Scientific Watch N°13 - From 17/6/2016 to 31/06/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°13 from 17/6/2016 to 31/06/2016]

From 17/6/2016 to 31/06/2016

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- 3rd National Conference on Marine Renewable Energies

On May 31, 2016, over 300 participants attended the 3rd Renewable Energy National Conference organized by the SER (Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables) in Biarritz France). Taking place every year since 2013, this conference is essential to assess the progression of renewable energy technologies in Industry, Research and Development and for the general knowledge of the civil society.

Original article published on the ENR website, on June 02, 2016. Source:

1.2- Air pollution responsible for 48 000 deaths every year in France.

Air pollution from fine particles is responsible for over 48 000 deaths each year in France (9% of the national mortality), however the large majority of them (34 000) would be preventable according to a new study released on June 21, 2016 by the French association Santé Publique France.

Original article published on the Boursorama website, on June 21, 2016. Source:

1.3- Polymetallic nodules region, hotspots for biodiversity

It was believed that Polymetallic nodules region, these rich minerals areas located at 4 000 meters above the sea surface were completely devoid of biodiversity: it is wrong ! This discovery from an international scientific team, bringing together French (Ifremer), German (Senckenberg am Meer), Belgium (Ghent University) and Portuguese (IMAR & University of Aveiro) researchers and conducted as part of a pilot project of the European consortium JPI Ocean was published on June 1, 2016 in the Scientific Reports journal Nature. Carried out after an offshore campaign (NA-239) in the Pacific ocean, this finding underlines the need to implement biodiversity conservation strategies before considering an operation for petrol extraction for instance.

Original article published on the Ifremer website, on June 29, 2016. Source:

1.4- Coral Reefs: local solutions to a global problem

Save coral reefs: here is the critical challenge for the coming years such as these biodiversity ecosystems are under threat all around the globe. A recent study published in the journal Nature on June 15, 2016 added a new perspective on this issue showing that local actions are sometime more efficient than national politics decisions to save coral reefs. This works has been made possible by the collaboration between the University of Montpellier, the Institute for Research and Development (IRD), the University of New-Caledonia (MARBEC, ENTROPIE et LIVE) and French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Original article published on the IRD website, on June 22, 2016. Source:

1.5- A CO2 record level reached in the Southern Hemisphere

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) measured at Amsterdam Island (South Indian Ocean) has for the first time overcome the symbolic value of 400 ppm last month . This observatory is famous for recording the lowest concentrations of CO2 in the world (excluding seasonal cycles), thanks to its distance from anthropogenic sources. However, the 400 ppm threshold had already been crossed in the northern hemisphere during the winter 2012/2013. These data have been collected for 35 years at Amsterdam by the National Observation Service ICOS-France Climate Sciences Laboratory and Environmental Observatory (LSCE, CNRS / CEA / UVSQ) 2, with the support of the french polar Institute Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV).

Original article published on the CEA website, on June 14, 2016. Source:


2- Health & Society

2.1- Antibodies that are effective against both dengue and Zika viruses

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS-UMR 3569 Virologie), in collaboration with Imperial College London and the University of Vienna, Austria, have identified antibodies that can efficiently neutralize both the dengue virus and the Zika virus. The description of the binding site for these antibodies on the viral envelope, identical for both viruses, could lead to the development of a universal vaccine that offers simultaneous protection against dengue and Zika virus disease. These results were published in the journal Nature on June 23, 2016.

Original article published on the website, on June 23,2016. Source:

2.2- Brain tumours: ultrasound makes blood vessels permeable to enhance treatment delivery

Teams from the Paris Public Hospitals (AP-HP), Pierre and Marie Curie University, Inserm and the CarThera company (which is hosted by the Brain and Spine Institute [ICM]), coordinated by Prof. Alexandre Carpentier, a neurosurgeon at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, AP-HP, have successfully used ultrasound to temporarily permeabilize blood vessels in the brains of patients affected by recurrent malignant brain tumours. This innovative method allows increased delivery of treatments, including chemotherapeutic agents, to the brain, and represents hope for other brain pathologies. This work was published on 15 June in the international journal Science Translational Medicine.

Original article published on the inserm website, on June 16, 2016. Source:

2.3- Unexpected origins of photosynthesis

The conversion of light solar energy into chemical energy, a process called photosynthesis, is one of the most important biological reactions on earth. An international team of researchers associating Université de Lorraine and French National Institute for Agricultural Research (Inra), together with the Universities of Freiburg (Germany) Pierre and Marie Curie University (France) and California Berkeley (United States), has obtained evidence for unexpected origins of photosynthesis. Using the moss Physcomitrella patens as an experimental model, the researchers have shown that along evolution, organisms belonging to two different biological domains have contributed to the elaboration of modern photosynthetic organisms able to fix CO2. This result, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), is the completion of research initiated more than forty years ago.

Original article published on the Inra website, on June 21, 2016. Source:

2.4- A novel research program on traumatic memories

How will the traumatic events of the terrorist attacks of 13 November 2015 evolve in people’s memories, whether collective or individual? How does individual memory feed on collective memory and vice versa? Is it possible, by studying cerebral markers, to predict which victims will develop post-traumatic stress disorder and which will recover more quickly? These are a few of the questions addressed in the ambitious 13-Novembre program, coordinated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), French Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and héSam Université (Paris), with the collaboration of numerous partners. This transdisciplinary research program, co-directed by the historian Prof. Denis Peschanski and neuropsychologist Prof. Francis Eustache, is based on the collection and analysis of the accounts of 1.000 volunteers, interviewed four times over ten years. Involving several hundred people, this study is a worldwide first in terms of size, number of disciplines encompassed and protocol used. Results are expected to benefit the socio-historical and biomedical fields, but also have implications for public policy and public health.

Original article published on the Inra website, on June 17, 2016. Source:

2.5- 10,000 droplets to test complex biochemical reactions

Researchers often use biochemical systems increasingly sophisticated In order to better understand life. Usually, they are testing a very large number of combination reagents - which with traditional techniques may takes weeks or months to undergo - to find the optimal operating point . A team of researchers from the International Joint LIMMS unit (CNRS / University of Tokyo), hosted in the laboratory of Professor Fujii microfluidic at the Institute of Industrial Science of Tokyo, has developed a unique tool to achieve and characterize 10.000 different biochemical reactions simultaneously in microscopic droplets. This new technique, which provides a very substantial gain in terms of time and raw materials was explained in the article published in Nature Chemistry, on June 20, 2016 .

Original article published on the LAAS website, on June 20, 2016. Source: ou Original article published on the CNRS website, on June 20, 2016. Source:


3- Research and Education

3.1- An ocean lies a few kilometers beneath Enceladus’s icy surface

With eruptions of ice and water vapor, and an ocean covered by an ice shell, Saturn’s moon Enceladus is one of the most fascinating in the Solar System, especially as interpretations of data provided by the Cassini spacecraft have been contradictory until now. An international team including researchers from the Laboratoire de Planétologie Géodynamique de Nantes (CNRS/Université de Nantes/Université d’Angers), Charles University in Prague, and the Royal Observatory of Belgium recently proposed a new model that reconciles different data sets and shows that the ice shell at Enceladus’s south pole may be only a few kilometers thick. This suggests that there is a strong heat source in the interior of Enceladus, an additional factor supporting the possible emergence of life in its ocean. The study has just been published online on the website of Geophysical Research Letters.

Original article published on the CNRS website, on June 21, 2016. Source:

3.2- Newborn giant planet grazes its star

For the past 20 years, exoplanets known as ’hot Jupiters’ have puzzled astronomers. These giant planets orbit 100 times closer to their host stars than Jupiter does to the Sun, which increases their surface temperatures. But how and when in their history did they migrate so close to their star? Now, an international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a very young hot Jupiter orbiting in the immediate vicinity of a star that is barely two million years old—the stellar equivalent of a week-old infant. This first-ever evidence that hot Jupiters can appear at such an early stage represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve. The work, led by researchers at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP, CNRS/Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier), in collaboration, amongst others, with colleagues at the Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes), is published in the journal Nature, on June 20, 2016 .

Original article published on the CNRS website, on June 20, 2016. Source:

3.3- Laying of the cornerstone of C2N

The ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone of Center for Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies (C2N) took place on June 28th 2016, in the presence of Thierry Mandon, State Secretary at the Ministry for Education, Higher Education and Research in charge of Higher Education and Research, Sylvie Retailleau, President of the University Paris-Sud, and of Alain Fuchs, President of the CNRS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. This event was the opportunity to unveil a model of « mastaba » representing the engineered structures designed to host the instruments that are the most sensitive to mechanical vibrations and require stringent conditions in terms of ground stability.

Original article published on the C2N website, on June 28, 2016. Source:


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- Viva Technology Paris: digital challenges dedicated to Open Innovation

Viva Technology Paris held in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2016 will gather all the global players of the digital transformation world, including at least 1.000 startups and dozens of international groups, and will thus become one of the largest coworking spaces worldwide.

Original article published on the CNRS website, on June 21, 2016. Source:

4.2- Ready for the car with a licence to kill ?

The first autonomous vehicles are expected in the next few years. They should ease traffic and reduce pollution and accidents compared with today’s cars. But these self-driving cars (SDC) will face tragic dilemmas: for example, they will have to choose between saving the lives of their passengers or those of pedestrians. CNRS researchers (the first author of the study is a member of and Toulouse School of Economics at University of Toulouse), and colleagues from the University of Oregon and MIT have carried out the first study of how Americans perceive these vehicles and whether they would use them. Surprisingly, the people surveyed had a strong moral preference for SDCs that "sacrificed" their passenger for the greater good. But they would be much less inclined to buy a SDC if the government required these vehicles to save the maximum number of people. Paradoxically, a law to this effect could actually cost more lives, by hindering the take-up of autonomous cars, which are safer than current vehicles. This study is published in the journal Science, on June 24, 2016 .

Original article published on the CNRS website, on June 23, 2016. Source:

4.3- Electric scooters launched in Paris

More than a hundred white electric motorbikes are available in self-service stations in Paris since June 21, 2016. Called Cityscoot this rental service is expected to growth rapidly to reach about 1.000 scooters in early 2017. The fix cost has been set at 0,28 €/min but packages also exist : 100 min for 25 euros or 500 min for 100 euros.

Original article published on the Le Figaro website, on June 20, 2016. Source:

publié le 30/06/2016

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