Making sense of science

Newsletter April 2018

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This month in science (April 2018)

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the recipients of its 2017 Advanced Grants, awarded to experienced male and female researchers well known in their fields. In total, across all disciplines, 269 projects were selected, including 34 hosted in France. With its 15 winners, the CNRS leads the pack: 15% of the candidates it hosts were accepted, while the success rate for all European candidates combined was 12%. Read the full press release here.

life society article
Animal Extinction Hidden in Plain Sight
Ecology A new study suggests that the overrepresentation of wild animals—lions, tigers, giraffes, etc.—in our everyday lives (toys, films, ads) makes us forget that they are on the verge of extinction. Researchers believe companies should pay 'image rights' when using such animals to help conservation efforts. The study's principal author ecologist Franck Courchamp explains.
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life matter article
Nature’s Liquid Crystals
Physics Known for their use in flat screens, liquid crystals are also naturally present in both plants and animals. An essential tool in fundamental research, their study has opened up immense perspectives for applications, notably in the field of biomimetic materials.
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society article
1968: a Turning Point in History?
History This year marks the 50th anniversary of the strikes and protests that swept across France in May and June 1968. What really happened during this unusual sequence of events and what impact did it have on French society? Was the now-legendary Mai ‘68 part of a larger international protest movement? Historian Michelle Zancarini-Fournel shares her perspective.
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Also this month
society article
Trusting Artificial Intelligence
Ethics As decision support systems come into ever-wider use, are we in danger of losing a bit of our humanity by relying on machines? Moreover, even software programs based on “cold” logic are not devoid of prejudice. Researchers are seeking solutions for giving them a sense of “morals.”
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life article
Where Have all the Farmland Birds Gone?
Ecology The song of skylarks, linnets and meadow pipits traditionally resonate across French farmlands. But for how much longer? Studies from long-term observatories paint an alarming picture: the populations of farmland birds have fallen by one third in the last 17 years.
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matter article
Joseph Fourier is Still Transforming Science
Mathematics From JPEG images to the detection of gravitational waves, the work of Joseph Fourier, whose 250th anniversary was celebrated last month, led to numerous modern-day applications. Yet this would not ensure his place in posterity, despite this extraordinary researcher's return to grace.
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society video
Saving Shiva's Mysterious Manuscripts
Indology The French Institute of Pondicherry houses thousands of manuscripts related to the worship of the God Shiva, one of the most important theistic traditions of India. We take you to the heart of this fragile and unique collection, inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register, which continues to...
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society billet
A Guide to Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems
Robotics The debate surrounding the development of autonomous weapons is skewed by the particularly stressful nature of the arguments. Yet to be able to adopt a position on the topic, it is essential to have a precise understanding of the issues involved. The researchers Raja Chatila and Catherine Tessier...
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life article
Biodiversity: State of Emergency
Ecology The IPBES, which is to biodiversity what the IPCC is to climate change, recently published five reports at its sixth plenary session held in March in Medellín, Colombia. In this synthesis of current scientific knowledge about biodiversity, experts have drawn up an alarming overview of the state of...
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life video
Mexico's Blind Cavefish: Evolution in Action
Biology Over the years, they have not only lost their gray color, but also their eyes. A subpopulation of Mexican cave-dwelling fish has seen its morphology profoundly changed over generations. A team of researchers went on location in Mexico to study these fish in their natural environment.
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society article
Bringing the Chartres Manuscripts Back to Life
Heritage Severely damaged by fire during the Second World War, the Chartres manuscripts, one of Europe's most important medieval collections, are now undergoing a vast restoration and digitization program using highly innovative technologies.
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And the latest from the CNRS
Press Releases
The dinosaur menu, as revealed by calcium
Cheaper, less toxic and recyclable light absorbers for hydrogen production
ERC Advanced Grants: CNRS in the lead among European institutions
The largest catalog ever published of very high energy gamma ray sources in the Galaxy
Eating less enables lemurs to live longer
International Cooperation
JapanEngineering and Systems Sciences
Lyon-Sendai: strengthening the French-Japonese collaboration on materials science and engineering”
Signature of three agreements for scientific cooperation during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India
France-United StatesSmart Materials
The renewal of the Georgia Tech-CNRS UMI
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