Scientific Watch N°10 - From 06/05/2016 to 20/05/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°9 from 06/05/2016 to 20/05/2016]

From 06/05/2016 to 20/05/2016

Editors :

Gabriel BENET, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Julie METTA, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Justin MONIER, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Isabelle SAVES, Attachée for Scientific & Academic Affairs - Hong Kong

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- Lead pollution reveals the ancient history of Naples

Almost two thousand years after the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, certain periods of the history of Naples have just been reconstructed. Until now, historians and archaeologists had wondered about the impact of this volcanic eruption on the Aqua Augusta aqueduct which supplied Naples and neighboring cities with water. Recent geochemical analyses have made it possible to directly link the lead in the water pipes of the period with that trapped in the sediments of the old port of Naples. Results clearly show that the hydraulic network had been destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 and that it took around fifteen years to replace it. These findings are the subject of an article published in the journal PNAS on May 16 2016 by the laboratory Archéorient – environnements et sociétés de l’Orient ancien (CNRS/Université Lumière Lyon 2) and Laboratoire de géologie de Lyon: Terre, planètes et environnement (CNRS/ENS Lyon/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), in collaboration with University of Glasgow, University of Southampton and Universita’ degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.
16 mai 2016 CNRS

Original article published on the CNRS website, May 16, 2016. Source:

1.2- A Flexible Processing System for Calculating Atmosphere–Ocean Carbon Dioxide Gas Fluxes and Climatologies

Gas exchanges between the atmosphere and ocean remain constant. The ocean absorbs a huge part of the atmospheric CO2 and thus helps to regulate the climate globally. By developing the "Flux Engine", a unique tool compiling multiple physical and biological data from the international scientific community, scientists estimated for the first time the precise amount of CO2 absorbed by the seas of northern Europe. The result is astonishing: 24 million tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of what would produce two million of double-decker bus each year. Published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, this work is the result of collaboration between the Laboratory of Physical Oceanography and spatial (LOPS), CNRS, Ifremer, the “Université de Bretagne-Occidentale”

Original article published on the CNRS website, May 12, 2016. Source:

1.3- Green Chemistry: “Increase”, a new network linking research and industry

How to develop a "green" chemistry? Using biomass, a renewable carbon source, as raw material. Created by the CNRS with the support of the Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes region, of around 10 millions of HKD, Increase is a public-private collaborative network dedicated to eco-design and renewable resources. It aims establishing a strong synergy between research and industry while incorporating the issues of marketing of sustainable products and chemical processes in France.

Original article published on the CNRS website, May 13, 2016. Source:

1.4- Implications of the Paris Agreement for the ocean

In an article published on the 16th of May in the journal “Nature Climate Change”, an international team of experts, including researchers from the Institute of “Sustainable development and international relation”, CNRS and Pierre and Marie Curie University, analyzes the implications of the Paris Agreement, in future interactions between the scientific community and the climate negotiations.

Original article published on the CNRS website, May 17, 2016. Source:

1.5- The continental drift responsible for the tropical marine biodiversity

In an article published in the journal Nature Communications on the 6th of May, researchers at the University of Montpellier, IRD and the EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études) have shown that tropical marine biodiversity can be explained by continental drift over the the last 140 million years. The study, conducted in close collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ), allows for the first time to assess the impact of ancient geological events in the current distribution of coral and tropical fish.

Original article published on the IRD website, May 10, 2016. Source:

1.6- Plastic continents

Plastic continents are not immutable. Based on the modelisation of ocean circulation in the Pacific, scientists from the IRD and CNRS have shown that existing "output currents" in these areas are existing. Plastics could therefore exist from the swirl established in the middle of the ocean.

Original article published on the IRD website, May 10, 2016. Source:

1.7- The deep mineral resources in French Polynesia

In the May 6, 2016, Papeete welcomes the return of the expert group "Deep mineral potential resources in French Polynesia". Performed for the request of the local government, this expertise has been coordinated by the IRD. It had mobilized a multidisciplinary expert group in order to understand mining submarines resources and to give an overview of latest knowledge on this subject

Original article published on the IRD website, May 09, 2016. Source:

1.8- US Shale gas: the first delivery in France expected in June

Few weeks ago, the first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) obtained by hydraulic fracturing, landed in Europe, Portugal to be more precise. If French law is still prohibiting the extraction of shale gas in its territory, its importation remains legal. The first delivery from Texas (US) is therefore expected for June.

Original article published on the Boursorama website, May 09, 2016. Source:

1.9- Brest city launches solar mapping

The city of Brest provides a mapping tool to assess, building by building, the production potential and cost of a solar roof project. The energy climate plan of Brest metropolis aims to cover 20% of the energy consumption of the territory in 2020 by renewable energies.

Original article published on the Guidenr website, May 14, 2016. Source:


2- Health & Society

2.1- Enhanced hippocampal-cortical coupling improves memory

For the first time, scientists in the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology (CNRS/INSERM/Collège de France) have produced direct evidence that the long-term storage of memories involves a dialogue between two brain structures, the hippocampus and cortex, during sleep; by enhancing this dialogue, they succeeded in triggering the consolidation of memories that would otherwise have been forgotten. This work is published in Nature Neuroscience on 16 May 2016.

Original article published on the Inra website, May 16, 2016. Source:

2.2- Genetics and the gut microbiota together contribute to inflammatory bowel disease

Modifications of the gut microbiota in chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) are both the cause and consequence of these internal disorders. This has been shown a team of French researchers from Inserm, INRA, UPMC and AP-HP (Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris), who described these mechanisms and propose new therapeutic approaches. Their work was published in Nature Medicine on 9 May 2016.

Original article published on the Inra website, May 13, 2016. Source:


3- Research and Education

3.1- Identification of a network of brain regions involved in mathematics

​Two researches from a joint CEA-Inserm-Université Paris Sud-Collège de France unit at the NeuroSpin neuroimaging centre, have just revealed that the brain has a network of brain regions involved in advanced mathematics, as well as simpler arithmetic operations. This network is only activated when numbers are seen, in a population of high-level university students including both experts in mathematics and non-mathematicians. These results, published in PNAS, were obtained using functional MRI on university students specialising in mathematics and other disciplines.

Original article published on the CEA website, May 11, 2016. Source:

4- CNRS Innovation Award 2016

Marin Dacos, Thierry Heidmann, Cathie Vix-Guterl and Ali Zolghadri are all winners of the Innovation 2016 Medal of the CNRS. They will all receive the award during the ceremony on June 14, held in Paris. The Innovation Medal has been awarded since 2011 to scientists whose outstanding research has led to breakthrough innovation in technology, economic, therapeutic and societal scope.

Original article published on the CNRS website, May 11, 2016. Source:


The Pint of Science Festival invites brilliant scientists into your favorite bar to talk about their latest research and discoveries. This is the perfect opportunity to meet actors of tomorrow’s science. You have no excuse to not to have a drink with them! Check on the PintofScience’s Website whether your city is hosting one of the event.

4.2- Simultaneous and Coordinated Rotational Switching of All Molecular Rotors in a Network

A French-American team of researchers from the University of Toulouse and Ohio University have observed and triggered a synchronized rotational movement of a network of molecular rotors placed on a copper surface by using an electric field induced by the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope. This important work was published in May 9, 2016 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Original article published on the CNRS website, May 09, 2016. Source:

4.3- The first International Symposium Research on Health Ageing


APRIL 15th 2016: Call for abstracts
JUNE 1st 2016: Abstract deadline
JUNE 15th 2016: Acceptation notification
JULY 15th 2016: Early registration deadline


Thursday, December 8th

“Epidemiology of ageing-related pathologies”

Friday, December 9th

“Model organisms in ageing research”
“Biology of aging”

Host be the “Pasteur Institute from Lille” In partnership with Lille University / Inserm / CNRS / Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Regional de Lille
More information the the following website


5- Technology & Transport

5.1- The CEA announces expanded collaboration with Intel to advance cutting-edge research and innovation in key digital areas

​The CEA (Atomic Energy Commission) and Intel are boosting their collaboration through a new R & D agreement signed in Paris on May 12, 2016 . This collaboration, extended to several key areas in digital technology, will enable the two sides to develop a shared R&D programme and jointly submit research and innovation projects on a European scale, particularly as regards High Performance Computing (HPC), as part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

Original article published on the Businesswire website, May 12, 2016. Source:

5.2- World’s biggest liner bids ‘adieu’ to French shipyard

The largest cruise ship ever built, the Harmony of the Seas, delivery Thursday at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard in western France where it was constructed.
Outfitted to accommodate 6,360 passengers, “Harmony of the Seas” has 2,700 cabins, 16 decks and a crew of more than 2,100 people. It is the length of three football fields and has a gross tonnage of 226,000.

Original article published on the France24 website, May 12, 2016. Source:

5.3- The City of Paris launched the transformation of seven emblematic squares

The Council of Paris approved on March 29, the development of seven main squares in the capital. The objective is to reducing the use of cars while increasing by 50% the area dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists. The expected budget is between 35 and 40 million of euros (around 300 to 340 000 million of HKD).

Original article published on the Le Moniteur website, March 29, 2016. Source:

publié le 20/05/2016

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