Prior to the flight, it was thought that igniting the capsule's motor would be too much for the rocket booster to handle. The ignition slammed the booster with a bunch of forceful heat exhaust, making it hard to survive and continue working properly. But the booster actually continued to climb to space after the escape system was ignited, and then landed successfully at Blue Origin's test facility. Even if the booster had crashed, the flight would still have been considered a success, since the only objective today was to recover the crew capsule. But landing the New Shepard booster is just icing on the cake. … [Read more...] about Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lands in the Texas desert after a successful escape system test
More than a decade has passed since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the international collaboration to map all of the "letters" in our DNA. The huge effort led to revolutionary genomic discoveries, but more than 10 years later, it's still unclear what percentage of the human genome is actually doing something important. … [Read more...] about People Use Just 8.2% of Their DNA, Study Finds
In a primitive bird from Japan called Fukuipteryx — a 120-million-year-old avian that Imai described in November 2019 and the earliest known bird with a pygostyle — the preserved structure closely resembled the pygostyle of a modern chicken, Imai previously told Live Science. In other words, some structures in modern birds can be traced back to some of their earliest ancestors. … [Read more...] about Are Birds Dinosaurs?
Syrinx soundsModern birds have many types of syrinxes, but in general, the organ sits where the two branches of the bird's windpipe fork apart and head toward the lungs. The windpipe's branches can vibrate the syrinx's soft tissues at different frequencies, which is why birds can "sing" two different notes at the same time. … [Read more...] about Oldest Known Avian ‘Squawk Box’ Helped Ancient Bird Quack
"When we compare our … fossil to the currently circulating viruses, we infer mutation rates that are extremely slow, like 1,000 times slower than what people used to think," Gilbert said, adding that it is not clear why short-term mutation rates would be so different from long-term ones. … [Read more...] about Surprisingly Old Viruses Retired Inside Bird Cells