Pushing back the frontiers of knowledge

The CNRS chooses to pursue research excellence that explores natural and social phenomena in greater depth, in an effort to push back the frontiers of knowledge. Based on researchers’ inquisitiveness, this science — which is constantly evolving — is a source of progress for humanity.

Multidisciplinary research

From basic research…

“Frontier research”, or so called basic research, is at the heart of the CNRS’s mission. It pushes back the limits of knowledge and expands our understanding of natural and social phenomena. Ranging from atoms, cells, and cognition to Roman law and gender stereotypes, all fields of knowledge come under the scrutiny of the scientific method, which tests theories through experimentation and argumentation.

…to its applications

The CNRS successfully applies for many patents, and establishes scientific partnerships with industrial actors in order to explore possible applications for its discoveries, and to develop technologies. The transfer of its basic research results drives innovation based on a scientific foundation of the highest quality.

Budding researchers: the Momentum call for proposals

Vue interne du plongement isométrique d'un tore carré plat, en 3D, dans l'espace ambiant.
© Vincent Borrelli / Saïd Jabrane / Francis Lazarus / Boris Thibert / Damien Rohmer / CNRS Photo library

Giving young researchers the means to autonomously explore emerging subjects is the goal of the CNRS-Momentum call for proposals launched in 2017. Open to all scientific domains, it finances projects connected to 13 transdisciplinary subjects, such as modelling the living, artificial intelligence, the study of human behaviour, etc.

Learn more about Momentum (in French)

A wealth of discoveries

Find out more about ten striking sets of scientific results from the past three years, selected by the CNRS Institutes. Energy storage, the origins of life, the secrets of the atom...These cutting-edge discoveries in basic research most often relate to highly topical issues.

Interdisciplinarity stimulates new approaches

Interdisciplinarity advances science by bringing disciplines together. This encounter can occur between established domains, but also between seemingly remote fields (physics and philosophy, for instance). New concepts, methods, and innovative solutions have resulted from interdisciplinary cooperation, which would not have been possible if scientists had remained confined to their respective domains.

Mission for Interdisciplinarity

The CNRS has made interdisciplinarity one of the priorities of its scientific policy. Numerous examples have shown that breakthrough discoveries are made at the interface between disciplines, thanks to researchers from different backgrounds. The Mission for Interdisciplinarity (MI) provides tools and dedicated funding to support novel projects led by interdisciplinary communities.

Learn more about MITI (in French)

 

Interdisciplinary “challenges”

The “challenge” is a support tool that offers particular incentives. Like an incubator, it can structure research communities within a few years, sometimes from disciplines that are quite remote. The CNRS has positioned itself through this approach as a key player in the national and international debate on future challenges such as mass data, energy transition, or knowledge of the living.

A global policy for big data

Supercomputing, “cloud,” the use and technology transfer of mass data now concern all scientific disciplines. These subjects, which link the most basic research with the most applied, represent a strategic multidisciplinary challenge for generating new knowledge. In 2015, the CNRS created the Computing-Data Mission (Mi-Ca-Do) to define and implement a global policy jointly shared with its national and international partners.

Super calculateur
Le supercalculateur CURIE est capable d'effectuer jusqu'à 2 millions de milliards d'opérations à la seconde.© Cyril Frésillon / CNRS Photothèque

Large-scale instruments at the forefront of research

The CNRS designs and implements Very Large-Scale Research Facilities (TGIR) and Research Infrastructure (IR) with its French, European, and international partners, for the benefit of the entire scientific community. As a result, international teams working at the forefront of research in all fields have access to high-performance facilities: telescopes, high-energy particle accelerators, neutron sources, synchrotron radiation sources, lasers and intense magnetic fields, supercomputing systems, etc.

The Virgo interferometer in Cascina near Pisa, Italy, detected distortions in space generated by the passing of gravitational waves.
L’interféromètre Virgo à Cascina près de Pise, en Italie a permis de détecter les déformations de l’espace générées par le passage des ondes gravitationnelles.© Cyril Fresillon / Virgo / CNRS Photothèque