Making sense of science

Newsletter May 2018

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This month in science (May 2018)
society article
Hegra’s Splendor Revealed
Archaeology To open up the region of Al-Ula to international tourism and showcase the magnificent ruins of the city of Hegra, Saudi Arabia has called upon French expertise. CNRS News takes a look at this jewel of the ancient Near East in the company of archaeologist Laïla Nehmé, a specialist in Nabataean civilization.
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matter digital article
Cracking the Olfactory Code
Chemistry The perception of odors remains in many ways a mystery. However, a research team in Nice (southeastern France) has perfected a new protocol for predicting the activation of an olfactory receptor by an odor molecule. A step towards the development of a biomimetic nose.
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space article
Monitoring Quakes on Mars
Planetology The InSight international space mission which launched May 5 from California successfully landed on the surface of the Red Planet on November 26. By studying for the first time the seismic waves on Mars, the mission, equipped with a European seismometer, will provide valuable information on the internal structure of the planet.
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Also this month
earth article
New Technologies' Wasted Energies
Computer science Computers, data centers, networks and the like now gobble up nearly 10% of the world’s electrical consumption—and the figure continues to rise. While there is no question of giving up the progress made possible through digital technology, researchers point to a system that is neither optimal nor...
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matter article
Ceramics Everywhere
Materials Ceramics have been present since prehistory, and are now a part of many cutting-edge applications due to their advantageous properties and the inventiveness of researchers. From aeronautics and surgery to optics and energy, here is an overview of this innovative research.
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society video
The Luthier and the Cryptographer

For over 200 years, a piece of musical history has remained hidden within registers of luthiers, string instrument specialists. These aged yellow pages hold a well-kept secret: a column written in code. One curator at the Paris Museum of Music was...

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space article
An Alien Asteroid in our Midst
Astronomy The quirky behavior of an asteroid that goes against the flow of most other celestial bodies in our Solar System prompted a French-Brazilian scientific duo to delve into its origins. And discover an immigrant from a star system beyond our own.
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matter video
The World's most Perfect Mirrors
Engineering The world's most reflective mirrors, which reflect 99.9999% of incident light, were developed by a French laboratory. Discover the manufacturing secrets of these essential components of gravitational wave detectors. 
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society diaporama
A Glimpse of Ancient Africa
Archaeology The archeological site of Sedeinga, in northern Sudan, provides unprecedented evidence of the funeral rites of the kingdoms of Napata and Meroe that ruled this region from the seventh to fourth centuries BC. For nearly ten years, an international team led by CNRS and Sorbonne University researchers...
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society article
Unique Funerary Site Discovered in Peru
Archaeology In the Sechura Desert on the Pacific coast of Peru, the Huaca Amarilla archaeological site has yielded a unique—and surprising—glimpse of funerary practices in the pre-Hispanic period, from the 10th through the 15th centuries. A discovery of both archaeological and anthropological interest.
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matter billet
Nanostructuration at the European level
Science policy Setting up a European infrastructure that incorporates most of the academic clean rooms in which tomorrow’s nanosystems will be designed is the goal of the EuroNanoLab project presented to us by Gabriel Chardin, president of the CNRS Very Large-Scale Research Facilities (VLRI) Committee.
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Why plants are so sensitive to gravity: The lowdown
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CNRS in Australia: a highly structuring cooperative framework
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