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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 38 - July 2003   
 Europe's troubled seas
 Gutsy bacteria 
 The triumphs of a gene hunter
 Utopia on wheels

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Multi-dimensional space Multi-dimensional space

Space is a field with potentially enormous implications for society. Maintaining Europe's place, autonomy and scientific and technological excellence in this field is at the centre of a wide-ranging debate initiated by the Commission.

Hard questions about software

Is software marketable merchandise or should it be shared without financial constraints? The latest in the ongoing debate between advocates and opponents of open source software.

Hard questions about software

  View of the point where the Eastern Mediterranean joins the Black Sea captured, by the Envisat satellite. At the top of the picture, south of the Carpathian Mountains, green patches can be seen which indicate suspended sediment in the marine waters off the Danube delta. To the south is Greece and the Aegean Islands, and at the bottom the desert coasts of Africa. © ESA
Mediterranean – Black Sea
Europe's troubled seas
The Mediterranean's delicate health has long been at the centre of European environmental research. The Black Sea has not been ignored either and has been the subject of a number of studies and remedial measures. Now, with the approaching accession of Romania and Bulgaria (planned for 2007), the European Union will land itself an extensive shoreline along this landlocked sea, which is in a particularly critical state. The IASON initiative, launched in the spring of 2003 at a major scientific conference under the Greek presidency, aims to set up transnational and multidisciplinary co-operation networks to treat and protect these two crucially important maritime basins. 
  The image shows a mixture of two pure cultures of Lactobacillus intestinalis (the green elongated elements) and Bifidobacterium longum (pinkish 'grains') as seen through a microscope. In some cases, an increased presence of these microorganisms in the intestinal flora can have probiotic effects which help strengthen immunity against many pathologies of bacterial origin. © Image : Ralph Thiel, DISE (DE)
Probiotic foods
Gutsy bacteria 
The role of the many and varied bacteria which inhabit the digestive system is coming to be seen as a major factor in human health – despite the relatively little we know about them. It is also giving rise to so-called 'probiotic foods' with their potentially beneficial effects on the immune system. 
  Leena Peltonen: 'The big question posed by research into the genetic origins of diseases is to distinguish between what really depends on the genetic make-up and what is linked to environmental factors.'
The triumphs of a gene hunter
Internationally recognised as a pioneer and one of the world's leading experts in molecular genetics, Leena Peltonen owes her vocation – and success – to her family background and country of origin. Her fascination with the 'innate' and the 'acquired' in determining the health of every individual led her to base her scientific investigations on the unique and isolated genetic pool of her native Finland. 
Car sharing
Utopia on wheels
Some 100 000 Europeans currently take part in car sharing schemes, a system which gives access to an automobile at any time without the hassle of ownership. As part of its research into mobility, the European Union is supporting efforts by the MOSES project to coordinate the technological and organisational solutions essential to this transport revolution.