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Press Releases from FWF - Austrian Science Fund (73 total)

Exploring "emo-eating"

While fear and aggression tend to curb our appetite, sadness and frustration seem to stimulate it. A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF looks into the connections between mood and overeating in healthy and bulimic individuals. We know how it feels to look forward to our favourite dish; we are familiar with the notions of comfort food and feeling butterflies in the stomach instead of hunger. In eating

Neurosciences: a stress test for men and women

Whilst it is true that women and men respond differently to stress, current neuroscientific research only partially confirms traditional gender stereotypes. Other factors heavily contribute to the stress response such as self-esteem, hormones and stress regulation, as has been demonstrated by a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. How people react to stress is subjective. Gender also plays a fundamental role. Scientific studies have shown that the stress

Researching the grammar of sign language

Like spoken language, sign language has a complex and differentiated structure. One just has to be able to discern and interpret it. With the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a research team from Klagenfurt is working on the elements of a grammar of sign language. It is language that distinguishes Homo sapiens from animals. A complex system in which smaller units combine into larger units, into sentences, into statements.

Using mathematics to hunt for computer errors

Improving the security of computer software and hardware requires mathematical analytic methods. Thanks to research by a team of computer scientists led by Krishnendu Chatterjee in a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, these methods will work significantly faster in the future. Security gap in application discovered, update urgently recommended. Alerts like that can confront us every week. Often, a comprehensive update that addresses teething troubles is already

The many layers of Bella Asmara

Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, is a much admired time capsule reflecting the Italian "dolce vita" of the 1930s. A cluster of modernist buildings has been preserved at the city centre – an Italian futurist vision erected by Mussolini's colonial administration. The postcolonial context of this cultural gem has now been documented in a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Asmara, the capital of the young state of Eritrea,

Tyrolean national singers on world tour

The "Rainer Family", a Tyrolean group of singers, and their predecessors the Rainer siblings were the first Tyrolean music stars to enjoy success on an international scale. In a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, their impact on the history of music and culture was investigated for the first time. Hailing from Fügen in the Tyrolean Zillertal valley, the Rainer siblings were the first vocal group from the German-speaking

A New Light on Blocked Arteries

Narrowed and blocked arteries can now be diagnosed faster and more accurately with the help of special computer-aided image analysis techniques. This advance was made possible by the development of innovative techniques for the detailed visualisation of blood vessels with the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Peripheral arterial occlusive disease poses a major health risk to patients. Various treatment options (widening, stenting, bypassing) offer good chances of recovery. The

The American view of Russia

US media play an important role in the rekindled debates about cultural values and national identities as between America and Russia. – A battle waged on the back of minorities, as demonstrated by a current research project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Is homosexuality forbidden in Russia? If one does not know for sure one would probably guess the answer is "yes". The image of a country under

In vivo veritas: Vine pest in Austria is genetically variable

Exactly 14 different variants of a very specific bacterium that damages grapevines can be found in Austria. This is one of the key results of a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which looked at the damage caused to vines by phytoplasmas. For plant pathologists, phytoplasmas represent the "sinister forces": they are linked to over 100 plant diseases. Up until now, however, it has not been possible to culture

Voters' choices ...

More and more voters decide on the basis of issues. Just how credibly political parties make such issues their own and communicate them will determine their success. A group of researchers from Vienna documents developments and decision-making processes with support from the Austrian Science Fund FWF. The welfare state, the economy and integration – these topics are mainstays of Austrian election campaigns. This was the case in 2008, again in

No fear! Neuropeptide may aid targeted anxiety therapy

The targeted control of biochemical processes and neuronal signalling pathways using the messenger substance neuropeptide Y could help in the future treatment of anxiety disorders. This is demonstrated in research findings by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which were recently published in the scientific journal "Neuropsychopharmacology". Palpitations, sweating and sleep problems – most people have already experienced symptoms of anxiety. As a response to danger, fear is vital for our survival.

Small and extremely resilient – the secrets of black fungi

Highly resistant to stresses, black fungi are real champions among microorganisms. With the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a research team in Vienna discovered that the fungi owe their qualities to hitherto unknown proteins and special processes at cellular level. They are true survival artists, not minding the cold any more than they do heat. Whether their environment offers little or plentiful oxygen, is wet, salty, dry or

Optimised long-term care for persons with dementia

Nursing homes face enormous challenges due to the growing number of persons with dementia. Evidence-based decisions should play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges. Up to now, however, very few research studies on institutional long-term care in Europe provide a good evidence base. A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which focuses on persons with dementia in particular, aims to rectify this. Life expectancy is rising – as

The birth of newspapers

A valuable collection of 16,000 handwritten newsletters assembled by the Fugger brothers has come down to us in Vienna. In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, these newsletters were subjected to scholarly research and made accessible by digitisation, thus revealing their significance in understanding the birth of modern news communications. In the late 16th century, two brothers from the illustrious Fugger merchant family had news from all

Nazi psychology in Austria

The history of academic psychology after the "Anschluss", the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, and its role as a discipline used in National Socialist policies is being examined systematically for the first time in a research project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. "It is a sad fact”, says psychologist Gerhard Benetka from the Sigmund Freud University Vienna "that applied psychology flourished during the National Socialist era

Development policy during the Cold War

In a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, historians from the University of Vienna explored the everyday life of development-aid staff at the time of the East-West confrontation, thereby making an essential contribution to the global history of development policy. About 30 East German (GDR) engineers, 200 Cuban mechanics and 4000 local workers were involved in building the Mugher cement factory in Ethiopia. Constructed in 1980 and largely

Comet dust: A journey through time to the origins of the Solar System

Comet dust from the Rosetta mission is providing insights into the origins of our Solar System. A research project focussing on the dust, which is supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF and being carried at the Space Research Institute (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, has direct access to data from a high resolution atomic force microscope on board the Rosetta orbiter. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta mission

Biochar improves crop growth and climate

The use of biochar in agriculture improves soil fertility, especially in tropical regions, and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions. A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF studied the positive impact of the "fertiliser of the future" on ecosystems and nutrient cycles. In agriculture and in science, expectations for the benefits of biochar have been high in recent years. Modelled on the ancient practices of Amazonian farmers, charred biodegradable waste is

Hidden HIV Revealed: New Insights Into Latent HIV Infections

In spite of ever more effective therapies, HIV keeps managing to survive in the body. A comprehensive project conducted by the Austrian Science Fund FWF has clarified the molecular processes which contribute to this effect. In the process, approaches were discovered for possible therapies to combat the hidden reservoir formed by the virus. Thanks to modern therapies, HIV infections have become controllable – but these treatments cannot provide a cure. Antiretroviral

Lithium drugs: no prescription residues in drinking water

Studies show that lithium contained in drinking water lowers suicide rates. This still holds true when taking account of drug residues of lithium prescriptions, as has been shown by a current study for Austria within the context of a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Can it be true or is it a coincidence, pondered the psychiatric consultant Nestor Kapusta when learning of a Japanese study showing that

Politics: Motion patterns and voice determine impressions

The motion patterns and voices of politicians influence the way in which their personality is judged. For example, expansive chopping movements of the arms create an impression of dominance within seconds. This has been demonstrated by a study conducted with the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Every day, politicians compete for the favour of the electorate. In the process, they also communicate via non-verbal signals: "We mustn't underestimate the

Systematic controls in the East: migration management and border security in the …

Systematic controls were carried out at the Habsburg Empire's border with the Ottoman Empire as far back as the 18th century. Combined with the mobility control of Ottoman migrants, they were key features of Habsburg population policy. The development of this policy is currently being studied with the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF. The protection of external borders and control of migratory movements are not only a matter

How our gender influences us

Women and men often show marked differences as regards mental illnesses. In order to learn more about this phenomenon, a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF explored how opposite-sex hormonal therapy applied to transgender individuals influences the brain. In basic research, breakthroughs are often the result of a combination of curiosity and chance. In order to explore biological factors in mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorders,

The marine super glue

Barnacles exude an adhesive with exceptional bonding properties. In a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, biologists from Vienna have investigated this substance which has enormous medical and engineering potential and have thereby gained many new insights. It was a typical case of serendipity. Strolling along a beach on the Danish North Sea coast during his holidays and looking at the flotsam beneath his feet, a German scientist

Stability of cheap solar cells improved

The stability of a very efficient and cheap material for solar cells has now been enhanced by up to two orders of magnitude. The material manipulations that enabled this enhancement were developed in a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF – and their "secret" was recently published in Nano Letters. Lead-halide perovskites are the darling of solar cell research: the crystalline material is used for cost-effective manufacturing processes and,

Dementia from an art and design perspective

Demographic change requires a new approach to dementia. A project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF creates awareness of the issue using innovative artistic methods that sharpen the perception and sensitivity of people unaffected by the ailment. Dementia patients often suffer from social stigma. Everyday errands such as shopping, financial transactions or going to the theatre may be difficult for them, so they withdraw from society in order to avoid

More moisture in the Arctic than thought

Comparing special radar measurements can precisely identify soil moisture in Arctic polar regions. This has revealed that the scale of the Arctic wetlands may be a lot vaster than previously assumed. The method, which is important for numerous climate models, was developed by a team working on remote sensing with the aid of satellites and permafrost soil in the Arctic tundra region, an ongoing project of the Austrian Science Fund

The computer as architect: Mathematics liberates building design from traditiona …

Creative architecture and modern construction technology create impressive buildings – but discrete differential geometry has also recently been playing a role in this area. The results of a mathematics project conducted by the Austrian Science Fund FWF show that this branch of geometry can be used to realise particularly breathtaking construction concepts. Latest the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, demonstrated how impressively building structures can free themselves from the confines

Equip robots with common sense

In the future, a new generation of autonomous robots is set to complete tasks autonomously, even if something unforeseeable happens. With the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, information technology experts in Graz are working to advance the development of artificial intelligence and equip robots with common sense. Something that children learn through play and that adults are able to do on the basis of past experience, such as

Coeliac disease triggered by viruses

The onset of the autoimmune condition coeliac disease may not be down to genetic factors alone – certain viral infections may also be involved. This is the finding of a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which systematically investigated the possible link between the disease and viral infections for the first time and envisages vaccination as a possible solution. Digestive problems, severe inflammation of the small intestine and

The sound of old music

In addition to their shape, the material that brass instruments are made of determines their sound. This was demonstrated by acousticians in a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF on reconstructing the sound of historical trombones. The trombone probably saw the light of day in the 15th century. Over the centuries, this brass instrument has undergone significant changes both in its shape and its sound. The early or

Cholesterol-lowering drug kills melanoma cells – if messenger substance is pre …

Special cholesterol-lowering drugs can hamper the growth of metastasising melanoma cells if the cellular messenger substance Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is present. This link was observed in a research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the results of which were recently published in the journal "Melanoma Research". In laboratory tests, statins (cholesterol-lowering agents) trigger a suicide programme in melanoma cells – however, it is not yet known why this does not

Graphene: Progress, not quantum leaps

The interactions between graphene and its environment have a significant influence on the use of this promising material by the semiconductor industry. Thanks to the comprehensive findings of an international research project, these interactions are now better understood and can be controlled as a result. Graphene is an atom-thin layer of carbon. Thanks to its unique structural and electronic characteristics, the material has enormous potential and has been the focus of

Antisemitism and parliamentary rhetoric

A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF investigates the relationship between parliamentary debate and the development of democracy in post-fascist societies. Using Austria as an example, the researchers demonstrate how political rhetoric influences national identity and democratic culture. Detailed analysis of parliamentary debate has so far been neglected in parliamentary studies as well as in contemporary theories of democracy. The political scientist Eva Kreisky and her team (Nicolas

Calculating landslides & slope failures

The threat of slope instability will be easier to predict in future. Scientists working on an Austrian Science Fund project have succeeded in developing a new numerical model for this purpose. The model enables the calculation of important physical factors relating to slope stability for the first time. Due to the complexity of the factors involved, this was not possible up to now. Landslides are always good for a surprise –

Profiling mosquitoes

In the wake of climate change and globalisation, non-indigenous mosquito species establish in Europe together with the pathogens they transmit. A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF is currently investigating mosquito species found in Austria and their role in the transmission of pathogens. Mosquitoes like warm and humid atmospheres and are attracted by carbon dioxide, the scent of skin and contrasts in light. In the past two years,

Regulatory agencies: Let's have a party

Party affiliation plays a significant role in Austria and across Europe when it comes to filling management positions in independent regulatory bodies. This is one of the key findings of a study conducted as part of a project by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Telecommunications, utilities and public transport are three former government monopolies that have been privatised in many countries in the course of market liberalisation over the past 20

Important messenger substance in human cells measured "live" for the first time

Scientists have succeeded in making real-time measurements of changes in the concentration of the important messenger substance nitric oxide (NO) in human cells for the first time. The breakthrough, which has been published in the journal "Nature Communications", was achieved by fusing two special proteins which then acted as a measurement probe. The fusion protein can be genetically coded and thus directly produced in the cells to be tested. This

Mechanical ventilation as aggravating factor in lung failure

Mechanical ventilation can contribute to lung damage by inducing rapid changes in oxygen levels. Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna are now conducting studies for the first time into the significance of these changes as aggravating factors in lung failure. Many severely ill patients suffer acute respiratory failure in intensive care units (ICUs). These patients have great difficulty in breathing, their blood oxygen level drops sharply and the carbon

A special part of the immune system involved in rare epilepsy

The complement system, which forms part of our immune system, is involved in a special form of epilepsy. This is the conclusion of a recently published single-case study. The study, carried out as part of a project sponsored by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, provided useful information for patient-specific treatment. For many years, Jan Bauer of the Centre for Brain Research at the Medical University of Vienna has been studying a

Vaccination policy: Understanding political processes

Health topics polarise people. Funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a research project relating to HPV vaccination demonstrates to what extent important decisions are informed by politics. How do political measures reach maturity? Who are the players? What are the circumstances determining whether new strategies are introduced or not? How are decisions made at political level translated into practice? Using the example of health-policy measures, the political scientist Katharina

Sleeping soundly: unsaturated fatty acids play a role in winter hibernation

The duration of the periods for which animals hibernate in winter is affected by the quantity of unsaturated fatty acids that they absorb from their food. How animals react to an excess – or a lack – of unsaturated fatty acids is now being studied in an Austrian Science Fund FWF project. Hibernating animals don't always have it easy. Instead of spending the whole winter in energy-saving mode, they need to

An epoch revisited: A new A to Z of inter-war Austrian culture – in print and …

A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF is currently exploring the literary and cultural landscape of the inter-war years in Austria. The results, which are published in several books and on an Internet research platform, will provide comprehensive access to the topics and creative figures of the period. The "Anschluss" debate, the Habsburg Myth and Red Vienna, Arthur Schnitzler and Robert Musil – the cultural and literary history

Smart micro chips may optimise human vision

To date, chip-based retinal implants have only permitted a rudimentary restoration of vision. However, modifying the electrical signals emitted by the implants could change that. This is the conclusion of the initial published findings of a project sponsored by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which showed that two specific retinal cell types respond differently to certain electrical signals – an effect that could improve the perception of light-dark contrasts. "Making the

At the Far End of the Pipeline – Long-Distance Commuting as a Way of Life

Life as a shift-worker, far from home, is usually considered problematic and often described in such terms. An interdisciplinary project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF focuses on the Russian petroleum industry to study the complex interconnections in long-distance commuting and reconstituting the normality of a life between extremes. Oil and gas extraction sites are gradually shifting to the Arctic north. Depending on the method of calculation, about 20

A Ranking of Environmental Chemicals

How dangerous are environmental chemicals and what is their effect on human health? In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the pharmacist Daniela Schuster is currently developing a computer-based "early warning system" for potentially dangerous substances. In our daily lives we are exposed to a great variety of environmental chemicals found in cleaning substances, cosmetics, plastic products, textiles or food supplements. Many of these synthetic products leave

Scientists Gain Unique Insight into the Function of a Key Muscle Protein

Thanks to the first high-resolution structural analysis of the muscle protein α-actinin, scientists now have a better understanding of how muscles work. The analysis provides crucial information about the structure and function of this complex muscle protein and could lead to the development of new treatments for major muscular disorders. The results of the project, which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF and the European Commission, were recently

Brain Training Instead of Medication to Counter Insomnia

The ability to finally enjoy a good night’s sleep is something that can be learned. An Austrian Science Fund FWF project has investigated how this can best be learned and who responds best to such "brain training". Dark circles around the eyes, tired limbs, absent-mindedness – most people have experienced the effects on the body of a short night. "Roughly one-third of the Austrian population as a whole suffers from

Electrifying Research: Piezoelectric Effects for the Suppression of Material Str …

The generation of electrical charges in response to mechanical deformation is a distinctive feature of piezoelectric materials. This property can be used to avoid mechanical stresses in special materials. A project currently funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF will make a key contribution to the optimisation of these "intelligent materials". High levels of mechanical stress reduce the lifespan of construction components. This is true for all types of materials; exposure

Brain Activity During Cardiac Arrest

All over the world, researchers are trying to solve an age-old mystery: What happens in the brain when the heart stops? With the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, medical experts from Vienna are participating in an international study that looks into memory processes during cardiac arrest. How do we learn languages, how do feelings arise and what happens while we sleep? State-of-the-art methods of brain research are able

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