Best of Press: Science News #10

Every month we look through the French and international press to bring you a selection of the most important, funny, unexpected or simply very useful scientific and technical information!

Here you’ll find our roundup of the science and technology news that rocked or turned the month of March on its head. And, as usual, in our “best of the press” you will find bonus information at the bottom of this article! And in exceptional cases: the second bonus information… How lucky!

When technology comes into play

As the Russian offensive in Ukraine continues and the death toll from this war rises by the day, several technology initiatives have been quickly rolled out to help the Ukrainian people. Let’s start with Internet access. Indeed, how reported it here Le Monde, Russian cyber attacks have hampered Internet access in Ukraine. On February 26, 2022, on Twitter, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Mikhail Fedorov turned to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for help. The latter then announced the same day, still via Twitter, the commissioning of Internet services by the Starlink constellation of satellites over Ukraine. But Internet access itself is not everything! Ukraine has created a cyber army, albeit improvised, consisting of thousands of volunteers, cybersecurity experts, we can read in Wired. One hundred thousand people (there are already more than 175 thousand on February 27, according to Wired) have subscribed to the Telegram channel created specifically for this purpose. One of their first operations was to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attackin English for Distributed denial of service attackaimed at preventing access to online services) against about twenty Russian sites (including those of the gas giant Gazprom and the Russian Ministry of Defense) before attacking Belarusian sites. And far beyond the borders of Ukraine, cyber activists are active on an individual scale in the hope of joining forces in a collective struggle. Thus, Jack Sweeney, a 19-year-old American student from Florida, tracks the planes of President Vladimir Putin, as well as those of Russian oligarchs, and publishes information about their movements through Twitter accounts. @PutinJet as well as @RUOligarchJets. This is what tells us Courrier Internationalwhich is based on this Wall Street Journal article. Before tackling the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Jack Sweeney tracked down the private jet of none other than… Elon Musk himself !

A plump bacterium would be the missing link!

Very curiously, this giant bacterium was found in the mangroves of the Caribbean Sea. Its filament-like cage can be up to two centimeters long, making it visible to the naked eye. According to scienceit’s even a record: baptized Tiomargarita superb, it is the largest bacterium discovered to date! But this is not its only feature. The genome (genetic material) of this bacterium is enclosed in a membrane: “Innovationscience writes, characteristic of cells much more complex than bacterial cells, for example, for cells of the human body.. In other bacteria, the genome actually “floats” freely in the cell; while in animal cells, as in human cells, the chromosomes are stored in the nucleus. Protective membrane of the genome Tiomargarita superb therefore reminds us of this configuration, which is yet specific to animal cells and not to bacterial cells! A possible hypothesis is that Tiomargarita superb would be nothing more than a missing link that could explain the evolution of cells into ever more complex formations.

Bonus 1: The ancient octopus had ten tentacles

While the octopus is well known for its eight tentacles, its 330 million-year-old ancestor had ten. It’s always Science that tells us so. Named Syllipsimopodi bideni, in honor of US President Joe Biden (at the time the study was submitted, the president had just celebrated his inauguration), the length of this species was only 12 centimeters. The study detailing this discovery, was published in Nature Communications.

Bonus 2: The potato that fooled the world

In August 2021, in the back garden of their New Zealand home, Colin and Donna Craig-Brown thought they had dug up the world’s largest potato. The couple even gave him a name: Doug. Doug weighs 7.9 kilograms. However, after Doug was nominated to appear in the Guinness Book of Records, the deplorable verdict rained down like lightning … DNA analysis showed that Doug was an impostor! This potato was not alone. Doug is a “gourd tuber”. It’s an exciting story reports the New York Times. Despite the disappointment, Mr. Craig-Brown told the American daily that Doug remains “happy” and “smooth” in his cryogenic storage chamber.

Image courtesy of one of them: Intissar El Hajj Mohamed // Engineering Techniques

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