Scientific Watch N°16 - From 29/7/2016 to 12/8/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°16 - From 29/7/2016 to 12/8/2016]

From 29/7/2016 to 12/8/2016

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- Climate change: Mayor of Paris elected as head of Cities 40

Mrs. Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, has been elected president of Cities 40 (C40), the largest international network uniting cities fighting against climate change, in Rio (Brazil) on August 8th, 2016. She succeeds Mr. Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, and becomes the first woman to be a “world leader of most influential mayors, representing together 650 millions citizens, and whose territories generate 25% of world GDP” states a communiqué from the City of Paris. The Cities Climate Leadership Group is a network created in 2005 and gathers today 85 world metropoles (including Hong Kong).

Original article published on the website, 8 August 2016. Source

1.2- France jump-starts floating wind turbine development with 2 pilot projects

France starts the development of marine wind energy. After the call for tenders launched by the French environment and energy management agency (ADEME) in 2015, Mrs. Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea, has made public the 2 first laureates to launch offshore pilot projects. One project will be in charge of Quadran group in Gruissan (Aude), the other in charge of Eolfi-CGN Europe Energy off the coast of Groix (Brittany). Other laureates will be designated for 2 other areas in the Mediterranean Sea (in Leucate (Aude) and Faraman (Bouches-du-Rhône)) indicated Mrs. Ségolène Royal.

Original article published on the website, 3 August 2016. Source

1.3- Alternatives for an environmentally conscious and sustainable tourism

Far from gigantic tourist resorts, a new kind of tourism is expanding with concerns for environment and nature. Ecotourism is necessarily growing to offer a sustainable and useful alternative to mass tourism. The green villages “Cocoon tree” in Corsica is part of this trend and aims at reaching a “zero-impact” experience. Each village is designed to avoid network connexions, is powered by solar energy and uses dry toilets.

Original article published on the website, 28 July 2016. Source

1.4- Urban agriculture in Toulouse

Alexandre Belin and Cédric Jules, 2 young entrepreneurs from Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, France), are behind the programme “Macadam Gardens”. They encourage and assist companies to install shared gardens. At the beginning, their idea focused on ecological market gardening. They have now transferred their knowledge to revegetate cities as consulting experts for urban agriculture, planification, space management and vegetal planting.

Original article published on the website, 25 July 2016. Source

1.5- Territorial scheme “climate-air-energy” to complete the French legal framework of the energy transition law

A new legal plan has been published in the “Journal Officiel ” on August 7, 2016 according to the “Energy Transition Law” (Loi de Transition Énergétique). The territorials schemes climate-air-energy include diagnostic, territorial strategy, action, monitoring and evaluation plans. They aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollutants, reinforcing carbon storage, renewable energies production and consumption, climate change adaptation, etc. These plans give a governance legal framework to inter-municipalities over 20,000 inhabitants.

Original article published on the website, 25 July 2016. Source

1.6- A new wind turbine park with storage in France

A wind power plant with storage batteries was inaugurated by the end of June on the French island of Marie-Galante. The park which its electricity storage system with a set of lithium -ion batteries of the French company Saft - is the first one of this type in France according to the french operator: Quadran.

Original article published on the website, 14 July 2016. Source

1.7- French compagnies involved in Hydrogen storage for building

Differents French compagnies as, Sylfen, PowiDian and Atawey are intensifying their efforts regarding the development of hydrogen storage system dedicated to store energy created into and for building uses. They hope the first system could be commercialized by 2018.

Original article published on the website, 27 July 2016. Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- New avian flu outbreak in the South-West of France

A new avian flu case has been detected in a duck farm in Aveyron (South-West France) while the production has just restarted after sanitary clean-out operations. 11,000 birds will be killed in this farm in Cruéjouls. This epizootic secondary outbreak site is epidemiologically linked to a first case detected in Aveyron on July 15, 2016 according to local authorities. This case brings to 81 the number of outbreaks detected in France since the epizootic has started in November 2015.

Original article published on the website, 9 August 2016. Source

2.2- Diesel engine air pollution: effects on foetuses for two generations

Peaks in fine-particulate air pollution are increasingly common and intense. Epidemiological data have shown that exposed pregnant women have a higher risk of having small and light babies, which in turn can lead to the development of certain diseases such as metabolic syndrome. Initial findings from a research project coordinated by INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research) show that in animals, chronic exposure of pregnant mothers to exhaust from diesel engines fitted with a particulate filter (such as those in cars sold in Europe) lead to deleterious effects on the growth and metabolism of first- and second-generation foetuses. Scientists also have evidence, for the first time ever, that nanoparticles from inhaled diesel exhaust can cross the placenta and reach foetal blood.
Original article published on the website, 4 August 2016. Source

2.3- A mobile laboratory recreated the scenario of an emerging epidemic in the heart of the Institut Pasteur in Paris

Men in white bunny suits are working under tents at the back of the Institut Pasteur historical greenhouse. This image, that is not uncommon to see on epidemic ground, is surprising in the heart of Paris. In fact, 12 scientists and technicians from 6 Western Africa countries were participating in an exercise recreating the scenario of a possible emerging epidemic. For this, a mobile laboratory was installed on the Institut Pasteur campus and participants had to realize the manipulations necessary to identify the responsible virus.

Original article published on the Institut Pasteur’s website, 4 August 2016. Source

2.4- Improve MRI medical diagnosis and reduce the cost of treatment

Three teams of French researchers (CEA-French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Inserm-French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and G2ELab-CNRS/UGA/Grenoble INP) have joined forces within the framework of the European project IDentIFY to develop a new type of MRI scanner: less costly yet far more accurate. The IDentiTY project aims to develop a new MRI technique called Fast Field-Cycling MRI or FFC-MRI, with a view to demonstrating its ability to characterize signals emitted from living cells, before going onto work towards its commercial roll-out. The Leti and Inac Institutes (CEA, UGA), have substantial expertise in the technologies required for the FFC-MRI technique.

Original article published on CEA’s website, 6 July 2016. Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- A virtual brain helps decrypt epilepsy

For the first time ever, researchers at CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), INSERM (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), Aix-Marseille University and AP-HM (Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille) have just created a virtual brain that can reconstitute the brain of a person affected by epilepsy. From this work, we understand better how the disease evolves and can also better prepare for surgery. These results are published in Neuroimage, on July 28, 2016.

Original article published on Inserm’s website, 29 July 2016. Source

3.2- Inserm, France’s rising research star according to Nature

The French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) is the only research institution in France listed in the World Top 100 institutions with the most progress in the last 3 years. This is indicated by the Nature Index 2016 Rising Stars, which highlights the big contribution of Inserm researchers to publications in the best 68 journals selected by Nature. This ranking identifies the most brilliant institutions to watch in 2016 and in the coming years.

Original article published on Inserm’s website, 27 July 2016. Source

3.3- Omega-3 fatty acids and stress management: growing links

The relationship between omega-3 fatty acid intake and adaptation to stress or anxiety is becoming clearer. Back in 2011, a team of researchers from Inra (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) and Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) showed that reducing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in mice increased their stress. This phenomenon may be linked to impairment of the brain’s ability to produce endogenous cannabinoids, the “endocannabinoids,” brain lipids that control synaptic memory. To better understand the endocannabinoid-dependent links between anxiety and synaptic plasticity, the research team continued its experiments by testing different models of behavioural stress on the rodents. These studies are the subject of an article published in the journal Cell Reports onJuly 21, 2016 .

Original article published on Inserm’s website, 22 July 2016. Source

3.4- Tuberculosis: a promising vaccine candidate

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur (Unit for Integrated Mycobacterial Pathogenomics, Paris, France), working in collaboration with a team from Italy, have published the results of their research into the action mechanisms of a promising experimental tuberculosis (TB) vaccine in the journal PLOS Pathogens. BCG, the only currently approved TB vaccine, has been around for almost a century, but it is only partially effective and the protection it offers fades over time. Given the current emergence of adult TB cases in conjunction with the HIV epidemic and the rise in multidrug-resistant TB strains, the development of a new, more effective vaccine is a global health priority. This research was conducted in connection with the TBVAC2020 European consortium.

Original article published on the Institut Pasteur’s website, 2 August 2016. Source

3.5- Malaria and toxoplasmosis have an Achilles heel from plants

To survive, the parasites responsible for malaria and toxoplasmosis depend on mechanisms inherited from the plant world. This is what a team of researchers from CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research, Institute for Advanced Biosciences, CNRS/INSERM/Université Grenoble Alpes) and the University of Melbourne has shown. They have just published two studies in Cell Microbiology and PLOS Pathogens. This discovery is a major advance for the development of new therapeutic targets for these parasites, which have such substantial public health consequences.

Original article published on CNRS’ website, 5 August 2016. Source

3.6- The keys to a major process in DNA repair

Researchers from the Institut Jacques Monod (CNRS/University of Paris Diderot), the Institute of Biology of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS/CNRS/Inserm), and the University of Bristol, have described for the first time in its totality the mechanisms by which DNA damaged by UV radiation is repaired, and how the proteins involved in this process cooperate to ensure its efficiency. This work opens new perspectives not only in the fight against cancer but also in combating certain bacterial infections, and is published in Nature on August 3, 2016.

Original article published on CNRS’ website, 3 August 2016. Source

3.7- Gens de la Seine : a soundwalk among the Parisians of the Eighteenth Century

What did the Seine look like during the eighteenth century? With its sandy banks, bustling ports, and bridges crammed with houses, it was at the center of Parisian life, and all kinds of trades depended on it for their activity. It is this history, embodied by its everyday actors, that is brought back to life in the form of sound modules by Dr. Sarah Gensburger, a sociologist of memory at the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), Dr. Isabelle Backouche, a historian at the EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) specialized in the history of Paris, and Michèle Cohen, artistic director. Gens de la Seine (People of the Seine), a soundwalk along the banks of the river, is a genuine voyage back in time for the connected wanderer. It is available in French and English at (compatible with smartphones and tablet computers).

Original article published on CNRS’ website, 3 August 2016. Source

3.8- Archeology: cave structures shed new light on Neanderthals

The recent discovery of broken stalagmites arranged in circles in the Bruniquel Cave (southwestern France) indicate that humans started occupying caves much earlier (more than 100 millennia) than previously thought. These man-made structures also rank among the very first in human history and traces of fire show that Neanderthals knew how to use it to navigate dark and enclosed spaces, well before Homo sapiens.

Video published on the website CNRS News, 25 May 2016. Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- About the human and geographical parameters of autonomous car

Autonomous cars are gradually becoming a reality, but beyond national divergences in highway codes, these vehicles will also need to adapt their driving styles to the local habits of different countries. The PRETIV (Multimodal Perception and Reasoning for Transnational Intelligent Vehicles) project, co-supported by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). It was created to help vehicles understanding the environment and reacting appropriately. Launched in 2011, the project brings together the Heudiasyc laboratory (Heuristique et diagnostic des systèmes complexes), the KLMP (Key Laboratory for Machine Perception) of Peking University (China), Inria (French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control) in Grenoble and the car manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Original article published on the website CNRS News website, 29 June 2016. Source

4.2- Renault cars are getting popular in BRICS

Kwid: The mini city car of Renault won outside India, its country of manufacture. The head of Renault Indian operations account therefore rely on exports. Also this new Renault mini city car will be industrialized in Brazil and will increase its exports and settle in Brazil.

Original article published on the website Usine nouvelle, 9 August 2016. Source

4.3- French new Boat: design and eco friendly

The prototype boat “Lili”made by a French company “A2V” in La Rochelle ensures a very high speed for a low consumption. “Lili” uses wind generated by its own speed to create a vacuum that " sucks up" . The more the boat accelerates, the more it becomes lighter and less their shells sink into the water , which reduces drag and allows the boat to accelerate again. The prototype of 10.50 meters, sailing at 50 knots (93 km/h) , with two outboard engines of 200 horsepower, consuming 25% less than a light boat hull to open at the same speed of a taxi boat.

Original article published on the website Usine nouvelle, 25 July 2016. Source

4.4- A new low energy boat for scientific researchers

The French Foundation “Esprit Velox” is designing a sailboat (40 to 50-meter long) energy- independent for technological and scientific research. Driven by François Frey, a former naval officer, the interdisciplinary initiative mobilizes school as as Ecole Central de Nantes, Arts et Métiers ParisTech and EIGSI La Rochelle (École d’ingénieurs en génie des systèmes industriels) and also private companies. The naval architecture firm VPLP provides experts. Areva provides a fuel cell , the Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA2 - Centre d’Etudes Atomiques) brings solar panels that could be placed on semi-rigid sails.

Original article published on the website Usine nouvelle, 27 July 2016. Source

4.5- Autonomous Cars on French roads

Since Wednesday August 3, 2016,France authorizes autonomous cars to be tested on its public roads. The government gives a boost to car manufacturers and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

Original article published on the website Usine nouvelle, 3 August 2016. Source

4.6- French Autonomous Cars on US roads

“Cruise4U”, the demonstrator of the French automotive supplier “ Valeo” will cover 21,000 kilometers in semi-autonomous mode. The automotive supplier said its demonstrator was going on road trip in USA. His journey began on August 1 2016 in San Franciso and should be completed in the same city on September 15, 2016.
Original article published on the website Usine nouvelle, 4 August 2016. Source

publié le 12/08/2016

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