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Experience Life on the International Space Station Through Virtual Reality – ENGINEERING.com

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Experience Life on the International Space Station Through Virtual Reality
Denrie Caila Perez posted on November 04, 2020 |

Space Explorers documents the life of ISS astronauts through a 360-degree camera.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques floating with the Space Camera on the ISS. (Photo courtesy of Felix and Paul Studios.)

What if you could experience what life is like on the International Space Station (ISS) right from Earth?

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of human presence on the ISS, a new immersive show will be released documenting life on board the station. Space Explorers: The ISS Experience will be a four-part series that can be viewed via 360-degree mobile format on 5G-enabled tablets and smartphones as well as through virtual reality on the Oculus Store for RIFT, Quest, and Quest 2. The series was created and produced by Emmy award-winning immersive entertainment producers Felix & Paul Studios, in partnership with TIME Studios. The show is the first of its kind and is currently dubbed as the largest production to ever be filmed in space.

The series will chronicle the lives of eight astronauts who experienced life-changing missions aboard the ISS. The world premiere of the first episode, “ADAPT,” last October 22 featured astronauts Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques, Christina Koch and Nick Hague arriving on the ISS and dealing with zero gravity. The 24-minute episode was filmed through the collaboration of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, NASA, and the Canadian Space Agency, plus other agencies under the ISS. To celebrate the continued efforts of Canada and the United States in space travel, exploration and scientific research, “ADAPT” will also be premiered via 360-degree fulldome format at major planetariums this November, including Colorado’s Fiske Planetarium, Montreal’s Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Calgary’s Telus Spark Science Center, Halifax’s Discovery Centre, and Edmonton’s Telus-World of Science.

Space Explorers was shot over the course of two years using Felix & Paul Studios’ specialized 3D, 360-degree virtual reality Space Camera. Over 200 hours of high-end virtual reality footage and 18 hours of exclusive astronaut logs and interviews were produced. In addition to that, viewers will be able to see the ISS, planet Earth, as well as spacewalks in cinematic virtual reality.

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“Over the past 20 years, very few people have journeyed to the International Space Station. Through the power of immersive storytelling, we can now bring hundreds of millions of spectators aboard this extraordinary spacecraft that circles the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour, to experience how astronauts live and to marvel at the beauty of Earth seen from Space,” said Félix Lajeunesse, cofounder of Felix & Paul Studios and director of the Space Explorers series. “After two years of filming and over 200 hours of footage captured aboard the Space Station in 360-degree 3D virtual reality, it is truly gratifying to share this experience with viewers around the world.”

Jonathan Woods from TIMES Studio, who worked as the executive producer on the show, also shared that the filmmakers hope audiences will “come closer to understanding what it means to be an astronaut living and working in space.”

TIME has also released a special episode of TIME100 Talks alongside the first episode of Space Explorers to talk further about the future of space exploration. The episode includes Lajeunesse, NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Chris Cassidy, actor John Cho, humanitarian Eddi Ndopu, and SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

Watch the trailer for Space Explorers: The ISS Experience here and view stills from the show here. Behind-the-scenes footage is also available at time.com/space.

For more news and stories, check out how NASA’s Roman Space Telescope will unveil undiscovered planets here.

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Landmark wheat genome discovery could shore up global food security – New Food

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Project leader, Curtis Pozniak, compares the findings to locating a missing piece of your favourite puzzle, and hopes this will transform the way wheat is grown globally.

Scientists believe the genome sequencing will lead to higher wheat yields around the world.

An international team led by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has sequenced the genomes for 15 wheat varieties representing breeding programmes around the world.

This landmark discovery will enable scientists and breeders to identify influential genes for improved yield, pest resistance and other important crop traits much more quickly.

The research results, published in Nature, provide what the research team has called the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences ever reported. The 10+ Genome Project collaboration involved more than 95 scientists from universities and institutes across Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel, Australia and the US.

“It’s like finding the missing pieces for your favourite puzzle that you have been working on for decades,” said project leader Curtis Pozniak, wheat breeder and director of the USask Crop Development Centre (CDC). “By having many complete gene assemblies available, we can now help solve the huge puzzle that is the massive wheat pan-genome and usher in a new era for wheat discovery and breeding.”

Scientific groups across the global wheat community are expected to use the new resource to identify genes linked to in-demand traits, such as pest and diseases resistance, which will accelerate breeding efficiency.

“This resource enables us to more precisely control breeding to increase the rate of wheat improvement for the benefit of farmers and consumers, and meet future food demands,” Pozniak added.

As one of the world’s most cultivated cereal crops, wheat plays an important role in global food security, providing about 20 percent of human caloric intake globally. The university says it’s estimated that wheat production must increase by more than 50 percent by 2050 to meet an increasing global demand – knowing which wheat genomes ‘best perform’ could be crucial in delivering this target.

The researchers explain that they were able to track the unique DNA signatures of genetic material incorporated into modern cultivars from several of wheat’s undomesticated relatives by breeders over the last century.1

“These wheat relatives have been used by breeders to improve disease resistance and stress resistance of wheat,” said Pozniak. “One of these relatives contributed a DNA segment to modern wheat that contains disease-resistant genes and provides protection against a number of fungal diseases. Our collaborators from Kansas State University and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, showed that this segment can improve yields by as much as 10 percent. Since breeding is a continual improvement process, we can continue to cross plants to select for this valuable trait.”

Pozniak’s team, in collaboration with scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and National Research Council of Canada, also used the genome sequences to isolate an insect-resistant gene (Sm1). This gene enables wheat plants to withstand the orange wheat blossom midge, a pest which can cause more than $60 million in annual losses to Western Canadian producers.1

“Understanding a causal gene like this is a game-changer for breeding because you can select for pest resistance more efficiently by using a simple DNA test than by manual field testing,” Pozniak concluded.

References 

  1. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2961-x 

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T. rex got huge via major teenage growth spurt – CBC.ca

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Large meat-eating dinosaurs attained their great size through very different growth strategies, with some taking a slow and steady path and others experiencing an adolescent growth spurt, according to scientists who analyzed slices of fossilized bones.

The researchers examined the annual growth rings — akin to those in tree trunks — in bones from 11 species of theropods, a broad group spanning all the big carnivorous dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex and even birds. The study provides insight into the lives of some of the most fearsome predators ever to walk the Earth.

The team looked at samples from museums in the United States, Canada, China and Argentina and even received clearance to cut into bones from one of the world’s most famous T. rex fossils, known as Sue and housed at the Field Museum in Chicago, using a diamond-tipped saw and drill.

Sue’s leg bones — a huge femur and fibula — helped illustrate that T. rex and its relatives — known as tyrannosaurs — experienced a period of extreme growth during adolescence and reached full adult size by around age 20. Sue, measuring about 13 metres, lived around 33 years.

Sue inhabited South Dakota about a million years before dinosaurs and many other species were wiped out by an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.

Other groups of large theropods tended to have more steady rates of growth over a longer period of time. That growth strategy was detected in lineages that arose worldwide earlier in the dinosaur era and later were concentrated in the southern continents.

Examples included Allosaurus and Acrocanthosaurus from North America, Cryolophosaurus from Antarctica and a recently discovered as-yet-unnamed species from Argentina that rivaled T. rex in size. The Argentine dinosaur, from a group called carcharodontosaurs, did not reach its full adult size until its 40s and lived to about age 50.

Big theropods share the same general body design, walking on two legs and boasting large skulls, strong jaws and menacing teeth.

“Prior to our study, it was known that T. rex grew very quickly, but it was not clear if all theropod dinosaurs reached gigantic size in the same way, or if there were multiple ways it was done,” said paleontologist and study lead author Tom Cullen of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, also affiliated with the Field Museum.

The research was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Theropod dinosaurs represent the largest bipedal animals to have ever lived and were also the dominant predators in terrestrial ecosystems for over 150 million years — more than twice as long as mammals have been dominant,” added University of Minnesota paleontologist and study co-author Peter Makovicky

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Slow and steady or a big spurt? How to grow a ferocious dinosaur – Cape Breton Post

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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Large meat-eating dinosaurs attained their great size through very different growth strategies, with some taking a slow and steady path and others experiencing an adolescent growth spurt, according to scientists who analyzed slices of fossilized bones.

The researchers examined the annual growth rings – akin to those in tree trunks – in bones from 11 species of theropods, a broad group spanning all the big carnivorous dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex and even birds. The study provides insight into the lives of some of the most fearsome predators ever to walk the Earth.

The team looked at samples from museums in the United States, Canada, China and Argentina and even received clearance to cut into bones from one of the world’s most famous T. rex fossils, known as Sue and housed at the Field Museum in Chicago, using a diamond-tipped saw and drill.

Sue’s leg bones – a huge femur and fibula – helped illustrate that T. rex and its relatives – known as tyrannosaurs – experienced a period of extreme growth during adolescence and reached full adult size by around age 20. Sue, measuring about 42 feet (13 metres), lived around 33 years.

Sue inhabited South Dakota about a million years before dinosaurs and many other species were wiped out by an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.

Other groups of large theropods tended to have more steady rates of growth over a longer period of time. That growth strategy was detected in lineages that arose worldwide earlier in the dinosaur era and later were concentrated in the southern continents.

Examples included Allosaurus and Acrocanthosaurus from North America, Cryolophosaurus from Antarctica and a recently discovered as-yet-unnamed species from Argentina that rivaled T. rex in size. The Argentine dinosaur, from a group called carcharodontosaurs, did not reach its full adult size until its 40s and lived to about age 50.

Big theropods share the same general body design, walking on two legs and boasting large skulls, strong jaws and menacing

teeth.

“Prior to our study, it was known that T. rex grew very quickly, but it was not clear if all theropod dinosaurs reached gigantic size in the same way, or if there were multiple ways it was done,” said paleontologist and study lead author Tom Cullen of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, also affiliated with the Field Museum.

The research was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Theropod dinosaurs represent the largest bipedal animals to have ever lived and were also the dominant predators in terrestrial ecosystems for over 150 million years – more than twice as long as mammals have been dominant,” added University of Minnesota paleontologist and study co-author Peter Makovicky.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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