Scientific Watch N°3 - From 05/22/2015 to 06/05/2015

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2015-N°02 du 05/22/2015 au 06/05/2015]

From 05/22/2015 to 06/05/2015

Editors :

Julie METTA, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Justin MONIER, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Sébastien TREMOLET, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

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

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- “The biggest solar plant under construction in Bordeaux.

In Cestas, at about twenty kilometers from Bordeaux, a central composed of one million photovoltaic panels is under construction. This project is developed by the Neoen company, which owns 40% of the future plant, the rest will be shared among seven co-shareholders (Mirova, Acofi, Omnes Capital, KKB ...). The realization of the project was entrusted to a consortium led by Eiffage, Clemessy in partnership with Schneider Electric and the French branch of the German Krinner.
With a maximum capacity of 300 megawatts (one third of a French nuclear reactor) the plant is expected to produce the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of Bordeaux City. It represents an investment of 360 million euros (3,024 billion HKD) and will be connected to the French energy network in October.
In the early June, half of the site has already been finalized. When finalised, the site area will be very impressive, reaching 250 hectares or the equivalent of 300 football pitches.
Today, solar is changing, although there is no real technological breakthrough. Since 2008, prices have been divided by four. According to the head of Neoen company, the price of the energy produced by PV is expected to become lower that when produces by wind power.

Le Figaro, May 29 May 2015 - Source

1.2- Photovoltaic kite to provide energy.

Cédric Tomissi and Julie Dautel - two entrepreneurs are fundraising their project to create a system which could provide electricity for 50 persons ! They call their project “Zephir”
The Zephir Kite’s diameter is 3.8 meters and its power can raise 3kWh. The energy can be used right away or be storaged for be used during the night.


Follow the project :
More information :

1.3- Solar Energy is on the Boat !

A French company - Solar Cloth System- stored photovoltaic panels on a boat sails “ Défi Martinique” which was on the race “La route du Rhum” on December 2014. These panels are special because they do not use silicium but an alloy called CIGS [cuiver, indium, gallium and selenium]. This alloy is 65 microns thin and 125g/m weight. The yield of these panels is between 12 and 14% - and so 5 meters square can provide 1kW- and can run the engine of the boat to 0.2 km/h.
This technology should be expanded to aviation and automotive industry soon.

More information :

1.4- Nevermore out of battery !

Avenir Telecom and Sunpartner Technologies – two French companies - associated to develop photovoltaic shells phone. The new shells could provide more battery to the phone and make work again for half a day - by using solar energy.
The product could be on your phone at the end of 2015.

More information :

1.5- First scientific results from Tara Oceans expedition published in Science.

In Science magazine, on May 22, was published a study about the mapping the biodiversity of a wide range of marine planktonic organisms. From a part of the 35,000 samples collected in different oceans during the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2013), these data provide unprecedented resources for the scientific community. With a catalog of millions of new genes, data will transform the way we evaluate climate change in the ocean.
These results were presented at a press conference Thursday, May 21 at the CNRS. A replay of this conference is available on request at the CNRS press office.

ICNRSWebsite, May 22 2015 Source

1.6- Use sunflowers as in”sun”lator.

The Public research institute in sciences and technologies for environment and agriculture ‘IRSTEA” has developed insulator materials with sunflowers dishes.
The product was selected thanks to its life cycle analysis and its thermal conductivity which is to 0.06 W/(m.K). This joint ANR project was so innovative and sustainable - it combined dishes of food industry, economic and energy.

More information :

1.7- I eat so I wear.

Until the 14th of July 2015 at Institut Français de Milan in Italie takes place an exhibition that is an extract from the French Exhibition “Futurotextil” which comes from Lille - in the North of France. To stick with the Universal World Exhibtion : “Feed the world : an Life Energy “ all the clothes are made with eaten products as food, vegetables etc…

More information :


2- Health & Society

2.1- Detection of pathological biomarkers in human clinical samples via amplifying genetic switches and logic gates.

Whole-cell biosensors have several advantages for the detection of biological substances and have proven to be useful analytical tools. However, several hurdles have limited whole-cell biosensor application in the clinic, primarily their unreliable operation in complex media and low signal-to-noise ratio. The rapport said that bacterial biosensors with genetically encoded digital amplifying genetic switches can detect clinically relevant biomarkers in human urine and serum. These bactosensors perform signal digitization and amplification, multiplexed signal processing with the use of Boolean logic gates, and data storage. In addition, it is possible to provide a framework with which to quantify whole-cell biosensor robustness in clinical samples together with a method for easily reprogramming the sensor module for distinct medical detection agendas. Teh team also demonstrate that bactosensors can be used to detect pathological glycosuria in urine from diabetic patients. These next-generation whole-cell biosensors with improved computing and amplification capacity could meet clinical requirements and should enable new approaches for medical diagnosis.

Science Mag Website, May 27 2015 - Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- An international symposium on Microbes & brain at Institut Pasteur, Paris on July 3, 2015 - Registration are open.

This symposium will take place at the Institut Pasteur, Paris within the framework of the “Grand Programme Federateur Microbes & Brain” (GPF M&B), which aims at creating synergy between Neurosciences, Microbiology and Immunology, three strong research traditions at the Institut Pasteur. This synergy should generate cutting-edge knowledge of how microbes and brain interact to maintain health or drive pathology.
The objective is to present ground-breaking research deciphering the impact of microbiota on biological functions related to the nervous system, including the blood brain barrier, metabolism and immunity of the brain, and behavior.

Institut Pasteur, organizer of the symposium, will host international and leading scientists coming from France, Ireland, Canada, USA and Israel.

You can register for the conference through the website

More information :


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- 100% electrical plane : Made in France !

Airbus created a plane which run with 100% electric power : the E-Fan 2.0. The plabe would be built in Pau - in the South West of France. 20 millions euros have been invested in the project. At the end, Airbus Group expect at least 800 orders for this two-sit plane ! The Fan of the E-Fan 2.0 would have to wait until early 2016 to see the plane in the air…

Usine Nouvelle, April 30 2015 - Source

4.2- A French team succeeded for the first time to store data on polymers.

Researchers have for the first time managed to register a binary code on a synthetic polymer, the message several bits was synthesized and read on an artificial polymer. Inspired by the way the DNA able to retain a huge amount of genetic data, this project was lead by a team from the « Institut Charles Sadron de Strasbourg (CNRS) » and the « Institut de chimie radicalaire (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université) ». This work was published in the magazine Nature Communications on May 26, 2015.
It is also possible to delete the code at any time by exposing the polymer to a temperature above 60 degrees Celsius or to a laser while sequencing destroys the polymer. The researchers showed that at room temperature, the polymer will keep information for several months, although it could actually take several years as the molecule look like very stable. The team plan to store messages from a few kilobytes or megabytes, in three to five years.

CNRS website, May 26 2015 - Source

Institut Charles Sadron de Strasbourg (CNRS) website

Institut de chimie radicalaire (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université) website -

4.3- Robots that can adapt like animals.

Robots have transformed many industries, most notably manufacturing, and have the power to deliver tremendous benefits to society, such as in search and rescue, disaster response, health care and transportation. They are also invaluable tools for scientific exploration in environments inaccessible to humans, from distant planets to deep oceans. A major obstacle to their widespread adoption in more complex environments outside factories is their fragility. Whereas animals can quickly adapt to injuries, current robots cannot ‘think outside the box’ to find a compensatory behaviour when they are damaged. A promising approach to reducing robot fragility involves having robots learn appropriate behaviours in response to damage but current techniques are slow. Here can be introduce an intelligent trial-and-error algorithm that allows robots to adapt to damage in less than two minutes in large search spaces without requiring self-diagnosis or pre-specified contingency plans. When the robot is damaged, it uses this prior knowledge to guide a trial-and-error learning algorithm that conducts intelligent experiments to rapidly discover a behaviour that compensates for the damage. Experiments reveal successful adaptations for a legged robot injured in five different ways, including damaged, broken, and missing legs, and for a robotic arm with joints broken in 14 different ways. This new algorithm will enable more robust, effective, autonomous robots, and may shed light on the principles that animals use to adapt to injury.

This projet was lead by a team composed of searcher from the University of Wyoming (USA) and the “Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC)” in France.

Nature mag website, May 27 2015 - Source

4.4- Nearly one million French regularly travel with Uber Platform.

A French law, which has been approved to regulate the activity of cars with driver companies, have not slowed the activity of Uber but quite the reverse ; it has created the opposite effect by making publicity of the platform. "Nearly a million people regularly use the Uber platform in France," said Simphal Thibaud, CEO of the company in France, in an interview with AFP.
The definition of "regular user" means for Uber "several times a year in France and abroad." The progression is clear as Uber claimed 140.000 last year which represents seven times less.

More information

4.5- Groupe Gorge raises considerable funds for its 3D printing subsidiary Prodways.

A French law, which has been approved to regulate the activity of cars with driver companies, have not slowed the activity of Uber but quite the reverse ; it has created the opposite effect by making publicity of the platform. "Nearly a million people regularly use the Uber platform in France," said Simphal Thibaud, CEO of the company in France, in an interview with AFP.
The definition of "regular user" means for Uber "several times a year in France and abroad." The progression is clear as Uber claimed 140.000 last year which represents seven times less.

Figaro news website, May 31 2015 - Source

Figaro news website, June 01 2015 - Source

publié le 03/08/2016

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