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Cosmic ravioli and spaetzle
The small inner moons of Saturn look like giant ravioli and spaetzle. Their spectacular shape has been revealed by the Cassini spacecraft. For the first time, researchers of the University of Bern show how these moons were formed. The peculiar shapes are a natural outcome of merging collisions among similar-sized little moons as computer simulations demonstrate.
Focus on space debris
The Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB) has extended its observatory in Zimmerwald with two additional domed structures, and has renovated a dome. As a result, there are now six fully automated telescopes available for observation and specifically for detecting and cataloguing space debris. The research station is thus gaining even greater international significance under the name "Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory". On 2 June 2018 it's Open Day at the Observatory.
Spoilt for choice? How neuroscience can explain your attitude toward freedom of choice
Being spoilt for choice can be a burden or a blessing: People value their freedom of choice differently. Whereas some people happily let others make decisions for them, others might rebel against restrictions of their freedom of choice. Scientists from the University of Bern have now been able to explain the individual attitude toward freedom of choice based on brain activations.
The Humanities Start where the Hard Sciences Finish
It can be difficult for the humanities and cultural sciences to find their place in the fact-based political discourse. However, disciplines from this field offer the world of politics a considerable level of added value, as Markus Zürcher, Secretary General of the SAGW, explained on the "Humanities Research Day" at the University of Bern.
Low Self-Control Influences Smartphone Use
The wide use of smartphones in our working and private lives has led to an unprecedented level of networking between people. Aside from the possibilities that the smartphone offers, there are also side-effects such as distraction while driving or at work. Bern researchers now show that differences in personality in our capacity for self-control can explain whether people react immediately to smartphone signals.
Seven Marie Curie Fellowships for the University of Bern
Each year, the European Commission awards Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships to post-doctoral researchers. Seven Fellowships went to researchers of the University of Bern, making it the most successful candidate institution in Switzerland.
Soils in Swiss nature reserves contain significant quantities of microplastics
It is one of the first research projects into the existence of microplastics in the soil: Scientists at the University of Bern investigated floodplain soils in Swiss nature reserves for microplastics – and made a find. They estimate, that there are around 53 tonnes of microplastics lying in the top five centimetres of the floodplain. Even many of the soils in remote, protected mountainous areas, are contaminated with microplastics.
University of Bern to be location of World Bank programme
For the very first time, the world’s leading training programme for evaluation will be taking place in Switzerland. The World Bank has chosen the University of Bern, together with the Centre for Evaluation in Saarbrücken (CEval), as the provider of the International Programme for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET).
Dicer is not rolling dice
Researchers keep discovering new functions of small RNAs. For instance, they can be used as a defense mechanism against viruses or self-replicating genome invaders. These tiny pieces of RNA are often produced by a cleavage of long precursors by so called Dicer proteins. To their surprise, researchers from the University of Bern have found that some Dicers acquired a unique and as yet unknown feature that allow them to cleave the RNA precursors in a very specific way, resulting in small RNAs that work much more efficiently.
Tobacco smoking – not long-term marijuana use – associated with build-up of plaques in heart arteries
Tobacco smoking, but not marijuana use over time, was associated with plaque build-up in heart arteries in a study that followed men and women for over 25 years, according to a study led by the University of Bern.
"Every country must put the welfare of the whole Earth above all else"
Whether the environment, business and trade, migration, or institutional development: the international community faces immense challenges. Now, 15 years after it officially joined the UN, Switzerland, too, must re-examine its global role: Does it wish to act as a bridge builder for a better world? How does it help enable real solutions? At the 1st Swiss-UN Day on March 23, 2018, representatives from science, policy, international organizations, and civil society met at the University of Bern to discuss the way forward.
Enhanced therapeutic vaccine platform achieves two proof of concepts in veterinary medical use
Chronical allergic diseases of dogs and horses can now be treated with an innovative vaccine. It was developed by an international research team led by he University of Bern and in cooperation with the University of Zurich, together with private enterprise companies. The findings obtained in horses and dogs could lead to similar herapeutic vaccines for humans.
"Maurice E. Müller turned the world of surgery upside down"
On March 28, 2018 Maurice E. Müller would have become 100 years old. At the memorial event of the University of Bern and the Insel Gruppe AG, those present looked back upon the extensive life’s work of this great visionary, pioneer of orthopaedic surgery, and conjurer.
Off to the Bern Bachelor Summer
The Bernese summers are legendary: the Gurtenfestival, bathing in the Marzili, celebrating on the Aare – who would miss things like lectures and seminar rooms? That could change this summer, because in 2018 the University of Bern is holding its first Summer School for Bachelor Students. The topic: "Confronting climate change – from science to policy". The lecturers include the renowned professor for climate research Thomas Stocker.
Climate change drives mountain hares to higher altitudes
A warming climate will shrink and fragment mountain hare habitat in the Swiss Alps. Populations are likely to decline as a result, concludes an international study led by the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).
Advancement of women: "New role models are extremely important"
The numbers speak volumes: 60% of the students studying medicine at Bachelor level are women, while the percentage of women staying on for a professorship is at 14%. This is also the case in many other faculties. The career programme COMET, which is specifically aimed at female postdocs and post-doctoral researchers of all faculties and is now starting its second round, wants to remedy this. "uniaktuell" asked the Vice-Rector for Research Daniel Candinas and the former participant Kathrin Chlench about their experiences with the programme.
Comet "Chury's" late birth
Comets which consist of two parts, like Chury, can form after a catastrophic collision of larger bodies. Such collisions may have taken place in a later phase of our solar system, which suggests that Chury can be much younger than previously assumed. This is shown through computer simulations by an international research group with the participation of the University of Bern.
Why rare plants are rare
Rare plant species suffer more from disease than commoner species. The fact that rare species are more susceptible to attack by micro-organisms living in the soil, such as fungi and bacteria, may in fact be one of the reasons they are rare. Biologists have been trying to work out why some species are rare, while others are common, since Darwin's time and a new study from researchers at the University of Bern provides a possible answer.
Multi laboratory studies improve reproducibility of animal research
Pre-clinical animal research is typically based on single laboratory studies conducted under highly standardized conditions, a practice that is universally encouraged in animal science courses and textbooks. In a new study in PLOS Biology, researchers from the Universities of Bern and Edinburgh demonstrate that such insistence on uniformity risks producing results that are only valid under very specific conditions. In contrast, multi-laboratory studies that are based on diversity, substantially increased the reproducibility of animal experiments, which could help to further reduce the number of animals used for research.
New weakness discovered in the sleeping sickness pathogen
Trypanosomes are single-celled parasites that cause diseases such as human African sleeping sickness and Nagana in animals. But they are also used in basic research as a model system to study fundamental biological questions. Researchers of the University of Bern have now investigated how trypanosomes equally distribute their “power plant” to the daughter cells during cell division. The discovered mechanism potentially opens new avenues for drug interventions.
Evidence on the advantages and acceptability of antidepressants
An international study co-led by the University of Bern offers important insights from a synthesis of 522 clinical studies. The results show differences in efficacy of the 21 most commonly used antidepressants worldwide.
What happens while we sleep and what can we do if our sleep-wake rhythm is disrupted? Claudio Bassetti and Fred Mast, the coordinators of the new Interfaculty Research Cooperation (IRC) "Decoding Sleep", want to find out. "uniaktuell" spoke to the Professor of Neurology and the Professor of General Psychology.
In search of solutions to religious conflicts
The theologian Katharina Heyden and legal academic Martino Mona are coordinating the University of Bern’s new Interfaculty Research Cooperation (IRC) "Religious Conflicts and Coping Strategies" together. "uniaktuell" talked to them about religion’s potential for conflict and the challenges of interdisciplinary research.
"Great potential is released by the interdisciplinary approach"
Matthias Erb and Andrew Macpherson are the coordinators of the new Interfaculty Research Cooperation (IRC) "One Health" by the University of Bern. In the interview with "uniaktuell" the professor of biotic interactions, and the professor of gastroenterology, explain how they want to decipher the connection between the health of plants, animals and humans with interdisciplinary research.
Norway rats trade different commodities
Researchers of the University of Bern have shown for the first time in an experiment that also non-human animals exchange different kind of favours. Humans commonly trade different commodities, which is considered a core competence of our species. However, this capacity is not exclusively human as Norway rats exchange different commodities, too. They strictly follow the principle “tit for tat” – even when paying with different currencies, such as grooming or food provisioning.
Bernese archaeologist discovers the earliest tomb of a Scythian prince
Deep in a swamp in the Russian republic of Tuva, SNSF-funded archaeologist Gino Caspari has discovered an undisturbed Scythian burial mound. All the evidence suggests that this is not only the largest Scythian princely tomb in South Siberia, but also the earliest – and that it may be harbouring some outstandingly well-preserved treasures.
Evolution of Alpine landscape recorded by sedimentary rocks
Rock avalanches and torrents started to form V-shaped valleys in the Alps approximately 25 million years ago. This landscape contrasts to the flat and hilly scenery, which characterized the Alps a few millions of years before. Geologists from the University of Bern applied digital technologies to unravel these changes in landscape evolution. They analysed 30 to 25 million-year old lithified rivers in Central Switzerland and came out with a detailed picture of how the Alps evolved within a short time interval.
A thermometer for the oceans
The average sea temperature is an essential parameter of the global climate – but it is very difficult to measure. At least until now, because an international team of researchers including University of Bern scientists have now developed a novel method using the concentration of noble gases in the eternal ice. This allows conclusions to be drawn on the changes in sea temperature from the last ice age to the present day.
Humidity switches molecular diode off and on
Molecular electronics is a growing research area where scientists study electrical properties of the molecules with a chemically programmed function. Molecules can function as diodes, switches and transistors, all with a typical length of few nanometers. An international group of scientists from University of Bern, Leiden University, Delft University of Technology, and Chuo University has developed the first switchable molecular diode.
Einstein Lectures 2017: Video Podcasts
Is there such a thing as absolute objectivity and truth? In the Einstein Lectures, the British philosopher Simon Blackburn addressed one of the oldest and most difficult questions in philosophy. His Einstein Lectures are now available as video podcasts.
Searching for distant worlds with a flying telescope
Researchers from the University of Bern, using an observatory on board a jumbo jet, have observed how the extrasolar Planet GJ 1214b is passing in front of its star, causing a kind of mini-eclipse. The first measurements of this kind with the observatory called SOFIA (short for Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy) prove that the flying observatory is well-suited to the observation of exoplanets.
Einstein Lectures 2016: Video Podcasts
The audience was enthralled by Martin Hairer’s lectures on how infinities can be tamed and the mathematics of randomness. His exciting Einstein Lectures are now available as video podcast.
Intensification of Land Use Leads to the Same Species Everywhere
Intensive use of grasslands by humans reduces species diversity and makes the landscape more monotonous, so that the same species end up everywhere. Nature is then no longer able to provide us with many essential ‘services’, which range from soil formation for food production to pest control. Led by the Technical University of Munich and the University of Bern, 300 scientists studied the consequences of land-use intensification for biodiversity at the landscape level and for the first time could do this for a wide range of species groups.
Humans and other Primates
The scientific view on human and animal behavior has changed over the past years. Not only humans, but other primates are now being depicted as political, cultural, even moral beings as well. In his guest lecture «Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?», the behavioral scientist Frans de Waal will focus on this topic. The event is part of the Collegium generale's new lecture series «Humans and other Primates» and will take place on Wednesday, September 28th at 18:15 in the Auditorium maximum (Room 110) in the main building of the University of Bern.
International conference KUNSTHALLEN
In contrast to collecting museums the model of the Kunsthalle is characterized by freedom and novelty. Due to its dynamic concept, this institutional format contributes to the formation of contemporary art in essential ways. The conference assembles international guests from diverse institutions and professional fields who will discuss the historical development, political implications as well as the societal positioning of the Kunsthalle. The institution’s role as curatorial field of experimentation, artistic material, and as a platform for transatlantic exchange will be examined as well. On September 2 and 3 at 9 a.m. in the main building and UniS. The Conference will be held in English.
When consumers sabotage brands
When consumers deliberately attack a brand with the objective of causing harm to it, this is known as «consumer brand sabotage». Marketing researchers of the University of Bern have examined this phenomenon in more detail, identified backgrounds and motives of brand sabotage and present initial countermeasures.
Predators drive social complexity
Variation in social organization and behavior of of highly social animals like cichlids is primarily explained by predation risk and related ecological factors. This stresses the significance of predation for social evolution.