New DNA map of humans captures richness of diversity in lifeas several past discoveries come into play. Twenty years ago, an international team of scientists accomplished a remarkable feat by mapping nearly the entire human genome, revealing the genetic code of human life. This pioneering endeavor paved the way for researchers to unravel the genetic basis of complex diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, improving our understanding of these conditions.
Moreover, the project shed light on the reasons behind the evolutionary development of the human brain's superior cognitive abilities compared to other animals and plants, ushering in a new era of biomedical research. However, the initial mapping was not entirely comprehensive.
Today, scientists have presented a new blueprint that offers a more nuanced representation of human diversity, providing an even more detailed understanding of our genetic makeup.
The original human genome project primarily utilized the DNA of an anonymous individual who volunteered after responding to an advertisement in The Buffalo Evening News in March 1997. However, as each person's genome differs slightly - by less than one percent from the next person's - many genetic variations remain concealed from scientists due to the reliance on a single reference genome.
In a significant breakthrough, a team of researchers has created a "pangenome" that integrates the DNA of 47 individuals from across the world, except for Antarctica and Oceania. "This updated version of the genome will enhance our ability to diagnose diseases and comprehend the genetic variations that contribute to poor health, among other advancements," according to the scientists involved in the project.
Quality sleep is essential for optimal performance, and this is especially crucial for astronauts on missions. To prevent long-term sleep deprivation, fatigue-related errors, and health problems, NASA mandates that astronauts get at least 8½ hours of sleep per night.
However, getting sufficient shut-eye in zero gravity can be challenging, and astronauts onboard the International Space Station face similar sleep issues to those on Earth. To address this, NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, has established the Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory, which is working on developing tools to assist astronauts in overcoming these challenges.
Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans leads the laboratory, which also conducts simulated space missions to examine crew members' performance when sleep is restricted during missions to Mars or the moon. Through these efforts, NASA is committed to ensuring that astronauts receive the rest they need to perform their tasks effectively and safely.
The Voyager proof test model as a replica of the twin Voyager space probes that launched in 1977
In 1977, the Voyager space probes were launched, embarking on a remarkable journey that has led them beyond the protective boundary of our sun. These two spacecraft have shattered records and sent back invaluable information about interstellar space.
Originally designed to operate for just four years, their incredible long-distance expeditions were unplanned. Suzanne Dodd, the project manager for Voyager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, affectionately refers to them as her "senior citizens."
Dodd explains that the two spacecraft are like twin sisters who have aged differently. One has lost its hearing and requires hearing aids, while the other has lost some of its sense of touch. Nevertheless, considering their age, they remain in good health. Dodd and her team are committed to caring for and monitoring these pioneering missions to ensure that they remain operational for many more years to come.
The world of private space travel is becoming increasingly active and ambitious. Virgin Galactic, the suborbital space tourism firm founded by British tycoon Richard Branson, is preparing for its first flight to the edge of space in almost two years in late May. Following years of promises and missed deadlines, this test run is expected to be the final one before Virgin Galactic begins selling tickets to paying customers.
Meanwhile, plans are underway for a Michelin-starred dining experience at the edge of space, 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) above the Earth's surface. "Pre-reservation tickets" for trips aboard a pressurized restaurant capsule called Celeste, which is attached to a stratospheric balloon, are already available for purchase.
A team of scientists from different countries has made an exciting discovery of previously unknown butterfly species in the collection of London's Natural History Museum.
These beautiful creatures boast intricate wing patterns, featuring black-and-white eyespots on orange-tipped hind wings. The researchers were so inspired by these striking designs that they named the genus Saurona, after the Eye of Sauron - the fiery symbol of the evil overlord from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
In a recent study, the scientists identified two different species within the Saurona genus, along with eight other newly discovered butterfly groups. However, defining new species candidates can be a challenging task, and scientists have been debating how to categorize Earth's diverse biodiversity since the early days of biology.