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Lester Haines

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Russia faces Ukraine and Georgia in Eurovision deathmatch

In what promises to be an entertaining night, politically at least, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia will face off in Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest final in Stockholm. Yesterday's second semifinal saw Ukraine's Jamala's cheerful ditty 1944 safely through to challenge Russkie crooner Sergey Lazarev and You Are The Only One for …
Lester Haines, 13 May 2016

Dwarf planet intumesces before astronomers' gaze

Astronomers have used observations from the Kepler space telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory to determine that the trans-Neptunian object "2007 OR10" is bigger than previously thought, and now ranks third in the solar system's dwarf planet size league table, behind Pluto and Eris. The distant body was first spied back …
Lester Haines, 12 May 2016

Italians rattle little tin for smartmobe mini lenses

An Italian "microscopy, consumer electronics and micro-optics" outfit is offering smartphone and tablet owners the chance to get up-close and personal with the world via "an ultra portable and very affordable set of 2 mini lenses which turns your smartphone or tablet into a digital microscope". Working with the Istituto …
Lester Haines, 11 May 2016

Dragon capsule bids adios to ISS

Crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are preparing to wave off the SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule, which will return to Earth later today bearing over 1,600kg of cargo. The unmanned space truck launched to the orbiting outpost on April 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, atop a Falcon 9 rocket. It carried …
Lester Haines, 11 May 2016

Russia poised to unleash 'Son of Satan' ICBM

Russia has announced it's ready to start field trials on its RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, intended to replace the existing R-36M2 Voevoda (NATO designation SS-18 "Satan"). According to this report, quoting Russian news agency Zvezda, the two-stage, liquid-fuelled RS-28 tips the scales at 100 tonnes, and is …
Lester Haines, 10 May 2016

French duck-crushing device sells for €40k

A duck-crushing device pertaining to posh Paris eatery Tour d'Argent has sold at auction for a wallet-draining €40,000. The silver-plated duck press was specifically created for the preparation of the restaurant's signature canard à la presse, and had been expected to attract around €4,000-€6,000 when it went under the hammer …
Lester Haines, 10 May 2016

Spaniard live streams 195km/h burn-up

Spanish police have traced and cuffed a driver who live streamed a Madrid ring road burn-up during which he hit 195km/h (121mph) and narrowly avoided taking out several other vehicles. The unnamed speed merchant used Periscope to transmit his night-time high-speed exploits, then ill-advisedly shared the footage on his Twitter …
Lester Haines, 10 May 2016

Japanese artist fined for virtual vagina files

Artist Megumi Igarashi - aka "Rokudenashi-ko" - has been fined ¥400,000 (roughly £2,560) for distributing 3D printable files of her genitalia - an offence under Japan's obscenity laws which prohibit the depiction of reproductive parts. Igarashi was cuffed back in July 2014 for supplying virtual ladyparts via email to a "30- …
Lester Haines, 09 May 2016

Sic transit Mercury Monday

Mercury will transit the Sun today between 11:12 GMT (7:12 AM EDT, 12:12 BST) and 18:42 GMT (2:42 PM EDT; 19:42 BST), with NASA TV offering a live feed from its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The space agency has full details on its coverage of the event here. The European Space Agency (ESA) will also be catching the action …
Lester Haines, 09 May 2016

Brit polar vessel christened RRS Sir David Attenborough

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has announced that its shiny new £200m, 15,000 tonne polar research ship will be named RRS Sir David Attenborough, in honour of the Brit naturalist and broadcaster. The RRS Sir David Attenborough. Pic: NERC While a public vote overwhelmingly came down in favour of dubbing the …
Lester Haines, 06 May 2016

Woman charged with blowing AU$4.6m overdraft on 'a lot of handbags'

A 21-year-old woman has appeared in court in Sydney accused of taking advantage of a Westpac Bank glitch which saw her accidentally granted an unlimited overdraft against which she allegedly withdrew AU$4.6m, "part of which she spent on luxury handbags", as news.com.au puts it. Chemical engineering student Christine Jiaxin Lee …
Lester Haines, 05 May 2016

Siemens Healthcare struck by rebranding madness

Logowatch Those of delicate linguistic sensibilities are advised to look away as we report today that the Siemens tentacle previous known as Siemens Healthcare has gone under the surgeon's rebranding knife and emerged as the quite remarkable Siemens Healthineers. The Siemens Healthineers logo According to head honcho healthineer …
Lester Haines, 05 May 2016

EU set to bin €500 note

The European Central Bank (ECB) will likely agree today to stop production of the meaty €500 note, which has long been considered a handy tool for criminals wishing to do illicit transactions with cash wedges of manageable dimensions. According to the Wall Street Journal, the ECB's Governing Council will decide not to produce …
Lester Haines, 04 May 2016

Mercury to transit Sun: Viewer discretion advised

Mercury will transit the Sun next Monday, and those wishing to witness this occasional event without risking blindness will be pleased to know that NASA will have full coverage. The planet will creep across the Sun's fiery surface between 11:12 GMT (7:12 AM EDT, 12:12 BST) and 18:42 GMT (2:42 PM EDT; 19:42 BST). The entire …
Lester Haines, 04 May 2016

Skygazers: Brace yourselves for a kick in the Aquarids

The annual Eta Aquarid meteor display will peak on the night of 5/6 May, with skygazers not suffering the traditional cloud and driving rain advised to keep an eye out for maximum burning dust from Halley's Comet at around 3-5 am on the 6th. The southern hemisphere should enjoy roughly 30 meteors per hour, with around 10 …
Lester Haines, 04 May 2016

Revealed: HMS Endeavour's ignominious fate

Researchers in the US believe they have identified the remains of Captain James Cook's HMS Endeavour – the ship aboard which he famously sailed the Pacific Ocean between 1768–71. Captain James Cook: Outlived his famous ship by just one year. Pic: Shutterstock Cook was killed by Hawaiian islanders in 1779 while on his third …
Lester Haines, 03 May 2016

Venezuela tops world lightning conductor league

Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo has wrested the world's "maximum lightning activity" crown from Africa's Congo Basin, according to electrifying data from the joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). Using 16 years of detection data from the now-deceased TRMM satellite's …
Lester Haines, 03 May 2016

Galileos 11 and 12 live for your (imminent) navigating pleasure

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that for your future metre-level accuracy navigating pleasure, satellites Galileo 11 and 12 are now fully operational and "broadcasting working navigation signals". The pair launched from Kourou, French Guiana, last December. Since then, the onboard navigation kit has been …
Lester Haines, 29 Apr 2016

India trumpets seventh navigation sat launch

India yesterday celebrated the launch of the seventh and final "Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System" (IRNSS) satellite - IRNSS-G - which rose from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, atop a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). According to the Indian Space Research …
Lester Haines, 29 Apr 2016

Europe's Earth-watching sat beams back icy first pic

Europe's Sentinel-1B Earth-watching satellite has delivered its first image, a tad over two days after soaring aloft from Kourou, French Guiana, and a mere two hours after its Synthetic Aperture Radar was fired up. Norway's Svalbard archipelago - including the Austfonna glacier - was the satellite's inaugural snap (full …
Lester Haines, 29 Apr 2016

Heathrow Airbus collision 'not a drone incident'

The UK's Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has told Parliament that what was thought to be the Britain's first recorded incident of a collision between a UAV and an airliner was probably "not a drone incident" after all. A British Airways Airbus A320 flying in from Geneva was approaching Heathrow airport on 17 April …
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2016
The Microscope satellite. Pic: CNES / D.Ducros

Galileo in spaaace: France's 'equivalence principle' satellite

Earlier this week, France's snappily-named "Micro-Satellite à traînée Compensée pour l'Observation du Principe d'Equivalence", aka Microscope, rode a Soyuz lifter to orbit on a mission to " test the equivalence principle, which postulates the equality between gravitational mass and inertial mass". Legend has it that in around …
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2016

First rocket finally departs Russia's Vostochny cosmodrome

Russian president Vladimir Putin was on hand earlier today to witness the first launch from Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome, as a Soyuz lifter carried three satellites* heavenwards. The rocket departed the launchpad at 05:01 Moscow time (02:01 GMT), following a 24-hour knock-back due to a technical glitch. Two views of …
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2016
Toilet

Redback sinks fangs into Oz builder's todger

An Aussie builder was the victim of a classic redback spider attack earlier his week when an eight-legged beast sank its fangs into his todger while he sat on a portaloo. The unnamed 21-year-old "tradie" (tradesman) was enjoying an early-morning squat on the mobile dunny at a site in the south of Sydney when the creature …
Lester Haines, 27 Apr 2016

NASA eyes stadium-sized orb launch: Part 3

NASA is hoping to finally get off the ground with the Super Pressure Balloon mission which has been grounded twice by unfavourable winds at altitude since 1 April. The word from Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, is that there's a launch window between 9 and 11AM local time tomorrow (5 to 7PM EDT or 9 to 11PM GMT tonight). The …
Lester Haines, 26 Apr 2016