Newsletter July 2021
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ETH Domain News
01.07.21
 
 
 
 Astrid Björnsen, scientist at WSL, who led the joint Energy Change Impact research programme of WSL and Eawag. (©Kellenberger Kaminsiki Photographie)
Eawag test with fish cells replaces animal experiments
The OECD gives the green light to the fish cell line assay developed at Eawag. This paves the way for companies and authorities around the world to determine the environmental toxicology of chemicals without having to resort to animal testing.

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In the final vote, both the Council of States, by 42 votes with 2 abstentions, and the National Council, by 195 votes to 0, recommended rejection of the initiative to ban animal and human experimentation. (©Swiss Parliament)
Parliament rejects ban on animal and human experimentation
The popular initiative against animal and human experimentation did not stand a chance in the summer session of parliament. Both the National Council and the Council of States rejected it without a dissenting vote. The Council of States also wants to discuss the role of science in a crisis in more detail. It has therefore referred a motion on the subject to its Science Committee.

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Didier Queloz will head a new centre at ETH Zurich that will address a fundamental scientific question. (Image: University of Geneva)
Next-generation implants will be biodegradable and non-invasive
EPFL engineers have developed a neural interface that disappears harmlessly in the body after several months and allows natural tissue to grow back. What’s more, it can be implanted in a patient’s blood vessel rather than inside the brain, thereby avoiding the need for invasive surgery.

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Point dendrometers mounted on tree stems continuously measure stem radii with a resolution of micrometers. The readings contain information about stem growth and tree water relations. (Photo: Roman Zweifel)
Why trees grow at night
It is a common misconception that trees grow in the daytime, when photosynthesis produces carbohydrates from CO2. However, growth not only requires carbohydrates, but also highly depends on tree water tension. A study led by WSL has now shown that tree growth takes place primarily in the dark, mainly because in daylight it is inhibited by dry air. This finding may change the way we look at the impact of climate change on forests.

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More potentially hazardous chemicals are lurking in plastics than has been assumed. This also affects recycling processes and materials. (Image: shaunl /iStock)
Worrying insights into the chemicals in plastics
ETH Zurich researchers examined chemicals in plastics worldwide. They found an unexpectedly high number of substances of potential concern intentionally used in everyday plastic products. A lack of transparency limits the management of these chemicals.

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