Making sense of science

Newsletter March 2016

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This month in science (March 2016)
digital billet
Human vs Machine: It's Go Time
Artificial Intelligence A computer recently beat a professional Go player for the first time, but will it measure up against the world's best player this week? Experts Marie-Liesse Cauwet and Olivier Teytaud give their predictions, and highlight the progress in artificial intelligence at play.
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space article
Closing in on Planet 9
Astronomy Less than a month after US astronomers postulated the existence of a ninth planet in the Solar System, a French team managed to halve the possible search area. One of the researchers responsible for this feat recounts the experience.
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society digital article
A Detour through the Uncanny Valley
Robotics Creating beings in our own image does not only raise ethical problems. In their quest for the ideal android, roboticists have discovered an Uncanny Valley, inhabited by creatures that resemble us so closely that we find them disturbing.
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Also this month
digital article
Viruses and Malware: Research Strikes Back
Computer science Having amassed over 6 million types of malware, researchers from France's high-security laboratory have created a new type of anti-virus, already being used by law enforcement and soon to be made available to companies. Welcome to the first French research platform dedicated to computer security.
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society billet
Modeling Epidemics: Back to School
Complex Networks Infectious diseases are today the second leading cause of death in the world, with new viruses constantly emerging (such as A/H1N1 influenza, MERS-CoV, Ebola, etc). To combat them more effectively, models of the ways in which epidemics spread must be refined, sometimes starting in the schoolyard,...
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society video
WWI: Revisiting Verdun, 100 Years Later
History Looking back at the Battle of Verdun, during which 300,000 French and German soldiers were killed. Over the past century, the legacy of this battle, a symbol of the horror and absurdity of war, has profoundly changed, as historians Antoine Prost and Gerd Krumeich explain.
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life diaporama
The Secret in their Eyes
Animal Biology We often say that eyes are mirrors of the soul... in the animal kingdom, they may only be a reflection... of the incredible diversity of our planet's environments. We highlight a few of these species and their characteristics.
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society article
Arctic Peoples Faced with New Challenges
Anthropology Sedentary lifestyles, climate change... in 50 years, the living conditions of Arctic populations have changed dramatically. Anthropologist Joëlle Robert-Lamblin, who went on several missions to the region, shares her insight.
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society article
Women’s Day: the True Story of March 8th
History The New York protest march supposed to be behind International Women’s Day... never actually took place! A look back at this myth, debunked by the historian Françoise Picq.
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life billet
Reconsidering the Legacy of French Automatons
history of science What if our computers and robots originated in 18th century France and a little-known technological revolution that involved trying to create mechanical reproductions of the living? The Canadian philosopher Jean-Claude Simard revisits this part of history, often overshadowed by Britain's Industrial...
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matter article
Do Black Holes Distort Time?
astrophysics A century after Einstein published his theory of general relativity, one of its most disturbing predictions remains intriguing: to what extent does the proximity of massive bodies such as planets, stars and black holes slow down time?
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