Massimo, molecular biologist, is constantly on a mission to inspire scientists and laypeople around him with his passion for science. During the time spent on the bench, he followed his natural all-around curiosity, investigating several topics from medical diseases to plant physiology. Head of TheScienceBreaker, Massimo proudly chases his naïve dream of an engaged society where scientists and citizens are facing together the upcoming challenges for human civilizations. At the University of Geneva, Switzerland, Massimo works for BiOutils – an academic and laboratory-based platform for outreach in life sciences.
Massimo is the editor of 204 Breaks:
Ancient human DNA from a 10000 years old "chewing gum"
We identified a new type of source of ancient human genetic data. Our group extracted DNA from Mesolithic masticated lumps, made from distilled birch bark pitch. The people in the Stone Age presumably chewed this material leaving behind ancient human DNA.Dec 3, 2019 | 3 min read
Gone but not forgotten – plant extinction in modern times
New review of plant extinction in modern times shows clearly elevated rates globally. Highest rates are for shrubs and trees and in biodiverse areas with many unique species, such as oceanic islands – areas particularly vulnerable to human activities.Nov 29, 2019 | 4 min read
High in the Pamir Mountains: Ancient Cannabis Smoking in Western China
This study traces some of the earliest evidence for cannabis smoking back to ancient burials in the high mountains of the Pamirs in far western China. People were burning the plant about 2500 years ago as part of a mortuary ritual. The chemical analysis suggests that these people were aware of and targeting plants with a higher THC level than would be expected from the wild.Nov 27, 2019 | 4 min read
Silver-screen or starving? Predicting success in showbiz
Are parts in film and TV fairly allocated? How long will an actor or actresses good, or bad, luck last? Can we predict if my favourite actor is going to be more successful in the future or not? By studying the careers of 1,512,472 actors and 896,029 actresses, including careers stretching back to the birth of film in 1888, we unlock the secrets of the silver screen.Nov 25, 2019 | 3.5 min read
Long-dead dinosaurs support new life
Some researchers think that fossilized dinosaur bones can preserve ancient proteins and other soft tissues. Our recent work using a variety of methods failed to detect evidence for ancient protein but did discover a unique microbial community living within buried fossils.Nov 20, 2019 | 3 min read
Gotta recognize ‘em all! Using Pokémon to understand brain development
The human brain contains clusters of neurons in the visual cortex that help us recognize important objects, like faces and words. Surprisingly, these regions appear in the same place across brains, and despite several theories for why this may be, the origins of this shared brain organization are unknown.Nov 19, 2019 | 3.5 min read