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Lucy Sherriff

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Japanese diggers unearth dino skull

A dinosaur skull has been unearthed in Japan. The 85-million year-old fossil is one of the oldest finds of its kind in the country, per Reuters. The skull was found in southwestern Japan back in 2004, on a mountain in the town of Mifune. An spokesperson for the Mifune dinosaur museum said that the skull belonged to a herbivore …
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2007
Google

Google updates desktop for Linux

Google has updated its desktop for fanboys* Linux with the beta launch of version 1.1. Now you can search and launch applications, and search within Microsoft Office documents. The team at Google has also upgraded the image search so better quality thumbnails are returned and more image formats are supported. Software engineer …
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2007
alien

Allen telescope array begins alien hunt

The first section of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) has been powered up and is embarking on its mission to listen to a million stars. The array, funded in part by Microsoft founder Paul Allen, will eventually include 350 individual six-metre radio telescopes, all searching the skies for signs of alien life. "For SETI, the ATA …
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Oct 2007
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Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize

He might have made a couple of mistakes in his Inconvenient Truth documentary, but we suspect Al Gore will consider his shiny new Nobel Peace Prize a winning blow in the PR war on climate change. Gore is to share the gong with the IPCC, "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate …
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Oct 2007
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Cassini team ties icy jets to tiger stripes

The tiger stripes at the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus are indeed responsible for the powerful jets emerging from the body. Enceladus' jets. Credit: NASA Enceladus' jets. Credit: NASA The imaging team on the Cassini mission to the Saturn system have spent two years poring over pictures of Enceladus, trying to …
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Oct 2007
Recycle sign

Corporate computing going thin to go green?

MP Alan Whitehead reckons it is not unfair to compare the computer industry to the airline business: all efforts are focused on the end user experience, he argues, without heed being paid to the effect the business has on the planet. Planes get faster and more comfortable (we can only assume he is travelling first class, …
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Oct 2007
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Judge rules Gore's film an inconvenient catalogue of errors

A UK judge has ruled that schools are allowed to show Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, but only if the film is accompanied by guidance highlighting the areas where the ex-vice president of America strays off the scientific terra firma, the BBC reports. Mr Justice Burton said teachers could show the film, but must highlight nine …
Lucy Sherriff, 11 Oct 2007
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Chemistry Nobel awarded to semiconductor boffin

The Nobel prize for chemistry has been awarded to Gerhard Ertl, now based at Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin, for his work in establishing a fundamental experimental approach to surface chemistry. His experiments laid the foundations, quite literally, for the development of catalytic converters. He …
Lucy Sherriff, 11 Oct 2007
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Australia to get 1,000 megawatt wind farm

Australia has commissioned the construction of a giant wind farm said to be capable of powering 400,000 homes. The project will see some 500 turbines being installed in New South Wales, near the town of Broken Hill, and will have a capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts. We at El Reg are just pleased to hear that the Aussies are …
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Oct 2007
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Hard disk innovators get physics Nobel

The 2007 Nobel prize for physics has been awarded to the nanotech boffins behind our ever shrinking hard disks, Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg. The pair were honoured for the "discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance", a breakthrough which allowed hard disks to be super-downsized. Both men made the breakthrough, independently, in …
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Oct 2007
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Sun to blame for yin-yang Moon's dark side

The fearsome heat of the Sun is being blamed for the strange yin-yang appearance of Saturn's moon Iapetus. Even at an average distance of roughly 1.5 billion kilometres from the sun, Iapetus is being gradually toasted on one side. False colour image of Iapetus' bright leading edge. Credit: NASA False colour image of Iapetus' …
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Oct 2007
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US nanotech boffins track evanescent light

Researchers in the States have found a way of predicting how evanescent light waves might behave. The breakthrough could clear the way for a new generation of nanoscale optical devices, including solar thermal energy technologies. When things get very small, nanoscale small, the rules all change and almost every assumption …
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Oct 2007
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Astronomers witness birth of a mini-Earth

A long time ago, in a star system far, far away, an Earth-like planet is forming. It is actually only 424 light years away in a system known as HD 113766, outside the reach of your Oyster cards* but a mere stroll in astronomical terms. Artists' impression of the forming planet Artists' impression of the forming planet. …
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Oct 2007
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UK's future depends on science and technology

Lord Sainsbury has called for an overhaul of the way science and technology is taught in Britain, saying that without a new approach we risk losing our place in the global economy. He says more specialist science teachers must be trained or recruited, and that science students must be given better careers advice. The report, …
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Oct 2007
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Stem cell prof wins Nobel prize

Cardiff University professor Martin Evans has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research on embryonic stem cells. He shares the prize with his two colleagues, Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies of the University of Utah and the University of North Carolina respectively. According to the official announcement, …
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Oct 2007
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Nuclear accident messier than we thought

The amount of radioactive fallout from the Windscale nuclear accident half a century ago was grossly underestimated, according to new research. In 1957, a fire broke out at one of two nuclear reactors on the Windscale site when its graphite control rods overheated. The fire was extinguished with water, deemed necessary to limit …
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Oct 2007
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Computer glitch nixes death row appeal in Texas

A Texas inmate was sent to his death after a computer glitch held up his appeal filing, and a presiding judge refused to extend the deadline. Earlier that day the US Supreme Court said it would consider a case from Kentucky, in which lawyers were arguing that the lethal injection is unconstitutional. The Houston Chronicle …
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2007
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Spammers target hamsters after Ig Nobel winning research

Today is surely the biggest day of the year for boffins and those involved in the pursuit of boffinry. Because today, the Ig Nobel awards are handed out. Well, they were handed out last night, but the boffins will be having their hangovers today, and that is even more important. As regular readers will know, the Ig Nobel Awards …
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2007
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Spam, scrams and scams - take your pick

Microsoft vs Google, vs Microsoft, vs Microsoft? Google and Microsoft met for a bit of legal jousting on Capitol Hill this week. The subject? Google's proposed $3.1bn merger with online ad firm DoubleClick. Microsoft said the merger would hinder competition in the online ad market and endanger the privacy of people everywhere …
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2007
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Manchester Uni wins radio telescope HQ

The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics has been chosen as the headquarters for the next generation radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA project, with a budget of €1.5bn, involves astronomers and engineers in 17 countries. It will be comprised of thousands of small antennae …
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2007
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MIT touts new mind-to-machine algorithm

Boffins at MIT are getting ever closer to a direct mind-to-machine link that would translate a person's thoughts into instructions for a machine. The university is developing the technology so a paralysed person might be able to operate a prosthetic purely by using their mind. There are lots of teams working in similar areas. …
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2007
padlock

UK start-up tackles PIN fraud with patterns

We all know that the weakest link in almost any security system is the user. We puny humans are prone to errors, and so we tend to write down complicated passwords, or choose ones which are stupidly easy to guess. Same with PINs. How many of you (be honest now) use your birth year? A PIN also stays the same all the time. But no …
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2007
The Register breaking news

Fifty years since Sputnik

Fifty years ago today the space age was truly born, as Sputnik sent back its first signals from orbit. Half a century ago, the Soviets launched what would be our first artificial satellite, and set in motion a revolution of technology. Without Sputnik, Earth orbit would be a much quieter place, and life on Earth would be …
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2007
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Teeny tiny ozone hole for 2007

In 2006, the ozone layer took a real beating, and a hole formed that was of truly epic proportions. It was a record-breaking hole, caused by some 40 million tonnes of the protective layer going AWOL. After that, the hole recorded in 2007 is something of a flop. Weather conditions conspired to keep us and our cancer-prone skin …
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2007
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Utah gives up new dino species

Paleontological digging among the rocks of Utah has revealed a new species of dinosaur. The beast, dubbed Gryposaurus monumentensis, is a duck-billed creature dating back 75m years to the late Cretaceous period. It would have been a vegetarian, able to consume just about anything that could grow. According to Terry Gates, lead …
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Oct 2007
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NASA mulls strap-on astronaut carrier

NASA has come up with several concept vehicles for its planned future exploration of the Moon. Wannabe lunar wanderers should beware: Travelling across the hills and plains of our largest satellite will not be a dignified experience... Concept vehicles, per NASA, for future manned exploration of the moon Concept vehicles, per …
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Oct 2007
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Discovery gears up for rehearsal launch

The space shuttle Discovery is primed and ready for launch. It arrived on the launchpad this weekend, and engineers are getting ready for a dress rehearsal of the launch. The shuttle is due to blast off for the International Space Station on October 23 under the designation STS-120. The Shuttle Discovery gets ready for launch …
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Oct 2007
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Solar storm rips tail from comet

STEREO, NASA's satellite sent up to the heavens to examine the surface of the Sun, has captured the first ever images of a collision between a comet and a solar "hurricane". The force of the solar storm, a coronal mass ejection (CME), was so great that it tore the plasma tail from the comet. The tail comes off a comet. Credit: …
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Oct 2007
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Opportunity goes panoramic on Victoria

The Mars rover Opportunity has sent back yet another gobsmacking image from the red planet. This picture is close to true colour, the space agency says, and was captured from a spot known as Duck Bay. Victoria crater on Mars, as seen by NASA's rover Opportunity Victoria crater on Mars, as seen by NASA's rover Opportunity. The …
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Oct 2007
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Tidal power plans pit greens against greens

The Sustainable Development Commission has given its backing to a proposed tidal power project in the Severn Estuary, despite objections from environmentalists. The commission published a report today analysing how the tidal resources in the UK could be tapped for clean energy. It says tidal power has the potential to generate …
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Oct 2007
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Science and religion collide for galactic conference

The Vatican is hosting its second astronomy conference in seven years, as the Roman Catholic church strives to avoid being seen as anti-science. Delegates are expected from 26 countries, including Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, and Russia, the BBC reports. Father Jose Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory, said the …
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Oct 2007
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Oxygen pollution began earlier than we ever thought

Earth's atmosphere had oxygen in it 50-100m years earlier than anyone ever thought, according to new research from NASA. The scientists were studying kilometre long core samples from Western Australia, in a bid to understand conditions on our planet before the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere, known as the Great Oxidation Event …
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2007
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Mammoth wool gives up genetic secrets

A new technique has allowed researchers to extract genetic information from the hair shafts of ancient woolly mammoths. The team behind the breakthrough, based at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, says the method should also work on other well-preserved mammal specimens, the BBC reports. It is well known to all watchers …
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2007
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Microsoft winks as Facebook hangs head in security shame

Selling out? It is, we said, like watching your dad try to dance at the prom. Yes, we're talking about the much hyped stories that Microsoft is thinking about taking a stake in Facebook. Rumours are that Redmond might take five per cent of Facebook for "roughly $300m to $500m". Standback as everyone tries to work out the value …
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2007
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Mystery radio bursts from the depths of the universe

Astronomers searching the skies for pulsars instead found a mysterious burst of radio activity, nothing like anything any of them had seen before. According to Reuters, the researchers were trawling through a back catalogue of data from the Parkes telescope in Australia when they came across the signal. It was five milliseconds …
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2007
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Fundy dunderheads make monkey of monkey man

Evolution's evangelist Richard Dawkins was left steaming after creationist filmmakers used interviews with him and other prominent atheists in a film promoting intelligent design. According to reports, Dawkins and the others were invited to appear in a documentary called Crossroads, which was to be a debate about creationism vs …
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2007
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Greenland's super-melty summer

The higher peaks of the Greenland icesheet spent longer melting this summer than any summer since 1988, according to a NASA funded study. The research revealed that enough snow melted in Greenland this year to cover the surface of the USA more than two times over*. Image of the so-called 2007 Greenland melting anomaly. Credit: …
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Sep 2007
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Dawn on its way to the asteroid belt

Dawn, NASA's mission to the asteroid belt, has at last launched successfully. At the time of writing, NASA mission managers were still waiting for the Delta II's second and third stages to fire, but so far it is all looking good. Lift Off! Image credit: NASA Lift Off! Image credit: NASA Dawn was originally slated to depart …
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Sep 2007
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Space station barney kicks off in India

It has cost billions upon billions and it isn't finished yet, but partners in the International Space Station project are already arguing about when it should be shut down, according to AFP reports. The various agencies' positions are as follows: In the red corner (not political statement, just a handy colour) we have NASA, …
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Sep 2007
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China plans spaceport number 4

China is planning to build a fourth spaceport, or rocket launch pad, in line with its ever-expanding space exploration ambitions. The construction will begin on the southern island of Hainan, in the town of Wenchang, roughly 40 miles south of the province's capital Haikou, according to state news agency Xinhua. The plans call …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Sep 2007
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Space makes germs more deadly

Salmonella likes it in orbit, and not just for the view. According to research conducted on the International Space Station (ISS), the effects of microgravity trip a switch in the bacterium that makes it much more virulent. The findings, which are to be published in PNAS Online Early Edition suggest astronauts could be at …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Sep 2007
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Boffins offer explanation for meteorite sickness

Relax: the aliens aren't using poisonous space rocks to soften us up in advance of an invasion, after all. Last week, you may recall, a meteorite fell in Peru. Locals who were first on the scene reported feeling ill immediately after contact with the space rock, with symptoms including headaches and nausea. Speculation began …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Sep 2007
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NASA postpones Dawn

The launch of NASA's Dawn mission has been delayed by 24 hours because the weather gods are not playing ball. Ready to launch, just waiting for the weather Ready to launch, just waiting for the weather. The spacecraft is all bundled up on the launch pad and ready to go, NASA says. All it needs is a window of decent clear …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Sep 2007
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NASA gives Beagle 2 another shot at glory

"It'll be like Steve Fossett all over again, only worse," said one embittered Reg hack on hearing the news that NASA has decided to send Beagle to the moon. Yes, Beagle, the little lander that either couldn't, wouldn't or didn't, manage to land on Mars might be about to be resurrected and packed off to the Moon. In its report …
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Sep 2007
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Martian south pole: water, not dry ice

The southern Martian ice cap is mostly made of water, according to those clever boffins* at MIT. Ice on Mars. Credit: NASA/MOLA Science Team Ice on Mars. Credit: NASA/MOLA Science Team The polar caps on the red planet were thought to be composed largely of a thin layer of frozen CO2, resting over a dust and ice mixture. But …
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Sep 2007
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Caves spotted on Mars

The Mars Odyssey orbiter has beamed back pictures of what appear to be cave entrances on the slopes of a Martian volcano. Seven small dark craters pepper the side of the long-extinct volcano. They range from about 100 to 200 metres in size, and are very nearly circular. The NASA team turned the thermal imaging cameras on the …
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Sep 2007
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World leaders meet to tackle global warming

World leaders are set to meet today to discuss the effects of climate change and possible political measures to tackle it. The meeting will see representatives from 150 countries, 80 of them being heads of state, converge on the UN in New York. UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said he expected the meeting to express the sense of …
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Sep 2007
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US teacher fired for non-literal bible reading

A teacher at a US community college in Red Oak, Iowa says he was fired after telling his students not to interpret the story of Adam and Eve as a literal account of events circa BC 4000. Steve Bitterman, 60, who was teaching a western civilisation course at Southwestern Community College, said he often used extracts from the …
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Sep 2007
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Human or Hobbit: it is all in the wrist

A fresh analysis of the fossilised skeleton that sparked the Hobbit controversy, has provided more evidence to support the claim that Homo floresiensis is a new species of hominid, the Guardian reports, and not a diseased human with a shrunken and malformed brain. The skeleton was found on the Indonesian island of Flores back …
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Sep 2007
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From EC rules on Microsoft to a load of old bollocks

Microsoft and the anti-competition of doom On Friday last week, the legal eagles employed at Microsoft were sharpening their talons in anticipation of the verdict we've all been waiting for. Yes, this week the EU was set to rule on Microsoft's appeal against its conviction for monopoly abuse. Come Monday, the European courts …
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Sep 2007