Events

Mois : April - March - February - January -

April

22/04/2014 - Film: Insects, small-scale physics

At the Institut de Recherche de Biologie de l'Insecte (Insect Biology Research Institute), under the direction of Jérôme Casas, biologists, ecologists and mathematicians work on physical ecology. They’re interested in the solid and fluid mechanics of insect life. more...

22/04/2014 - Snapshot: Confocal Art. A picture seen in CNRS international magazine n°33

"These colorful shapes would not look out of place on the wall of a modern art museum. Yet they are actually fluorescence-labeled fission yeasts (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) observed under a confocal microscope..." more...

17/04/2014 - Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair

A significant breakthrough could revolutionize surgical practice and regenerative medicine. A team led by Ludwik Leibler from the Laboratoire Matière Molle et Chimie (CNRS/ESPCI Paris Tech) and Didier Letourneur from the Laboratoire Recherche Vasculaire Translationnelle (INSERM/Universités Paris Diderot and Paris 13), has just demonstrated that the principle of adhesion by aqueous solutions of nanoparticles can be used in vivo to repair soft-tissue organs and tissues. This easy-to-use gluing method has been tested on rats. When applied to skin, it closes deep wounds in a few seconds and provides aesthetic, high quality healing. It has also been shown to successfully repair organs that are difficult to suture, such as the liver. Finally, this solution has made it possible to attach a medical device to a beating heart, demonstrating the method's potential for delivering drugs and strengthening tissues. This work has just been published on the website of the journal Angewandte Chemie. more...

16/04/2014 - How do liquid foams block sound?

Liquid foams have a remarkable property: they completely block the transmission of sound over a wide range of frequencies. CNRS physicists working in collaboration with teams from Paris Diderot and Rennes Universities1 have studied how sound is attenuated in liquid foams. Their findings, published in Physical Review Letters, open the way to the development of tools called acoustic probes that could be used to monitor the quality of foams used in industry, especially in the mining and petroleum sectors. more...

15/04/2014 - Obesity: are lipids hard drugs for the brain?

Why can we get up for a piece of chocolate, but never because we fancy a carrot? Serge Luquet's team at the "Biologie Fonctionnelle et Adaptative" laboratory (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot) has demonstrated part of the answer: triglycerides, fatty substances from food, may act in our brains directly on the reward circuit, the same circuit that is involved in drug addiction. These results, published on April 15, 2014 in Molecular Psychiatry, show a strong link in mice between fluctuations in triglyceride concentration and brain reward development. Identifying the action of nutritional lipids on motivation and the search for pleasure in dietary intake will help us better understand the causes of some compulsive behaviors and obesity. more...

14/04/2014 - The April issue of the CNRS International Magazine is now avalable

When World War I broke out a century ago, no one expected it to last as long and kill so many. Our feature story describes the ongoing work by historians to try to understand its origins and consequences, and explains how, for the first time, scientists played an active role in the war effort. Other subjects include a highlight on black holes; a portrait of Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, the ERC's new president; new advances in cancer therapy; how nanoparticles could soon be used to glue biological tissues; an exploration of Australia's insect biodiversity; the major role that family farming, celebrated this year by the UN, plays in the global economy; a presentation of Beirut's Ifpo, an Institute devoted to ancient and modern history of the Middle-East; and much more… more...

10/04/2014 - Confirmation of the neurobiological origin of attention-deficit disorder

A study, carried out on mice, has just confirmed the neurobiological origin of attention-deficit disorder (ADD), a syndrome whose causes are poorly understood. Researchers from CNRS, the University of Strasbourg and INSERM1 have identified a cerebral structure, the superior colliculus, where hyperstimulation causes behavior modifications similar to those of some patients who suffer from ADD. Their work also shows noradrenaline accumulation in the affected area, shedding light on this chemical mediator having a role in attention disorders. These results are published in the journal Brain Structure and Function. more...

06/04/2014 - How did plate tectonics emerge on Earth?

Tectonic plates move relative to one another on the Earth's surface. But what caused this division into separate plates, which led to plate tectonics? In an article published on the website of the journal Nature dated 6 April 2014, Yanick Ricard, a CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon: Terre, Planètes et Environnement (CNRS/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1/ENS de Lyon) and David Bercovici from Yale University propose the first model to explain how the Earth's surface divided into plates. This model accounts for the emergence of plate tectonics as we know it today, and also explains why this phenomenon did not occur on Earth's sister planet, Venus. more...

02/04/2014 - Mercury contamination threatens Antarctic birds

Mercury contamination in the Antarctic and Subantarctic affects bird populations, reveal researchers from the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé and from the 'Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés' Laboratory (CNRS / Université de La Rochelle). The scientists monitored skuas in Adélie Land and the Kerguelen Islands for ten years and showed that, when these seabirds exhibit high mercury levels in their blood, their breeding success decreases. This is the first time that toxicological measurements have been combined with a population study carried out over such a long period in the Antarctic and Subantarctic. The results, published in the journal Ecology in April 2014, show that pollutants that accumulate at the Poles can indeed cause a decline in bird populations. more...

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March

27/03/2014 - Saliva: a new trail in obesity genetics

Salivary amylase is a gene present in humans. Yet its number of copies can vary from one to 20, depending on the individual. Having a low copy number of the gene, which digests complex sugars (starches), favors obesity, according to an international team led by Professor Philippe Froguel from the Genomique et Maladies Métaboliques laboratory (CNRS/Université Lille 2/Institut Pasteur de Lille) (1). The researchers showed that people with the smallest number of salivary amylase copies (and therefore low amylase levels in the blood) are ten times more at risk of becoming obese. With each unit drop in the number of copies of this gene, the risk of obesity increases by 20%. This work, published on March 30, 2014 in Nature Genetics, reveals for the first time a genetic link between complex carbohydrate digestion and obesity. more...

23/03/2014 - Mother-of-pearl inspires super-strong material

Whether traditional or derived from high technology, ceramics all have the same flaw: they are fragile. Yet this characteristic may soon be a thing of the past: a team of researchers led by the Laboratoire de Synthèse et Fonctionnalisation des Céramiques (CNRS/Saint-Gobain), in collaboration with the Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon: Terre, Planètes et Environnement (CNRS/ENS de Lyon/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1) and the Laboratoire Matériaux: Ingénierie et Science (CNRS/INSA Lyon/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), has recently presented a new ceramic material inspired by mother-of-pearl from the small single-shelled marine mollusk abalone. This material, almost ten times stronger than a conventional ceramic, is the result of an innovative manufacturing process that includes a freezing step. This method appears to be compatible with large-scale industrialization and should not be much more expensive than the techniques already in use. The artificial mother-of-pearl, which retains its properties at temperatures of at least 600°C, could find a wealth of applications in industry and reduce the weight or size of ceramic elements in motors and energy generation devices. This work was published on March 23, 2014 on the website of the journal Nature Materials. more...

17/03/2014 - New French-Chilean UMI to study marine algae

To strengthen their collaboration in the fields of ecology and marine evolutionary biology, the CNRS, UPMC and two Chilean universities signed an agreement on 17 March 2014 for the creation of an International Joint Unit (UMI)1. Called EBEA, 'Evolutionary Biology and Ecology of Algae', the new structure focuses on the ecology, evolution and genomics of marine algae. more...

14/03/2014 - Film: The Antilion, Wave Propagation in Sand

At the French Institute of Research on Insect Biology (IRBI), a team of researchers headed by Jérôme Casas is studying the mechanics of solids that enables the antlion to use a trap to attract and kill its prey. This insect larva digs a cone-shaped trap in dry sand and lurks at the bottom waiting for a prey, usually an ant, to fall in. The antlion is capable of detecting the sand grain displacement caused by the prey's movement as it tries to escape. It then throws loose sand at it to disorient and smother it. The apparent simplicity of the antlion's trap is an excellent model for elucidating the physical properties of sand. more...

13/03/2014 - Snapshot: Organized Chaos. A picture seen in CNRS international magazine n°32

"This seemingly dishevelled mop of hair actually shows the collision between two herds of colloidal particles capable of selfpropulsion..." more...

11/03/2014 - Africa's pollution in the spotlight

Human activity in Africa significantly contributes to air pollution. However, no detailed data regarding country-by-country pollutant emissions in the continent was available until now. To remedy this, a joint French-Ivory Coast team headed by the Laboratoire d'Aérologie (CNRS / Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier)1 mapped these emissions in Africa for 2005, before estimating them for 2030, using three scenarios. The researchers showed that the climate change models used by the IPCC underestimate Africa's emissions, which could account for 20-55% of global anthropogenic emissions of gaseous and particulate pollutants by 2030. This work, published on 11 March 2014 in the journal Environment Research Letters, will help not only to improve existing climate models, but also to assess the health impacts of pollution in Africa's urban areas. more...

05/03/2014 - VLT: MUSE takes a look at the Universe

A unique new instrument dubbed MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) has been successfully installed on the European Southern Observatory (ESO)'s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal, in the heart of the Atacama desert in northern Chile. MUSE is one of four second-generation instruments selected by ESO (1) to equip the VLT (2), the flagship facility of European astronomy for the beginning of the third millennium. Thanks to its exceptional performance, this wide field of view, 3D spectrograph will be able to explore the distant Universe. It was developed in particular by two French research laboratories, the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CNRS/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1/ENS de Lyon), which headed the project, and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNRS/Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier). During its highly successful 'first light' (test phase), MUSE observed distant galaxies, bright stars and many other celestial objects. more...

03/03/2014 - 30,000 year-old giant virus found in Siberia

A new type of giant virus called “Pithovirus” has been discovered in the frozen ground of extreme north-eastern Siberia by researchers from the Information Génomique et Structurale laboratory (CNRS/AMU), in association with teams from the Biologie à Grande Echelle laboratory (CEA/INSERM/Université Joseph Fourier), Génoscope (CEA/CNRS) and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Buried underground, this giant virus, which is harmless to humans and animals, has survived being frozen for more than 30,000 years. Although its size and amphora shape are reminiscent of Pandoravirus, analysis of its genome and replication mechanism proves that Pithovirus is very different. This work brings to three the number of distinct families of giant viruses. It is published on the website of the journal PNAS in the week of March 3, 2014. more...

03/03/2014 - Earth's mantle plasticity explained

The Earth's mantle is a solid layer that undergoes slow, continuous convective motion. But how do these rocks deform, thus making such motion possible, given that minerals such as olivine (the main constituent of the upper mantle) do not exhibit enough defects in their crystal lattice to explain the deformations observed in nature? A team led by the Unité Matériaux et Transformations (CNRS/Université Lille 1/Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Lille) has provided an unexpected answer to this question. It involves little known and hitherto neglected crystal defects, known as 'disclinations', which are located at the boundaries between the mineral grains that make up rocks. Focusing on olivine, the researchers have for the first time managed to observe such defects and model the behavior of grain boundaries when subjected to a mechanical stress. The findings, which have just been published in Nature, go well beyond the scope of the geosciences: they provide a new, extremely powerful tool for the study of the dynamics of solids and for the materials sciences in general. more...

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February

26/02/2014 - CNRS president Alain Fuchs reappointed

Alain Fuchs has been reappointed president of the CNRS for a four-year term by France's Council of Ministers on February 26, 2014, on the recommendation of the Minister for Higher Education and Research. more...

13/02/2014 - Culture influences young people's self-esteem

Regardless of our personal values, we base most of our self-esteem on the fulfilment of the dominant values of our culture, reveals a global survey supervised by Maja Becker, a social psychologist at the CLLE (Laboratoire Cognition, Langue, Langages, Ergonomie, CNRS / Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail). The results of the study, involving more than 5,000 teenagers and young adults in 19 countries, were recently published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. more...

11/02/2014 - Are wind farms changing Europe's climate?

The development of wind farms in Europe only has an extremely limited impact on the climate at the continental scale, and this will remain true until at least 2020. These are the main conclusions of a study carried out by researchers from CNRS, CEA and UVSQ1, in collaboration with INERIS and ENEA, the Italian agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable development. These results were established using climate simulations that included the effect on the atmosphere of wind farms located in Europe, on the basis of a realistic scenario forecasting a two-fold increase in wind energy production by 2020, in accordance with European countries' commitments. Published on the website of the journal Nature Communications on 11 February 2014, the work highlights the importance of carrying out fresh studies to assess the impact of wind energy development by 2050. more...

05/02/2014 - Graphene ribbons highly conductive at room temperature

An international team including researchers from CNRS, Université de Lorraine, the SOLEIL synchrotron facility , Georgia Institute of technology, Oak Ridge National laboratory and Université de Leibniz have achieved a remarkable feat: they have produced graphene ribbons in which electrons move freely. The scientists have devised an entirely novel way of synthesizing such ribbons, and demonstrated their exceptional electrical conductivity at room temperature. The nanoribbons hold out great promise for cutting-edge electronics. The work is published in the 6 February 2014 issue of the journal Nature. more...

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January

31/01/2014 - Researchers develop first single-molecule LED

The ultimate challenge in the race to miniaturize light emitting diodes (LED) has now been met: a team led by the Institut de Physique et de Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg (IPCMS, CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), in collaboration with UPMC and CEA, has developed the first ever single-molecule LED. The device is formed from a single polythiophene wire placed between the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope and a gold surface. It emits light only when the current passes in a certain direction. This experimental tour de force sheds light on the interactions between electrons and photons at the smallest scales. Moreover, it represents yet another step towards creating components for a molecular computer in the future. This work has recently been published in the journal Physical Review Letters. more...

29/01/2014 - The Wood-Cricket, Wave Propagation in the Air

The wood-cricket lives in the leaf litter in our forests. It's just a few millimeters long, and moves by walking or jumping. On its own scale, the grass, leaves and dead branches in the undergrowth form an extremely complex three-dimensional universe. The cricket is often hunted by the Pardosa lugubris, or wolf spider, which attacks it by surprise, running on the ground. It's been discovered that the cricket can sense the faintest breath of air pushed by the spider during an attack. This sensitivity can sometimes save its life, an exploit that intrigues the scientists… more...

29/01/2014 - Using rare earths to interpret certain fossils

Until now, interpreting flattened fossils was a major challenge. Now, a new approach for the analysis of such fossils has been developed by a team bringing together researchers from the IPANEMA unit (CNRS / French Ministry of Culture and Communication), the Centre de Recherche sur la Paléobiodiversité et les Paléoenvironnements (CNRS / MNHN / UPMC) and the SOLEIL synchrotron. This non-destructive method makes use of chemical elements known as rare earths. By locating and quantifying such elements in trace amounts, it is possible to improve interpretation of fossil morphology. This enabled the researchers to describe not only the anatomy but also the environment of preservation of three fossils of Cretaceous age. Published on 29 January in the journal Plos One, the work should facilitate the interpretation of many flattened fossils, especially those that are exceptionally well conserved. more...

22/01/2014 - Water vapor discovered for the first time around an asteroid

An international team, including researchers from CNRS and the Paris Observatory at LESIA1 (Observatoire de Paris/CNRS/Université Pierre et Marie Curie/Université Paris-Diderot) and at IMCEE2 (Observatoire de Paris/CNRS/Université Pierre et Marie Curie/Université Lille 1), has discovered intermittent emissions of water vapor on Ceres, the largest of the asteroids, using the Herschel3 space telescope. These findings are published in the journal Nature dated 23 January 2014. more...

21/01/2014 - Gold Wires : a picture seen in CNRS international magazine n°31

"This is not a dazzling jeweller's creation, but it is gold nonetheless, in the form of nanoparticles encapsulated in a cholesteric liquid crystal..." more...

21/01/2014 - The January issue of the CNRS International Magazine is now avalable

Last September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first volume of its Fifth Assessment Report. How was it prepared? How do scientists conduct research on climate change? All you ever wanted to know on IPCC reports is featured in this issue's Focus. Other subjects include a stroll on Mars with the rover Curiosity ; the latestinventory of the Amazon rainforest ; a new program to study meningitis outbreaks in Africa ; a fruitful collaboration with Azerbaidjan on archaeology; an interview of Alain Tarrius on a phenomenon he calls transmigration ; and a lot more… more...

17/01/2014 - First infrared satellite monitoring of peak pollution episodes in China

Plumes of several anthropogenic pollutants (especially particulate matter and carbon monoxide) located near ground level over China have for the first time been detected from space. The work was carried out by a team at the Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (CNRS / UPMC / UVSQ)1 in collaboration with Belgian researchers and with support from CNES, using measurements by the IASI2 infrared sounder launched on board the MetOp3 satellite. Their groundbreaking results are published online on the website of the journal Geophysical Research Letters dated 17 January 2014. They represent a crucial step towards improved monitoring of regional pollution and forecasting of local pollution episodes, especially in China. more...

09/01/2014 - How fiber prevents diabetes and obesity

Scientists have known for the past twenty years that a fiber-rich diet protects the organism against obesity and diabetes but the mechanisms involved have so far eluded them. A French-Swedish team including researchers from CNRS, Inserm and the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (Unité Inserm 855 “Nutrition et Cerveau”) has succeeded in elucidating this mechanism, which involves the intestinal flora and the ability of the intestine to produce glucose between meals. These results, published in the journal Cell on 9 January 2014, also clarify the role of the intestine and its associated microorganisms in maintaining glycaemia. They will give rise to new dietary recommendations to prevent diabetes and obesity. more...

05/01/2014 - Supervolcano triggers recreated in X-ray laboratory

Scientists have reproduced the conditions inside the magma chamber of a supervolcano to understand what it takes to trigger its explosion. These rare events represent the biggest natural catastrophes on Earth except for the impact of giant meteorites. Using synchrotron X-rays, the scientists established that supervolcano eruptions may occur spontaneously, driven only by magma pressure without the need for an external trigger. The results are published in Nature Geosciences. The team was led by Wim Malfait and Carmen Sanchez-Valle of ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and comprised scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen (Switzerland), Okayama University (Japan), the Laboratory of Geology of CNRS, Université Lyon 1 and ENS Lyon (France) and the European Synchrotron (ESRF) in Grenoble (France). more...

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