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Why bartenders have to ignore some signals

Published 25. November 2015

Research into pub communication with robot James continues at Bielefeld University  

A robotic bartender has to do something unusual for a machine: It has to learn to ignore some data and focus on social signals. Researchers at the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) of Bielefeld University investigated how a robotic bartender can understand human communication and serve drinks socially appropriately. For their new study, they invited participants in the lab and asked them to jump into the shoes of their robotic bartender. The participants looked through the robot’s eyes and ears and selected actions from its repertoire. The results have now been published in the open-access research journal “Frontiers in Psychology”.[Weiterlesen]
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People live their own form of spirituality

Published 10. November 2015
Bielefeld theologian publishes findings of study 

Was does spirituality mean? Each individual has his or her own answer to this question. Theologian and psychologist of religion at Bielefeld University, Professor Dr. Heinz Streib, has just published the results of a long-term study in German on the semantics and psychology of spirituality with the psychologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Barbara Keller. The title of the book is Was bedeutet Spiritualität (What does spirituality mean?).  The findings make clear that self-labelling as a “spiritual person” always occurs within a certain semantic context. For some individuals this expresses their experience of transcendence whereas for others it distances them from religion. In addition, personal biography is closely connected to how an individual perceives and understands spirituality. In parallel, Streib and his colleague Ralph Hood in Chattanooga (USA) have published a more comprehensive book in English. The title is “Semantics and the Psychology of Spirituality” and is published by Springer. Both books came out in October 2015.[Weiterlesen]
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Mammography screening: Only one in three women is well-informed

Published 4. November 2015
New study published by health care researchers at Bielefeld University

Only one in three women participating in Germany’s mammography screening programme (MSP) is well-informed about it: the higher the level of education, the greater the chance of women making an informed decision. These are the results of a study that health care researchers at Bielefeld University are publishing today (03.11.2015) in the international specialist journal PLoS One. ‘Further information and support services are needed to spread more knowledge about the programme – especially to women with little education and women with a Turkish migration background,’ sums up Junior professor Jacob Spallek, who ran the study together with Professor Petra Kolip.
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Optogenetic research on molecular switches for nerve cells

Published 29. October 2015
Publication by researchers at Bielefeld University in a young field of research into light-controlled cells

Optogenetics uses light to control neurons and other electrically excitable cells. These cells are genetically modified so that they can be targeted specifically by light of a certain wavelength. In the specialist journal Trends in Biochemical Sciences, two scientists at Bielefeld, Dr. Arash Kianianmomeni and Professor Dr. Armin Hallmann, report on new optogenetic tools that can be used not only to switch on neurons quickly but also to switch them off again quickly without disturbing the natural processes in the cell. These molecular light sensors open up new possibilities – not only for basic research in neurobiology and cell biology but also for biomedical applications.[Weiterlesen]
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Searching for new medical agents

Published 28. October 2015

German–Arabic research network studying unexplored natural substances  

The antibiotic penicillin, the cancer medication taxol, or the anti-malaria drug artemisinin (for which the Chinese scientist Youyou Tu was a joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in October) are examples of important natural substances. Originally found in plants and microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria, they are now also applied in therapeutic treatment. Such microorganisms produce a variety of different biologically active and chemically challenging molecules that make them a potentially valuable source of new medical drugs. Scientists from Tunisia, Egypt, and Germany are currently working together at Bielefeld University on isolating previously unexplored natural substances from strains of bacteria, characterizing them, and studying their uses in medicine. The German–Arabic research and training network ‘Novel Cytotoxic Drugs from Extremophilic Actinomycetes’ is being funded by the German Academic Exchange Service’s (DAAD) ‘Change by Exchange’ programme.[Weiterlesen]
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Mathematics: Humboldt Professorship for Bielefeld University

Published 26. October 2015
Germany’s most highly endowed international research award

The mathematician Professor Dr. William Crawley-Boevey has been awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship – the first prize of this kind for Bielefeld University. The Briton will be leaving the University of Leeds for Bielefeld in the coming year. This is all thanks to a Humboldt Professorship worth 3.5 million Euros over five years – the most highly endowed international research award in Germany.[Weiterlesen]
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Heavily Wired

Published 22. October 2015

How Microorganisms organise their power supply via nano-wires to oxidise the greenhouse gas methane

Electrical energy from the socket - this convenient type of power supply is apparently used by some microorganisms that form nanowire connections to transfer energy. Researchers have now discovered such small power grids between dual-species microbial consortia that jointly degrade methane. Using genetic methods and electron microscopy the scientists demonstrated how the wire-like connections between the cells are relevant in energy exchange. Now the researchers report their findings in the journal Nature.

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Do genes shape personality characteristics and social inequality?

Published 15. October 2015
New research group studying the causes of life chances at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)

We do not start life as a blank slate. Genes influence our personality characteristics and individual abilities just as strongly as social inequalities, social mobility, and social integration. But how exactly do genetic and social influences impact on our position in society? What are the advantages and disadvantages of modern research strategies such as genome-wide association studies or extended twin family designs? Can the advantages of different designs be combined? These are the questions being addressed by the second Research Group in 2015/2016 at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF). It starts on the 19th of October with an opening conference on ‘Genetic and Social Causes of Life Chances’.[Weiterlesen]
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Opus magnum for Professor Dr. Véronique Zanetti

Published 2. October 2015
Philosopher at Bielefeld University awarded grant

Compromises – what are they and what are they good for? Over the next two years, Professor Dr. Véronique Zanetti will be able to engage in an intensive academic study of this topic. She has been selected by the Volkswagen Foundation for an ‘Opus magnum’ funding. This frees outstanding academics from their university duties for up to two years by financing a teaching substitute. This grants the candidate the necessary freedom to write a larger scholarly treatise. The Volkswagen Foundation provides up to 100,000 Euro per year. This year, it has granted nine ‘opera magna’.[Weiterlesen]
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The ethics of copying

Published 2. October 2015
Conference at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) marks the start of a new research group

Human life would be impossible to imagine without the copying of things or behaviours. Copying is essential for individual and social learning processes, cultural development, and economic success. Copying enables processes of democratization by providing access to cultural goods and relevant information. However, until well into the twentieth century, copying was the business or specialists. Nowadays, through the development and dissemination of digital data and communication media along with computerized production techniques, the copying of texts, images, video recordings, and audio recordings has become an everyday mass practice that is even performed automatically. Nonetheless, this has been an increase in conflicts over who may copy what. These are the topics of the new research group ‘The Ethics of Copying’ at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) that will start work with an opening conference from the 6th to the 9th of October.[Weiterlesen]
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