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For this week of September 6: a solar storm that could cut the internet, the genetic origin of cat stripes, China’s space ambitions, discoveries to fight against lung cancer and swimming heads. Happy listening, and have a good weekend!
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Transcription du podcast :
Hello everyone ! Welcome to Fil de Science, the Futura podcast where we retrace the news of the week.
Can you imagine your life without the internet? Certainly not. The proper functioning of our societies is completely dependent on this superb technology. If it is known to be extremely resilient, the risk of seeing it damaged is not zero. And if such a thing happens, the culprit would most certainly be a solar storm. This phenomenon occurs when the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth can no longer contain all the charged particles forming a wind which constantly blows outside our atmosphere. The latter then infiltrates through the terrestrial poles and poses a serious threat to the integrity of the Internet. The last such storm was in 1859 and researchers estimate its probability of occurring between 1.6 and 12% per decade. If it happened today, it would cost our societies dearly. In fact, a single day would already cost the United States $ 7 billion. We can hardly imagine the consequences of the storm if it were to cut the internet for months.
Whether ungrateful or real pots of glue, our cats constantly intrigue us. Whether by their behavior or their appearance. The latter was still a scientific puzzle for research. She hasn’t really been for a few weeks. Indeed, researchers have succeeded in identifying, in fetal tissues harvested during sterilization, already observable differences in terms of scratches or other phenotypic parameters. Genetic analysis then demonstrated that these variations were determined by the different expressions of the DKK4 gene. An explanation that only concerns domestic cats for now, given the sample studied by scientists, but which now allows us to understand where our companions get their patterns.
China’s ambitions in space are still very much present. The country wants to build a space base more than a kilometer long in order to manage both the future use of space resources, the exploration of the universe and the experimentation of a long-term life in orbit. According to NASA, such a structure could very well see the light of day, in any case nothing forbids it on paper. But construction is not the biggest obstacle to such a project. Maneuvering such a large machine and spending the sums necessary for its realization, these are the biggest problems to overcome.
Since epidemiological studies carried out in the 1950s, we know that tobacco consumption increases the risk of developing lung cancer by multiplying it by 22. However, 10 to 20% of lung cancers occur in non-smokers. Other causes are known such as passive smoking, secondary or tertiary, pollution, asbestos or radon. But researchers wanted to know what was happening at the molecular level. By comparing lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers, they came to certain conclusions. Cancers not induced by tobacco have a radically different genetic signature. Also, this is not the same for all lung cancers and depends on the mutations or stress that cells have undergone during life. Understanding the mechanisms of lung cancer in non-smokers is still in its infancy, but could significantly improve management in the future.
If there is always less than either, there is probably also always greater. Scientists have just described, in a recent publication, a new species of radiodonts, belonging to the arthropod family, called Titanokorys gainesi. The remains were found at the Burgess Shale Fossil Formation in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia. This new marine species is one of the largest recorded to date, just behind Anomalocaris, another representative of the radiodonts. The individuals composing Titanokorys gainesi could reach 50 centimeters in length and had in particular, opposite their body, a gigantic head, so that they must have been, according to one of the authors of the study, swimming heads.
To stay up to date with scientific news, visit the distribution platforms to subscribe to Fil de Science and our other podcast. If you liked this episode, feel free to leave us a comment with the hashtag #FuturaPod, and five stars on your favorite audio apps. We will meet again next Friday, at 6.30 p.m., with more and more scientific news. Good weekend to all !
Music: Patricia Chaylade
Text and voice: Julien Hernandez
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