PressCNRS international magazine

Table of contents

In brief

Einstein and dark energy

The mysterious "dark energy" believed to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, could be Einstein's cosmological constant. That's one of the first results to come out of the international joint effort SNLS (Supernova legacy survey) in which the CEA (French Atomic Energy Agency) and CNRS are participants.1 The initiative aims at obtaining a precise measurement of this curious phenomenon in order to better determine its nature.

Contact: Reynald Pain,

1. Astier P. et al., “Astronomy and Astrophysics,”

Molecular assembler

Building nanostructures, nanodevices or nanomachines requires tools appropriate to the scale of the task. CNRS researchers have devised a molecule capable of collecting and assembling atoms one by one, then releasing them at the desired location with positioning precision less than 0.1 nanometer.1 This development should facilitate fabrication of nanomachines or of electrical interconnects at the atomic scale.

1. Gross L. et al., Nat Mater. 4 (12): 892-5. 2005.

Contact: Christian Joachim,

The hunger-suppressing effect of proteins

A team of researchers has identified the origins of the hunger-suppressing effect of proteins, utilized in certain dietary programs and in the treatment of obesity.1 The ingestion of protein stimulates glucose production by the intestine, and thus, sends a signal of satiety to the brain.

1. G. Mithieux et al., Cell Metab 2(5): 321-9. 2005.

Contact: Gilles Mithieux, Mysteries surround

Giant virus

Mimivirus, the largest virus in the world, continues to astound virologists. Researchers at the Structural and Genomic Information (Information génomique et structurale) lab in Marseilles, who were involved in the 2003 discovery of the virus and published its genome sequence in 2004, have now analyzed this genome and raised new questions.1 Mimivirus does not appear to be simply a randomly composed “bag of genes,” picked up from infected organisms. Half of its genes have a common origin—which likely goes very far back in time, and its genome has retained a large degree of homogeneity throughout its evolution. The presence of a very uniquely simple regulatory sequence for gene expression control in Mimivirus supports the hypothesis that this virus constitutes a new branch of the tree of life beside bacteria and eukaryotes.

1. Suhre K. et al., Proceedings Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 102 (41): 14689-146. 2005.

Contact: Jean-Michel Claverie,

Advances in Wi-Fi

Wireless networks function on the basis of the walkie-talkie principle—when two computers send data at the same moment, a collision occurs and the data are not transmitted. Researchers from the LSR lab (devoted to the study of programs, systems and networks) have perfected a method, dubbed “Idle Sense,” which allows for an optimized
flow of information and an improved fairness among
hosts.1 “Idle Sense” tracks the duration of the silent periods between transmissions and determines the ideal spacing of transmission attempts to enforce a good tradeoff between collision and idle time.

1. Heusse M. et al., Proceedings of SIGCOMM'05, Philadelphia, USA. 2005.

Online at:

Contact: Martin HEUSSE,




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