Universiteit Leiden

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This Week's Discoveries | 15 October 2019

Tuesday 15 October 2019
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden
De Sitterzaal

*New schedule*
Please note that, due to the new lecture schedule, the start and end time of This Week's Discoveries have been changed.  

First lecture

First Lecture

Am I Right? The Era of Computer-Verified Correctness

Henning Basold (LIACS)
Henning joined the theory group of LIACS mid-2019. Henning's research interest descend from the general desire to prevent errors in software, hardware, and mathematical or other theories, and to understand relations between different scientific fields. The approach chosen by Henning is the formalization of artefacts, like software or theories, in terms of a syntactic logic, as a program, in a type theory or any other suitable syntactic language. A formal syntactic specification will allow then a computer to verify the correctness of behavior and proofs. Leaving the creative work of building programs, models and proofs to humans and the mechanical work of verifying them to computers ensures not only correctness of artefacts and scales to arbitrary sizes, but it also frees us a from worries and allows us to focus on the interesting part of work as a programmer, mathematician, and biologist.

It is a common mantra that software, mathematical theories and other societal phenomena are becoming more and more complex. But how do we deal with this? We will discuss in this talk an approach to this complexity problem. The main idea is that human beings develop programs, proofs and other formal artefacts, while computers are used to assist the development process and verify the correctness of the artefact. This approach frees us from worries about correctness and allows us to focus on the creative part of work as programmers, mathematicians, and scientists.

Second lecture

Second Lecture

Plastic from cradle to grave: how to explore nanoplastics around us and in our body.

Fazel A. Monikh (CML)
My research interests are: Micro/nanoplastic and other nanomaterials detection, characterization and quantification in complex matrices (environmental samples, biological media and consumer products), ecological and protein corona on the surface of particles, fate and transport, nanotoxicology, analysis of emerging environmental contaminants, implementation of nano in aqua/agriculture and contaminant remediation, water and groundwater quality analysis, interfacing science with public policy

Annual global plastic production is increasing exponentially since the mid-20th-century which challenges obtaining the balance between the convenience of plastic in daily life and the prospect of causing harm to humans and the environment. Most of the commonly used plastics are non-biodegradable but eventually, their surfaces become fragmented by biotic and abiotic processes. This produces microplastic and nanoplastic of different types, sizes, and shapes. Microplastics are defined on the basis of their particle size being < 5 mm. A globally-accepted definition for ‘nanoplastic’ has not yet been provided. It is increasingly reported that due to their small size, nanoplastics may easily pass the cellular membrane, the gut epithelium, and even the brain barrier. However, the fate and adverse effects of nanoplastics in the environment and humans remain largely unknown. Most studies point to the challenge of identification, characterization, and quantification of such small plastic particles in organisms’ tissues and cells. This has hindered researchers form exploring the fate and toxicity of nanoplastics in organisms.

Recently, I developed a ground-breaking method for quantification and characterisation of nanoplastics in biological media, which is of the first methods in the world. This method opens a new horizon in the research area of nanoplastic in the environment. In this lecture, I will give an overview of the challenges in the identification and quantification of nanoplastics in the environmental samples and in human tissues. I will briefly present my recently developed method and discuss my research in the near future.

Read more about the lecture series This Week's Discoveries

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