Science

How Woody Vines Do the Twist

“Whereas trees all tend to be the same shape, lianas are all over the place,” said Stefan Schnitzer, a botanist at Marquette University who was not involved in the study.These strange stem variations give the vines an advantage. “Being asymmetrical helps you to anchor in the trees you’re growing on,” said Marcelo Rodrigo Pace, a botanist at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a co-author of the study. “These lianas also have tendrils that let them grab pieces of stems and leaves and start growing.”This adaptation is “purely mechanical, architectural,” he said. “It’s better than being slippery and cylindrical.”The study considered two scales of time: an individual plant’s life, and a longer, evolutionary breadth. Dr. Chery and her colleagues found that in a single plant’s early d...

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Science

SpaceX Crew Dragon Departs, Carrying NASA Astronauts Toward Home

Two astronauts who took the first commercial trip to orbit have left the International Space Station. They are scheduled to return home on Sunday.The astronauts, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, traveled to the space station in May aboard a Crew Dragon capsule built and run by SpaceX, the private rocket company started by Elon Musk.The Crew Dragon undocked from the space station at 7:35 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, with brief thruster firings pushing the spacecraft back.As the capsule backed away from the station, Mr. Hurley thanked the current crew of the space station and the teams on the ground that helped manage their mission.“We look forward to splashdown tomorrow,” he said.If the weather conditions remain favorable, it will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola...

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Science

SpaceX Crew Dragon and Astronaut Return: When to Watch

The first astronaut trip to orbit by a private company is coming to an end. The passengers are two NASA astronauts — Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley — but it could be a first step to more people going to space for a variety of new activities like sightseeing, corporate research and satellite repair.This flight of the Crew Dragon capsule is being operated by SpaceX, the rocket company started by Elon Musk, as part of NASA’s efforts to turn over to private enterprise some things it used to do.NASA has hired two companies — SpaceX and Boeing — to provide transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and SpaceX was the first to be ready to take astronauts to orbit, launching Mr. Behnken and Mr. Hurley in May.After 63 days on the space station, Mr. Behnken...

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