Scientific Watch N°7 - From 25/03/2016 to 08/04/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°7 from 25/03/2016 to 08/04/2016]

From 25/03/2016 to 08/04/2016

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

Anna SIDEN, Intern, Culture, Education & Science Department - Hong Kong

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- New gas storage project in Marseille

GRTgaz (subsidiary of GDF Suez), in conjunction with the seaport of Marseille, has announced the setting up of a gas electricity storage project within the Innovex incubator situated on the city’s port. The project, called Power to gas, is said to be the first of its kind to be linked to the public transport system in France. The idea behind the project is to convert and store electricity generated by intermittent sources of renewable energy (such as wind turbines) by producing hydrogen from water electrolysis. The gas produced, after being combined with Carbon dioxide, is similar to natural gas and can be reinjected into the transport network.

Published on March 30, 2016. Article from the website "Romandie" - source

1.2- Ségolène Royal inaugurates a solar roadway in Marseille

Ségolène Royal set the first photovoltaic solar road tile on the operations centre of the future ring road in Marseille, on Monday 21st March. The ‘real life laboratory’ as dubbed by the Minister of ecology and energy, is said to unlock funding for 5km of the route. Royal also took the opportunity to voice her opinion on the factory Alteo, responsible for the disposal of ‘red mud’ into creeks around Marseille, calling it to give an account of its actions.

Published on March 21, 2016. Article from "" - source

1.3- French Minister of Ecology and Energy announces 5 million euros of funding to go towards constructing solar roadways

The Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ségolène Royal, announced last Monday in Marseille that she will allocate 5 million for the construction of road and solar parks whereby the surfacing produces electricity. Ségolène Royal has set the objective, last January, of installing 1,000 kilometers of "solar highways" in France in the next five years. According to the Minister, the solar panels ; which are a form of ‘’clean energy’’, will furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8 percent of the French population.

Published on March 21, 2016. Article from the website "UP le mag" - source

1.4- Echy : Using light need not mean consuming energy

The French start-up Echy has developed an energy efficent device to illuminate dark spaces or areas without windows or natural light. The system, which is said to help save on energy, is powered by two tracker panels containing fibre optic cables that capture and expand the sunlight, concentrating it into darker spaces. Echy’s clientele is mostly composed of companies, but also shopping centres and laboratories who do not have much access to natural light. The start-up is also expanding internationally, making its first sale recently to the US.

Published on March 29, 2016. Article from "" - source

1.5- Oysters threatened by micro-plastics in the oceans

Microplastics could soon threaten oysters and other marine molluscs, according to a June study published on February 2, 2016 in the American journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). The study was conducted by ETE LEMAR / Laboratory of Sciences of the Marine Environment (UMR CNRS - UBO - IRD- Ifremer), Cedre and ILVO (Belgium).

Published on March 24, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

1.6- Disposable plastic bags: manufacturers satisfied with the new law

Industrial manufacturers of biodegradable and bio-sourced plastic bags welcomed Thursday’s publication in the Official Journal of the decree banning plastic bags for single use. From July 1, the thickness of bags less than 50 microns will no longer be distributed in shops. Food in plastic packaging at tills will also be prohibited. Only biosourced and compostable bags made from potato starch and maize will be allowed.

Published on March 31, 2016. Article from the website "Techniques de l’ingénieur"- source

1.7- Ban on plastic bags for single use from July 2016

Originally planned for 1 January 2016, the entry into force of the decree banning plastic shopping bags for single use , whether free or paid , finally will take place on 1 July 2016: plastic checkout bags, including those which are biodegradable, with a thickness greater than 50 microns are banned from July 2016.

Published on March 31, 2016. Article from the website ""- source


2- Health & Society

2.1- Yellow fever virus mystery

If the vaccine against yellow fever is particularly safe and effective, we still do not know why or how. Researchers from Inserm and Institut Pasteur have been able to solve at least part of this mystery by revealing that the vaccine strain enters cells and activates the immune system in a completely different way to the pathogenic strain from which it originates.

Published on March 17, 2016. Article from Inserm’s website - source

2.2- Cell therapy against autoimmune diseases

A cell therapy strategy for patients with autoimmune diseases may soon come to light- possibly in a few years. The proof of concept for this therapeutic approach has been elicited in mice with autoimmune uveitis. In the meantime, a clinical trial conducted in patients with a very advanced form of the disease has also begun.

Published on March 11, 2016. Article from Inserm’s website - source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Discovery of an "immune system" in giant viruses

Researchers at the Research Unit on emerging tropical infectious diseases ( Aix-Marseille University / CNRS / IRD / INSERM) from the IHU Mediterranée infection Foundation with the support of the AP- HM, have found evidence for the existence of a defense system in giant viruses that is capable of preventing the cross infection of other viruses by virophages . (Viruses can infect each other). The research brings to light the possibility that a virus may have an ‘’immune’’ defense system against other viruses. The results have been published in the journal Nature.

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

3.2- Combining CO2 storage and geothermal energy

The NAV - CO2 DISSOLVED project, which lasted for 3 years (2013-2016, project funded by the French National Research Agency, coordinated by the Office of geological and mining research (BRGM) in collaboration with BGR (Germany), CFG Services (France), Geogreen (France), GeoRessources (France), LEO (France), Partnering in Innovation, Inc. (USA)), has demonstrated the feasibility of associating the storage of CO2 (from sources such as industrial and flue gases) in a dissolved form in deep saline aquifers with the recovery of geothermal energy, the Office of geological and mining research has informed.

Published on April 4, 2016. Article from the website "" - source

3.3- The tick-tock of the proteasome

The proteasome is an intracellular organelle which promotes resistance to oxidative stress and limits premature cellular aging. A research team led by Prof. Bertrand Friguet (unit 1164 Inserm/CNRS/université Pierre et Marie Curie, Adaptation biologique et Vieillissement, Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (IBPS), Paris) has revealed that its activity was influenced by our circadian rhythm. These lessons will be useful for optimizing certain cancer treatments or to extend knowledge in the biology of ageing.

Published on March 22, 2016. Article from Inserm’s website - source

3.4- The moon could play a major role in maintaining the Earth’s magnetic field

The Earth’s magnetic field protects us every day from the charged particles and solar UV radiation. This shield is produced by a geodynamo: rapid movement of huge amounts of liquid iron alloys in the planet’s outer core. To maintain this magnetic field until now, the classical model claimed that the Earth’s core has cooled to about 3,000 degrees the last 4.3 billion years. A team of researchers from CNRS and the University Blaise Pascal suggests instead that the temperature has dropped to only 300 degrees. The role of the Moon, neglected until now, could offset this difference to keep the geodynamo active. The work was published March 30, 2016 in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Published on March 31, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.5- The past, present and future of African dust

Saharan winds disperse such quantities of dust across the planet that they actually alter the climate. Now, the release and transport of this dust, which arrives at the poles, fluctuates greatly. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the phenomenon, but no relationship between dust and climate has been established so far. According to the work of a French-American team of researchers from LATMOS1 (CNRS / UVSQ / UPMC), the CNRM2 (CNRS / Météo-France) and SiO3, weather phenomena like El Niño and Sahel rainfall greatly impact the generation of dust by accelerating Saharan wind downstream of the main mountain ranges in west Africa. The scientists also developed a new predictive model in which Saharan dust emissions will decrease over the next hundred years. Their work is published March 24, 2016 in the journal Nature.

Published on March 23, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- Le Nau: a fascinating evolutionary boat

The start-up Almeso has developed a concept of a modular boat. From a semi-rigid dinghy, it can turn into a sports catamaran .The prototype having taken to the seas, now the manufacturing process must ensue. That is, once the investors have been convinced.

Published on April 3, 2016. Article from the website ’L’Usine Nouvelle" - source

4.2- The longest rail motorway in Europe went into operation

With the commissioning of a railway motorway between Calais (Pas-de-Calais) and Le Boulou (Pyrénées Orientales ), up to 40,000 trailers can be removed from the road. This represents a reduction of around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
With its 1400 kilometers, it is the longest rail motorway in Europe. It was on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 2 am, that the first train operated by the VIIA Britannica subsidiary of SNCF Logistics, left the port of Calais ( Pas-de-Calais ) for the Boulou (Pyrénées- Orientales ), located about ten kilometers from the Spanish border; it reached its destination around midnight .

Published on April 2, 2016. Article from the website ’L’Usine Nouvelle" - source

4.3- "Rythm" has raised up to 10 million euros to improve our deep sleep

The start-up Rythm, a neuro-technology specialist, has raised 10 million euros; this funding will allow the start-up, created under the name Dreem in March 2014 by two students, to develop more comprehensive objects related to neurology, as well as strengthen its team, which has 50 employees. The start-up’s technology could help people with degenerative diseases, such as Alzeihmers, known to disrupt deep sleep. The fledgling company hopes to also reach out to the general public. And, in view of the 16% of the French population that suffers from chronic insomnia , the market is certainly there.

Published on April 1, 2016. Article from the website ’L’Usine Digitale" - source

publié le 07/04/2016

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