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Olivier Kirchhoffer

Senior Scientific Editor

About Olivier

Medicinal chemist by training, Olivier is a young researcher driven by his enthusiasm about scientific progress. He believes in the interdependence of science and politics, while recognising that it is the scientist’s responsibility to adapt his speech to his audience. Olivier loves to debate about politics when he is not at work, but he is also convinced about the strength of arguments that are backed by science.

Olivier is the editor of 17 Breaks:

An incredibly massive ancient whale skeleton reveals a new way to become a giant

Based on a fossil specimen discovered in deposits from Peru, Perucetus colossus, a new early whale species, is described and characterized by surprisingly heavy bones. Combining this massive skeleton with a body length of about 20 meters results in record-breaking body weight estimates. It makes this slow-swimming coastal giant a contender to the title of the heaviest animal ever.

Nov 27, 2023 | 4 min read
The astonishing jet of an extreme gamma-ray burst

The collapse of rapidly rotating massive stars is known to launch collimated jets of material moving at nearly the speed of light. These phenomena produce high energy gamma-ray light that astronomers detect using space satellites and refer to them as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). The recent GRB 221009A is the most extreme gamma-ray burst detected in 50 years of observations.

Nov 20, 2023 | 4 min read
HIV pushes the nuclear envelope to start an infection

Retroviruses like HIV-1 enter the nucleus of immune cells to infect people, but it has been unclear how a relatively large virus can pass through the nuclear envelope or its small nuclear pores. We found a previously unknown pathway of entry, in which a virus-containing package causes invaginations to form in the nuclear envelope. Our work reveals new drug targets for limiting viral infections.

Nov 17, 2023 | 4 min read
Holographic sound fields shape 3D matter without a touch

Sound fields exert forces on particles suspended in liquids - seemingly without contact. Control over the sound pressure in 3D lets us create force landscapes, where microparticles can be remotely pushed to form larger objects in a single step. We developed the acoustic hologram, a technology that enables such control over ultrasound fields and which shows promise for a new type of biofabrication.

Nov 15, 2023 | 4 min read
Visualizing the initial steps of blood clotting by SARS-Cov2 Spike protein

The SARS-Cov-2 Spike protein has been attributed to many peculiar symptoms of COVID-19, like blood clotting and tissue damage. Using the cutting-edge cryo-electron tomographic technique, we directly observed SARS-Cov2 Spike proteins acting on the platelet surface. Our finding explains why SARS-Cov-2 can significantly jeopardize blood clotting compared to other coronaviruses.

Oct 9, 2023 | 3.5 min read
Long or short doesn’t matter: the tale of an unusual gamma-ray burst

We think that gamma-ray bursts, the brightest cosmic explosions, are created by two types of sources, each of them producing flashes with different durations, long or short. In December 2021, a long merger-driven burst was detected for the first time, emitting a flux of gamma-rays also never observed before. Both of these mysteries have a common protagonist: the coincident detection of a kilonova.

Oct 6, 2023 | 4 min read