RITA LEVI-MONTALCINI: MEMORIES ABOUT THE ITALIAN NOBEL PRIZE SCIENTIST

As italian citizen and science lover, I have the pleasure of remembering my great compatriot (and fellow citizen) Nobel Prize scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, recently passed away on age 103.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, born on April 22nd 1909 to a Jewish family in Turin (Italy), received her M.D. from the Institute of Human Anatomy of the University of  Turin, studying the nervous system.

In 1938, because of the proclamation of racial laws, she was forced to continue her research on the mechanisms of differentiation of the nervous system, first in Belgium and then in Florence (Italy).
To be able to continue the research started in Turin, in 1947 she moved to Washington University (Missouri, USA).
Then, Rita Levi-Montalcini went to Brazil at the University of Rio de Janeiro, when, in 1952, she achieved the identification of the growth factor of neuronal cells (Nerve Growth Factor, also known as the acronym NGF).

young Rita Levi Montalcini

young Rita Levi Montalcini

The following year, with the young biochemist Stanley Cohen, again in Missouri, using the in vitro system she designed, Rita performed the first biochemical characterization of the growth factor.

For this excellent discovery Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1986Here it is the Rita Levi-Montalcini’s original speech at the Nobel Banquet, in December 10, 1986.

Rita Levi Montalcini

Rita Levi Montalcini

Settled permanently in Italy, in 1969 she assumed the direction of the Institute of Cell Biology at the CNR in Rome, and, from 1993 to 1998, she was the director of the Institute of the Italian Encyclopedia.
Moreover, Rita Levi-Montalcini was a member of the most prestigious scientific academies, such as the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Accademia Pontificia, the Accademia delle Scienze, the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the Royal Society.
She also was the President of the Rita Levi-Montalcini Foundation, which provides scholarships and educational support for African women.
In 2001 she was appointed Senator for life of the Italian Republic.

One year after, in Rome, Rita Levi-Montalcini inaugurated as President the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI), one of her main projects, aimed at attracting foreign scientists to Italy, as well as offering Italian neuroscientists, working abroad, an opportunity to return home.

As last memories, two pleasant suggestions: the video “Interview with Rita Levi-Montalcini” by Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Nobelprize.org, shot in Rome on November 26th 2008 and the official Rita Levi-Montalcini’s biography In praise of imperfection – My Life and Work; New York; Sloan Foundation Science Series -Basic Books, 1988.

Advertisements

THE RUBIK’S CUBE MATH AND TUTORIAL – MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MOVES TO SOLVE CUBES WITH N SQUARES

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D mechanical puzzle invented by the Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik in 1974.

Rubik's Cube

Rubik’s Cube

Its original and simpler version (3×3) – that presents 9 squares on each of the 6 faces, with 54 squares totally – can assume up to 43.252.003.274.489.856.000 positions!

Nonetheless, every position of 3×3 Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less (named “God’s Number”), whereas the maximum number of moves required to solve a Rubik’s cube with N squares per row is proportional to N2/log N.

These two results were found respectively by the cuber Tomas Rokicki and his colleagues in 2010 and by the Erik Demaine‘s (Professor of Computer science and engineering at MIT) research team in 2011.

Finally, I suggest you to watch this tutorial video which explains how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute.

SCIENCE DISCIPLINES ON THE WEB – A CLOUD ANALYSIS OF THE GOOGLE RESULTS OF ESSENTIAL SCIENCE INDICATORS SUBJECT AREAS

Have you ever wondered what is the most discussed science discipline on the Web? As far as I am concerned, yes, I have.

So, firstly, I looked for both a popular and influential classification of science disciplines.
Therefore, I considered the Essential Science Indicators Subject Areas classification and I loosely adapted it for quering on line, resulting in the following 26 clusters:

1) Agricultural Sciences
2) Biology
3) Biochemistry
4) Chemistry
5) Clinical Medicine
6) Computer Science
7) Economics
8) Engineering
9) Ecology
10) Geosciences
11) Immunology
12) Materials Science
13) Mathematics
14) Microbiology
15) Molecular Biology
16) Genetics
17) Neuroscience
18) Pharmacology
19) Physics
20) Plant Science
21) Animal Science
22) Psychiatry
23) Psychology
24) Social Sciences
25) Space science
26) Toxicology

Then, I made the analysis of the presence on Google search engine of those terms, and these are the results:

science disciplines cloud

science disciplines cloud

As you can see in the above cloud, “Engineering” is the most used word, followed at a distance by “Economics”, “Chemistry”, “Physics” and the other ones, until “Animal Science”, the loss employed term.

UNDERSTANDING THE HIGGS BOSON WITH THREE SHORT VIDEOS (OR MORE…)

Fifty years after its existence was predicted, scientists at CERN are revealing their latest findings in search for the Higgs boson.

“What is a Higgs boson?”, “How CERN physicists are looking for it?”, “Why it matters if they find it?”. If you still haven’t found the answers to these commonly asked questions, I suggest you to keep reading (and watching).

Firstly, here is a practical video-explanation of the science correspondent of The Guardian Ian Sample.

Moreover, “How Higgs boson gives other particles their mass?” and “Why it’s a key component in our model of the weak nuclear force?”. In this video, animator Henry Reich (New Scientist TV) attempts to answer to these specific questions.

The last video, created by PHD Comics, features two scientists describing by drawing the (wrongly so-called) “God particle”.

In case you want to deepen this topic, watch also the video Best of Higgs Field Theory physicists with the interviews to Peter Higgs, Francois Englert, Carl Hagen and Gerald Guralnik, recorded at CERN on the announcement of the latest results on the Higgs boson searches.