How many other species have been genome-sequenced so far?

Researchers have sequenced the complete genomes of hundreds of animals and plants-more than 250 animal species and 50 species of birds alone-and the list continues to grow almost daily.

In addition to the sequencing of the human genome, which was completed in 2003, scientists involved in the Human Genome Project sequenced the genomes of a number of model organisms that are commonly used as surrogates in studying human biology. These include the rat, puffer fish, fruit fly, sea squirt, roundworm, and the bacterium Escherichia coli. For some organisms NHGRI has sequenced many varieties, providing critical data for understanding genetic variation.

DNA sequencing centers supported by NHGRI also have sequenced genomes of the chicken, dog, honey bee, gorilla, chimpanzee, sea urchin, fungi and many other organisms.

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What is biomimetics?

Biomimetic refers to human-made processes, substances, devices, or systems that imitate nature.

The art and science of designing and building biomimetic apparatus is also known as biomimicry because they mimic biological systems. The field is of special interest to researchers in nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), the medical industry, and the military.

Living organisms have evolved well-adapted structures and materials over geological time through natural selection. Biomimetics has given rise to new technologies inspired by biological solutions at macro and nanoscales. Humans have looked at nature for answers to problems throughout our existence. Nature has solved engineering problems such as self-healing abilities, environmental exposure tolerance and resistance, hydrophobicity, self-assembly, and harnessing solar energy.

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Synthetic biology is linked with which study?

Synthetic biology (SynBio) is a multidisciplinary area of research that seeks to create new biological parts, devices, and systems, or to redesign systems that are already found in nature.

It is a branch of science that encompasses a broad range of methodologies from various disciplines, such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, molecular biology, molecular engineering, systems biology, membrane science, biophysics, chemical and biological engineering, electrical and computer engineering, control engineering and evolutionary biology.

Due to more powerful genetic engineering capabilities and decreased DNA synthesis and sequencing costs, the field of synthetic biology is rapidly growing. In 2016, more than 350 companies across 40 countries were actively engaged in synthetic biology applications; all these companies had an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion in the global market.

Studies in synthetic biology can be subdivided into broad classifications according to the approach they take to the problem at hand: standardization of biological parts, biomolecular engineering, genome engineering, metabolic engineering.

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Orbiting and landing on an asteroid

Asteroids, also known as minor planets, are small, rocky bodies that have been left over from the formation of planets about 4.5 billion years ago. Billions of such rocks exist in the solar system, with the majority of them concentrated in a doughnut-shaped main belt of asteroids between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

It has been in our interest to study these minor planets. As remnants from the planet forming process, they can not only be viewed as building blocks of planets, but could also possibly hold clues explaining the evolution of Earth.

Simultaneous discovery

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), later renamed NEAR Shoemaker, was a low-cost mission and the first to be flown under NASA's Discovery programme. Its target was the minor planet 433 Eros, which is approximately 355 million km from Earth, and it intended to gather information about its physical properties and composition, among others.

Eros was discovered by German astronomer Carl Gustav Witt on August 13, 1898, and by French astronomer Auguste Charlois independently on the same day. Breaking with the tradition of the time, it was given a male name Eros - the son of Mercury and Venus. Within weeks from its discovery, it was computed that Eros orbit brought it inside the orbit of Mars, making it the first near Earth asteroid to be discovered.

Mathilde flyby

Launched on February 17, 1996, NEAR was the first spacecraft to rely on solar cells for power for its operations beyond Mars orbit. Even though its primary objective was studying Eros, NEAR performed a 25-minute flyby of the asteroid 253 Mathilde on June 27, 1997.

NEAR's closest approach to Mathilde brought it within 1,200 km of the minor planet. From this distance, it was able to photograph 60% of the asteroid and gather data that indicated that the asteroid is covered with craters and less dense than previously believed.

Using a gravity assist during an Earth flyby encounter, NEAR headed next towards Eros. An aborted engine, however, meant that the spacecraft had to be stabilised and the initial planned trajectory to Eros had to be sidelined.

The backup trajectory that was then used put NEAR on a far longer path towards Eros. This meant that rather than entering orbit around Eros in January 1999, NEAR had to be content for the time being with a flyby of Eros on December 23, 1998. It turned out to be useful though as NEAR was able to observe 60% of the minor planet and discover that the asteroid was smaller than what was expected.

A love affair

Orbital insertion, however, wasn't yet out of the question and several efforts, including more course corrections, were under way to make another attempt in the following years. On February 14, 2000 - Valentine's Day-NEAR finally entered into orbit around Eros, an asteroid named after the god of love in Greek mythology. NEAR thus became the first human-made object to orbit any minor planet.

A month after entering into orbit, on March 14, 2000, NEAR was renamed NEAR Shoemaker by NASA in honour of planetary scientist and geologist Eugene Shoemaker. Shoemaker, who had died in an accident in 1997, was a pioneer in studying asteroid impacts.

Orbiter turns lander

In the months that followed. NEAR was able to orbit Eros many times and its operational orbit kept changing, allowing it to get closer to the asteroid than what was previously thought possible. Even though it was built as an orbiter, it went on to survive a landing on February 12. 2001, making it the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid

NEAR kept sending invaluable data until its last contact on February 28, 2001, when it succumbed to the extreme cold conditions on the surface of Eros. A further attempt by NASA to contact NEAR in December 2002 failed.

The photographs and information returned by NEAR Shoemaker not only helped map more than 70% of the minor planet's surface and provide data about its interior, but also showed that Eros had no magnetic field. Having relayed about 10 times more data than initially planned, including 1,60,000 images, NEAR's mission proved to be a tremendous success.

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Who is the author of “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library" book?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a children's novel by author Chris Grabenstein. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for Middle Grade novels for 111 weeks between 2013 and 2016, peaking at #8 in hardback and #2 in paperback.

Grabenstein has stated that the book contains a secret puzzle that readers can decode. To solve it, he offers some advice given by Mr. Lemoncello in the book: "Forget the Industrial Revolution, my first idea might be your best solution."

Kyle is a game fan—board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle’s hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town’s new public library, which contains not only books, but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.

Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with of fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello’s most fabulous prize ever.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is more than a rib-tickling novel full of humor and suspense. It’s a game in itself, in which readers can have fun solving clues and answering riddles while learning how to navigate the Dewey Decimal system. Eagle-eyed kids—not to mention their parents, teachers, and librarians—can also hunt for the names of authors and classic books sprinkled throughout the fast-moving story.

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