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Lester Haines

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Brexit threatens Cornish pasty's racial purity

Any reader who's still undecided as to how to vote in the forthcoming, and increasingly tedious, EU referendum, should consider a Brexit future without the culinary protection afforded us by membership of the happy European family of nations. Last week, the Cornish Pasty Association came out in favour of Britain remaining in …
Lester Haines, 10 Jun 2016

Grim-faced 'naut Malenchenko prepares to return home

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko is preparing to depart the International Space Station (ISS), and it remains to be seen if the famously grim-faced Russian cracks a smile when he finally touches down on terra firma. Malenchenko and fellow Expedition 47 'nauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake are due to board the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft on …
Lester Haines, 10 Jun 2016

One entire US spook base: Yours for $1m+

Those readers with a few bucks to spare and who fancy owning an entire US base with a decidedly spooky history should proceed directly here for the opportunity to bid on Sugar Grove Station in West Virginia. The facility once served nearby antennas forming part of ECHELON, and although the eavesdropping kit isn't included in …
Lester Haines, 09 Jun 2016

Hatches sealed on ISS pump-up space podule

The hatches have been closed on the International Space Station's (ISS) Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, following three days' work by astronaut Jeff Williams installing sensors and other hardware inside the pump-up space podule. BEAM will spend two years attached to the orbiting outpost's Tranquility module, as NASA and …
Lester Haines, 09 Jun 2016

Brit Olympian defies Zika with frozen man oysters

British long jumper Greg Rutherford and his other half Susie Verrill have responded to the possible threat posed by the Zika virus by having the athlete's sperm frozen before he jets off to the Rio Olympics in August. Verrill will remain at home with the couple's young son Milo, citing "the cost and logistics of travel" as two …
Lester Haines, 08 Jun 2016

Marauding monkey blacks out Kenya

Kenya yesterday suffered a four-hour nationwide blackout caused by a monkey tripping a transformer at a hydroelectric power plant. 'Leccy producer KenGen said: "At 1129 hours this morning, a monkey climbed on the roof of Gitaru Power Station and dropped onto a transformer tripping it. This caused other machines at the power …
Lester Haines, 08 Jun 2016
flag.Scotland

Scots denied Saltire emoji

The Scottish former First Minister Alex Salmond has bemoaned the absence of a Saltire emoji from the forthcoming Unicode 9.0 release. Salmond told north of the border publication The Courier: "Last year, I wrote to both Apple and the Unicode Consortium, asking them to consider including the Saltire in their next update. …
Lester Haines, 07 Jun 2016

Q: Is it wrong to dress as a crusader for an England match?

The BBC has simultaneously proved Betteridge's law of headlines and got the Daily Mail into a right tizz with an interactive piece entitled "Is it wrong to dress as a crusader for an England match?" The question arises ahead of the forthcoming Euro 2016 tournament as the result of some England footie fans' penchant for donning …
Lester Haines, 07 Jun 2016

Rogue Somerset vulture lands at Royal Navy airbase

UPDATED The "massive great big" vulture which went AWOL in Somerset last week has indeed proved as "hard to miss" as his owners promised, after he was spotted at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton yesterday. According to Birds of Prey Displays, Arthur – a white-headed vulture – was carried away by strong winds during a performance at …
Lester Haines, 07 Jun 2016

Belgian brewery lays 3.2km beer pipeline

Bruges brewery De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) is about to open the valves on a €4m beer pipeline designed to carry vital supplies the 3.2km from its city centre production facility to its bottling plant. The subterranean ale conduit was the brainchild of De Halve Maan's head honcho Xavier Vanneste, who wanted a solution to the …
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2016

NASA 'naut to boldly enter pump-up space podule

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will today enter the International Space Station's (ISS) Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) - the pump-up podule on trial at the orbiting outpost "to investigate the potential challenges and benefits of expandable habitats for deep space exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit applications …
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2016

'Massive great big' vulture goes AWOL in Somerset

A "massive great big" vulture which went missing over the West Country last week is still at large, and its owners are asking members of the public to keep an eye out for the "hard to miss" bird. Arthur, an 11-year-old white-headed vulture, was swept away by strong winds during a display at the Bath & West Show in Shepton …
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2016

Aquaboffins sink lost Greek city theory

Greek and British scientists have announced that submerged remains off the Ionian island of Zakynthos bearing an uncanny resemblance to a lost city are in fact natural formations. Professor Julian Andrews, of the University of East Anglia's (UEA) School of Environmental Sciences, explained: "The site was discovered by …
Lester Haines, 03 Jun 2016

Unicode serves up bacon emoji

On 21 June, the world will become a slightly more agreeable place with the release of Unicode 9.0 - not because the standard will offer "Arabic characters to support Bravanese and Warsh, which are used in North and West Africa, along with Pakistani Quranic marks" and "significant updates to segmentation algorithms", but rather …
Lester Haines, 03 Jun 2016

Winston Churchill glowers from Blighty's plastic fiver

The Bank of England today unveiled the UK's first plastic banknote - a polymer fiver featuring Winston Churchill. Speaking at a ceremony at Churchill's birthplace, Blenheim Palace, the bank's governor Mark Carney declared: "The New Fiver will commemorate the achievements of the only Prime Minister to win the Nobel Prize for …
Lester Haines, 02 Jun 2016

King Tut's iron dagger of extraterrestrial origin

New analysis of a dagger entombed with King Tutankhamun "strongly supports" the theory that it was forged from meteoritic iron. The iron dagger. Pic: Wiley Tutankhamun's dagger with its gold sheath. Pic: Wiley Online Library Using portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of researchers determined that the dagger's …
Lester Haines, 02 Jun 2016

Science Museum maths gallery to offer the perfect pint

London's Science Museum will on 8 December cut the ribbon on a mathematics gallery featuring a range of stuff including a three-rotor Engima machine, an Islamic planispheric astrolabe and the Handley Page "Gugnunc" experimental aircraft. The Enigma machine and astrolabe. Images: Science Museum The Enigma machine, crafted by …
Lester Haines, 02 Jun 2016
Professional carbon drone with GPS. Pic via Shutterstock

FAA to test Brit drone-busting kit

The US's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will trial the "world's first fully integrated detect-track-disrupt-defeat Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS)", developed by a trio of British companies. Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems describe AUDS as intended "for countering drones or …
Lester Haines, 01 Jun 2016

Orbital ATK fires up revamped Antares rocket

Orbital ATK yesterday took a significant step towards getting its Antares lifter back in the air with a successful test fire of the rocket's revamped first stage propulsion system. The Anatares' new RD-181 main engines were subjected to a 30-second full-power burn on the pad at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport …
Lester Haines, 01 Jun 2016

Planet 9 a captured alien, astroboffins suggest

Astroboffins have boldly suggested that the hypothetical trans-Neptunian Planet 9 is in fact an exoplanet captured by our young Sun from another star. That's according to astronomers from Sweden's Lund University and the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux, who questioned the plausibility of a planet some ten times the …
Lester Haines, 01 Jun 2016

ISS 'nauts to face Mark Zuckerberg grilling

International Space Station (ISS) 'nauts Tim Kopra, Tim Peake and Jeff Williams will tomorrow enjoy a 20-minute Facebook Live vid Q&A session with Mark Zuckerberg. The action kicks off at 12:55pm ET / 11:55am CT / 10:55am MT / 09:55am PT / 16:55 GMT down at NASA's Facebook presence. Mere mortals are invited to join the event …
Lester Haines, 31 May 2016
Artist's impression of Juno and Jupiter. Pic: NASA

Juno yields to Jupiter's gravitational embrace

NASA's Juno spacecraft last week crossed the Sun/Jupiter gravitational boundary and is now firmly in the gas giant's embrace. Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Friday: "Today the gravitational influence of Jupiter is neck and neck with that of the Sun. As of tomorrow, …
Lester Haines, 31 May 2016

ISS pump-up space podule fully engorged

The International Space Station (ISS) grew by 16m3 on Saturday as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was successfully inflated at the second attempt. Time-lapse images of the BEAM inflation. Pic: NASA TV Success: The ISS gains 16m3. Pic: NASA TV NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams spent around seven hours gradually …
Lester Haines, 31 May 2016

NASA firms up Space Launch System nanosat manifest

NASA has announced three more CubeSats which will travel on the first mission of the Space Launch System (SLS), slated for lift-off in 2018. A total of 13 CubeSat berths are available aboard Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), which is primarily intended to dispatch an Orion capsule "to a stable orbit beyond the moon to …
Lester Haines, 27 May 2016

ISS pump-up space podule refuses to engorge

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace earlier today scrubbed a first attempt to inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) - the "human-rated expandable structure" which is clamped to the International Space Station (ISS) for a two-year test. After "several hours of attempts to introduce air into the module" by ISS crew member …
Lester Haines, 26 May 2016