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Boeing finds new problems with Starliner space capsule and delays first crewed launch

Boeing has trouble with launching

Boeing has indefinitely delayed next month's launch of its Starliner capsule — which would have carried the first humans — after engineers found several worrying problems.

These included the use of "hundreds of feet" of adhesive tape that's flammable and defects with the spacecraft's parachute system. Boeing made the announcement late Thursday at a hastily-called news conference with NASA officials.

It's the latest setback for Boeing which has been plagued by years of development delays and has yet to fly its first crewed Starliner mission.

After the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA needed a way to ferry people to and from the International Space Station. In 2014, NASA awarded Boeing more than $4 billion under its Commercial Crew program to build the capsule. At the same time, NASA also selected SpaceX to build and design a competing system which has already sent humans into space ten times (including seven missions for NASA).


Creating a sperm or egg from any cell? Reproduction revolution on the horizon

Sperm or egg from any cell?

It's a Wednesday morning at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in downtown Washington, D.C., and Dr. Eli Adashi is opening an unprecedented gathering: It's titled "In-Vitro Derived Human Gametes as a Reproductive Technology."

It's the academy's first workshop to explore in-vitro gametogenesis, or IVG, which involves custom-making human eggs and sperm in the laboratory from any cell in a person's body.

"It is on the precipice of materialization," says Adashi, a reproductive biology specialist from Brown University. "And IVF will probably never be the same."

For the next three days, dozens of scientists, bioethicists, doctors, and others describe the latest scientific advances in IVG and explore the potentially far-reaching thicket of social, ethical, moral, legal and regulatory ramifications of the emerging technology. Hundreds more attend the workshop remotely.


Scientists find way to make energy from air using nearly any material

Nearly any material can harvest energy out of thin air

Nearly any material can be used to turn the energy in air humidity into electricity, scientists found in a discovery that could lead to continuously producing clean energy with little pollution.

The research, published in a paper in Advanced Materials, builds on 2020 work that first showed energy could be pulled from the moisture in the air using material harvested from bacteria. The new study shows nearly any material can be used, like wood or silicon, as long as it can be smashed into small particles and remade with microscopic pores. But there are many questions about how to scale the product.

“What we have invented, you can imagine it’s like a small-scale, man-made cloud,” said Jun Yao, a professor of engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the senior author of the study. “This is really a very easily accessible, enormous source of continuous clean electricity. Imagine having clean electricity available wherever you go.”


World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists warn

World likely to beach 1.5C climate threshhold by 2027

The world is almost certain to experience new record temperatures in the next five years, and temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, scientists have warned.

The breaching of the crucial 1.5C threshold, which scientists have warned could have dire consequences, should be only temporary, according to research from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

However, it would represent a marked acceleration of human impacts on the global climate system, and send the world into “uncharted territory”, the UN agency warned.

Countries have pledged, under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, to try to hold global temperatures to no higher than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, after scientific advice that heating beyond that level would unleash a cascade of increasingly catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts.


Possible meteorite crashes into bedroom in New Jersey

meteorite in NJA possible meteorite crashed into a bedroom of a New Jersey home, puncturing a hole into the roof and leaving residents rattled, though they were not home at the time.

The metallic object in the Monday incident looks like a shiny rock, about 4in by 6in, police in Hopewell Township said.

The rock appeared to crash through the house, hit a hardwood floor then “ricochet up” to the ceiling, where it created another hole before falling back to the ground.

Suzy Kop said the object fell through the roof of her father’s bedroom around 1p.m.


Recovery of ancient DNA identifies 20,000-year-old pendant’s owner

Recovery of ancient DNA identifies 20,000-year-old pendant’s ownerScientists have used a new method for extracting ancient DNA to identify the owner of a 20,000-year-old pendant fashioned from an elk’s canine tooth.

The method can isolate DNA that was present in skin cells, sweat or other body fluids and was absorbed by certain types of porous material including bones, teeth and tusks when handled by someone thousands of years ago.

Objects used as tools or for personal adornment – pendants, necklaces, bracelets, rings and the like – can offer insight into past behaviour and culture, though our understanding has been limited by an inability to tie a particular object to a particular person.


Couple unearths one of world’s greatest fossil finds in mid-Wales

Couple unearths super fossil find

Many people discovered new interests closer to home as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns. For Dr Joseph Botting and Dr Lucy Muir, it was a 10-metre-wide quarry in a sheep field near to their home in Llandrindod, central Wales, which appeared to be teeming with tiny fossils.

Now researchers believe the site could help plug gaps in scientific understanding of how evolution proceeded after the Cambrian explosion – the period when the ancestors of most modern animals are believed to have evolved. It could even prove to be as important as the Burgess Shale in Canada that preserves one of the world’s first complex marine ecosystems, experts say.

The Welsh site, known as Castle Bank, dates from the Middle Ordovician period, about 460m-70m years ago. It represents a community of diverse and mostly diminutive (1mm to 5mm in body length) marine organisms that existed at a time when ocean covered what is now mid-Wales.


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