Maltese honey to Maltese robots

The University of Malta's excellent research magazine THINK is out now

Truth is stranger than fiction. Researchers at the University of Malta are building technologies that will help robots speak and understand Maltese, others are finding out if there is life in outer space, or using fruit flies to understand human disease, while some are discovering what makes local honey Maltese—all in the latest issue of Think magazine [http://bit.ly/ISSUUThink08].

Maltese honey comes in three flavours. They all depend on the flowers the bees feed on. Since Malta is an island the combination of flowers that grow are unique. This makes three different honey types with unique tastes and powerful health properties.

Insects feature twice. Fruit flies have been genetically engineered to help scientists learn more about the most common genetic killer of human infants, a neuromuscular degenerative disease known as spinal muscular atrophy.

Dr Alessio Magro is studying something even more unusual. He developed computer algorithms to hunt for life in outer space. Read the magazine to find out if life exists out of our solar system.

One of the biggest research projects at University is by engineers trying to make our skies cleaner and safer. A different team of computer scientists and linguists are building tools to make tomorrow’s robot communicate in Maltese.

Ethnomusicologists are asking if our culture gets the rhythm: can music bridge the divide between Libya and Malta? Other researchers are seeing how society deals with personal and cultural memory loss.

The magazine gives students a voice. John Gabarretta writes about the vital need of communicating research to the public, an endeavour that will help improve everyone’s knowledge about science and our country. Maria Camilleri tells us about her visit to Facebook in Dublin and how that inspired her to realise the need for more innovation in Malta. A recent EU report studying innovation places Malta towards the very low end, research in Malta is hungry for more investment. All this research is stemming from the University of Malta.

Think may be picked up for free in newsagents around Malta and Gozo and in Agenda bookstores, viewed on Issuu [http://bit.ly/ISSUUThink08], downloaded here [http://www.um.edu.mt/think08], followed on Twitter @ThinkUoM [http://twitter.com/THINKUoM] or liked on Facebook [http://www.facebook.com/ThinkUoM].

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