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Faces of 3 Egyptian mummies revealed for the first time – Editorials 99

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New DNA sequencing technology is giving us a first glimpse at what ancient men looked like — before they were mummies.

Genetic researchers have revealed highly detailed three-dimensional renderings of the faces of three Egyptian men who lived more than 2,000 years ago, using DNA pulled from their mummified remains.

The digital reconstructions show the men at age 25, who were unearthed in the vicinity of the ancient Egyptian city of Abusir el-Meleq, in the south of Cairo. Scientists estimate the men were each buried sometime between 1380 B.C. and A.D. 425, Live Science has reported. Their DNA was previously sequenced in 2017 at the Max Planck institute in Germany — at the time, the first successful reconstruction of an Egyptian mummy’s genome in history.

Since then, researchers at Parabon NanoLabs in Reston, Virginia have used forensic DNA phenotyping to create 3D models of the men’s faces, a process by which genetic data is used to predict facial features and other physical characteristics of the sampled mummy.

“This is the first time comprehensive DNA phenotyping has been performed on human DNA of this age,” Parabon said in a statement

The technology is already being used to solve modern cold cases involving unidentified victims.
Parabon NanoLabs

The lab used a combination of efforts to reconstruct the faces. Some features, including skin and eye color, can be predicted via genetic markers in the individual’s genome, while others are measured through what’s left of their physical remains.

Parabon’s methods revealed that the men had light brown skin with dark eyes and hair, and that the men were more genetically similar to modern-day Mediterranean populations than that of Egypt today.

Their process had to account for the fact that human DNA degrades over time, and is likely to be contaminated by bacterial DNA. In this case, researchers use genetic commonalities between human populations to fill in the gaps of their mummy genome.

Researchers see that this process could eventually be used in contemporary forensics, in order to identify more recent remains of unknown individuals.

Parabon’s work in genetics has already been used to crack 175 cold cases, including nine solved using the methods described in the current study, they told Live Science.

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Australia must commit to carbon cuts to keep green energy advantage -Fortescue’s Forrest

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Australia risks losing its advantage in the green energy revolution if its leaders don’t promptly commit to cutting carbon emissions by 2050, the country’s richest man, Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest said on Monday.

Forrest, who grew Fortescue from a minnow to rival the world’s biggest mining giants in less than two decades, has spearheaded his company’s global green energy drive, signing deals from Brazil to Indonesia to Democratic Republic of Congo.

The company aims to build a 250 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser at Bell Bay in Tasmania — 25 times the size of the biggest existing electrolysers in the world — for less than A$1 billion ($740 million), Forrest said, putting a price on the project for the first time.

Fortescue is ready to make a final investment decision this year, as promised, but is waiting for support from the state government before going ahead with the project.

While Forrest told Reuters that Australia is the best place to realise his green vision, the country’s failure to commit to a policy to cut emissions is risking that advantage.

“I would say 2050 neutrality is a certainty for Australia. If we support it by COP26 the dividend flow to regional Australia will be substantial. If we don’t support it by COP26, the future will remain uncertain,” Forrest said, referring to the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of October.

“The renewable energy, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green electricity industry is very, very mobile,” he said.

“It is where the will is strongest – they will be the first to be developed.”

Australia’s energy policy is again in the spotlight as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to attend the conference, where global leaders will meet to set further climate goals to follow on from the landmark 2015 Paris accord.

But Morrison is short on updated climate ambitions to bring to the table given his reliance on the junior partner in Australia’s coalition government which said it would not be rushed into a decision on whether to support a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The Nationals who represent coal and farming heartlands worry that stronger emissions targets will cost jobs. Coal is the country’s second biggest export earner.

But Forrest, speaking to Reuters from London, said that rural Australians were set to be the biggest winners in the move to green energy – if agreements are made in time.

“I have demonstrated investment into the regions despite the fact Australia is dragging the chain,” Forrest told Reuters.

Fortescue is investigating the potential to convert top Australian fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot’s Brisbane ammonia plant to use green hydrogen as a feedstock instead of natural gas, with an on-site electrolysis plant that will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year.

The plant’s future had been under threat due to soaring gas prices, however setting up a green hydrogen production site to feed the existing plant could save 400 jobs and create many more, Forrest said.

At the same time, the product from the plant will be cheaper for local farmers.

“So farmers in Australia long into the future can plan for the next season, or even for the next generation … knowing that fertilisers are coming from a hydrogen molecule that is infinite,” Forrest said.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Sonali Paul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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Russian filmmakers back on Earth after shoot aboard space station – World News – Castanet.net

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A Soyuz space capsule carrying a cosmonaut and two Russian filmmakers has landed after a 3 1/2-hour trip from the International Space Station.

The capsule, descending under a red-and-white striped parachute after entering Earth’s atmosphere, landed upright in the steppes of Kazakhstan on schedule Sunday with Oleg Novitskiy, Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko aboard.

Actress Peresild and film director Shipenko rocketed to the space station on Oct. 5 for a 12-day stint to film segments of a movie titled “Challenge,” in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit. Novitskiy, who spent more than six months aboard the space station, is to star as the ailing cosmonaut in the movie.

After the landing, which sent plumes of dust flying high in the air, ground crews extracted the three space flyers from the capsule and placed them in seats set up nearby as they adjusted to the pull of gravity. They were then taken to a medical tent for examination.

All appeared healthy and cheerful. Peresild smiled and held a large bouquet of white flowers as journalists clustered around her. But she said she also felt a touch of melancholy.

“I’m feeling a bit sad today. It seemed that 12 days would be a lot, but I did not want to leave when everything was over,” Peresild said on state TV.

The transfer to the medical tent was delayed for about 10 minutes while crews filmed several takes of Peresild and Novitskiy in their seats, which are to be included in the movie. More scenes remain to be shot on Earth for the film whose release date is uncertain.

Seven astronauts remain aboard the space station: Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov; Americans Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency; and Japan’s Aki Hoshide.

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$10bn James Webb Space Telescope unpacked in Kourou – BBC News

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ESA/CNES/Arianespace/P.Piron

Engineers have unboxed the James Webb Space Telescope in French Guiana and will now prepare it for launch.

The $10bn successor to the Hubble observatory arrived at Europe’s Kourou spaceport five days ago after being shipped from the US.

It’s now been relieved of its transport container and raised into the vertical to allow preflight checks to begin.

JWST is one of the grand scientific projects of the 21st Century and will ride to orbit on 18 December.

Webb

ESA/CNES/Arianespace/P.Piron

An Ariane-5 rocket will throw the telescope out to an observing position about 1.5 million km from Earth.

From there, it will look deeper into the cosmos – and thus further back in time – than is possible with Hubble.

It will do this with a much bigger mirror (6.5m in diameter versus 2.4m) and instruments that are tuned to the infrared.

Scientists hope this set-up can detect the light from the very first population of stars in the Universe to switch on more than 13.5 billion years ago.

Annotated view of James Webb

JWST is a joint venture between the US (Nasa), European (Esa) and Canadian space agencies (CSA).

It’s taken more than three decades from the original conception to get to this point.

Final assembly and testing was completed in August at the Northrop Grumman factory in Redondo Beach, California, after which the telescope was made ready for a 16-day, 2,500km journey by sea to French Guiana, a trip that took the observatory through the Panama Canal.

Size of mirror

Teams at Europe’s spaceport will first inspect JWST to confirm no damage was picked up in transit. The telescope will then be fuelled and mated to the Ariane 5.

Recent weeks have seen cargo planes arrive in French Guiana with the tools and support equipment needed to work on Webb over the coming weeks.

A key milestone in the preparations comes this Friday when another Ariane-5 is due to launch two communications satellites from Kourou. This has to take place to free up the launch table on which Webb’s rocket will be integrated.

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ESA/CNES/Arianespace/P.Piron

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