Scientific Watch N°4 - From 06/05/2015 to 06/19/2015

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2015-N°04 from 06/05/2015 to 06/19/2015]

From 06/05/2015 to 06/19/2015

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- “A world premiere in tree research : European trees planted in China to identify potentially invasive species in our forests.

Most of the exotic species, which attack plants in Europe, now come from Asia. INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) scientists, together with scientists from the Beijing Academy of Sciences and the Zhejiang Forestry University have devised a new method for detecting potential invaders in their region of origin before they are introduced into another continent. European sentinel trees have been planted in China for four years, and during this period, the ability of Chinese insects and fungal pathogens to colonize these trees was studied. Two articles published on the PLoS ONE website present the results of this study.

INRA website, May 29 2015 - Source

1.2- Paris climate summit must be the start of frequent carbon reviews, says IEA (International Energy Agency).

The crunch “Climate Change” conference taking place in Paris later this year must be the beginning of a new process of five-yearly meetings, rather than a one-off, the world’s energy watchdog has warned.
Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, and its incoming executive director, said : “The pledges in Paris need to be renewed every five years. That is because circumstances change, the costs of technology go down, and so on. We need to take account of that.”
In Paris, this December, governments of 196 countries will meet to try to forge a new global agreement on climate change, with all countries taking on targets on their future emissions. For developed countries, this will mean absolute cuts ; for developing nations,curb on their future carbon output. These commitments would kick in from 2020, when current commitments will run out.

The guardian, June 15th 2015 - Source

1.3- Two French guys want to photograph the consequences of climate change from a small plane..

They will try to renew a feat that has occurred only once, 91 years ago. Two officers, Thomas Bonguardo and Marc Launay, have issued a challenge : going around the world on two biplanes identical to those used in 1920. Thanks to this journey they will take pictures of many areas affected by deforestation or global warming and compare their shots with those taken in the 1920s.
The journey is scheduled to start in April 2017, after a year needed for the construction of airplanes ; their race will start from Michigan before joining Vancouver, Tokyo, Ulan Bator, Samarkand, Istanbul, Venice, Paris, Reykjavik and Greenland. "We will make at least 70 stops, the goal is not about achieving a sporting challenge but taking the time to discover cultures of countries we are going through," says Thomas Launay. They will fly over 20 countries, two oceans, and will travel approximately 35.000km at 2.000m of altitude. The total trip should last 4-5 months.

20min website, June 02nd 2015 - Source

1.4- Operation Climate Change : a European campaign for a participatory documentary.

Thanks to the COP21 climate summit, to be held in Paris from 30 November to 10 December 2015, the Franco-German television channel Arte, is launching a competition "Operation Climate". This event enables people to express their ideas about how climate change is changing their life.
Indeed, the objective of this project is to allow European citizens to publish short videos showing how their favorite place might be threatened global warming. Videos must be submitted by the 31st of August. 47 countries are expected to be involved in this challenge.

How to participate ? Find more information on the following website. : Arte


2- Health & Society

2.1- Frenchman takes fight against supermarket waste to Europe.

The local councillor who led to a new French law that will force supermarkets to donate leftover food to charity is now preparing a bid to take the legislation Europe-wide.

Arash Derambarsh, a councillor in the town of Courbevoie just outside Paris, launched a petition in January requesting a law to end the dumping and supermarket’s unsold products and deliberate discard. The petition got some 211,000 signatures and caught the government’s eye, spurring lawmakers to pass the landmark legislation in May. His exploit has been reported by media across the world.

Supermarkets bigger than 400 square metres (4,300 square feet) will have to give the unsold food to charities from July 2016 to take their unwanted food, or will pay fines of up to 75,000 euros ($652 500 HKD).

France 24Website, June 11 2015 - Source

2.2- Fibrillar strain behind Parkinson’s disease identified.

Several neurodegenerative disorders are caused by aggregates of a single protein, alpha-synuclein, in the brain. A French-Belgian team including scientists from the Institut des Neurosciences Paris XI - Saclay (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud) and KU Leuven had identified two specific fibers : "strains" , which take the form of "ribbons" and "cylinders", and has shown to cause Parkinson’s disease and Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), respectively. This work is published in Natureon 10 June 2015.

CNRS Website, June 10th 2015 - Source

2.3- Discovery of an anti-inflammatory molecule produced by GUT bacteria.

Researchers from INRA, INSERM, AP-HP, and UPMC [1] recently discovered a new protein with anti-inflammatory properties and named it MAM (microbial anti-inflammatory molecule). It is secreted by the bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and helps fight intestinal inflammation. This lighting discovery, recently published in the journal Gut, is a major progress in efforts to develop new means of treating inflammatory bowel disease. Consequently, the results of this discovery have great potential future applications.

INRA : Institut national de la Recherche Agronomique
INSERM : Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale
AP-HP : Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris
UPMC : Université Pierre et Marie CURIE

INRA Website, June 08th 2015 - Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Dr. Ludwik Leibler, a CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) researcher received the 2015 European Inventor price in Paris on June 11th, 2015.

Dr Ludwik Leibler, research director at CNRS, , received the 2015 European Inventor price, in the Research category for his works on vitrimers, a new class of materials that opens the way for numerous industrial applications. This physical chemist has also recently invented some kind of glue capable of replacing stitches and repairing soft organs such as the liver.
Dr Ludwik Leibler had already received in 2013 the Innovation Medal of CNRS. This award recognizes individuals whose outstanding research has led to breakthrough innovations in the area of technology, economic, therapeutic and societal.

CNRS Website, June 11th 2015 - Source

3.2- IFREMER is a partner of the 20th edition of the Young Audience Jury of the World Festival of Underwater Pictures World Festival.

The operation Young Audience Jury was organized by the Underwater Pictures World Festival, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, with support from Ifremer, Nausicaa in Boulogne-sur-Mer, the tropical Aquarium in Paris, Océanopolis in Brest, and the Oceanographic Institute in Paris.

The objective of this project was to increase the awareness and reflection on the underwater world. Students voted and nominated the best marine and underwater movie of the year.
A selection of 5 films dealing with seas and oceans was established in January by partners of Young Audience Jury. Then more than 3,000 primary and secondary school students from all over France have viewed these 5 films in class and evaluated with common criterias.

The film "Une mer sans requin” (A sea without shark) won unanimously the national award for this 2015 edition.

IFREMER Website, June 15th 2015 - Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- The French Start-up Welcome Netatmo launches a new kind of surveillance cameras.

The French start-up, Welcome Netatmo, presents the first surveillance camera with facial recognition for home.

"For the first time, a European start-up have a competitive advantage over its major US rivals," says Mr Fred Potter, CEO and founder of Netatmo, for the launching of his Welcome surveillance camera. This satisfaction resides in its technical features. Welcome has a facial recognition system, which allows to determine who enters the house while its competitors can barely distinguish a pet from a human being.
Well aware that facial recognition may seem very intrusive, Mr Fred Potter highlights the benefits it has for the consumer. First, it allows to choose the people who enters the house. Similarly, it is possible to do a selection of the persons recorded. This, permits to be in accordance with the law, like for example, receiving an alert for the arrival of the maid, but without recording their activity.

Le Figaro, June 11th 2015 - Source

4.2- Blitab, the tablet which allows people to read Braille.

Entrepreneurial Adventure of Kristina Tsvetanova started in Bulgaria in September 2012 at the industrial engineering department of the University of Sofia. After a blind student asked her help to register at the university, Kristina discovered that electromechanical instruments used to translate Braille texts "cost thousands of euros and allow only tedious reading line by line." Helped by two students (Slavi and Stanislas Slavev, specialists in computer and chemistry for the first, in ergonomic for the second), Mrs Tsvetanova found an economical solution : "We had to find a breakthrough technology," she said.

After a while and few trips to Austria the concept Blitab was on track. The group has developed a "smart material" whose surface displays small physical bubbles going up and down on demand, enabling the display of an entire page in Braille on a tablet. "We have proven in the laboratory process efficiency, currently patent pending and have designed the tablet. It is now only about puting everything together, "explaind the scientist. Even before the completion of the prototype, the team received these past twelve months, 11 international awards including the European Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Disability.

Le monde, June 05 2015 - Source

4.3- The highest wood tower around the world could take up residence in Paris.

The Canadian architecture firm Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and the French DVVD partnered with REI France (a promotion company and Building Construction specialized in eco-construction) to unveil an ambitious project of the world highest building made entirely of wood. The 35-floors tower, named "Baobab" is expected to become the heart of the community. We will find social housing, a hotel, an urban garden, a bus station and other facilities. If we still lack practical information (exact size, materials needed), architects ensure that this new bulding is intended to "foster the impression of a more connected city, a vibrant metropolis" and "define a new era of construction in the city. "

The Huffington Post, June 03rd 2015 - Source

4.4- Oz, the magic robot that mechanically weeds.

Oz is one meter long, has four wheels and two big eyes (two cameras that allow him to see in three dimensions and in color). Thanks to them, he can move all alone in the fields between rows. He is also able to distinguish carrots from cauliflower and uproots weeds without touching the vegetables. When it reaches the end of a row, it turns around and when the plot is finished it wars the farmer via SMS.

This robot was invented by Naio, a young start-up in Toulouse which today employs ten people. This is a real success. One of the giants of canned vegetable is currently testing it. For now, the batteries only last few hours but the future model in late 2016, will be able to recharge continuously with solar energy.

RTL website, June 03rd 2015 - Source

publié le 10/12/2015

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