Making sense of science

Newsletter September 2020

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This month in science (September 2020)
matter space article
The astrophysicist Françoise Combes receives the CNRS 2020 Gold Medal
Gold Medal This year’s CNRS Gold Medal has been awarded to Françoise Combes. Her work as an astrophysicist has enabled her to identify molecules in the far reaches of the Universe and unveil the secrets of galaxies and dark matter, making her one of the leading explorers of the cosmos.
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life matter article
Tracking Covid-19 in wastewater
Chemistry Testing sewage for Covid-19 could help predict future outbreaks. The Obépine project, which analyses wastewater, could use the concentration of the virus in human faeces to develop an early alert system in France.
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matter space article
Black holes of the third kind
astrophysics Virgo and LIGO have just announced the detection of gravitational waves produced by the oldest and most massive source ever observed. The discovery reveals the existence of a class of black holes that had never before been detected, and could explain how supermassive black holes are formed.
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Also this month
society article
The answer to marine pollution lies on land
Environment Plastics, chemicals and oil spills pollute and endanger marine ecosystems. Yet cleaning up the ocean is rarely, if ever, possible. Solutions must therefore consist in reducing waste and other hazardous materials.
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society diaporama
Camels emerge from the dusts of oblivion
Archaeology Three years ago, in a virtually unexplored part of northern Saudi Arabia, exceptional animal sculptures depicting life-sized camelids and equids were discovered. Were they carved by the Nabateans some 2,000 years ago? New fieldwork at what is now called the “Camel Site” revealed much earlier...
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space article
Probing the hidden side of thunderstorms
Meteorology The TARANIS satellite is scheduled to launch from Kourou (French Guiana) in November in order to study the luminous phenomena that occur above thunderstorms. The objective of the French mission, which will for the first time carry out an exhaustive, long-term analysis of these events, is to improve...
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society article
Reducing inequalities to save the planet
Economy The economist and CNRS senior researcher Gaël Giraud offers a sobering assessment of the global trend towards privatisation and its dangers for the environment, along with a new perspective on the concept of common wealth.
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life article
Improving goalkeepers’ attention
Cognitive science Knowing how to look sideways can be crucial for professional football players, and goalkeepers in particular! A researcher in cognitive science recently conducted a study involving a number of them, with promising results for the improvement of peripheral vision.
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earth article
New tools to help “predict” forest fires
Environment Covering some 15 million hectares, France’s woodlands are the third-largest in Europe. Scientists from the SPE in Corsica are developing firefighting tools to help preserve this resource.
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And the latest from the CNRS
Press Releases
How much will polar ice sheets add to sea level rise?
Earth may always have been wet
Ammonia-rich hail sheds new light on Jupiter’s weather
First 3.2-billion pixel images: the CNRS participates in the construction of the world’s largest digital camera
The Le Teil earthquake provides new insights on seismic risk in France and Western Europe
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