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News overview 2022


Astronomers discover extremely metal-poor star stream in Milky Way
Posted on:05 January 2022

An international team of researchers including Else Starkenburg from the University of Groningen discovered the remnants of a star cluster whose stars share a uniquely low fraction of heavy elements.

Science LinX newsletter January-February
Posted on:13 January 2022

Science LinX newsletter January-February

Instagram teaches AI to recognize rooms
Posted on:26 January 2022

AI systems are usually trained in image recognition by using annotated trainingsets with images. Computer scientist Estefanía Talavera Martínez added a new data modality, audio/sound, to the teaching material that the AI system looks at. This resulted in a high success rate in recognizing indoor spaces.

Heartburn helps bacteria to survive antibiotic treatment
Posted on:27 January 2022

Even at high concentrations, antibiotics won’t kill all bacteria. There are always a few survivors, even in a bacterial population that is genetically identical. Scientists at the KU Leuven (Belgium) and the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) discovered that these survivors share a common feature: they accumulate acid in their cells.


Less powerful black hole blows environment clean after all
Posted on:10 February 2022

An international team of astronomers led by Dutch scientists has discovered that even a weak jet stream from a low-active black hole can be a kind of leaf blower to clean parts of a galaxy. This probably stops the formation of stars.

Fighting poverty won’t jeopardize climate goals
Posted on:14 February 2022

If the UN Sustainable Development Goal to lift over one billion people out of poverty were to be reached in 2030, the impact on global carbon emissions would be minimal. That sounds good; however, the main reason for this is the huge inequality in the carbon footprint of rich and poor nations. This conclusion was drawn by scientists from the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), together with colleagues from China and the US.

Synthetic data speed up yeast research
Posted on:23 February 2022

Scientists at the University of Groningen have shown that synthetic data can be used to train a convolutional neural network in the detection of yeast cells in a matter of days, rather than months. The new system performs as well as the best available neural networks trained with real annotated data.

Science LinX newsletter March
Posted on:24 February 2022

Science LinX newsletter March


Capturing the many facets of evolvability
Posted on:02 March 2022

All life evolves: microorganisms can become resistant to drugs, viruses evade our vaccines, and species may adapt to climate change. Even the ability to evolve can evolve. If we were to understand how this happens and which mechanisms play a role, it may be possible to predict evolution to some extent.

Who is taking care of the kids?
Posted on:02 March 2022

Sex roles in birds describe sex differences in courtship, mate competition, social pair-bonds, and parental care. Different explanations have been put forward to explain these differences but none are based on a comprehensive study. Therefore, an international team of experts set out to analyse data on 1,800 of the approximately 9,000 different species of birds as their study organisms.

Astronomers take heartbeat of black hole
Posted on:08 March 2022

A black hole gets a large corona first, and only after that it emits jets. This is revealed, among other things, by the heart beat graph that an international team of astronomers, led by Mariano Méndez from the University of Groningen, has made of a black hole and a star orbiting around each other.

How to use the rocks beneath Groningen
Posted on:08 March 2022

Johannes Miocic, Assistant Professor of Geo Energy, is studying the rocks from the Groningen gas field. This should provide more information on what to expect – and how to make better use of those rocks.

Light-controlled drug carrier brings precision therapy closer
Posted on:10 March 2022

If you want to treat a tumour, the chemotherapeutic drug has to travel through the patient’s entire body, potentially causing many side effects in healthy tissues. Scientists at the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen have produced a light-controlled ‘cage’ that ‘opens’ to deliver the drug to where it is needed.

New flow battery stores power in simple organic compound
Posted on:16 March 2022

The intermittent supply of green electricity requires large-scale storage to keep our power grids stable. Since normal batteries do not scale very well, the idea of using flow batteries, which store electricity in a fluid is attractive. Scientists at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, have designed a flow battery electrolyte that is cheaper and is based on an organic compound, rather than a metal.

How cells control their borders
Posted on:25 March 2022

Bacteria and yeast need to prevent leakage of numerous small molecules through their cell membrane. Biochemists at the University of Groningen have studied how the composition of the membrane affects passive diffusion and the robustness of this membrane. Their results could help the biotech industry to optimize microbial production of useful molecules and help in drug design.

RUG organiseert Nederlandse Sterrenkunde Olympiade 2022
Posted on:31 March 2022

De Nederlandse Sterrenkunde Olympiade wordt dit jaar georganiseerd door de astronomen van het Kapteyn Instituut van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

Science LinX newsletter April
Posted on:31 March 2022

Science LinX newsletter April

Docentenmiddag CurioUs op 20 april
Posted on:31 March 2022

Wil je met jouw leerlingen onderzoeksvaardigheden oefenen in de praktijk en tegelijk bijdragen aan wetenschappelijk onderzoek? Hebben jouw leerlingen meetinstrumenten nodig voor hun PWS? Of ben je zelf op zoek naar meetinstrumenten voor in jouw les? Het CurioUs?-project biedt uitkomst.


Early Universe bristled with starburst galaxies
Posted on:04 April 2022

In the first few billion years after the Big Bang, the universe contained far more so-called starburst galaxies than models predict. As many as 60 to 90 percent of the stars in the early universe appear to have been produced by galaxies undergoing a growth spurt. This is what an analysis of more than 20,000 distant galaxies show. The team, led by astronomers from University of Groningen (the Netherlands) will soon publish its findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

‘We have wasted two crises’
Posted on:04 April 2022

On 4 April, the third working group report of the sixth IPCC assessment cycle was published. One of the Lead Authors for this part of the sixth IPCC climate report is Klaus Hubacek, Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen, at the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Groningen.

Drie 'aardscheerders' blijken toch ongevaarlijk
Posted on:08 April 2022

Een team van sterrenkundigen van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen heeft vastgesteld dat drie planetoïden, waarvan werd gedacht dat ze een gevaar vormen voor de aarde, de komende honderd jaar zeker niet zullen inslaan. Ze kwamen tot hun resultaten na spitwerk in telescooparchieven met behulp van geavanceerde datascience-technieken.

Mathematics increases the resolution of MRI measurements of tissue stiffness
Posted on:13 April 2022

Mathematicians at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, in collaboration with scientists from Chile and Germany, have developed a mathematical theory and algorithm that overcome some of the key challenges associated with a technique to measure stiffness in tissues in an MRI scanner.

Space dust, asteroids and comets can account for all water on Mercury
Posted on:21 April 2022

Mercury harbors water ice in the shadows of the steepest craters around its poles. But it is unclear how those water molecules ended up on Mercury. Now a new simulation by scientists from the University of Groningen and SRON Netherlands Institute for Sp ace Research shows that incoming minor bodies such as asteroids, comets and dust particles carry enough water to account for all the ice sheets present.


Chinese penduline tit buries eggs to prevent them from blowin’ in the wind
Posted on:14 April 2022

Many animal species bury their eggs, for a number of different reasons. While it is firmly established that Eurasian penduline tits bury them because of sexual conflict, their Chinese counterparts seem to have an entirely different reason. Experimental manipulations show that for these birds burial prevents the eggs from falling out of the nest in strong winds.

Science LinX newsletter May
Posted on:04 May 2022

Science LinX newsletter May

The best of two worlds
Posted on:19 May 2022

The University of Groningen research centre CogniGron aims to develop a novel type of computer that is inspired by the brain. To achieve this goal, it collaborates with companies such as IBM. The IBM PhD Fellowship is a clear example of such a collaboration: two students enrolled in this programme, which provides them with the opportunity to work in Groningen and at the IBM Research Institute in Zürich, Switzerland.

New insights into how the gut regulates bacterial communities
Posted on:24 May 2022

Together with colleagues from the US, microbiologist Sahar El Aidy and her team at the University of Groningen investigated how catestatin could affect the microbial composition in the gut. The results may have implications for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and were published in the ISME journal (online 19 April).

Cryogenic electron microscopy reveals drug targets against common fungus
Posted on:25 May 2022

An international group of scientists, including Albert Guskov, associate professor at the University of Groningen, have used single-particle cryogenic electron microscopy to determine the structure of the ribosome of Candida albicans. Their results, which were published in Science Advances on 25 May, reveal a potential target for new drugs.

Science LinX newsletter June
Posted on:31 May 2022

Science LinX newsletter June


Fecal transplant throws new light on inflammatory bowel disease
Posted on:03 June 2022

Inflammatory bowel disease is accompanied by a number of changes in the intestines, such as a change in epithelial permeability, a change in the composition of the microorganisms, and altered levels of antimicrobial substances that are secreted by cells lining the gut. Finding out whether changes are a cause or an effect of the inflammation is difficult. Sahar El Aidy, a microbiologist at the University of Groningen, together with colleagues from San Diego (US), have now teased out the causal chain leading to inflammation.

Sensor imperfections are perfect for forensic camera analysis
Posted on:21 June 2022

In a project aimed at developing intelligent tools to fight child exploitation, University of Groningen computer scientists have developed a system to analyse the noise produced by individual cameras. This information can be used to link a video or an image to a particular camera.

Student turns maths lecture into music
Posted on:28 June 2022

Mathematics and music are to some extent related. So, when Aditya Ganesh, amateur musician and Master’s student of Computing Science at the University of Groningen, sat in a lecture on complex behaviour created by a simple formula, he saw the potential for a new music piece. It took him six months to convert a logistic map into a nearly eight minutes’ long composition called ‘Feigenbaum’s Orbit’.

Science LinX newsletter July/August
Posted on:30 June 2022

Science LinX newsletter July/August


New molecular motor runs on chemical fuel
Posted on:18 July 2022

A team led by Ben Feringa, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen, and Depeng Zhao of Sun Yat-Sen University (Guangzhou, China) has created a unidirectional molecular motor that runs on chemical fuel, just like molecular motor complexes in our cells. The newly designed molecular motor was presented in the scientific journal Nature on 6 July and could eventually be used to perform mechanical functions.


Answering big questions with a simple telescope
Posted on:21 July 2022

There is a lot that we do not know about the Universe. Some of the answers may hide in the glow that was emitted by neutral hydrogen atoms during the cosmic dawn. Daan Meerburg, a physicist at the University of Groningen, is working on the data analysis pipeline for a telescope that will be able to observe this extremely faint glow.


Legacy of ancient Ice Ages shapes how seagrasses respond to environmental threats today
Posted on:01 August 2022

Deep evolution casts a longer shadow than previously thought, scientists report in a new paper published the week of Aug. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Smithsonian scientists and colleagues, including University of Groningen emeritus professor Jeanine Olsen, looked at eelgrass communities—the foundation of many coastal marine food webs along the north Atlantic and Pacific coasts—and discovered their ancient genetic history can play a stronger role than the present-day environment in determining their size, structure and who lives in them.

Watching molecules move inside bacterial cells
Posted on:12 August 2022

Cells with a nucleus contain compartments with the machinery to carry out specific tasks. Although bacterial cells have no such compartments, evidence suggests that even these cells are not homogeneous. Biochemists from the University of Groningen have now mapped diffusion rates inside a bacterial cell, which identified distinct regions.

The cities that lead China on carbon reduction
Posted on:30 August 2022

Thirty-eight Chinese cities have reduced their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) despite growing economies and populations for at least five years. A further 21 cities have cut CO2 emissions as their economies or populations have ‘declined’ over the same period - defined as passively emission declined cities. This is revealed by new research from the Universities of Birmingham (UK), Groningen (Netherlands), and Tsinghua University (China).

Climate change will affect wheat harvest, increase economic inequality
Posted on:30 August 2022

Wheat is a key source of nutrition for people across the globe. Rising temperatures may affect wheat harvests: the yield is likely to increase at high latitudes and decrease in low latitudes, meaning that prices for the grain are likely to change unevenly and increase in much of the Global South, enhancing existing inequalities. To assess the consequences, an international team which includes University of Groningen professor of Climate and Environmental Change Richard Bintanja has developed a new climate-wheat-economic ensemble modeling approach.


Science LinX newsletter September
Posted on:01 September 2022

Science LinX newsletter September

A fresh look at metals reveals a ‘strange’ similarity
Posted on:06 September 2022

The current taxonomy of metals appears to be too blurry and contains too many exceptions to be convincing. Scientists from the University of Groningen analysed more than 30 metals and show that a simple formula can provide a classification of metals in a more systematic manner.

New binding site to the cell membrane identified for Tubby protein
Posted on:07 September 2022

The molecular dynamics group headed by Siewert-Jan Marrink investigates the interactions of proteins and lipids (fats) in membranes by means of simulations. In collaboration with researchers from Germany, they identified a previously unknown lipid binding site in the barrel-shaped Tubby protein that could help to understand various diseases.

Giant magnon spin wave conductance in ultrathin insulators surprises researchers
Posted on:22 September 2022

When you make conducting wires thinner, their electrical resistance goes up. This is Ohm’s law, and it is generally right. An important exception is at very low temperatures, where the mobility of electrons increases when wires become so thin that they are effectively two-dimensional. Now, University of Groningen physicists, together with colleagues at Brest University have observed that something similar happens with the conductivity of magnons, spin waves that travel through magnetic insulators, much like a Mexican wave through a stadium.

European award for education project coordinated by Science LinX
Posted on:22 September 2022

Eleven partners from three countries (The Netherlands, Spain, and Cyprus) and the European Science Engagement Association have developed teaching modules on biodiversity, water management, and bird migration.

‘We zien nu al een rif vol leven’
Posted on:27 September 2022

Sinds november 2021 liggen langs de Groningse Lauwersmeerdijk 48 kunstmatige riffen om de onderwaternatuur van de Waddenzee te versterken. Onderzoekers hebben de riffen langs de Lauwersmeerdijk voor het eerst naar boven gehaald, om te kijken wat er op en rond leeft.

Fighting bird flu with genetically engineered bacteria
Posted on:28 September 2022

Over the last few years, bird flu has become endemic in large parts of Europe. Students from the University of Groningen have come up with a novel way of protecting birds: by genetically engineering a bacterium that is naturally present in the lungs of poultry. The project is their entry for the annual iGEM competition.

Science LinX newsletter October
Posted on:29 September 2022

Science LinX newsletter Ocotober


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