A scientific tribute to the breakaway kings and queens

BY BERT BLOCKEN. Realizing a successful long breakaway, as a lone rider, against a chasing peloton or a smaller group of chasing riders, is very challenging. Not many riders in the professional cycling peloton are capable of such an undertaking. These performances appeal to our imagination and our emotions. But also from an objective, scientific point of view, these performances are exceptional.

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Brandon and Francis

BY LUC SELS, GERARD GOVERS, TINE BAELMANS, PIET DESMET, HILDE FEYS, PETER LIEVENS, REINE MEYLAERTS, BART RAYMAEKERS, AND CHRIS VAN GEET. With its statements about homosexuality, the Vatican encourages exclusion. KU Leuven wishes to be an inclusive, catholic university.

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A tool to assist the transition to sustainable cacao

BY TOBIAS FREMOUT. The international demand for sustainable chocolate is strongly increasing. Farmers in Peru, the biggest producer of organic cacao worldwide, have taken note. This year, I will work together with the Peruvian UNTRM university, the Belgian NGO Rikolto and APPCACAO, a local NGO that unites cacao farmer cooperatives, to develop new strategies to increase the environmental and economical sustainability of cacao plantations in Peru.

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An international experience with countless memories

BY HOLGER WILLEMS, JOLIEN VAN OPSTAL, and CAROLINA SHAHRESTANI. Among students, Erasmus+ is the most widely known scholarship programme. Erasmus exchanges are so highly in demand one would almost forget that there are many other funding opportunities for students wishing to travel abroad for a study period or traineeship. Take Holger, Jolien and Carolina, for instance. Holger and Jolien attended summer schools in Utrecht and Zürich, whereas Carolina decided to set off for Norway to do a traineeship.

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Pain in times of a pandemic: Social isolation and social inequality might worsen the fate of people with chronic pain

BY KAI KAROS. The current coronavirus pandemic has an impact on all of us. Still, some populations are arguably more affected than others. The various social measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus may disproportionately affect people with long-term painful conditions. Now that we are slowly trying to find the way to a post-pandemic future, it is important that these people don’t fall by the wayside.

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How stories about China shape our post-COVID-19 outlook on (geo)politics

BY STEVEN LANGENDONK. Whereas the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) barely made the evening news before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it seems to play a leading role in our outlook on the future and our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. As attention in our societies shifts from crisis management to (political) issues such as economic recovery and international cooperation, China will likely be more present in the rhetoric of our political leaders than ever. That is why it is important to look at how our conceptions of China shape ongoing intra-European and geopolitical power contests.

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Soil erosion: why EU policies matter

BY COLINE HACOT. Soil erosion may sound like a technical, distant topic that scares off the average non-scientist, even an environmentally sensitive one (myself included). Because the science behind it is intimidating, or because soils aren’t cool, it’s easy to overlook erosion. That’s a pity, because healthy soils are important to all of us, and it matters to look at what EU politicians are doing to protect them.

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Putting a price on clean air?

BY SANDRA ROUSSEAU. Flight taxes, road pricing, and carbon pricing are often named as policy options to tackle climate change and urban air pollution. The concept of pricing undesirable effects is simple and sensible. If market prices reflect the economic damages from emissions, the market forces will work for our planet and help to protect it. Internalising external costs is a way to reflect the total impact of our actions. But how do we know what the correct price is? Ideally, such a price should reflect the social value of reducing emissions and incorporate the benefits of better air quality.

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