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News overview 2021


Physical virology shows the dynamics of virus reproduction
Posted on:14 January 2021

New physics-based technologies allow scientists to study the dynamics of viruses and may eventually lead to new treatments. In his role as physical virologist, Wouter Roos, a physicist at the University of Groningen, together with two longtime colleagues, has written a review article on these new technologies, which was published in Nature Reviews Physics on 12 January.

With a little help from their friends, older birds breed successfully
Posted on:19 January 2021

The Seychelles warbler is a cooperatively breeding bird species, meaning that parents often receive help from other birds when raising their offspring. A study led by biologists from the University of Groningen shows that the offspring of older females have better prospects when they are surrounded by helpers.

The surprises of colour evolution
Posted on:25 January 2021

The evolutionary interaction between insects and plants has created complex dependencies that can have surprising outcomes. Casper van der Kooi, a biologist at the University of Groningen, uses an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the interaction between pollinators and flowers. In January, he was first author of two review articles on this topic.

Science LinX newsletter February 2021
Posted on:28 January 2021

Science LinX newsletter for February 2021


Evidence for substance on liquid-gas boundary on exoplanet WASP-31b
Posted on:03 February 2021

One of the properties that make a planet suitable for life is the presence of a weather system. Exoplanets are too far away to directly observe this, but astronomers can search for substances in the atmosphere that make a weather system possible. Researchers from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and the University of Groningen have now found evidence on exoplanet WASP-31b for chromium hydride, which at the corresponding temperature and pressure is on the boundary between liquid and gas.

New insight into protein structures that could treat Huntington’s disease
Posted on:11 February 2021

In Huntington’s disease, a faulty protein aggregates in brain cells and eventually kills them. Such protein aggregates could, in principle, be prevented with a heat shock protein. However, it is not well known how these proteins interact with the Huntington’s disease protein. New research by Patrick van der Wel (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) and colleagues at the University of Texas explains how they work.

New technique reveals switches in RNA
Posted on:22 February 2021

Scientists have developed a method to visualize and quantify alternative structures of RNA molecules. These alternative RNA ‘shapes’ can have important functional relevance in viruses and bacteria.


Science LinX newsletter March 2021
Posted on:02 March 2021

Science LinX newsletter for March 2021

Recyclable bioplastic membrane to clear oil spills from water
Posted on:09 March 2021

Polymer scientists from the University of Groningen and NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences have developed a polymer membrane from biobased malic acid. It is a superamphiphilic vitrimer epoxy resin membrane that can be used to separate water and oil amd is fully recyclable.

Death enables complexity in chemical evolution
Posted on:16 March 2021

Simple systems can reproduce faster than complex ones. So, how can the complexity of life have arisen from simple chemical beginnings? Starting with a simple system of self-replicating fibres, chemists at the University of Groningen have discovered that upon introducing a molecule that attacks the replicators, the more complex structures have an advantage.

Another Martini for better simulations
Posted on:29 March 2021

Simulating the interactions between atoms and molecules is important for many scientific studies. However, accurate simulations can take a long time, which limits their use. To speed up simulations without sacrificing too much detail, Siewert-Jan Marrink, Professor of Molecular Dynamics at the University of Groningen, designed a set of parameters that allow fast but accurate coarse-grained simulations. In a paper that was published on 29 March in Nature Methods, Marrink and his co-workers present a third release of what is known as the Martini forcefield.

‘Designer’ pore shows selective traffic to and from the cell nucleus
Posted on:31 March 2021

The nucleus is the headquarters of a cell and molecules constantly move across the nuclear membrane through pores. The transport of these molecules is both selective and fast; some 1,000 molecules per second can move in or out. Scientists from the University of Groningen and Delft University of Technology, both in the Netherlands, and a colleague from the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology, have developed an artificial model of these pores using simple design rules, which enabled them to study how this feat is accomplished.

Science LinX newsletter April 2021
Posted on:31 March 2021

Science LinX newsletter for April 2021


Discount on charging electric cars helps to solve traffic jams
Posted on:13 April 2021

Charging electric cars can put a strain on the electricity grid. And commuting to work by car can cause traffic congestion. PhD student Carlo Cenedese linked energy use and transportation using Game Theory, and produced an algorithm that calculates how enough individuals can be persuaded to adapt their behaviour to prevent both. He defends his thesis on 16 April.

Oxygen migration enables ferroelectricity on nanoscale
Posted on:15 April 2021

Hafnium-based thin films, with a thickness of only a few nanometres, show an unconventional form of ferroelectricity. This allows the construction of nanometre-sized memories or logic devices. However, it was not clear how ferroelectricity could occur at this scale. A study that was led by scientists from the University of Groningen showed how atoms move in a hafnium-based capacitor: migrating oxygen atoms (or vacancies) are responsible for the observed switching and storage of charge.

Science LinX newsletter May 2021
Posted on:30 April 2021

Science LinX newsletter for May 2021


Towards 2D memory technology by magnetic graphene
Posted on:06 May 2021

In spintronics, the magnetic moment of electrons (spin) is used to transfer and manipulate information. Experiments by physicists at the University of Groningen suggest that magnetic graphene can be the ultimate choice for these 2D spin-logic devices as it efficiently converts charge to spin current and can transfer this strong spin-polarization over long distances.

Archaeal enzyme that produces membrane lipids is spectacularly promiscuous
Posted on:06 May 2021

When studying the enzyme that is responsible for producing cardiolipins in archaea (single-cell organisms that constitute a separate domain of life), biochemists at the University of Groningen made a surprising discovery. A single archaeal enzyme can produce a spectacular range of natural and non-natural cardiolipins, as well as other phospholipids.

New material could create ‘neurons’ and ‘synapses’ for new computers
Posted on:18 May 2021

Physicists from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) have used a complex oxide to create elements comparable to the neurons and synapses in the brain using spins, a magnetic property of electrons.

Resetting the biological clock by flipping a switch
Posted on:26 May 2021

The biological clock is present in almost all cells of an organism. As more and more evidence emerges that clocks in certain organs could be out of sync, there is a need to investigate and reset these clocks locally. Scientists from the Netherlands and Japan introduced a light-controlled on/off switch to a kinase inhibitor, which affects clock function. This gives them control of the biological clock in cultured cells and explanted tissue.

UMARG project delivers augmented reality games
Posted on:27 May 2021

Thirty-two schoolteachers and researchers from Greece, Cyprus, Romania and the Netherlands participated at UMARG project’s Learning Teaching and Training Activity, organized by the University of Groningen, between April 19-23.

Science LinX newsletter June 2021
Posted on:30 May 2021

Science LinX newsletter for June 2021


An atom chip interferometer that could detect quantum gravity
Posted on:04 June 2021

Physicists in Israel have created a quantum interferometer on an atom chip. This device can be used to explore the fundamentals of quantum theory by studying the interference pattern between two beams of atoms. University of Groningen physicist Anupam Mazumdar describes how the device could be adapted to use mesoscopic particles instead of atoms.

From burglar alarms to black hole detectors
Posted on:08 June 2021

Anupam Mazumdar, a physicist from the University of Groningen, suggests how quantum interference could be applied in the production of a sensitive instrument that could detect movements of objects ranging from butterflies to burglars and black holes.

Workshop kunst in STEM onderwijs - STEAMitUP
Posted on:11 June 2021

Ben je docent in het STEM onderwijs en zou je meer kunstvormen/creativiteit in jouw lessen willen brengen, maar mis je handvatten en inspiratie? Doe dan mee met de STEAMitUP workshop op vrijdag 18 juni van 13:00 tot 17:00.

University of Groningen scientists design superfast molecular motor
Posted on:17 June 2021

Light-driven molecular motors have been around for over twenty years. These motors typically take microseconds to nanoseconds for one revolution. Thomas Jansen, associate professor of physics at the University of Groningen, and Master’s student Atreya Majumdar have now designed an even faster molecular motor.

Fruit flies lose their virginity lightly – and then become choosy
Posted on:29 June 2021

Mate choice is important for females, who often invest much more energy in offspring than males. However, being too selective is a bad idea, as they might end up not mating at all. Biologists have wondered for a long time how females optimize their chances. Scientists at the University of Groningen have performed experiments with fruit flies that reveal the explanation: mating induces a behavioural change in female flies that makes them more choosy than when they are virgins.

Opening van de meet-o-theek in Forum Groningen
Posted on:30 June 2021

Wil je weten hoe de luchtkwaliteit in jouw huis is, of wat er 's nachts door je tuin scharrelt? Sinds het weekend van 19 en 20 juni is het mogelijk om meetinstrumenten te lenen in de meet-o-theek in Forum Groningen waarmee je je eigen leefomgeving bestudeert.

Samen kijken naar het hapje uit de zon
Posted on:30 June 2021

Donderdag 10 juni was er een gedeeltelijke zonsverduistering in Nederland te zien. Rond het middaguur schoof de maan een stukje voor de zon, zodat het leek of hier een hapje uit genomen werd..

Science LinX newsletter July 2021
Posted on:30 June 2021

Science LinX newsletter for July 2021


How an unfolding protein can induce programmed cell death
Posted on:06 July 2021

The death of cells is well regulated. If it occurs too much, it can cause degenerative diseases. Too little, and cells can become tumours. Mitochondria, the power plants of cells, play a role in this programmed cell death. Scientists from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and the University of Pittsburgh (U.S.) have obtained new insights in how mitochondria receive the signal to self-destruct.

Artificial Intelligence provides faster diagnosis for debilitating blistering disease
Posted on:08 July 2021

Scientists at the University of Groningen have trained an Artificial Intelligence system to recognize a specific pattern in skin biopsies of patients with the blistering disease epidermolysis bullosa acquisita. The new system is easy to use and is better than most doctors in making the diagnosis.

'Building molecules can be art'
Posted on:13 July 2021

Crenarchaeol is a large, closed-loop lipid that is present in the membranes of ammonium-oxidizing archaea, a unicellular life form that exists ubiquitously in the oceans. Organic chemists from the University of Groningen have discovered that the proposed structure for the molecule was largely, but not entirely, correct.

Artificial Intelligence learns better when distracted
Posted on:27 July 2021

Computer scientists from the Netherlands and Spain have now determined how a deep learning system well suited for image recognition learns to recognize its surroundings. They were able to simplify the learning process by forcing the system’s focus toward secondary characteristics.


Docenten gezocht voor testen STEAM Materialen & Workshop
Posted on:25 August 2021

Hoe geef je leerlingen in het VO de 21 e eeuwse vaardigheden mee die ze nodig hebben, zoals probleemoplossend vermogen, communicatie en kritische en creatief denken? Twee workshops helpen docenten hierbij.

Rapid measurement of vitamin concentration with nanopores
Posted on:26 August 2021

Scientists at the University of Groningen have developed a nanopore system that can measure the concentration of thiamine (vitamin B1) in urine in less than a minute by using an engineered thiamine binding protein. This system should also work with other bodily fluids such as sweat, and can be adapted to measure other molecules that are important for good health. Eventually, this could lead to a wearable device to measure important metabolites. A paper describing the system was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie on 14 August.

Science LinX newsletter September 2021
Posted on:01 September 2021

Science LinX newsletter for September 2021


Ranking apps on privacy
Posted on:03 September 2021

Intrusive apps can harvest data which they can then sell. That is why University of Groningen computer scientist Fadi Mohsen and his colleagues have developed an algorithm that ranks similar apps on privacy scores.

Mini-colleges en meetactie rond adaptatie: Aanpassen of uitsterven?
Posted on:14 September 2021

Op woensdag 15 september vertellen boswachter Arjan Postma en prof. Dr. Martine Maan in Forum Groningen alles over de manier waarop dieren en planten zich aanpassen aan hun veranderende omgeving in het kader van de nieuwe meetactie van CurioUs.

Finding new alloys just became simpler
Posted on:16 September 2021

The number of possible alloys is astronomical. Francesco Maresca, an engineer at the University of Groningen, developed a theoretical model that allows him to rapidly determine the strength of millions of different alloys at high temperatures. Experiments confirmed the model predictions.

Finding the needles in a haystack of high-dimensional data sets
Posted on:23 September 2021

There is an urgent need to develop algorithms that can select subsets of features that are relevant and have high predictive powers. To address this issue, computer scientists at the University of Groningen developed a novel feature selection algorithm.

How a committed minority can change society
Posted on:29 September 2021

How do social conventions change? Robotic engineers and marketing scientists from the University of Groningen joined forces to study this phenomenon, combining online experiments and statistical analysis into a mathematical model that shows how a committed minority can influence the majority to overturn long-standing practices.

Science LinX newsletter October 2021
Posted on:30 September 2021

Science LinX newsletter for October 2021


Scholieren praten mee in Donordierdialoog
Posted on:07 October 2021

Mag je dieren gebruiken als kweekvat voor menselijke organen? Om deze vraag te bespreken is de Donordierdialoog opgezet.

Reinventing chemistry: no lab coat required
Posted on:12 October 2021

A series of brand-new chemistry laboratories has been created on the top floor of the Linnaeusborg building at the Zernike Campus. This is where two new tenure track scientists will activate reactions to create molecules using only light or electrons, and will use new building blocks to create ’next generation’ sustainable materials.

Mysterious organism lacks genes that are vital to copying and distributing its DNA
Posted on:13 October 2021

Carpediemonas membranifera, a unicellular organism that lives on marine shorelines, misses genes that are vital to copying and distributing its DNA. Eelco Tromer, an evolutionary cell biologist at the University of Groningen, was part of the team that described this strange creature.

Life in three words: run, fight, or cooperate
Posted on:15 October 2021

Biologists have long studied how behaviour can increase the fitness of animals, which is usually defined as their ability to pass on their genes to subsequent generations. In a new book that has been 10 years in the making, three biologists describe the many dimensions that shape the evolution of social behaviour.

Skin-inspired sensors show how our body moves
Posted on:19 October 2021

Scientists at the University of Groningen have created wearable, stitchable, and sensitive sensors that respond to pressure and can measure body position and movement, just like our skin. They could be used to measure disease progress in Parkinson’s disease, or sense joint movement in athletes.

The secret of ultralight but stiff sandwich nanotubes
Posted on:25 October 2021

Modelling by materials scientists from the University of Groningen revealed how to design lightweight but very stiff porous materials.

Science LinX newsletter November 2021
Posted on:28 October 2021

Science LinX newsletter for November 2021

Trapping molecules to find new physics
Posted on:28 October 2021

The Standard Model of particle physics has been extremely successful in describing how the universe works. However, there are some things that it cannot explain. Physicists have, therefore, been looking for new physics in particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. At the University of Groningen, a different approach has been used: in contrast to smashing up matter at high energies, physicists wanted to study molecules that are brought to rest.

Ancient genes vital for dolphin survival
Posted on:28 October 2021

Ancient genes that predate the last ice age may be the key to survival, at least if you are a dolphin, according to new research led by the University of St Andrews and involving Michael Fontaine, who was working on this project while at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES).


Opening van sterrenwacht Lauwersmeer
Posted on:04 November 2021

Op 30 oktober is in het Lauwersmeergebied de nieuwe sterrenwacht geopend van het Kapteyn Instituut voor sterrenkunde van de RUG.

A new way to fight antimicrobial resistance
Posted on:17 November 2021

During World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, the World Health Organization reminds the world that drugs to fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites can lose their effectiveness. Antimicrobial resistance has been a focus point for many researchers at the University of Groningen. Microbiologist Marjon de Vos is working on a novel approach to tackle the problem, based on ecology and evolution.

Nanopores suitable for single-molecule identification and sequencing of complete proteins
Posted on:18 November 2021

Scientists at the University of Groningen have published two papers in short succession, in Nature Chemistry and in Nature Communications, in which they describe how to construct a proteosome on top of a nanopore, which can be used for protein identification at a single-molecule level by fingerprinting and – in the future – by sequencing.

Bouwen en meten met Science LinX op Let’s Gro
Posted on:23 November 2021

Forum Groningen stond in het weekend van 5, 6 en 7 november 2021 in het teken van Let’s Gro, het inspiratiefestival over de toekomst van Groningen. Ook Science LinX was van de partij.

Inschrijving geopend voor Hersenolympiade in Groningen
Posted on:30 November 2021

Op 12 februari kunnen scholieren meedoen aan de Nederalndse voorronde van de internationale Hersenolympiade

Using mobile augmented reality games to develop key competences
Posted on:30 November 2021

Games that augment the physical world by embedding them with digital data. That is the goal of UMARG - Using Mobile Augmented Reality Games to develop key competences through learning about sustainable development, an Erasmus+ project carried out by ScienceLinX and the Institute for Science Education and Communicationz.

Science LinX newsletter December 2021
Posted on:30 November 2021

Science LinX newsletter for December 2021

PWS op school: adviesgesprekken met de steunpunten
Posted on:30 November 2021

Via de Scholierenacademie kunnen PWS-coördinatoren of -begeleiders een adviesgesprek aanvragen met een alfa/bèta/gamma steunpuntcoördinator


A smart livestock farming solution
Posted on:14 December 2021

George Azzopardi, a computer scientist from the University of Groningen, is leading a team that has devised a methodology that can recognize Holstein cows in the milking station by the pattern of their coat using artificial intelligence. The long-term vision is to develop a system that can monitor Holstein cows continuously and anywhere on a farm.

Synthetic molecular motor performs real work
Posted on:21 December 2021

Researchers from University of Groningen with colleagues from the Freien Universität Berlin (Germany) show that a synthetic molecular machine can also perform work, by driving a chemical reaction.

Seasons greetings from Science LinX
Posted on:22 December 2021

Season's greetings from Science LinX

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