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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 40 - February 2004   
 Taking the pollution out of health care
 Ice seasons
 The class of 2003
 Researchers on the high seas
 Protecting the 'whistle-blowers'
 The Prigogine legacy
 The sounds of Ethiopia

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The benefits of an unpopular sector Nuclear Energy: Can we do without it?

If there is one subject over which European society is split, it must be nuclear energy. The ‘darling’ of energy policy for the majority of EU Member States during the 'glorious thirties', for the past two decades it has been at the centre of much controversy – so much so that several European countries have stated their desire to abandon nuclear energy altogether. But surely such a stance is now seriously at odds with the need to respond to the new problem of climate change? Over recent years, this question has become central to the challenge facing the future of our energy – not just in Europe, but globally.


  A number of parameters affect the effectiveness of water treatment plants, such as the nature of the products, time spent at the plant, slurry activation, etc. A European study carried out in four countries revealed the presence of various pharmaceutical agents at the plant outlet points.
Medicines and the environment
Taking the pollution out of health care
'The attention paid to date by governments and scientists to the impact of pharmaceutical products on the environment can be described as weak or negligible.' That is the verdict of Professor Roberto Andreozzi (University of Naples 'Federico II'), chemist, expert on oxidation, and coordinator of one of the three European research projects in the Pharma Cluster. The aim of this research is to make a detailed study of the toxicity of the principal persistent molecules found in waste of medicinal – or para-medicinal – origin, and to propose effective treatment solutions.
  Ursula Schauer, in front of the Polarstern.
Ice seasons
A number of multidisciplinary teams are currently engaged in the study of polar regions, a knowledge of which is vital to understanding climate change. One of these explorers of this icy world is the German oceanographer Ursula Schauer. A slightly built woman with unquestionable scientific and moral authority, she confronts the unknown with remarkable calmness. Whether as mission leader or researcher on a specific project, she spends months at a time on board her old friend, the Polarsternicebreaker.
  Graphic element
Sixth Framework Programme
The class of 2003
The process of evaluating and selecting the replies to the first round of calls for proposals issued by the Commission during the first half of 2003 is now complete. As the financing contracts are finalised, we take an initial look at the results, especially for the new instruments – integrated projects and networks of excellence – deployed for the seven major research priorities.
  Group of Dolphin Fishes   (Coryphaena bippurus) –Indian Ocean © Bertrand Wendling
Researchers on the high seas
Fishermen have long observed the behaviour of tuna fish, even benefiting from it to make bigger catches. Scientists working on the Fadio project have now drawn inspiration from their methods for other purposes. Sophisticated equipment, tailor-made for their needs, should make it possible to study the mysterious behaviour of these fish, estimate their population and movements, and find out more about their role within the marine ecosystem – and the potential dangers they face.
  Protecting the 'whistle-blowers'
Science and ethics
Protecting the 'whistle-blowers'
What can a scientist or engineer, or even a technician, do when faced with a conflict between professional obligations and civic conscience? How can he or she sound the alarm when convinced that certain developments or research pose a potential threat to health, the environment or society? How can a person avoid being sidelined, excluded or even prosecuted for deciding to speak out? In the field of science and technology, the idea of including a conscience clause in international labour law – to protect the 'whistleblowers' – is gaining ground.
  Mikhaïl Gorbachev during a private discussion with Ilya Prigogine in 1991.
Scientific co-operation
The Prigogine legacy
Ilya Prigogine, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1977, died in Brussels last May. He was a lifelong promoter of European science and, to his mind, Europe always included his native Russia. In 1992, he was appointed head of a vast transnational co-operation programme for scientists. Its work in analysing complex systems continues today and has given rise to 15 projects involving researchers from Moscow, St Petersburg and Dubna.
  A young Ethiopian Christian student studying liturgical song – Addis Ababa, 2002© Olivier Tourny
International co-operation
The sounds of Ethiopia
Ethnomusicology could be described as the archaeology or etymology of sound. Intrigued by the music of other cultures, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was already wondering in the 18th century whether 'European' musical notation was of universal application. Later, jazz and its African roots would open the door to 'world music'. We tune into a Franco-Ethiopian research project with international resonance.