Newsletter August 2022 (1/1)
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ETH Domain News
August 25, 2022
The physicist Matthias Saurer made early use of the mass spectrometer. (© ETH Board / Kellenberger Kaminsiki)
What isotopes reveal about climate change
Matthias Saurer is a physicist and heads the WSL isotope laboratory where complex measuring procedures are used to determine plants’ isotope ratios. These provide answers to questions about nutrient and water balance in forests, for example, and important foundations for environmental and climate research.

 Using a new method, researchers can extract fluid from a cell with a tiny needle in order to measure gene activity. Since the cell remains alive, it is possible to analyse it over time. (Illustration: Duygu Koldere Vilain / EPFL)
Monitoring gene activities in living cells
Researchers from ETH Zurich and EPFL are expanding the emerging field of single-cell analysis with a ground-breaking method: Live-seq makes it possible to measure the activity of thousands of genes in a single cell without having to isolate and destroy it.

 As a Pioneer Fellow, Alexandre Anthis is currently developing a patch that reliably seals sutures on the intestine and stomach. (Photograph: Stefan Weiss, partners in gmbh / ETH Zurich) )
Sealing leaks in the stomach or intestine
ETH Pioneer Fellow Alexandre Anthis has developed a patch that seals surgical sutures on the intestines or the stomach. The material designed can also detect any leakage at an early stage – thus preventing serious complications.

 In Kleinwerkstatt Ost, Andreas Hofer constructed this complex component comprising two hollow aluminium-coated cones designed to stop muons in the Mu3e Experiment. (Photo: Paul Scherrer Institute/Mahir Dzambegovic)
PSI’s own brand
Where do the many workpieces and components needed for complex scientific experiments at PSI actually come from? They certainly cannot be ordered on the Internet. Some are produced in PSI’s large workshops as part of long-term planning. Many essential components such as mountings for samples, heating structures or vacuum feedthroughs are also produced more or less on demand by technical staff such as those working in PSI’s own dedicated small workshop: Kleinwerkstatt Ost.

 Drawing water daily from a water hole in the Central African Republic. (Photo: Unicef/Pierre Hotz)
Fluoride in the groundwater: a global map shows all risk areas
As an additive in toothpaste, it protects our teeth from decay. But when fluoride occurs in nature in larger quantities and accumulates in groundwater, it can become a hazard for our health. For the first time, Eawag scientists have produced a detailed map of global fluoride contamination in groundwater and shown which regions of the world are particularly affected.

 Professional: As a trained physicist and manager of many years', Hubert Keiber assesses the funding applications submitted. Image: Empa
"We are looking for projects in the 'valley of death'"
Hubert Keiber, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Werner Siemens Foundation, describes why the Board decided to award a 15 million Swiss francs grant to a team of Empa researchers.

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