The “Google Earth” of the human body is being built in Grenoble

Paul Tafforeau (here, at the Grenoble synchrotron) is at the origin of the development of biomedical imaging technology, making it possible to scan organs with X-rays. Sandy Plas

STORY – Launched in 2020 at the European synchrotron in Grenoble, the Human Organ Atlas program aims to produce unprecedented mapping of the human body, at the cellular level. A pharaonic project, which received financial support from the foundation of Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook.


The places are well guarded. At the entrance to the European synchrotron in Grenoble, the security team screens visitors. Impossible to approach without showing a white paw. Stuck at the confluence of the Drac and the Isère, on the scientific peninsula, which is the pride of the Alpine city, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is easily recognizable, with its gigantic ring-shaped building, 844 meters in circumference. Inside, the installations of this giant scanner, the most powerful in the world, are at a standstill.

On this Monday morning, the maintenance teams are hard at work, like every week, to check the proper functioning of the machines. Once they restart, they will run 24 hours a day to produce X-rays 10 trillion times brighter than those used in hospitals. An overpowering source, which each year attracts hundreds of scientists from all over the world, to conduct research in biology, physics, etc.

This article is for subscribers only. You have 89% left to discover.

Pushing back the limits of science is also freedom.

Keep reading your article for €0.99 for the first month

Already subscribed? Login


Leave a Comment