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The French government has announced its plans to develop weapons systems to defend French satellites (Ars Technica). Projects include nano-satellites to patrol a few kilometres around larger satellites’ positions and onboard laser and machine-gun defence systems. Experts believe that France is reacting to an increased interest in the militarisation of space by countries including the US, Russia and China.
YouTube videos featuring kids under the age of 13 receive almost three times the views of other videos by popular accounts, according to Pew Research data (The Verge). The firm looked at videos posted by 43,770 channels with at least 250,000 subscribers and found that content that both featured and was aimed at kids was by far the most popular. This, in turn, raises new questions about the prevalence of unregulated child labour in the online entertainment industry.
A ransomware attack on Johannesburg’s City Power company in South Africa has left the city’s prepaid electricity users without access to power during a particularly cold winter (The Register). Systems are being gradually being brought back online but the ransomware’s encryption attack has made it impossible for pay-as-you-go users to top up their accounts, leaving them without power once they’ve spent their existing balance.
The Current War, in cinemas this week, is a period drama that tells the story of the battle between electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to light up the US and determine which sort of power the newly-electrified world would come to use: direct current (DC), favoured by Edison, or alternating current (AC), pursued by Westinghouse and some other rival companies (WIRED). If this “war” sounds like less than electrifying source material for a feature film, it is. Despite the tense music and dramatic scenery, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon struggles to make the story really ignite.
Scientists researching New Zealand’s kauri trees have discovered that a stump that would otherwise be dead is being kept alive by its neighbours through hydraulic coupling between the living and ‘dead’ trees’ roots (Gizmodo). The trees, which are genetically unrelated individuals, most likely formed a bond at the roots when the stump was still a tree with foliage but now, in a symbiotic afterlife, the trees benefit from the stump’s extended root network and the stump gets fed water and nutrients.
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