Neural networks are learning algorithms that approximate the solution to a task by training with available data. However, it is usually unclear how exactly they accomplish this. Two young Basel physicists have now derived mathematical expressions that allow one to calculate the optimal solution without training a network. Their results not only give insight into how those learning algorithms work, but could also help to detect unknown phase transitions in physical systems in the future.
Good news from Antarctica: researchers have examined emperor penguins and found no evidence of microplastics in their stomachs. The study, conducted by the University of Basel and the Alfred-Wegener Institute, is an important assessment of environmental pollution at the South Pole.
Cooling materials to extremely low temperatures is important for basic physics research as well as for technological applications. By improving a special refrigerator and a low-temperature thermometer, Basel scientists have now managed to cool an electric circuit on a chip down to 220 microkelvin – close to absolute zero.
Cancer cells resemble stem cells in being extremely adaptable. University of Basel researchers have identified compounds that artificially mature breast cancer cells of the highly aggressive triple negative subtype and convert them to a state that resembles normal cells.
We aren’t very good at predicting what will make us happy. That is one finding from a study by Basel economists. They investigated the effects of purchasing a home on life satisfaction. The positive effect on happiness did not last as long as people expected.
Cilia are small hair-like organelles that extend from cells and perform many functions, including motility and signaling. Researchers have now revealed that cilia have a specialized transport hub at their base, where trains and cargos are assembled for transport throughout the cilia. Since defects in this cilia transport system can lead to e.g. cystic kidneys or blindness, the results published in Science also provide new insights into molecular basis for a variety of diseases.
It has long been proven that daylight has a positive influence on physical and mental health. Nevertheless, this knowledge is rarely used in everyday life or in clinical practice. The Integrative Human Circadian Daylight Platform aims to change this over the next few years.
Overweight increases the risk of an imbalance in sugar metabolism and even of diabetes. A research group at the University of Basel has now shown the opposite is true as well: deficits in the body’s insulin production contribute to overweight.
Nearly all vital functions in the human body are regulated by so-called G protein-coupled receptors on the cell surface. These receptors thus serve as attractive drug targets to treat various diseases. Researchers have now discovered that empty spaces inside these receptors are important for their activation and thus for relaying messages to the inner cell. Their approach to locate these voids may help to direct the search for novel drugs.
Changes to tumor cells during metastasis depend on certain molecules on the cell surface. Here, the importance of “glycolipids” in the spread of ovarian cancer has been deciphered by a Basel-led international team. These findings could pave the way for new treatment methods.