Publication date: 2012-02-17
This week’s CORDIS Express features news on rising ocean levels, future technologies and innovative cloaking devices. According to a team of researchers, global sea level rises are in correlation with melting ice. The EU is boosting wave energy with Wave-Hub, the largest test site of its type in the world. According to a study, parasites can be good for society. An EU-funded project has developed innovative ‘cloaking’ device that could protect buildings in the event of an earthquake. A team of scientists has discovered evidence of the origins of single cell ancestors. A new EU-funded network for training researchers on the cutting edge of neuroscience has just been launched. In Finally and Briefly, it may not be what you say, but how you say it.
News - Top Stories
A team of researchers from France and the United States has discovered that the planet's oceans are rising as ice melts. Presented in the journal Nature, the study is the first of its kind to determine just how much of Earth's melting land ice is fuelling the global sea-level rise. Led by the University of Colorado Boulder in the United States, researchers used satellite measurements from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a joint mission between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center, to measure ice loss across the planet between 2003 and 2010. The team focused especially on glaciers and ice caps outside Greenland and Antarctica.
Two of the four berths at an EU-funded grid-connected offshore marine-energy test site have now been filled. Wave Hub, located off the Cornish coast in the United Kingdom, is the largest test site of its type in the world. It is supported by EUR 23 million from the European Regional Development Fund under its Convergence objective, which focuses on supporting sustainable integrated economic development and the creation of sustainable jobs. Wave Hub provides shared offshore infrastructure for the demonstration and proving of arrays of wave energy-generation devices over a sustained period of time. Situated 16 kilometres off the coast, it consists of an electrical hub on the seabed, to which wave energy devices can be connected. Four separate berths are available to lease, each with a capacity of between 4 MW and 5 MW. Combined, these four berths have a capacity equivalent to the electricity needs of more than 7 000 homes.
Ants are tough, loyal and hard workers, all working towards a common goal. New research from Germany, France and the United Kingdom suggests that political and economic theorists could learn lessons by examining how ant colonies allocate food resources. Current political systems use legislation and regulations to ensure that resources are not overexploited. The findings, presented in the journal The American Naturalist, show how ant colonies reap rewards when an external 'parasite' enters the picture, effectively helping curb resource overexploitation by resident queens. More female offspring with queen potential is the result, which in turn gives colony efficiency and fitness (or health) a big boost.
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
How can we protect buildings in the event of an earthquake? A European researcher has perhaps found the answer - use an invisibility cloak! Whilst this may sound like something straight out of a science fiction novel, mathematician Dr William Parnell from Manchester University in the United Kingdom believes that their newly developed 'cloaking' device could one day protect buildings when an earthquake strikes. The technique makes an object near invisible to light, sound or vibration waves. Cloaking devices work by covering components of structures with pressurised rubber. If applied to a building, powerful waves such as those produced by an earthquake wouldn't 'see' the building. In theory, they would pass by the structure and serious destruction would be avoided.
Future of Research
Scientists in China, Sweden and the United Kingdom have discovered evidence of the single-celled ancestors of animals, dating from the interval in Earth's history just before the emergence of multicellular animals. The proof is found in rocks from south China, around 570 million years old. Presented in the journal Science, the study received partial funding under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Past studies suggested that life evolved from a single-celled universal common ancestor, and at various points throughout the Earth's timeline, single-celled organisms meshed to emerge into larger and multicellular organisms. The wide variety of the animal kingdom is an example of this. But finding proof of these major evolutionary transitions has not been a successful endeavour... until now.
A new EU-funded network for training researchers on the cutting edge of neuroscience has just been launched. Funded entirely by more than EUR 3 million through a Marie Curie Training Network grant, the FLIACT ('Systems neuroscience of Drosophila: from genes to circuits to behaviour') network brings together early-stage researchers to carry out studies on the brain of the fruit fly. The aim is to interconnect eight academic centres and three industry partners from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. These institutions making up the network all specialise in different complementary fields of neuroscience, including molecular genetics and bioengineering.
A conference entitled 'Implementing flood resilience' will take place from 27 to 28 September 2012 in Athens, Greece. The extent and consequences of recent flood events in Europe and worldwide showed that the existing flood defence structures do not guarantee a sufficient protection level for people and properties. In 2010, heavy rainfall from different storms across parts of Europe caused massive amounts of flooding - some water moving slowly across river plains and farmland, some moving swiftly through cities and villages.
The 'Exploring human host-microbiome interaction in health and disease' conference will take place from 8 to 10 May 2012 in Cambridge, UK. It has long been thought that the lower intestines contributed little towards human nutrition. Recent studies, however, have indicated that colonic microflora appear to play a vital role in health. It also appears that the role of the large bowel in health may have been underestimated. Being able to understand the role of the gut microbial ecology and microbiome will offer new insights into major disease processes and discovery of new therapeutic strategies that either target the microbiome directly or use this information in new stratified medicine approaches.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission has published a call for proposals for the European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept. Securing for funding in the earliest stage of an innovation can be difficult. Attracting investors who would be ready to risk their capital in an innovation which is still in its pre-development stage is often a challenging process. Many excellent, useful ideas with near term market potential get lost in the period of transition when they are already deemed promising, but too new to validate their commercial potential and thereby attract the capital necessary for their continued development. This frontier research in emerging areas can often cover elements of both basic and applied research. By covering the funding gap which can occur at the earliest stages of an innovation the ERC aims to capture the maximum value from the frontier research that it funds.
The Belss Corporation from Latvia is looking for partners for the further development of a new solar module prototype, which would be easy to assemble and install according to customer needs. The module will concentrate solar radiation using solar tracking systems and transferring the radiation into heat and electricity. The company is specifically looking for a project lead partner with big experience in manufacturing and renewable energy technologies. Research institutions could also make for good potential partners.
The CORDIS Partners Service helps you to find research collaborators in order to benefit from EU or other funding. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7.
The EU-funded 'Development of a long term creep monitoring image based technique' (CREEPIMAGE) project is working to meet the challenge of creep deformation in engineering structures/components under harsh conditions (such as high temperatures or radiation) where direct sensor attachment and human access are difficult or dangerous. In materials science, creep is the tendency of a solid material to slowly move or deform permanently under the influence of stresses. It is more severe in materials that are subjected to heat for long periods. The project work will include laboratory-based demonstrations to validate proposed techniques and investigate the measurement capability (accuracy, repeatability etc). The project brings together research stakeholders from Germany, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The CORDIS FP6 Find a Project section offers factsheets and contact details for projects funded under the Sixth Framework Programme. You can also browse the FP5 projects section (archived) to see what kinds of research proposals have been chosen for European funding in the past.
Finally and Briefly
When you make a polite request in a foreign language and people burst out in laughter or start to shout, don't be worried. All of your hard work studying or labouring through that phrase book isn't wasted.
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth in the UK say that it may not be what you're saying, so much as how you are saying it. They followed how English and Polish people use language in everyday family situations.