Mois : April - March - February - January -
24/04/2015 - The April issue of CNRS International Magazine is now available
Whether for refugees, displaced populations or migrants, camps are a new feature of global society. Renowned expert and author Michel Agier details the many complex facets of a phenomenon that affects some 20 million people worldwide. Also in this issue, a special report on permafrost and climate change; prototype robots for deep-sea archaeology; a survey of international regulations surrounding animal testing; 2014 Kavli Prize-winner Thomas Ebbesen; unraveling the Herculaneum scrolls; new ways to measure nanopollution; the future of voting is online; avoiding unnecessary chemotherapy; the LIMMS celebrates 20 years of excellence, and much more. more...
24/04/2015 - Close-up: A Good Pitch
“Brass instruments can be quite loud, and trombones are no exception. Musicians use various devices to dampen the emitted sound, the most common being the straight mute…” more...
23/04/2015 - SWIFTS spectrometer to study earth tides and quakes
The world's smallest spectrometer has successfully measured tiny deformations of the Earth's crust, of the order of one millimeter, over a length of one thousand kilometers. Researchers at the Institut des Sciences de la Terre (CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier/IRD/IFSTTAR/Université de Savoie) and the Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier) used the SWIFTS1
spectrometer to detect these as yet poorly understood movements. Their work2
is published on 23 April 2015 in the journal Optica
22/04/2015 - Detailed structure of human ribosome revealed
A team at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC - CNRS/Université de Strasbourg/Inserm) has evidenced, at the atomic scale, the three-dimensional structure of the complete human ribosome and the detailed interactions that occur within it. These findings, obtained using a technology that is unique in France, open the way to further exploring some of the adverse effects of antibiotics, and, in the longer term, to the treatment of diseases related to ribosomal dysfunctions and the deregulation of protein synthesis. This work is published in Nature
on 22 April 2015. more...
15/04/2015 - Construction of the LSST telescope begins in Chile
The first stone of the future LSST telescope was laid on 14 April 2015 by the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, at the Cerro Pachón site in the Chilean Andes. The LSST is the result of a public-private partnership involving several research institutions worldwide, and will be equipped with the most powerful digital camera ever built, partly developed in CNRS laboratories. The 8.4-meter-diameter telescope will shed light on the nature of dark energy, which accelerates the expansion of the Universe. more...
09/04/2015 - Allegations concerning Olivier Voinnet's publications:the CNRS sets up a scientific commission of inquiry
08/04/2015 - Bioasphalt: from microalgae to green roads?
Microalgae offer a highly promising alternative to petroleum products without competing for resources used in the food industry. They have now been used for the first time to make asphalt! Researchers at the CEISAM (Chimie et Interdisciplinarité: Synthèse, Analyse, Modélisation - CNRS / Université de Nantes), GEPEA (Génie des Procédés Environnement et Agroalimentaire - CNRS / Université de Nantes / ONIRIS / Ecole des Mines de Nantes), IFSTTAR (Matériaux pour Infrastructures de Transport) and CEMHTI (Conditions Extrêmes et Matériaux: Haute Température et Irradiation - CNRS), working in collaboration with the company AlgoSource Technologies, have proved the viability of bioasphalt, demonstrating its close similarity to the real asphalt used to pave roads. Their findings have been published in the April issue of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. more...
02/04/2015 - Quantum interference links the fate of two atoms
For the first time, physicists from the CNRS and Université Paris-Sud at the Laboratoire Charles Fabry (CNRS/Institut d'Optique Graduate School) have achieved interference between two separate atoms: when sent towards the opposite sides of a semi-transparent mirror, the two atoms always emerge together. This type of experiment, which was carried out with photons around thirty years ago, had so far been impossible to perform with matter, due to the extreme difficulty of creating and manipulating pairs of indistinguishable atoms1
. The work is published in the journal Nature
dated 2 April 2015. more...
30/03/2015 - Volcanic eruptions durably impact North Atlantic climate
Particles emitted during major volcanic eruptions cool the atmosphere due to a 'parasol' effect that reflects sunlight. The direct impact of these particles in the atmosphere is fairly short, lasting two to three years. However, they alter for more than 20 years the North Atlantic Ocean circulation, which connects surface and deep currents and influences the climate in Europe. This is the conclusion of a study by researchers from the CNRS, IRD, CEA and Météo‐France1 who combined, for the first time, climate simulations, recent oceanographic data, and information from natural climate records. Their findings2 are published in Nature Communications on March 30th. more...
24/03/2015 - Combining magnetism and light to fight cancer
By combining, in a liposome1
, magnetic nanoparticles and photosensitizers that are simultaneously and remotely activated by external physical stimuli (a magnetic field and light), scientists at the Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot) and the Laboratoire Physicochimie des Electrolytes et Nanosystèmes Interfaciaux (CNRS/UPMC),2
obtained total tumor regression in mice. Non-toxic when they are not activated, such therapies can also achieve a reduction in adverse effects. These results, which demonstrate the importance of multiple treatments, were published in ACS Nano
on 24 March 2015. more...
24/03/2015 - Giant salamanders co-existed with first dinosaurs
team including a paleontologist from the Centre de recherches en paléobiodiversité et paléoenvironnements (CNRS / Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle / UPMC) has discovered a new fossil species of "giant salamander" in Portugal. The species, named Metoposaurus algarvensis
, was found in rock dating from about 230 million years ago. This research, published on 24 March 2015 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
, confirms that these huge carnivorous amphibians lived and flourished at the time of the first dinosaurs. more...
17/03/2015 - Bodysuit or sleep sack? That is the serious question
Scientists at the Laboratoire Éthologie Animale et Humaine (CNRS/Université de Rennes 1), working in collaboration with a neonatologist from Brest University Hospital, observed the effect of preterm babies' clothing on their behavior. Newborns placed in a sleep sack were less active and touched parts of their bodies less frequently than those dressed in a simple bodysuit. The scientists suppose that the former may have been more stressed for two reasons: their movements were hampered, so that comforting self-touching was less frequent. This study is published on 17 March 2015 in Scientific Reports
16/03/2015 - Joint statement by CNRS and MPG on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)
The Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG) welcome the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) initiated by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. We note Commissioner Moedas' view that EFSI will make a significant contribution to investments in research and innovation. These significant contributions, however, will be effective only if EFSI-funded projects serve to strengthen universities and research institutions and by these means promote individual scientists. We expect that the ESFI will outline a vision as to how the European Union can achieve the goal of raising expenditures for research and innovation to 3 percent of GDP. more...
09/03/2015 - MAIT cell alterations involved in obesity and T2 diabetes
Scientists at Institut Cochin (CNRS/Inserm/Université Paris Descartes) and ICAN Institute of Cardiometabolism And Nutrition (Inserm/UPMC/AP-HP) have discovered that a class of inflammatory cells, MAIT lymphocytes1
, is deregulated in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes and obesity. In these patients, bariatric surgery (or a gastric bypass)2
, which relieves inflammation, can restore the normal functioning of MAIT cells. Already known to be activated by certain bacterial populations and to favor inflammation, these cells may explain the link between alterations that affect the intestinal flora (microbiota) and the inflammatory nature of these diseases. These findings are published on 9 March 2015 in Journal of Clinical Investigation
02/03/2015 - Karnak: excavation yields 38 artifacts
The Centre franco-égyptien d'étude des temples de Karnak
(CNRS/Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities) has just completed the excavation of a favissa
, a pit discovered in early December 2014 near the temple of the god Ptah. The dig has unearthed 38 statues, statuettes and precious objects, making this an exceptional find, both for the quantity and quality of the religious artifacts brought to light. Furthermore, a completely new recording method was used during the dig that makes it possible to virtually reconstruct each step of the discovery with millimeter accuracy. more...
26/02/2015 - Bio-inspired eye stabilizes robot's flight
Biorobotics researchers at the Institut des Sciences du Mouvement - Etienne-Jules Marey (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université) have developed the first aerial robot able to fly over uneven terrain that is stabilized visually without an accelerometer. Called BeeRotor, it adjusts its speed and avoids obstacles thanks to optic flow sensors inspired by insect vision. It can fly along a tunnel with uneven, moving walls without measuring either speed or altitude. The study was published on 26 February 2015 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
24/02/2015 - Kenyan fossils show evolution of hippos
A French-Kenyan research team has just described a new fossil ancestor of today's hippo family. This discovery bridges a gap in the fossil record separating these animals from their closest modern-day cousins, the cetaceans. It also shows that some 35 million years ago, the ancestors of hippos were among the first large mammals to colonize the African continent, long before those of any of the large carnivores, giraffes or bovines. This work, co-signed by researchers of the Institut des sciences de l'évolution de Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier/IRD/EPHE) and Institut de paléoprimatologie et paléontologie humaine : évolution et paléo-environnements (CNRS/Université de Poitiers)1
is published in the journal Nature Communications
, on February 24 2015. more...
16/02/2015 - How do vertebrates take on their form?
A simple physical mechanism that can be assimilated to folding, or buckling, means that an unformed mass of cells can change in a single step into an embryo organized as a typical vertebrate. This is the main conclusion of work by a team involving physicists from the Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot) and a biologist from the Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement (CNRS/UPMC). Thanks to microscopic observations and micromechanical experiments, the scientists have discovered that the pattern that guides this folding is present from the early stages of development. The folds that will give a final shape to the animal form along the boundaries between cell territories with different properties. This work has shed light on the mechanism for the formation of vertebrates and thus how they appeared during evolution. These findings are published on the website of the European Physical Journal E
, on 12 February 2015. more...
12/02/2015 - Immune cells commit suicide to prevent allergy
Scientists from the CNRS, INSERM and Université de Limoges, working in the Laboratoire Contrôle de la Réponse Immune B et Lymphoproliférations (CNRS/Université de Limoges)1
have demonstrated that the production of type E immunoglobulins (IgE)2
by B lymphocytes induces a loss in their mobility and the initiation of cell death mechanisms. These antibodies, present in small quantities, are the most powerful "weapons" in the immune system and can trigger extremely violent immune reactions or immediate allergies (asthma, urticaria, allergic shock) as soon as their levels rise, even slightly. These findings, published online in Cell reports
on 12 February 2015, thus elucidate how our bodies restrict the production of IgE in order to prevent an allergic reaction. more...
05/02/2015 - Planck reveals the dynamic side of the Universe
collaboration, which includes the CNRS, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the French National Space Agency (CNES) and several French universities and institutions, has today released data from four years of observation by the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Planck
spacecraft. The aim of the Planck mission is to study the Cosmic Microwave Background, the light left over from the Big Bang. The measurements, taken in nine frequency bands, were used to map not only the temperature of the radiation but also its polarization1
, which provides additional information about both the very early Universe (when it was 380,000 years old) and our Galaxy's magnetic field. The data and the accompanying articles have been submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics
, and are available on ESA's website2
. This information will enable scientists to better determine the matter and energy content of the Universe, the age of the birth of the first stars, and the rate at which space is expanding. more...
05/02/2015 - Nanovectors combine cancer imaging and therapy
Researchers at Imperial College London and the Laboratoire de chimie de la matière condensée de Paris (CNRS/Collège de France/UPMC)1
have designed and developed hybrid gold-silica nanoparticles, which are turning out to be genuine therapeutic Swiss Army knives. Tested in mice and on cultured human cells, they make it possible to combine two forms of tumor treatment and three imaging techniques. They notably have a greater drug loading and delivery capacity than carriers currently on the market, which opens interesting perspectives for cancer research. The results were published in PNAS
on February 4, 2015. more...
03/02/2015 - Osteoporosis: balancing bone formation and degradation
Most existing treatments for pathological bone loss inhibit osteoclasts (bone-destroying cells) to limit bone degradation. However, by doing this, they also prevent bone formation since it is stimulated by the presence of these very same osteoclast cells. Researchers from the CNRS, Inserm and the Université de Montpellier and Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Étienne1 have developed a new approach for preventing the destructive activity of osteoclasts without affecting their viability. This involves disrupting their anchorage to the bone, which has been found to be possible using a small chemical compound called C21. This innovative treatment can protect mice from bone loss associated with osteolytic diseases2 such as post-menopausal osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and bone metastasis, without affecting bone formation. This research was published on 3 February 2015 in the journal Nature Communications. more...
02/02/2015 - Towards a new weapon against muscular dystrophy
Research efforts associating scientists from the CNRS, UVSQ and INSERM within the Laboratoire END-ICAP1, working in collaboration with a team from the University of Bern, has demonstrated the therapeutic potential of a new class of synthetic oligonucleotides2 in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) using RNA "surgery". Tested in the mouse, this new generation of molecules proved to be clinically superior to those currently under evaluation in DMD patients, notably for restoring cardio-respiratory and central nervous system function. These findings were published on 2 February 2015 in Nature Medicine. more...
27/01/2015 - Film: Gérard Berry, A Programming Pioneer
This film draws the portrait of Gérard Berry, computer scientist, awarded the 2014 CNRS Gold Medal. Gérard Berry, holder of the first chair in computer science at the Collège de France since 2012. From the formal processing of programming languages to the computer-assisted design of integrated circuits and parallel real-time programming, Berry's achievements have led to major advances in information technology, finding myriad applications in the daily lives of computer users the world over. more...
27/01/2015 - The January issue of CNRS International Magazine is now available
Scientific fraud, long downplayed or even denied, is now taken very seriously and has prompted a global response at all levels of research. Our special report investigates the causes, extent, and consequences of this shameful dysfunction of science, as well as the measures being implemented to eradicate it. Also in this issue, Rosetta’s close encounter with a comet; a novel method to predict solar flares; how letter recognition repurposes neural circuitry used to detect threats; 2014 CNRS Gold Medalist Gérard Berry; philosopher Barbara Cassin emphasizes the importance of linguistic diversity; the 1000 start-ups generated by CNRS research; understanding Africa’s next challenges; 60 years of CERN; why mangroves are an asset to treasure, and much more. more...
27/01/2015 - Snapshot: Scanning a Temple
In 2013, researchers from the MAP1 laboratory were able to render a 3D model of the Tholos of Delphi, a one-of-its-kind Greek temple at the base of Mount Parnassus... more...
23/01/2015 - Rosetta reveals Churi's secrets
With its surprising two-lobed shape and high porosity, the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (nicknamed Churi) has a wide range of features, revealed by the MIRO, VIRTIS and OSIRIS instruments of ESA's Rosetta mission, which involves researchers from the CNRS, the Paris Observatory and several universities , with support from CNES. The seven papers published on 23 January 2015 in Science
also show that the comet is rich in organic material and that the geological structures observed on the surface mainly result from erosion processes. In addition, the RPC-ICA instrument traced the evolution of the comet's magnetosphere, while the ROSINA spectrometer searched for evidence of the birth of the Solar System. more...
20/01/2015 - Seeing inside Herculaneum's charred scrolls
An international team1
comprising researchers from the CNRS (Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes), CNR (Italy) and ESRF (Grenoble synchrotron) has made a major breakthrough in the study of the papyrus scrolls buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD and discovered in Herculaneum 260 years ago. Using a new non-invasive X-ray imaging technique, the researchers were able to reveal Greek letters hidden deep inside a charred scroll. Their findings also enabled them to formulate a hypothesis about the identity of the text's author. This interdisciplinary work, published on January 20 in Nature Communications
, raises hopes that it may eventually be possible to decipher all the papyri in the ancient library of Herculaneum. more...
19/01/2015 - A contractile gel that stores light energy
Living systems have the ability to produce collective molecular motions that have an effect at the macroscale, such as a muscle that contracts via the concerted action of protein motors. In order to reproduce this phenomenon, a team at CNRS's Institut Charles Sadron led by Nicolas Giuseppone, professor at the Université de Strasbourg, has made a polymer gel that is able to contract through the action of artificial molecular motors. When activated by light, these nanoscale motors twist the polymer chains in the gel, which as a result contracts by several centimeters. Another advantage is that the new material is able to store the light energy absorbed. This paper is published in Nature Nanotechnology dated 19 January 2015. more...
19/01/2015 - Elucidating the origin of MDR tuberculosis strains
A study has focused on the evolutionary history of the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis, and more specifically on the Beijing lineage associated with the spread of multidrug resistant forms of the disease in Eurasia. While confirming the East-Asian origin of this lineage, the results also indicate that this bacterial population has experienced notable variations coinciding with key events in human history. They also demonstrate that two multidrug resistant (MDR) clones of this lineage started to spread concomitantly with the collapse of the public health system in the former Soviet Union, thus highlighting the need to sustain efforts to control tuberculosis. Finally, this work has made it possible to identify new potential targets for the treatment and diagnosis of this disease. This study was carried out by scientists at the Centre d'Infection et d'Immunité de Lille (CNRS/Institut Pasteur de Lille/Inserm/Université de Lille) and the Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (CNRS/Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle/UPMC/EPHE), working in collaboration with a large international consortium1. Its findings were published on 19 January in Nature Genetics. more...