference is an open and international platform for stakeholders from around the world. The main objective of this year's edition is to explore the relations between gaming, society and culture, and to discuss insights into the common limits of theory and practice of game and play. In its early stages, the digital form of play was restricted to a specific circle of gamers. Today, people of all ages and personal circumstances are playing computer games. It is possible to play on computers, dedicated game systems, mobile phones or handhelds - mediums which cross the dividing lines between different territories in modern culture. The relationship between play, society and culture is changing. This brings not only new opportunities and possibilities but also questions, challenges and problems.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission has issued a call for proposals for the implementation of Erasmus Mundus 2009-2013 Action 2 - Partnerships. The Erasmus Mundus programme's overall aim is to promote European higher education, to help improve and enhance the career prospects of students and to promote intercultural understanding through cooperation with third countries. In accordance with EU external policy objectives, the programme also aims to contribute to the sustainable development of third countries in the field of higher education. This call for proposals applies to the cooperation between European and third-country higher education institutions from the South Mediterranean Region, the Central Asian Republics and the Western Balkans.
The Molecular Diagnostics Research Group (MDRG) at the National University of Ireland, Galway is looking for partners to develop methods for rapid and cost-effective detection of pathogens (bacteria and fungi) in ready-to-eat food. The work will also focus on the identification of toxins excreted by these pathogens. Specifically, MDRG is seeking small and medium-sized companies with expertise in food production, quality aspects of modern food production, food-related legislation and regulation and information and technology connected with predictive and probabilistic models and decision-making tools to quantify and manage spoilage and pathogen risks. For its part, the Molecular Diagnostics Research Group has over two decades of experience in the development and application of molecular diagnostics tests for microbial species identification.
The CORDIS Partners Service publish partner profiles and find research collaborators to take part in EU-funded research, join a consortium or run a private collaboration in your area of interest. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7. To find partners for the Sixth Framework Programme, go to our FP7 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
The 'Portable real-time detection of airborne asbestos fibres for tradespersons' (ALERT) project is developing a low-cost portable detector that will signal the presence of asbestos in an environment. A decade ago, researchers discovered a way to detect asbestos fibres through a light-scattering technique. This work stalled due to technical and cost barriers. ALERT project researchers, though, want to expand on this work, giving 30 million European workers a means of detecting asbestos the moment it is disturbed. Asbestos-related diseases are the leading cause of work-related deaths in Europe. Despite a ban on asbestos use, workers continue to be exposed to the carcinogen from legacy products such as insulation, water tanks, ceiling panels, floor tiles and textured wall coverings. At present, asbestos is detected by a slow process of air sampling, and tests are only performed if asbestos is suspected to be present.
Finally and Briefly
It’s the time of year when many people go on vacation to destinations near and far. If you go by plane, especially to a destination in another part of the world, you may be tempted to take your own food onto the plane to avoid having to choose between the ‘Mystery meat with pasta surprise’ or ‘Facsimile of poultry with sauce and theoretical vegetables’ that are offered as a meal.
As a traveller, though, you know that at the end of your 8, 10 or 12-hour flight that something better, culinarily-speaking, is bound to await you.