Scientific Watch N°4 - From 12/02/2016 to 26/02/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°04 from 12/02/2016 to 26/02/2016]

From 12/02/2016 to 26/02/2016]

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- Campus Paris-Saclay: Building of the Photovoltaic Institute begun !

From 2017, the campus Paris-Saclay will welcome the Photovoltaic Institute of Ile-de-France (IPVF), a facility that will bring together more than 150 researchers and aims to become the largest research center in solar energy worldwide. Designed by architect Jean-Philippe Pargade and built by the company Demathieu and Bard, the building will have a total area of 12,000 m².

Published on February 14, 2016. Article from GuideEnr’s website - source

1.2- Hydropower Development: Europe 2016

ACI’s Hydropower Development: Europe 2016 Summit, taking place on 14-15 September 2016 in Lyon, France, will comprise two days of formal presentations, interactive panel discussions and excellent networking opportunities, providing an ideal setting to convene with your peers to discuss both current operational & future planned hydro power plants, energy markets reform, potential barriers & support policies as well as project economics & finance. Find out more information in the following website

1.3- Ancient DNA reveals phylogeny of prehistoric armadillos

Before the last ice age, South America had an impressive array of megafauna including the megatherium, a sloth the size of an elephant, and a wide variety of glyptodonts, a group of imposing armored mammals. Glyptodonts have been traditionally considered to represent a phylogenetically distinct group close to the cingulates (armadillos). However, their exact affinities have remained an enigma until now. A research group led by the “Institut des sciences de l’évolution” (The Institute of Evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier - (ISE-M)) of Montpellier (CNRS / Université de Montpellier / IRD / EPHE), the McMaster Ancient DNA Center in Canada, and also involving the “Centre de recherche sur la paléobiodiversité et les paléoenvironnements” in France (CNRS / Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle / UPMC) have answered this question by sequencing the whole mitochondrial genome of a 12,000-year-old specimen. This research is published on 22nd February 2016 in the journal Current Biology.

Published on February 22, 2016. Article from CNRS’s website - source

1.4- Clouds reveal new particle formation process

In addition to precipitation, clouds influence the climate in various ways: they cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and represent nearly 15% of the volume of the atmosphere. Scientists need to understand their underlying chemical and physical mechanisms in order to better integrate them into climate change models. An international team of researchers at the “Laboratoire interuniversitaire des systèmes atmosphériques” (CNRS/Université Paris-Est Créteil/Université Paris Diderot) and the “Laboratoire chimie de l’environnement” (Environmental Chemistry Laboratory) (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université) recently demonstrated for the first time the role played by cloud droplets in the atmospheric transformation of volatile organic pollutants. This work was published on 15 February 2016 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Published on February 15, 2016. Article from CNRS’s website - source

1.5- Could mangroves be refuge zones for coral reef populations?

A joint expedition between researchers from UTS (University of Technology of Sydney) and IRD ( the French Institut de recherche pour le développement) has discovered a coral community thriving in waters where most coral species should simply not survive. The team has just returned from exploring murky waters of a New Caledonian mangrove system to understand just how far corals can push their limits to survive.

Published on February 22, 2016. Article from IRD’s website - source


2- Health & Society

2.1- “Soap bubbles’ secrets go pop

Some phenomena that appear to be well understood are much more mysterious than it seems. In spite of the numerous applications that rely on the presence or absence of bubbles, no advanced scientific studies had been carried out so far into how bubbles form. A team of researchers in the “Matière Molle Department de l’Institut de Physique” (Department of Soft matter of the Physic Institute) of Rennes (CNRS/Université Rennes 1) tackled this question and developed a self-sustaining bubble machine in the laboratory. The researchers have managed to determine the minimum speed at which air must be blown on a soap film to form bubbles, under various experimental conditions. This work, which would allow optimization of various industrial processes, was published on February 19, 2016 in Physical Review Letters.

Published on February 22, 2016. Article from CNRS’s website - source

2.2- The intestinal microbiota : a new ally for optimum growth

The intestinal microbiota is necessary to ensure optimum postnatal growth and contributes to determining the size of adult individuals, notably in the event of undernutrition. The key element in this relationship is Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), whose production and activity are in part controlled by the microbiota. This has recently been demonstrated in mice by scientists at the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle (Institute for Functional Genomics) of Lyon (CNRS/ENS Lyon/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), the Laboratoire CarMeN (INSERM/INRA/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1/Insa Lyon), and Unit BF2I (INRA/INSA Lyon). These findings, published on 19 February 2016 in Science.

Published on February 19, 2016. Article from CNRS’s website - source

2.3- Neurosurgery and virtual reality

Remove a brain tumor from a patient awaked during the intervention, a dream for the future? No, the University Hospital of Angers has carried out the first survey coupling Neurosurgery and virtual reality allowing the patient to stay awaken during the operation. This this a big step forward for the CERVO research project (Chirurgie Eveillée sous Réalité Virtuelle dans le bloc Opératoire.

Published on February 15, 2016. Article from CHU Angers’s website - source

2.4- Bacterial neonatal sepsis and antibiotic resistance in low-income countries

Currently, bacterial infections and antibiotic resistance in children —especially neonates— in low-income countries is a neglected international public health problem. To tackle and decrease neonatal mortality from these two major threats requires addressing the challenges described in addition to increasing awareness of national policy makers, establishing programmes to combat bacterial neonatal sepsis and resistance in health-care systems, and stimulating necessary research programmes. This survey was lead by the (BIRDY) group (Bacterial Infections and antibiotic Resistant Diseases among Young children in low-Income countries) and coordinated by the Institut Pasteur. Other support are from TOTAL Corporate Foundation, MSDAVENIR, Monaco Department of International Cooperation and Institut Pasteur.

Published on February 06, 2016. Article from The Lancet’s website - source

2.5- 60 years of work for… an apple.

Red, crispy, juicy and tasty, the apple variety named “Ariane” marketed since 2000, has emerged from the cooperation between the two departments of genetics at INRA in Angers and Nantes, 37 years ago. The fruit combines many advantages: in addition to being tasty, it requires twice less chemical treatments compared to a conventional apple. This new variety was elected Product of the Year three times in a row from 2013-2015.

Published on February 23, 2016. Article from Inra’s website - source


3- Research and Education

3.1- A student in France costs more than 102 000 euros

A student costs on average 13 873 euros (120 000 HKD) per year in France, against 10 032 (85 000 HKD) euros for a secondary student and 6364 euros for a primary school pupil. This amount is within the average of OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, according to a study published on Tuesday. South Korea spends the least 86 000 euros (730 000 HKD) and Norway the most 160 000 euros (1 350 000 HKD), according to a study made by the French Ministry of National Education.

Please find out the report of the survey below:

PDF - 238.8 kb

Published on February 23, 2016. Article from Education.gouv, espace statistiques’s website - source

3.2- The French in pole position to discover the ninth planet

The horizon is vast but being reduced by French astronomers. Two researchers from the observatory in Paris and in the “Côte d’Azur” have managed to restrict the areas in which the ninth planet could be observed the in the solar system.

Published on February 23, 2016. Article from Sivertimes’s website - source

3.3- Latest edition of the CNRS journal

CNRS has released its journal for the winter 2016. You can download the document in french in the website CNRS Le journal

The CNRS has also published the local version dedicated to the research in China (including Hong Kong). You can download the magazine here either in French or Chinese.

3.4- Two FUN- MOOC in aeronautic delivered by renowned French Schools

In March 2016, two French aeronautical leader schools - ENAC and ISAE-SUPAERO - offer 2 MOOCs. From March 7, ENAC will put its first MOOC "Quel avion pour quelle mission ?", meanwhile ISAE-SUPAERO will welcome you with their online MOOC on " Comment vole un avion ? ".

Published on February 23, 2016. Article from Consulat de France à Hong Kong et Maca’s website - source

3.5- Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein’s prediction

LIGO opens New Window on the Universe with Observation of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes. For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors. Around a hundred scientists working in six laboratories associated with the CNRS contributed to the discovery, as part of the Virgo collaboration.

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


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- The Airbus Shopfloor Challenge at ICRA 2016

The Airbus Shopfloor Challenge invites robotics teams from around the world to create innovative robotic solutions for a real-life manufacturing challenge, and compete live at the IEEE 2016 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 15-21 May 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. Fonf out more information in the Airbus Group’s Website

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

How the French BeAM revisited additive manufacturing

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- Paris : flying cars on the Seine river soon

The future is on in Paris as the city could quickly looked as the Fifth Element. Replace polluting car by 0 carbon transport technology while avoiding traffic jam is now a reality. Indeed, dream can become true, thanks to SeaBubble, the first flying car on water. These flying vehicles are expected to sail on the Seine river in the coming months.

Published on January 15, 2016. Article from Le Bonbon’s website - source

4.5- Humanoid robots in tomorrow’s aircraft manufacturing

Developing humanoid robotic technology to perform difficult tasks in aircraft manufacturing facilities is the goal of a four-year joint research project, which is being conducted by the Joint Robotics Laboratory (CNRS/Association for Iron & Steel Technology
) and Airbus Group. It will officially be launched on 12 February 2016 at the French Embassy in Tokyo. The introduction of humanoids on aircraft assembly lines will make it possible to relieve human operators of the most laborious and dangerous tasks, thus allowing them to concentrate on higher value-added ones. The primary difficulty for these robots will be to work in a confined environment and move without colliding with the numerous surrounding objects. This is the first issue researchers will have to solve by developing new algorithms for the planning and control of precise movements.

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

publié le 26/02/2016

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