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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research Special Issue - April 2005   
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The Cosmos
The Cosmos

The universe in reverse
The birth of the Cosmos, the Big Bang, Einstein’s intuitions and the quantum vacuum… RTD info meets the physicist Edgard Gunzig, a professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.


And then there was light
Cosmological background radiation originated about 300 000 to 400 000 years after the Big Bang. It provides clues about the moment the universe was born. 


Supernovae or time regained
Some supernovae have revealed a universe expanding at an accelerated rate over the past 6 billion years, perhaps triggered by  ‘dark energy’. Could we be heading for the Big Rip? 


Our Planet

The disaster detective 
Interview with Jan Smit, a professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. For years, this sedimentology expert has been fascinated by the huge meteorite that crashed into the Mexican Yucatan and caused, among other things, the disappearance of the dinosaurs.


The ebb and flow of life
Human activity is shrinking biodiversity by the day. Is this phenomenon comparable to events in the past? The study of former ecosystems is shedding light on present extinctions. 


The key to the future lies in the past
How do paleoclimatological data (temperature, composition of the atmosphere, ocean currents, etc.) enable us to understand present climate change? Marine sediments, mountain lakes, pollen and ice cores are all tools in the hands of researchers. 


When life almost died out
Less famous than the one which ended the age of the dinosaurs, the biological extinction which occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian age, was one of the most serious to strike the planet.

Our Planet

Life
Life

"Science is embedded in culture and history"
The functioning of the brain, socio-cultural identity, genetic heritage. The British biologist Stephen Rose sees memory as being at the heart of research on man. RTD info talks with the author of The making of memory.


Inside the memory machine
What are the memory’s mechanisms? Experienced scientists and young researchers came together at two Euresco conferences to try and understand these phenomena.  


DNA: life’s memory
The hundreds of millions of chemical letters in a genome sequence hold the memory of the evolution that led to a species’ appearance. The skill lies in deciphering them.


The nuts and bolts of remembering
Glutamate, a neurotransmitter. A mechanism known as long-term potentiation or LPT. And the hippocampus, a region of the brain, the hippocampus. These are the pieces in the jigsaw of memory identified by neurobiologists.


From forgetfulness to dependency
The European Alzheimer's Disease Consortium (EADC) is a network of 50 centres of excellence specialising in neurodegenerative diseases. Together, they are waging a war on the two fronts of prevention and treatment.


Humanity and Society

Tangled origins
Hominoïds, hominids, hominins, the Homo genus. We are the last survivors of an evolutionary line with many branches. Who are we and where do we come from? What is our relationship with the great apes? How is our knowledge of evolution evolving? Pascal Picq, paleoanthropologist, explains.


To be twenty in Europe
What do identity, citizenship and the notion of the ‘other’ mean to young Europeans? The partners in the Euyouth project analysed these values among young people aged from 18 to 24.


Intertwining roots
Do Europeans feel European? A survey carried out in nine countries by researchers with the Euronat project produced some mixed and less than clear-cut answers. 


The prism of national memories
The collective memory is taught in school, in history lessons. But these vary depending on other memories – the memories of nations. That is why it is not easy to reach a common history of Europe.

Humanity and Society

Artificial memory
Artificial memory

Computers, memory and thought
The staggering memories computers now possess have changed our relationship with these machines. Konrad Morgan, professor at Bergen University (NO) and an expert on the social and psychological impact of new technologies, gives his opinion.


En route to e-biology
Today’s computers do not just relieve our memories – they also enable researchers to ask new questions and to embark on new and previously unimaginable projects. Biocomputing, magnetic resonance imagery, and the DataGrid and Egee projects are opening up amazing prospects.