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Tag: Science (Page 1 of 194)

Man-sized ancient penguins once ruled the coast of New Zealand

giant penguin

Today's penguins might be cute, charming little flightless birds that draw your eye at your local zoo, but things were a whole lot different some 59 million years ago. Researchers working in New Zealand revealed today the discovery of an absolutely massive ancient penguin that would have given an adult human a real fright if the two were ever to have crossed paths.

The long-dead creature has been named Kumimanu biceae, which means "monster bird," and it most certainly lives up to that moniker. The giant penguin is thought to have stood around 5 feet 10 inches tall, which would have allowed it to stare many humans right in the eye, and it weighed a whopping 220 pounds when grown. Let's just say you wouldn't want to be competing against it for a fish.

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Man-sized ancient penguins once ruled the coast of New Zealand originally appeared on BGR.com on Wed, 13 Dec 2017 at 12:38:21 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Archaeologists discover a crude ancient weapon that could kill a man with a single blow

thames beater

When an ancient wooden club was yanked from its watery grave in the River Thames in England many months ago, archaeologists didn't quite know what to make of it. The crude weapon, which is thought to have been made sometime between 3530 and 3340 BC, doesn't really look all that impressive, but those studying it still wanted to get an idea of how it might have been used. After making a full-sized replica for testing, it's been determined that the unassuming tool could actually dispatch a human in short order, and perhaps even with a single strike.

In a new research paper published in the journal Antiquity, scientists investigating the weapon and its origins took the extraordinary step of carving a replica for testing. The original, which has begun to fall apart over its several thousands of years of life, is being preserved, but its stand-in demonstrated just how devastating it might have been.

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Archaeologists discover a crude ancient weapon that could kill a man with a single blow originally appeared on BGR.com on Wed, 13 Dec 2017 at 11:39:34 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

SpaceX forced to push back launch of used rocket after finding dirt

spacex launch delay

Launching a shiny, brand new rocket isn't exactly easy. Launching a less shiny, used rocket is apparently an even bigger challenge. Today, SpaceX was supposed to send one of its used — sorry, "flight proven" — Falcon 9 rockets skyward to deliver supplies to the crew of the International Space Station, but it has been forced to delay the anticipated event after finding that their hardware wasn't clean enough to pass inspections.

The company announced the delay last last night, explaining that "particles" were found in the fuel system of the used rocket. So, instead of launching today, the rocket's next trip into space has been pushed back to Friday.

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SpaceX forced to push back launch of used rocket after finding dirt originally appeared on BGR.com on Wed, 13 Dec 2017 at 08:51:58 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Video: See our full interview with NASA propulsion engineer Norman Chaffee

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Transcript coming soon. (video link)

While many of our interviewees had "front office" jobs in the space program—pilots, astronauts, flight controllers—some of the most interesting interview bits came from the pure engineers. That includes folks like Norman Chaffee, who started his career at NASA in May of 1962 and who, during the course of that career, worked on the Gemini and Apollo programs. Chaffee didn't fly the spacecraft—he helped make them.

Specifically, Chaffee was a propulsion engineer. He helped make the reaction control thrusters on the Gemini capsule a reality. Those are the little thrusters, often fueled by either hypergolic propellants or cold gas, that are used during the mission to change the spacecraft's attitude in roll, pitch, and yaw. After Gemini, Chaffee worked on thruster design for the Apollo command module and then, finally, on the reaction control thrusters for the Grumman-manufactured Lunar Module. (Chaffee's NASA oral history page has some amazing stories in it for readers who want to know more).

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After 14 months, a new and improved New Shepard flies again

Blue Origin

When Blue Origin last flew its New Shepard system, the spacecraft intentionally triggered its abort system 45 seconds after launch. As the spacecraft blasted away from the booster, its escape motor slammed the rocket with 70,000 pounds of off-axis force and hot exhaust. Nevertheless, both the spacecraft and rocket returned safely to the West Texas launch site for a successful test flight.

In the 14 months since that abort-test flight, Blue Origin has been working on an upgraded version of the rocket—to improve its capacity for rapid, low-cost reusability—and the capsule in which six passengers will eventually ride to space inside. For example, the test capsule used during flights in late 2015 and 2016, had painted-on windows. The new variant has actual windows, which at 3.6 feet tall may be the largest of any spacecraft has flown into space.

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