Scientific Watch N°3 - From 29/01/2016 to 11/02/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°03 from 29/01/2016 to 11/02/2016]

From 29/01/2016 to 11/02/2016

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- Mr Fabius quits Foreign Affairs ministry, stays as climate talks president.

Mr Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday February 10, 2016 that he is leaving his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development to accept President François Hollande’s proposition to become in March the president of the Constitutional Council, the French supreme court that reviews compliance of laws with the constitution. Mr Fabius also said he wishes to continue to chair the COP21, the UN climate conference, until November 2016 when the COP22 will be launched in Morocco.

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from Le Monde’s website - source

1.2- French Government to grant ecologically friendly startup companies

Mrs Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and Mr Emmanuel Macron, French Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs launched on Tuesday February 10, 2016 the call for projects “Green Tech”, opened to startup companies “contributing to the ecological transition”. Up to 50 projects will benefit from “launching funds” from 150,000 to 650,000 euros (1,320,000 to 5,700,000 HKD). The indicative global budget for this call is ca. 15 million euros (130 million HKD).

Published on February 9, 2016. Article from Les Echos’ website - source

1.3- In pictures: ‘Reinventing Paris’ exhibit gives Parisians sneak peek at city’s future

Thousands of people flocked this weekend to check out the winners of “Reinventing Paris”, an international architecture competition that aims at transforming forgotten public buildings and spaces into environmentally friendly urban designs. The proposals will now enter the construction phase, which Mrs Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, said would be completed “in record time” by 2020, and will create around 2,000 jobs per year. Overall, the project is expected to cost the city more than €1.3 billion (HKD 11.4 billion).

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from France24’s website - source

1.4- SEANOE: one step closer to the Open Science

SEANOE (SEA scieNtific Open data Edition) is a new publishing solution for marine scientific environmental data created by the SISMER (Scientific Information Systems for the Sea), Ifremer’s (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) data center. SEANOE allows scientists to publish their data in open access and quote them in an appropriate manner in an article. A big step forward towards Open Science, for free access to scientific publications and research data.

Published on February 02, 2016. Article from Ifremer’s website - source

1.5- First urban farm on the Doua campus in Villeurbanne

Produce vegetables in large quantities, inside the city, with little energy, in small spaces: two years after unveiling the goals of its concept “Fermes Urbaines Lyonnaises” (FUL) in Lyon, the creator, Mr Philippe Audubert said its project will enter a new phase as a first prototype will be installed on the campus of the Insa engineering school (National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon).

Published on February 02, 2016. Article from 20 minutes’ website - source

1.6- The Levisys system, a solution for the production of renewable energy ?

With its flywheel developed in partnership with Airbus Industries, the french startup Levisys allows to store electricity generated by solar and wind energy and so overcome the intermittency of these sources of energy. This is a big response to a critical issue for the development of sustainable energy.

Published on December 03, 2016. Article from L’express’ website - source

1.7- The motor that recovers heat

“Energine” is a motor which allows to generate energy from any source of heat above 150°C. Inspired by the Ericsson cycle, it can be integrated in all industrial processes to convert heat into energy. Developed by Assystem, an international Engineering and Innovation Consultancy in partnership with the FEMTO-ST Institute (Université de Franche-Comté UFC, French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et des Microtechniques ENSMM and Université de Technologie Belfort-Montbéliard UTBM), this innovation has received the National prize of engineering in 2015.

Published on December 08, 2015. Article from Faites le plein d’avenir’s website - source


2- Health & Society

2.1- “Medical deserts”: small cities call for state intervention

The association of the small cities of France (Association des petites villes de France (APVF)) published on February 9, 2016 a report highlighting the weakening of health care services in small cities. The association representing the cities with a population from 2,500 to 25,000 warns about the increase of “medical deserts” not only in rural areas but also in small cities in periphery of larger urban conglomerations. The association provides recommendations prior to the health meeting “Grande conférence de la santé” organized by the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Mrs Marisol Tourraine, on February 11, 2016.

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from Le Monde’s website - source

2.2- First steps towards a vaccine against bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is a winter disease that affects 460,000 babies a year, and many cattle farms. Researchers from the Molecular Immunology and Virology Laboratory (Jouy-en-Josas Research Centre, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (Inra)) have developed a new vaccine for which the first results are very positive. They are also testing a new route of administration without sting and pain. That’s why they started a collaboration with the company DBV Technologies which has developed a patch, patented under the name of Viaskin®, for delivering therapeutic molecules painlessly in the first layers of the skin and epidermis.

Published on February 04, 2016. Article from Inra’s website - source

2.3- Celebration of the entry of Louis Pasteur’s archives in UNESCO world’s documentary heritage register

To celebrate the registration of Louis Pasteur’s archives on the UNESCO “Memory of the World International Register”, the French Academy of Sciences organises exclusive presentations about Louis Pasteur’s scientific universality in former Pasteur’s house in Arbois (Jura, France) on the 16th of February 2016.

More details on the French Academy of Sciences website - source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Molecular models help to better understand shale gas

Although shale gas development is attracting a lot of attention, the recovery method used, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is raising increasing concerns. In order to develop more environmentally friendly methods, researchers need models and simulations validated by experiment and capable of reconstructing the complexity of such geological structures. With this in mind, molecular models of kerogen, whose breakdown produces shale gas, have been developed by researchers from the CNRS/MIT International Joint Unit ’Multi-Scale Materials Science for Energy and Environment’ and the Institut de Sciences des Matériaux de Mulhouse (CNRS/Université de Haute-Alsace). Such models, derived from experimentally determined properties of kerogen, can be used to investigate the behavior of this organic material. This work is published on the website of Nature Materials on 1 February 2016.

Published on February 01, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.2- Plankton network linked to ocean’s biological carbon pump revealed

The community of planktonic organisms involved in the removal of carbon from the upper layers of the ocean has now been described by an interdisciplinary team bringing together oceanographers, biologists and computer scientists, principally from the CNRS, University Pierre et Marie Curie, Nantes University, European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Atomic Energy Commission. This first overview of the network of species linked to the oceanic biological pump has revealed some new players as well as the main bacterial functions participating in the process. Published on 10 February 2016 on the website of the journal Nature, this work highlights the important role played by plankton in the climate system.

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.3- Toxoplasmosis : morbid attraction to leopards in parasitized chimpanzees

Researchers from the Centre d’Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive (CNRS/Université de Montpellier/Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3/EPHE) have shown that chimpanzees infected with toxoplasmosis are attracted by the urine of their natural predators, leopards, but not by urine from other large felines. The study, published on 8 February 2016 in Current Biology, suggests that parasite manipulation by Toxoplasma gondii is specific to each host. It fuels an ongoing debate on the origin of behavioral modifications observed in humans infected with toxoplasmosis: they probably go back to a time when our ancestors were still preyed upon by large felines.

Published on February 08, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.4- Astronomy: NIKA2, a new instrument for the detection of millimeter wave

To detect a cold body, it is necessary that the detection instruments are even colder essentially to avoid the "noise" associated with the thermal instrument. Based on the technology of KID (Kinetic Inductance Detectors), superconducting detectors kept at a very low temperature, the instrument NIKA2 has just been installed in the telescope of Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique(CNRS / MPG / IGN) located on Mount Pico Veleta, Spain. It will detect millimeter waves emitted by celestial bodies. The international consortium NIKA, coordinated by the Institut Néel (CNRS), hopes to be able to explore the star formation process as well studying the emission of interstellar dust and evolution of galaxy clusters in the nearby universe.

Published on February 04, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.5- Gravitational Waves Detected!

Masterstroke for physics: by detecting gravitational waves for the first time, the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, Louisiana, USA) and Virgo (Europe) collaborations were also first in observing a collision between two black holes, thus opening a new window to the Universe.

Published on February 11, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.6- When science help to analyse crime scene

The odorology is an identification technique of human odors by specially trained dogs. It is widely used in police investigations to demonstrate the presence of an individual on a crime scene. However, there is currently no international standards. The Neurosciences Lyon Research Centre (French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 / French National Institute for Health and Medical Research Inserm), researchers specializing in odors have recorded since 2003 performance of dogs facing an odor identification problem. Their results show that after a 24-month training program, dogs are able to recognize the smell of the right person in 80 to 90% of cases. These results should convince the international community of the reliability of this method. Results have been published on February 10, 2016 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.7- Listeria: hypervirulent strains with cerebral and placental tropism

Researchers from the Institut Pasteur, Inserm (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research), CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and Paris Descartes – Sorbonne Paris Cité University recently published a large-scale study in Nature Genetics based on almost 7,000 strains of Listeria monocytogenes — the bacterium responsible for human listeriosis, a severe foodborne infection. Through the integrative analysis of epidemiological, clinical and microbiological data, the researchers have revealed the highly diverse pathogenicity of isolates belonging to this bacterial species. Comparative genomics led them to discover new virulence factors, which were demonstrated experimentally as involved in cerebral and fetal-placental listeriosis. In addition, this research points to the importance of using new reference strains, which are representative of the hypervirulent lineages identified here, for experimental research on Listeria monocytogenes pathogenesis.

Institut Pasteur press release, February 1, 2016 - source

3.8- How does the bacterium causing legionellosis, use the host cell machinery to its own advantage?

Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular bacterium that has a very sophisticated system to exploit the host cell functions to its own advantage. During analysis of its genome sequence, the team from the Biology of Intracellular Bacteria Unit (Institut Pasteur/CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research)), headed by Prof. Carmen Buchrieser, identified genes coding for proteins that were predicted to be involved in the infection of human cells. These proteins are potential virulence factors. In this study, published in the journal PNAS, the researchers show that one of these proteins is secreted in the human cell and helps to block the antibacterial response of the infected cells.

Institut Pasteur press release, February 1, 2016 - source

3.9- Ten minutes to sequence a DNA molecule!

French researcher Dr Aurélien Bancaud (Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems/CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research)) was awarded the “instrumentation” first prize from the French Society of Chemistry for his new DNA sequencing method. His project “μLAS” allows DNA characterization in 10 minutes only, instead of 3-4 hours usually. This is a breakthrough technology for DNA analysis and it offers promising prospects for criminology or cancer screening tests.

CNRS regional press release, February 1, 2016 - source

3.10- Universities: the Council of State judges illegal students selection in master programs

After numerous cases submitted to administrative courts by students whose admissions to second year of master programs have been denied, the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) had to decide. Given the absence of a decree listing the programs allowed to use selection, the Council of State has judged illegal the selection in universities master programs on the 10th of February 2016.

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from L’Etudiant’s website - source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- Ecodesign Fab Lab, how to transform waste into product.

When waste becomes innovative objects: this is the successful challenge of the Ecodesign Fab Lab, which reuses waste of an industrial site to produce ecodesign inventions. Located in the industrial area of Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), the Ecodesign Fab Lab was created by Philippe Schiesser with a specific vocation: reuse the waste produced by 40 companies of the site to make objects. In total, 3,000 tons of plastic, cardboard, wood or Plexiglas are currently available to members.

Published on February 12, 2016. Article from LADN’s website - source

4.2- First satellite of the EDRS-SpaceDataHighway’s program successfully launched.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus Defence and Space have launched into space a system equivalent to the optical fiber. The first relay-satellite SpaceDataHighway program (spatial information highway) EDRS-A, was launched into geostationary orbit on January 30, 2016. After a period of testing, it will be operational around mid-2016. The SpaceDataHighway system will provide very high speed laser communications up to 1.8 Gigabit/s in space. This major program estimated to nearly € 500 million (HKD 4.4 billion) is the result of a public-private partnership (PPP) between ESA and Airbus Defence and Space.

Published on January 31, 2016. Article from Aeromorning’s website - source

4.3- The “Industry of the future” sets the course on digital technologies and energy efficiency

Seven months after the official launch by the French government, the Alliance for the Industry of the future (Alliance pour l’Industrie du futur) - which aims at fostering SMEs and mid-cap companies to modernize their production capacities - has presented its technological roadmap on the 9th of February 2016. As requested by Mr Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, and Mr Thierry Mandon, Secretary of State for Higher Education, 4 technologies are made a priority for the first half of 2016: additive manufacturing, cybersecurity, digitalization of value chain and energy efficiency.

Published on February 10, 2016. Article from L’Usine Nouvelle’s website - source

4.4- In Nantes, a robot to help young autistics to communicate

Initiated in 2012, the project “Rob’Autism”, born out of the convergence of robotics, psychotherapy and digital arts sectors, is going to grow in 2016 with the launch of clinical studies. In collaboration with the association “Robots!” and the Ecole Centrale of Nantes, the University Hospital Centre of Nantes teaches young autistic patients to program and use a small humanoid robot named Nao. Clinical studies will determine the potential of the Nao robot in improving relational and communication abilities in young autistics. It will also design a therapeutic protocol in order to make this local project reproducible in other places.

Published on February 5, 2016. Article from L’Usine Digitale’s website - source

publié le 24/06/2016

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