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30/09/2015 - New electrode gives micro-supercapacitor macro storage capacity
Micro-supercapacitors are a promising alternative to micro-batteries because of their high power and long lifetime. They have been in development for about a decade but until now they have stored considerably less energy than micro-batteries, which has limited their application. Now researchers in the Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes (LAAS-CNRS)1 in Toulouse and the INRS2 in Quebec have developed an electrode material that means electrochemical capacitors produce results similar to batteries, yet retain their particular advantages. This work was published on September 30, 2015 in Advanced Materials. more...
28/09/2015 - Mimicry helps sheep solve a dilemma
Imitation behaviors play a key role in many collective phenomena seen in animals. An analysis of the collective movements of grazing sheep has revealed that sheep alternate slow dispersion phases with very fast regrouping, in which they imitate the behavior of their neighbors. This study, conducted by researchers from the CNRS, CEA, and the Universities of Aberdeen, Nice Sophia Antipolis and Toulouse III Paul Sabatier1
, was published on September 28, 2015 in the journal PNAS
. It shows that the intensity with which the sheep mimic one another plays a crucial role in the ability of a herd to maximize the grazing area explored while minimizing the time needed to regroup when faced with potential dangers. more...
23/09/2015 - Biologist Eric Karsenti is awarded the 2015 CNRS Gold Medal
The 2015 CNRS Gold Medal, France's highest scientific distinction, has been awarded to the cell biologist Eric Karsenti, CNRS senior researcher emeritus. His career has been marked by significant breakthroughs concerning cell cycle regulation, the mechanisms that enable cells to divide. Karsenti has spent a large part of his working life at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Germany. He also pioneered interdisciplinary approaches in cell biology, which he applied in the department of cell biology and biophysics that he founded in 1996, and subsequently headed, at the EMBL. Always keen to push back the frontiers of knowledge, Karsenti was the initiator of the Tara
Oceans expedition (2009-2013) aimed at mapping ocean biodiversity, whose first results were published earlier this year. more...
23/09/2015 - A scenario that reconciles the Earth with its origins
Researchers at CNRS and Université Blaise Pascal believe they have at last solved a long-standing puzzle. Scientists were unable to understand why there were differences between the chemical compositions of our planet and a class of meteorites called enstatite chondrites, which are thought to be remains of the primordial material from which the Earth was formed. Now, for the first time, the team has put forward a complete scenario that explains these differences, based on laboratory experiments and modeling: the collisions that formed the Earth also repeatedly removed part of its mass, altering its chemical composition. The work is published in the journal Nature Communications
on 23 September 2015. more...
22/09/2015 - Decision-making involves a little known brain region
When faced with a change to our environment, we have to make appropriate decisions, which usually involves the orbitofrontal cortex. Yet unexpectedly, scientists at the Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine (INCIA, CNRS/Université de Bordeaux) have discovered that a brain region located in the thalamus also plays a crucial role in using these evolved skills. Tested in the rat, this work is published on 23 September 2015 in The Journal of Neuroscience. more...
17/09/2015 - First-ever in vitro human spermatogenesis
The French startup Kallistem has achieved a world first by obtaining complete human spermatozoa in vitro
, using tissue specimens collected from infertile men. The company, which stems from research carried out at the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle in Lyon (CNRS/INRA/Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), has developed a cell therapy technology that enables the differentiation of germinal stem cells1
to produce morphologically normal spermatozoa outside the body. This technology has been the subject of a patent published in June 2015, and was presented at a press conference on 17 September 2015, in Lyon (France). more...
09/09/2015 - 'Hot Jupiter' exoplanets may have formed very rapidly
Twenty years after they were first discovered, 'hot Jupiters', gas giant planets that orbit very close to their star, are still enigmatic objects. Using the spectropolarimeter ESPaDOnS on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, an international team of astrophysicists led by Jean-François Donati (CNRS) has shown that such bodies may only take several million years to migrate close to their newly formed star. The discovery should shed light on how solar systems like or unlike our own Solar System form and evolve over the course of their existence. The work is published on 9 September 2015 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
(MNRAS) and is available in open access on the arXiv site. more...
07/09/2015 - New giant virus discovered in Siberia's permafrost
Scientists from the Laboratoire Information Génomique et Structurale (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université), the Laboratoire Biologie à Grande Echelle1
(CEA/Inserm/Université Joseph Fourier) and the Genoscope (CNRS/CEA)1
have recently discovered a new type of giant virus in the same sample of 30,000-year old Siberian permafrost2
from which Pithovirus3
had already been isolated. Microscopic, genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metagenomic4
technologies have allowed the scientists to draw a detailed portrait of this new virus,dubbed5 Mollivirus sibericum
. This work was published in PNAS
on 7 September 2015. more...
03/09/2015 - A humanoid robot to liaise between space station crews
A team of French researchers from the Institut cellule souche et cerveau (Inserm/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), led by CNRS senior researcher Peter Ford Dominey, has developed an autobiographical memory1
for the robot Nao, which enables it to pass on knowledge learnt from humans to other, less knowledgable humans. This technological progress could notably be used for operations on the International Space Station, where the robot, which is the only permanent member, would liaise between the different crews that change every six months in order to pass on information. These results will be presented at the 24th International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, on September 3, 2015 in Kobe, Japan. more...
31/08/2015 - Alzheimer's: a new factor emerges after 30 years
Researchers have identified a new peptide that plays a role in Alzheimer's disease. Related to the famous amyloid-β, which accumulates by forming plaques in the neurons of patients, it has escaped detection for thirty years. This is remarkable, since this new peptide, amyloid-η (amyloid-eta), is naturally produced in the brain and affects neuronal function: this discovery could have implications for ongoing clinical trials. This work is an international collaborative effort between German teams from DZNE, TU München, and LMU München1 and a French team from the Institut de pharmacologie moléculaire et cellulaire (CNRS/Université Nice Sophia Antipolis). It is published on August 31, 2015 in Nature. more...
28/08/2015 - Imitating viruses to deliver drugs to cells
Viruses are able to redirect the functioning of cells in order to infect them. Inspired by their mode of action, scientists from the CNRS and Université de Strasbourg have designed a "chemical virus" that can cross the double lipid layer that surrounds cells, and then disintegrate in the intracellular medium in order to release active compounds. To achieve this, the team used two polymers they had designed, which notably can self-assemble or dissociate, depending on the conditions. This work, the result of collaborative efforts by chemists, biologists and biophysicists, is published in the 1st
September issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition
25/08/2015 - Heavy metals involved in major mass extinctions?
'Malformed' fossil plankton dating back 415 million years reveal that heavy metal pollution may have contributed to some of the world's largest extinction events. This work, performed by the Laboratoire évolution, écologie, paléontologie (CNRS/Université de Lille) in collaboration with US and German scientists1, is published in Nature Communications on 25 August, 2015. more...
20/08/2015 - Food intake, a fragile balance between neural pathways
A team at the Laboratoire biologie fonctionnelle et adaptative (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot) investigated the relative role of energy needs and "pleasure" of eating in food intake. The researchers studied a group of neurons in mice. They observed that when the neuron activity is compromised, feeding behavior becomes less related to the body's metabolic needs and more dependent on food palatability. These results could explain how ever easier access to appetizing foods may contribute to compulsive eating disorders and favor obesity. This work has just been published in Cell Metabolism. more...
05/08/2015 - Glutamate, a new player in addiction
Scientists have just identified in the mouse, and then confirmed in humans, a new factor that regulates addiction. Glutamate, a neurotransmitter1, contributes to regulating dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens, one of the cerebral structures of the reward system. More precisely, it is its subtle balance with another neurotransmitter acetylcholine that prevents up-regulation of the system and entry into addiction. This discovery, which opens up new therapeutic perspectives, was made by neurobiologists in the Neurosciences Paris-Seine laboratory (Institut de Biologie Paris-Seine, CNRS/Inserm/UPMC) and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (McGill University, Montreal, Canada), working in association with human genetics specialists at Institut Mondor de Recherche Biomédicale (Inserm/UPEC). Their work was published on 4 August 2015 in Molecular Psychiatry. more...
05/08/2015 - Bacteria that prevent type 1 diabetes
Our bodies have ten times more microbes than human cells. This set of bacteria is called microbiota. In some instances, bacteria known as pathogens can cause infectious diseases. However, these micro-organisms can also protect us from certain diseases. Researchers from Inserm, Paris Descartes University and the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), in collaboration with teams from China and Sweden, have recently shown how microbiota protects against the development of type 1 diabetes in mice. This research is published in the Immunity journal, dated 4 August 2015. more...
04/08/2015 - Missing piece surfaces in the puzzle of autism
A study carried out by the Laboratoire Neurobiologie des Interactions Cellulaires et Neurophysiopathologie (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université), in collaboration with clinicians from Marseilles Public Hospitals (AP-HM) and scientists from the Salk Institute in San Diego (US), has revealed a new gene that plays a crucial role during early development in humans and whose under-expression may induce certain autistic traits. This work is published on 4 August 2015 in Molecular Psychiatry
30/07/2015 - Philae's first results from Churi prove surprising
Organic molecules never previously observed in comets, a relatively varied structure on the surface but a fairly homogeneous interior, organic compounds forming agglomerates rather than being dispersed in the ice: these are just some of first results provided by Philae on the surface of comet Churi. This work, carried out as part of ESA's Rosetta mission, involved researchers from the CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université, Université Joseph Fourier, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, UPEC, UPMC, Université Paris-Sud, Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier and UVSQ, with support from CNES. They are published on July 31, 2015 as part of a set of eight articles in the journal Science
. These in situ
findings, which contain a wealth of completely new information, reveal several differences in comparison with previous observations of comets and current models. more...
28/07/2015 - Pygmies show growth plasticity is key to human evolution
While the stature of pygmies is well-suited to tropical rainforests, the mechanisms underlying their growth remain poorly understood. In order to decipher these mechanisms, a team of scientists from the CNRS, IRD and UPMC1
studied a group of Baka pygmies in Cameroon. Their findings revealed that their growth rate differed completely from that of another pygmy cluster, despite a similar adult height, which implies that small stature appeared independently in the two clusters. This work is published on 28 July 2015 in Nature Communications. more...
23/07/2015 - Fighting mosquito resistance to insecticides
Controlling mosquitoes that carry human diseases is a global health challenge as their ability to resist insecticides now threatens efforts to prevent epidemics. Scientists from the CNRS, IRD, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble and Institut Pasteur in French Guiana1 have identified new genetic markers for mosquito resistance to insecticides, which could improve its detection in the field. This work was published in Genome Research on 23 July 2015. more...
10/07/2015 - Completion of the procedure against Olivier Voinnet
18/06/2015 - Obesity: small intestine contributes to chronic inflammation
Obesity is caused by numerous and complex factors, some of which are as yet unsuspected. Scientists from the CNRS, INSERM, UPMC and Université Paris Descartes, working with research clinicians from Paris Public Hospitals (AP-HP) have now shown that severe obesity is accompanied by inflammation of the small intestine and enhanced immune response in that region. This phenomenon reduces the insulin sensitivity of enterocytes1 and increases the absorption of nutrients, thus exacerbating the disease. This work, carried out at the Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers (INSERM/UPMC/Université Paris Descartes) and the Institut de Cardiométabolisme et Nutrition (ICAN - INSERM/UPMC/AP-HP), is published on 18 June in Cell Metabolism. more...
15/06/2015 - Clues from copper point to sulfur in Earth's core
Researchers at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot) have for the first time found chemical evidence for the presence of sulfur in the Earth's core. They determined the composition of the core, which is inaccessible to direct sampling, by analyzing isotopes1 of copper in various crust and mantle rocks and then comparing them with the chemical composition of meteorites, representative of the materials that formed the Earth. Their methodology, presented in Geochemical Perspective Letters on 17 June 2015, can, moreover, be adapted to any type of environment and even to other planets. more...
11/06/2015 - CNRS researcher Ludwik Leibler receives the European Inventor Award 2015
CNRS senior researcher Ludwik Leibler has received the European Inventor Award 2015 in the "Research" category for his work on vitrimers, novel materials with many potential industrial applications. A physical chemist, he has recently developed a glue that can replace surgical stitches and repair soft-tissue organs such as the liver. A member of the French Académie des Sciences and associate professor at the ESPCI Paris Tech, Ludwik Leibler is the director of the MMC (Matière Molle et Chimie) laboratory (CNRS/ESPCI ParisTech). He was granted the CNRS Medal of Innovation in 2013. more...
10/06/2015 - 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 team1
including scientists from the Institut des Neurosciences Paris Saclay
(CNRS/Université Paris-Sud) and KU Leuven has identified two specific fiber "strains" , which take the form of "ribbons" and "cylinders", and have been shown to cause Parkinson's disease and Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), respectively. This work is published in Nature
on 10 June 2015. more...
10/06/2015 - Why the Sun's atmosphere is hotter than its surface
How can the temperature of the Sun's atmosphere be as high as 1 million degrees Celsius when its surface temperature is only around 6000°C? By simulating the evolution of part of the Sun's interior and exterior, researchers from the Centre de Physique Théorique (CNRS/École polytechnique) and the Laboratoire Astrophysique, Interprétation - Modélisation (CNRS/CEA/Université Paris Diderot) have identified the mechanisms that provide sufficient energy to heat the solar atmosphere. A layer beneath the Sun's surface, acting as a pan of boiling water, is thought to generate a small-scale magnetic field as an energy reserve which, once it emerges from the star, heats the successive layers of the solar atmosphere via networks of mangrove-like magnetic roots and branches1
. This heating of the atmosphere, which contributes to generate the solar wind that fills the heliosphere, probably occurs in many other stars. These findings are published in the journal Nature
dated 11 June 2015. more...
10/06/2015 - Concentrating pathogenic bacteria accelerates their detection
Rapidly detecting the presence of pathogenic bacteria is essential in a number of sectors, such as the food or cosmetics industries. To guarantee the absence of these bacteria, it is necessary to block batches for 24 to 48 hours before they are put on the market, which can be a handicap. After first developing a method to count bacteria of interest, scientists in the Laboratoire de Chimie Bactérienne (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université), the Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles (CNRS) and the Institut de Chimie Moléculaire et des Matériaux in Orsay (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud) are now proposing a new technique to rapidly detect and concentrate cultivable Gram-negative bacteria1
. This innovative process, which will enable the release of commercial batches within a day and be exploited by the start-up company Click4Tag, is described in PLOS ONE
on 10 June 2015. more...
03/06/2015 - V. destructor mite mimics two types of bee
Researchers at the Institut de recherche sur la biologie de l'insecte (CNRS/Université François-Rabelais de Tours) and the Laboratoire Abeilles et Environnement at INRA, in collaboration with US and Chinese colleagues1
, have shown that the parasitic bee mite Varroa destructor
, which can mimic the chemical composition of its host's cuticle2
, is also capable of adapting this composition according to the bee species that it infests. Such remarkable adaptability could explain how this parasite of the Asian bee was able to colonize the European bee during the 20th
century, contributing to the decline of the latter species. This work was published on June 3, 2015 in the journal Biology Letters
26/05/2015 - World's first digitally-encoded synthetic polymers
Researchers have for the first time succeeded in recording a binary code on a synthetic polymer. Inspired by the capacity of DNA to retain an enormous amount of genetic information, a team from the Institut Charles Sadron de Strasbourg (CNRS) and the Institut de chimie radicalaire (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université) synthesized and read a multi-bit message on an artificial polymer. The results were published in Nature Communications on May 26, 2015 more...
25/05/2015 - Allergies: Europe's ragweed pollen counts to quadruple by 2050?
Airborne concentrations of common ragweed pollen, a potent allergen, could increase fourfold in Europe by 2050. Researchers believe climate change will be responsible for two thirds of this increase, while the remainder will be due to the plant's spread, as a result of human activity. These estimates by researchers1from the CNRS, CEA, INERIS and RNSA2, in collaboration with several European institutes, show that it is now necessary to implement coordinated management of this invasive plant on the European level, through long-term pollen monitoring and mapping of the weed's distribution. These estimates were published in the journal Nature Climate Changeon May 25, 2015. more...
22/05/2015 - First scientific results from the Tara Oceans expedition
On May 22, in a special issue of Science
, an international, interdisciplinary, team of scientists maps the biodiversity of a wide range of planktonic organisms, exploring their interactions - mainly parasitic, and how they impact and are affected by their environment, primarily the temperature. Based on a portion of the 35000 samples collected from all the world's oceans during the 2009-2013 expedition on board the schooner TARA, this data provides the scientific community with unprecedented resources, including a catalogue of several million new genes, that will transform how
we study the oceans and assess climate change. more...
21/05/2015 - The world's oldest tools date back 3.3 million years
Following the discovery of the world's oldest stone tools and its announcement at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society in San Francisco on 14-15 April, researchers from the CNRS, Inrap and Université de Poitiers1
have published their findings in Nature
, on 21 May 2015. The researchers report their discovery of the stone tools, which date back 3.3 million years, at a site in Kenya. Although the scientific community had long thought that the first stone tools ever made were the work of members of the genus Homo
, this latest discovery shows that another kind of hominid, perhaps a much older form of Australopithecus, had all the necessary capacities to make tools. more...
21/05/2015 - Arabidopsis uses molecular decoy to trick pathogens
In the animal kingdom, predators use a full range of strategies, such as camouflage, speed and optical illusions, to catch their prey. Meanwhile, prey species resort to the same tactics to escape from their predators. Such tricks are also used at the molecular level, as discovered by researchers from the CNRS, INRA, CEA and INSERM1
in one of the most devastating bacterial plant pathogens in the world, which bypasses plant cell defenses by preventing an immune signaling from being triggered. Even more surprising is the fact that plant cells have developed a receptor incorporating a decoy intended to catch the invader in its own trap. This work, which has a wealth of applications, was published May 21, 2015 in the journal Cell
08/05/2015 - Viagra to prevent transmission of the malaria parasite?
By increasing the stiffness of erythrocytes infected by the causal agent of malaria, Viagra favors their elimination from the blood circulation and may therefore reduce transmission of the parasite from humans to mosquitoes. This astonishing discovery, made by scientists from the CNRS, INSERM, Université Paris Descartes at the Institut Cochin and the Institut Pasteur, working in collaboration with a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, could lead to a treatment to reduce the spread of malaria within a population. Their work is published in PLOS Pathogens
on 7 May 2015. more...
30/04/2015 - How does a mobile DNA sequence find its target?
To understand how transposable elements1 shape genomes, where they are maintained over generations, it is vital to discover the mechanisms behind their targeted integration. Researchers from the Laboratoire Pathologie et Virologie Moléculaire (CNRS/Inserm/Université Paris Diderot)2, in collaboration with researchers from CEA3 and a US laboratory4, have identified an interaction between two proteins that is essential for the integration of a transposable element into a specific area of the yeast genome. These results, published on 1 May 2015 in the journal Science, emphasize the role of these mobile DNA sequences in the evolution and adaptation of organisms, and their potential value for gene therapy. more...
29/04/2015 - Film: A Nero's folly
In 2009, in Rome, on the Palatine hill, an excavation carried out by a team of French and Italian archaeologists brought to light the remains of an outstanding building that could be the base of the revolving dining room of Nero's palace. Nero's palace was made famous by descriptions handed down by ancient authors, who emphasize its size and splendour. However, this "golden house", the Domus Aurea, is today still poorly known because the buildings erected by Nero's successors have largely covered it over. more...
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 - Human brain inspires computer memory
How is it possible to create computer memory that is both faster and consumes less energy? Researchers at the Institut d'électronique fondamentale (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud) and CEA-List have unlocked the physical mechanisms involved in new-generation magnetic memory, and have shown that these mechanisms could be used as "synapses" in a new type of neuro-inspired system, able to learn how to store and retrieve information. Their work was published online in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems on April 15, 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...