The robots are marching on

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00
“The future has already begun.” Gerhard Weiss, professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, prepares us for the coming onrush in robotics. Like his colleague Tsjalling Swierstra, professor of Philosophy, he thinks robots will make our lives more comfortable, but also more complicated. We should see robots as helpers, saysWeiss,not as enemies.Swierstra is decidedly more reserved: we will need to control the new technology, lest it controls us.

The dry feet of the Dutch

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:13
When Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage in the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and north-eastern United States last October, heads turned once again towards the Netherlands. Our country's reputation in the field of flood safety is more than a matter of national pride; it has been unparalleled since the construction of the Delta Works. With strikingly dry feet for the past decades, have we won the battle against the water? Not quite, according to Trudes Heems and Baukje Kothuis. The common belief that we have been saved once and for all is a myth, they argue in their joint PhD thesis.

The nuclear family: not ideal for everyone

In Society
Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:28
What is a family? Are children best raised by their heterosexual, biological parents? The book Families – Beyond the Nuclear Ideal considers a range of relationships and family structures that depart from the ideal of two young, married heterosexuals raising genetic offspring that they conceived sexually. Daniela Cutas, researcher at the Department of Health, Ethics and Society at Maastricht University, co-edited the book with her colleague from the University of Manchester, Sarah Chan. Cutas did her PhD on the ethics and policy of human genetic engineering. “Not everybody fits into the nuclear ideal. What are we going to do about that?”, she asks. Read on for a conversation about boys with pink boots, three parents instead of two and artificial gametes.

The first remarkable thing about Hans Bosman’s PhD thesis is the subject: The History of the Dutch Cocaine Factory and its Successors. Few people are aware of the fact that in 1900 this factory was established to manufacture cocaine, used as a local anaesthetic. The second thing is that the PhD student himself worked in this factory from 1960 as chief chemist. And finally his age: he is 82.  “Doing this research as a PhD project sharpened my focus, but I primarily did it for the intellectual challenge.”

This autumn, closely followed by media worldwide, professor of Vascular Physiology Mark Post will cook and serve the first ‘test-tube hamburger’,made of tiny pieces of meat produced in-vitro. Will his cutting-edge research have a drastic impact on traditional meat production?


More data, less animal testing

Wednesday, 07 December 2011 11:38

Major EU grant to combine toxicogenomics data

Once upon a time, you could run a lab experiment to identify the harmfulness of a substance that yielded a single result, then start doing your calculations on the back of an envelope. Those days are over. In toxicogenomics – Kleinjans’s primary research field – experiments now look at how all 30,000 or so human genes react to a certain substance. The result: a huge pile of data to analyse and interpret. The latest technology that Kleinjans now has in-house yields 2.5 million results per measurement. These data have to be gathered, saved and checked, then subjected to statistical techniques to interpret them at a biological level. In other words: to find out whether the substance is doing something to a cell. The upshot: laboratory workers who are first and foremost toxicologists, like Kleinjans, now also have to be well versed in informatics and computer science. For this reason, around 20% of the Toxicogenomics department now consists of ‘toxico-informaticians’.


BioMiMedics

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 15:04

Euregional collaboration as basis for top performance

Cross-border scientific collaboration. It should be a fact of life, certainly here in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion with its high concentration of universities and research institutes. Practitioners have been resistant. But the founding of BioMiMedics is a big step in the right direction, as UM professor and project leader Leo Koole explains.


CAPHRI brings Centre of Research Excellence to Maastricht 

Come up with clever technological solutions and launch these on the market, to ensure that healthcare in the Netherlands remains accessible and affordable. That, put simply, is the task of the Centre for Care Technology Research (CCTR), which was founded late last year. The Maastricht research institute CAPHRI will play a key role in the new centre. According to scientific director Professor Onno van Schayck, this represents nothing less than “a fantastic and tough challenge”.


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