X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, which uses are not limited to hospitals. Let’s explore their implementation in characterizing pharmaceutical products and packaging.

Pascal Chalus while using a micro-CT instrument. Image — Martina Ribar Hestericová

Light is electromagnetic radiation consisting of waves of different energies and frequencies. At some wavelengths, light appears visible to our eyes, whereas other wavelengths, such as the infrared, ultraviolet and X-rays, remain undetected by our vision.

X-rays, first discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1985, have relatively short wavelength ranging from one hundredth of a nanometer to ten nanometers. Thanks to their short wavelength, X-rays are able to pass through various materials including human tissues. …


“Antelope” is an exclusive career program aimed at female researchers offered free-of-charge bythe University of Basel.

It was a cold and damp winter morning. I had just arrived at the lab and started to prepare my experiments for the day. As I was counting my bacterial colonies and planning to set up another reaction, I heard my mailbox ping.

Little did I know that the email I had just gotten would change my career forever. In my mailbox, waiting patiently for me to finish my lab work, was an acceptance letter for a career development program at the University of Basel, called “Antelope.”

Looking back now, three years after participating in this program and several months…


Get ready for the Swiss national day’s fireworks with a bit of chemistry

Are you ready for this year’s Swiss national day’s fireworks? Picture — Flickr, Colin Knowles

The Swiss national day has been celebrated on the first day of August for the past 127 years. This day has traditionally been accompanied by breathtaking display of colorful fireworks. In Basel, the celebrations take place by the river Rhine on 31st July and include synchronized fireworks, which are lit from two boats in the middle of the river.

It comes by no surprise that fireworks represent one of the most known uses of chemistry, at least when it comes to children and general public. The magnificent…


Being a researcher brings with it mastery of many technical skills. If you are planning your next career step, do not forget about your soft skills!

Image — Flickr

Anyone who has ever written a resume or a cover letter knows the struggle. Coming from an academic background means that describing our technical skills is a fairly simple task.

Have you performed organic synthesis, protein purification, electron microscopy, or computational simulations? Reporting on these types of skills is rather easy. These experiences have measurable outcomes (maybe even certifications) and dates of when you took the course.

However, many positions, especially those that follow a PhD or postdoc, often require so-called soft skills. What are these, you ask? …


The discovery opens up new ways to identify three-dimensional molecules

Measuring hydrogen bonds using AFM. (Image: University of Basel, SNI)

Hydrogen bonds. You may have never thought about them but without them, life as we know it would not exist. Hydrogen bonds are weak electrostatic interactions responsible for phenomena such as the high boiling point of water, the helical shape of DNA, or the three-dimensional structure of proteins.

These weak interactions form between an electronegative atom with a lone electron pair and a hydrogen atom bound to an electronegative partner (such as nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine or, in some cases, carbon). The electronegative partner bound to hydrogen attracts the electron cloud surrounding the hydrogen core. This causes the hydrogen to acquire…


Scientists from the University of Basel won the first nano car race in the world using a small molecule propelled by a scanning microscope tip.

The team of the University of Basel won the nanocar race.

The term ‘car race’ usually induces images of long race tracks, incredibly fast cars and racers risking their lives. However, there are other (way cooler) ways of racing cars.

A few weeks ago, a fascinating race took place in French Toulouse (CNRS’s Centre d’élaboration de matériaux et d’études structurales, CEMES). To spot the race cars was kind of hard though since they were only about 100 atoms in size. And instead of racing on kilometers of asphalt, the so-called nano cars competed on a golden race track that was 100 nanometers long and included turns and obstacles.


Our normal body temperature is approximately 37°C. Even so, the outside temperatures close to this value cause a lot of sweating and hot sensations.

Image: Flickr

The normal core body temperature, also known as normothermia, is 36,8±0,4 °C.

However, the individual body temperature depends on various factors- including gender, age, time of the measurement, health, emotions, physical activity etc. Or, if measured in women, on the menstrual cycle phase.

During the summer period, the thermometer sometimes shows values close or even higher than 37°C. At this time we tend to feel really warm, even though this temperature should, by definition, feel natural…


Combining physics, engineering, and medicine to create a laser equipped robotic endoscope for bone surgeries.

Bringing lasers and medicine together. (Image: University of Basel)

The progress of technology and science is exponential. We currently live in an era of miniaturization, smartphones, and robots, relying more and more on latest technological inventions.

Yet, when it comes to bone surgeries, doctors still use conventional saws (some designs are centuries old), which have quite some restrictions. A group of scientists working at the University of Basel is trying to change this and give bone surgery a serious update.

Their project, entitled poetically The MIRACLE project (Minimally Invasive Robot-Assisted Computer-guided LaserosteotomE ), aims at the development of a modern robotic endoscope equipped with a bone-cutting laser— sounds pretty…


Is it possible to fight stress, depression or insomnia through physical activity? Research has answers.

(Image: Tobias Mayr, Flickr)

Being a PhD or postdoc can be tough. Among many things, you have to juggle managing your time, writing, coworkers, keeping an overview over your projects, teaching activities, courses, literature club meetings, and conferences.

But hey, aren’t we forgetting something? Right, you should also spend enough time outside, eat healthily, meet with your friends and family, visit your grandparents, take care of your pets and spend quality time with your kids or partners.

It’s all very demanding and postdocs and PhD candidates often work such long hours that they end up chronically stressed. …


We asked several women working at the University of Basel about their career paths, the gender equality at their workplace and their secrets to success.

Female scientists at work (Image: Martina Ribar Hestericová)

Being a woman in science is definitely not the easiest task in the world. Even though we live in the 21st century, we quite often encounter stereotypes or signs of so-called microaggression.

It starts with the terminology. The fact that we have to talk about “being a female scientist” or “being a woman in science” introduces unwanted gender bias to the discourse. …

Martina Ribar Hestericová

Science is awesome! A bioorganic chemist / science journalist passionate about science communication.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store