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Flash Physics is our daily pick of the latest need-to-know developments from the global physics community selected by Physics World's team of editors and reporters The Spanish astronomer Xavier Barcons will take over as director general (DG) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in September 2017, replacing the current DG Tim de Zeeuw who completes his mandate. Barcons is a professor at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research in Madrid and is an expert in the field of X-ray astronomy. He served as ESO council president in 2012–2014 and is currently chair of the organization’s Observing Programmes Committee. Based in Garching, Germany, the ESO has three observing sites in Chile. “I look forward to seeing the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) come to fruition and overseeing the further development of the Very Large Telescope, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and many other projects at ESO,” said Barcons. A molecular fountain has been created that allows molecules to be observed for very long times as they free fall. Created by Hendrick Bethlem and colleagues at Vrije University in the Netherlands, the technique involves cooling ammonia molecules to milliKelvin temperatures and then launching them upwards at about 1.6 m/s. The molecules can then be studied in free fall for as long as 266 ms. This set-up is similar to atomic fountains, which allow very precise measurements to be made of atomic energy levels and form the basis for atomic clocks. A molecular fountain has proven much more difficult to create because molecules can vibrate and rotate – and this makes it very difficult to cool and manipulate them using conventional laser techniques. Bethlem and colleagues overcame this problem by using electric field gradients to exert forces on ammonia, which is a polar molecule. The team says that its new molecular fountain could be used to look for tiny deviations from the Standard Model of particle physics – which could be revealed by tiny shifts in molecular energy levels. Tests of the equivalence principle of Einstein’s general theory of relativity could also be done by measuring the acceleration due to gravity experienced by different types of molecule. The fountain is described in Physical Review Letters. An X-ray imaging technique that could only be done at large synchrotron facilities has been adapted for widespread use by Sandro Olivo at University College London and colleagues. Called X-ray phase-contrast imaging (XPCI), the method involves measuring changes in the phase of an X-ray beam as it travels through a sample. This is unlike conventional X-ray imaging, which measures the attenuation of the X-ray beam. The technique is better able to distinguish structures in living tissue, making it ideal for medical imaging. XPCI is also better at finding tiny cracks and defects in materials and could also be used to detect the presence of weapons and explosives in baggage. However, XPCI could only be done using the laser-like X-ray beams produced by synchrotrons – which are huge electron accelerators. Now, Olivo and colleagues have developed a technique that allows XPCI to be performed using X-rays generated by conventional medical sources. It involves first passing the X-rays through a “mask” containing an array of apertures to create a number of beams. These then interact with the sample before passing through a second mask to a detector. This configuration converts differences in phase to differences in measured intensity. “We've now advanced this embryonic technology to make it viable for day-to-day use in medicine, security applications, industrial production lines, materials science, non-destructive testing, the archaeology and heritage sector, and a whole range of other fields," says Olivo. The technology has already been licensed to Nikon Metrology UK for use in a security scanner and UCL and Nikon are currently developing a medical scanner.


Cayuela D.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Maillo J.,Polytechnic University of Catalonia | Morales C.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Manich A.M.,Polytechnic University of Catalonia
Fibers and Polymers | Year: 2014

The anomalous behaviour of polyamide 6.6 fibres textured by false twist to different physico-chemical techniques (as the critical dissolution time, CDT), compared with those obtained in polyester fibres, was attributed to a cracking of the surface and/or to an increase in fibre porosity. This cracking appears when original fibre is treated at high temperature and it is due to the breakage of the skin/core structure of polyamide 6.6. This cracking has been demonstrated by the determination of drying kinetics in a thermogravimetric test that has been developed for this fibre. © 2014 The Korean Fiber Society and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Ruiz de Galarreta J.I.,Neiker Instituto Vasco Of Investigacion Y Desarrollo Agrario | Butron A.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Ortiz-Barredo A.,Neiker Instituto Vasco Of Investigacion Y Desarrollo Agrario | Malvar R.A.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | And 3 more authors.
Food Control | Year: 2015

Maize is traditionally used for bakery in several countries, and autochthonous varieties are increasingly demanded particularly for organic agriculture, but one of the dangers of cereal consumption is mycotoxin contamination. Mycotoxins are dangerous for health and might be present in any grain depending on genotypes and environments. In the present work we assess the natural levels of fumonisin and deoxynivalenol (DON) contaminations in nine diverse open-pollinated maize varieties grown in four different locations, under organic or conventional conditions, in two regions from the humid Spain during two years. Differences were significant among locations and among varieties for fumonisin contamination but not for DON content. Locations were the main environmental source of variation affecting fumonisins while DON was more affected by years. The Basque locations had more fumonisin than the Galician locations, but there were no differences between organic and conventional environments. Fumonisin contamination was more variable than DON among locations and among varieties. Fumonisin and DON were highly correlated on average but correlations were low for each particular environment. Mean fumonisin and DON were below the threshold allowed by the EU, but the white-kernel medium late variety Rebordanes(P)C2 had more than 4.00mg/kg of fumonisin in one location, while the early yellow variety Sarreaus had the lowest contamination. We conclude warning producers of the danger of natural contamination with mycotoxins for some varieties in specific environments. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Gorshkov A.I.,Abdus Salam International Center For Theoretical Physics | Soloviev A.A.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Jimenez M.J.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Garcia-Fernandez M.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | And 2 more authors.
Rendiconti Lincei | Year: 2010

Seismogenic nodes capable of earthquakes with M ≥ 5.0 or I0 ≥ VII have been identified in the Iberian Peninsula using the pattern recognition approach. Recognition objects, morphostructural nodes, have been delineated with the morphostructural zoning method. Most of the recognized seismogenic nodes (D) are scattered at the periphery of the Peninsula, while in its internal part, apart from the northern part of the Iberian Chain, there is no indication for the existence of D nodes. The performed recognition pinpoints a number of D nodes where moderate events have not been recorded to date, specifically, in the Cantabrian Mts, Portuguese basin, westernmost termination of the Betics, and in the area around Valencia. Some of the recognized D nodes are potential sources of seismic risk for nuclear and water power plants and large metropolitan areas.


News Article | March 22, 2016
Site: phys.org

Some species of plants are capable of colonising new habitats thanks to birds that transport their seeds in their plumage or digestive tract. Until recently, it was known that birds could do this over short distances, but a new study shows that they are also capable of dispersing them over more than 300 kilometres. For researchers, this function could be key in the face of climate change, allowing the survival of many species. Birds can act as dispersers of seeds and other propagules —buds, bulbs, tubers or spores— over short distances which, in many cases, do not exceed a kilometre and a half. However, it had not been demonstrated whether they were capable of doing so over longer distances. A team led by scientists at the Doñana Biological Station-CSIC (Spanish Council for Scientific Research) in Seville (Spain) confirmed this hypothesis due to the seeds found in the digestive tract of various species of birds hunted in the Canaries by Eleonora's falcons (Falco eleonorae) during their migration towards Africa. "This mechanism of long-distance dispersion had not been confirmed until now, mainly due to the difficulty involved in sampling propagules transported by birds during their migratory flight. We were able to analyse it thanks to the hunting behaviour of Eleonora's falcons," Duarte Viana, researcher in the Doñana Biological Station and co-author of the study, explained to SINC. The data, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reveal for the first time that there are species that may be excellent dispersers of propagules over long distances of more than 300 km. These birds were flying over the sea in an area located between the Canaries and Africa, and scientists found in them seeds that belonged to a plant that was not native to the Canary Islands, which demonstrates that they are capable of promoting colonisation of distant and remote areas. In total, researchers sampled 408 specimens of 21 species. Five birds from three different species stored 45 seeds inside them: the European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), the common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and the common quail (Coturnix coturnix). The first two transported seeds of fleshy fruits (two species of the Rhamnus genus), while the common quail transported up to three different species (Rubus, Genisteae and Persicaria).. "The best dispersers would be frugivorous birds, which eat fruit; granivorous birds, which eat seeds, such as the quail; and water birds, many of which eat the sediment of ponds. We could be talking about thousands of species of birds around the world, many of which are migratory," said Viana. According to researchers, faced with a situation of global change, long-distance dispersers will allow many species of plants and organisms to reach new habitats that offer them optimal conditions for their survival. The seeds transported by migratory birds are defecated and deposited in the place where the birds arrive. If the new habitat is favourable to germination and the subsequent establishment of a viable population, the species of plant dispersed may successfully colonise this area, grow and reproduce. The study was focused on three islands to the northeast of the archipelago of the Canaries: Alegranza -from which a large part of the samples were obtained-, Montaña Clara and Roque del Este, places where Eleonora's falcon nests and towards which the trade winds usually drag the migratory birds that go from Europe to Africa. Here they are hunted, particularly in October, when there is large-scale migration. After examining the stomach and intestine contents of the prey stored in the falcon nests, the experts demonstrate that most of the species to which the seeds belong grow more than 100 or 200km from the islands studies, and one of them, Persicaria, is not even a Canary Island. "In the particular case of Alegranza, the likelihood of colonisation is slim since this islet has an extremely arid climate, which is unsuitable for the life of most plant species. However, other islands of the Canary archipelago may have been colonised through seeds that come from further afield, continental Africa or, more likely, the Iberian Peninsula," concluded Viana. More information: Duarte S. Viana et al. Overseas seed dispersal by migratory birds, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2406


Paniagua A.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research
Professional Geographer | Year: 2016

To date, only limited research has focused on the individual in rural geography compared to the importance given to the rural community. With the sociocultural turn and moral positions in rural geography, however, the individual is acquiring more relevance but encapsulated in analytical traditions of locality community and of marginal situations and people. This article synthesizes the most significant works about the individual, especially within rural geography, and its key dimensions are identified: citizenship (political and normative dimension), emotional aspects (the extraordinary moments in peoples' lives), everyday life (the relationship between the individual and the rural place), and difference and otherness (between and within others). To develop an individual rural geography, these four dimensions, which reflect different aspects of the rural individual, must be used in a complementary manner. The relevance of each dimension suggests different types of individualities in rural areas. Ultimately, this article proposes a “new humanism” in contrast with antihumanistic poststructural approaches. © Copyright 2016 by American Association of Geographers


Otero-Muras I.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Franco-Uria A.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Alonso A.A.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Balsa-Canto E.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research
Environmental Modelling and Software | Year: 2010

Metal bioaccumulation in fish is influenced by factors specific to the chemical and environmental conditions, the exposure route and the species. For a better understanding of the main interactions among these factors, models are needed to capture the basic principles driving the dynamics of metal bioaccumulation in fish, taking into account different exposure routes and the distribution among representative organs. There is a significant amount of data in the literature concerning metal bioaccumulation experiments in different species of fish. Quantitative information about rate constants of the processes involved in bioaccumulation (diffusion, uptake and elimination) can be obtained from these data by means of dynamic models, that, once validated, can be used for predictive purposes. In this work, a compartmental model structure is developed aiming, in the first instance, to obtain the maximum amount of information from published experimental data. Once calibrated, the model can be further used to predict metal bioaccumulation under different scenarios. The model structure is able to reproduce the experimental behaviour for those species-metal pairs tested and, in addition, is demonstrated to be robust and identifiable. Then, the complete set of parameters can be estimated uniquely, for a specific species-metal pair by using concentration measures in a reduced number of organs. In this way, the optimal parameter sets obtained for different pairs can be compared, and the parameter specificity with respect to the metal or the species can be investigated. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Huertas R.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research
History of Psychiatry | Year: 2014

The aim of this article is to contribute to the analysis of the origins of psychiatric semiology, which by emphasizing subjectivity in clinical practice, gave birth to psychopathology as the scientific and intellectual enterprise of alienism. In other words, beyond simple anatomical and clinical observation, there was an effort to ‘listen to’ and ‘read’ the patient’s delirium. In essence, the basic thesis which this short paper seeks to defend is that, despite a growing anatomical and clinical mind-set and a clear interest in physically locating mental illness within the body, during the Romantic period, psychiatry was able to construct a semiology largely based on the experience of the ego, on the inner world of the individual. This makes it possible to establish, from a clinical perspective, that the birth of alienism – of psychiatry – must be situated within the framework of a modernity in which the culture of subjectivity was one of its most characteristic features. © The Author(s) 2014.


Ontanon S.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research | Plaza E.,Spanish Council for Scientific Research
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2010

How to achieve shared meaning is a significant issue when more than one intelligent agent is involved in the same domain. We define the task of concept convergence, by which intelligent agents can achieve a shared, agreed-upon meaning of a concept (restricted to empirical domains). For this purpose we present a framework that, integrating computational argumentation and inductive concept learning, allows a pair of agents to (1) learn a concept in an empirical domain, (2) argue about the concept's meaning, and (3) reach a shared agreed-upon concept definition. We apply this framework to marine sponges, a biological domain where the actual definitions of concepts such as orders, families and species are currently open to discussion. An experimental evaluation on marine sponges shows that concept convergence is achieved, within a reasonable number of interchanged arguments, and reaching short and accurate definitions (with respect to precision and recall). © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


PubMed | Spanish Council for Scientific Research
Type: Historical Article | Journal: History of psychiatry | Year: 2014

The aim of this article is to contribute to the analysis of the origins of psychiatric semiology, which by emphasizing subjectivity in clinical practice, gave birth to psychopathology as the scientific and intellectual enterprise of alienism. In other words, beyond simple anatomical and clinical observation, there was an effort to listen to and read the patients delirium. In essence, the basic thesis which this short paper seeks to defend is that, despite a growing anatomical and clinical mind-set and a clear interest in physically locating mental illness within the body, during the Romantic period, psychiatry was able to construct a semiology largely based on the experience of the ego, on the inner world of the individual. This makes it possible to establish, from a clinical perspective, that the birth of alienism - of psychiatry - must be situated within the framework of a modernity in which the culture of subjectivity was one of its most characteristic features.

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