Making sense of science

Newsletter May 2016

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This month in science (May 2016)
digital article
Biometrics: Identification in Action
Biometrics After fingerprints, face or iris scans, researchers are now exploring new biometric identification methods, based this time on the very unique way we move or interact with our smartphones.
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matter digital video
The Smallest Car Race in the World
nanotechnology The first-ever international race of molecule-cars will take place at the CEMES laboratory in Toulouse this fall. Five teams are fine-tuning their cars—each made up of around a hundred atoms and measuring a few nanometers in length. They will be propelled by an electric current on a gold atom "race track." We take you behind the scenes to see how these researcher-racers are preparing for the NanoCar Race.
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earth article
A Quick Guide to Slow Earthquakes
seismology First detected fifteen years ago, slow slip events have now been observed in many parts of the world, opening up a new window into the processes at work in seismic faults. With magnitudes of up to 7.5 on the Richter scale, these earthquakes, which last from several weeks to several months, could eventually help improve mapping of seismic risk.
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Also this month
matter article
Leaving a Mark on Mars
Geology New research indicates that even in small quantities, liquid water on Mars—which would immediately boil and evaporate—may considerably alter the surface morphology, creating very different structures from those found on Earth.
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society article
Income Inequality: the Tip of the Iceberg?
Economy Discrimination against women in the job market begins as early as the recruitment stage. CNRS researcher David Masclet explains this phenomenon highlighted by experimental economics, and discusses the vicious circle of sexism that takes root during childhood.
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matter article
The Principle of Equivalence Put to the Test
astrophysics The Microscope satellite was placed in orbit this April. Its mission: test once more the principle of equivalence, a pillar of the theory of general relativity that postulates that all objects fall in the same way in a vacuum. Could Microscope be the first to invalidate it?
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digital article
A Virtual Simulator for Emergency Response Teams
Artificial Intelligence In extreme situations, such as war or following a terrorist attack, first-aiders are subjected to levels of stress that can affect the quality of the care that they provide to the injured. A multidisciplinary research team has developed a virtual simulator to help the fire service and military...
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earth diaporama
A Year in Antarctica
climatology As an open-sky laboratory, the Southern Continent provides an ideal setting to monitor the various parameters of our climate: atmosphere, snow, meteorological conditions… familiar research for Roxanne Jacob, who has returned from a year-long mission to Antarctica’s Concordia Station.
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life article
Do Animals Work?
Sociology Do guide dogs, sheep dogs and circus animals actually work? They do, say the researchers of the COW project, for these animals use their intelligence and sensitivity to perform tasks that require much more than simple conditioning.
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life article
How did Our Cells Acquire Respiration?
Biology Biologists suspected that our cells had acquired respiration by ingesting free-living bacteria that they have since always contained. Recent studies suggest infection rather than ingestion.
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life video
The Effects of Ageing on Visual Perception
Cognitive science Does our sense of direction change as we get older? A team of researchers is studying the toll that age takes on our vision. To do this, they immerse research subjects fully equipped with sensors in an artificial street. This StreetLab, developed by the Vision Institute and the Pierre and Marie...
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