Lester Haines

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Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

The skeleton of a six-year-old infant unearthed in Austria is challenging the theory that syphilis was imported into Europe from the New World by the ship's crew of Christopher Columbus. The Austrian skeleton in its grave The well-preserved remains (above) were found in a cemetery in St. Pölten, some 65km west of Vienna, by …
Lester Haines, 23 Nov 2015

Irish electricity company threatens to cut off graveyard

Those readers who believe that death will finally deliver them from the attentions of utility companies are advised not to pop their clogs in Ireland, or at least not in County Kerry. That's the lesson to be learned from a letter allegedly dispatched by Electric Ireland to "The Occupant, Killiney Graveyard, Castlegregory, …
Lester Haines, 23 Nov 2015

Brit filmmaker plans 10hr+ Paint Drying epic

A cheeky Brit has agreeably decided that if the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is going to charge filmmakers to submit their work for certification, he's going to make the longest possible film of paint drying ever to hit the silver screen, and oblige the censors sit through every minute of it. Just how long the …
Lester Haines, 23 Nov 2015

Roundworm infection increases female fertility

Scientists have – slightly improbably – discovered that infection by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides increases fertility in women belonging to Bolivia's Tsimane ethnic group. In their abstract, published in Science, the researchers explain that they studied "nine years of longitudinal data from 986 Bolivian forager- …
Lester Haines, 20 Nov 2015

Short weekend break: Skegness or exoplanet HD 189733b?

Our recent piece examining the extreme weather on exoplanet HD 189733b prompted some readers to suggest that conditions on the distant hot Jupiter are in fact more benign than those enjoyed by visitors to British seaside resort Skegness. Well, for those of you thinking of taking a short weekend break over Xmas, the better to …
Lester Haines, 20 Nov 2015

Cat discovers GNOME desktop bug

It's a tip of the open source hat today to a cat belonging to one Christoph Reiter, which recently discovered a bug in Linux desktop GNOME. Christoph was running GS 3.18.1 in Debian sid when, for reasons likely related to the familiar "uninvited feline on keyboard" scenario, the following catastrophic sequence was initiated …
Lester Haines, 20 Nov 2015

Prudish Indian censors cut James Bond Spectre snogging scenes

Indian James Bond fans have been making merry with the Central Board Of Film Certification's decision to cut a couple of Spectre snogging scenes by 50 per cent. According to the Hindustan Times, an insider said: "The Censor Board had nothing against James Bond kissing, but the length of the kisses were found to be excessive …
Lester Haines, 19 Nov 2015

£2.3m ZANO nano-drone crowdfunded project crashes and burns

The company behind the troubled ZANO nano-drone project has pulled the plug, leaving thousands of Kickstarter backers in the lurch. The UK's Torquing Group Ltd tin-rattled its way to a record £2,335,119 from 12,075 people for the "world's most sophisticated nano drone - aerial photo and HD video capture platform". Although …
Lester Haines, 18 Nov 2015
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Rise of the handy machines: UK gears up for first Robotics Week

The UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) tentacle of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is inviting humans to get involved in the first UK Robotics Week, scheduled to run from 25 June - 1 July 2016. The event - supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of …
Lester Haines, 18 Nov 2015

Red dwarf superflares batter formerly 'habitable' exoplanet

Humanity may have to rethink colonisation plans for exoplanet Kepler-438b, since what was hailed earlier this year as a candidate to support life as we know it, has now been declared decidedly inhospitable. The planet - a probably rocky world with a diameter 12 per cent bigger than Earth - was identified back in January, …
Lester Haines, 18 Nov 2015

French Playmobil heist: El Reg denies involvement

We at El Reg's Playmobil department would like to categorically deny any involvement in a heist last week which saw thousands of boxes of miniature fun lifted from a lorry in southeastern France. According to this local report, thieves made off with 12 pallets of Playmobil from a lorry parked in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, some …
Lester Haines, 17 Nov 2015
Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

Commentard achieves bronze badge, goes directly to jail

Those of you who've been knocking around the El Reg forums for a while will know that we have a badge system designed to honour invaluable commentard contributions to the site, or at least acknowledge a certain degree of commitment to giving forth. To get a foot on the first step on the ladder of glory - the bronze badge - you …
Lester Haines, 17 Nov 2015

Slovakians seek funds for battling drone squadron

A Slovakian company is attempting to raise $70,000 to get its "Drone n Base" fleet of battling mini UAVs off the ground. According to the tin-rattlers down at Indiegogo, Drone N Base is the "ultimate multiplayer drone game", enabling smartphone-controlled racing or aerial combat. The basic kit includes a lightweight (46g …
Lester Haines, 16 Nov 2015

Today's exoplanet weather: 1,000°C, glass rain, 8,700 km/h winds

Those readers who enjoy complaining about the weather might like to consider a short weekend break on 'hot Jupiter' exoplanet HD 189733b, where conditions will give them something to really moan about. Studies of HD 189733b – discovered in 2005 transiting the star HD 189733, which lies some 63 light years from Earth in the …
Lester Haines, 13 Nov 2015

Drug-smuggling granny's vagina holds Kinder surprise

A 73-year-old Spanish woman has avoided jail for a failed attempt to smuggle drugs to her incarcerated son by hiding them inside a Kinder egg plastic podule, wrapping that in a condom and inserting the contraband into her vagina. The septuagenarian mule visited Fontcalent prison in Alicante on 1 July 2013, with the intention …
Lester Haines, 12 Nov 2015

Brits rattle tin for custom LCD Raspberry Pi funbox

A London-based "networked studio of invention" is rattling the tin down at Kickstarter for the net-connected Tingbot – a custom case for the Raspberry Pi with LCD touchscreen which promises to transform the fruity minicomputer into "a platform for creative applications". For a pledge of just 50 quid – and that compares …
Lester Haines, 12 Nov 2015
Automatic asteroid mining

US Congress grants leftpondians the right to own asteroid booty

Asteroid mining operation Planetary Resources is as pleased as punch with those members of the US Congress who've backed "historic legislation" H.R.2262 – aka the "SPACE Act of 2015". The act "recognizes the right of US citizens to own asteroid resources they obtain as property and encourages the commercial exploration and …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015
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Irish roll out obligatory drone register

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has announced that from 21 December, all drones (or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), as they're known locally) weighing over 1kg must be registered. The authority's director of safety regulation Ralph James announced the scheme at the Drones, Data X Conference, in County Mayo, the …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015

Glowing dust doughnut circles white dwarf

Extremely patient astroboffins have put together the first image of debris rings around a white dwarf, obtained over 12 years of Very Large Telescope observations. Researchers led by Christopher Manser of the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group used Doppler tomography* to snap the rings of SDSS1228+1040, …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015

Cement company in sacks out for the lads rumpus

A Spanish cement manufacturer has been called to account for its persistent and blatant use of large-breasted women to punt its wares. Cementos La Unión recently found itself in a Valencia court accused of sexism, following legal action by Spain's Institute of Women, a tentacle of the Ministry of Equality. The Violence Against …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015

So. Farewell then Betamax. We always liked you better than VHS anyway

Sony has finally set a date for the death of Betamax – some 40 years after it first released the ill-fated home video tech. As of March next year, the company will cease production of the last few tapes still available for the system; the EL-500B, 2L-500MHGB and 2L-750MHGB, as well as the L-25CLP cleaning tape. The …
Lester Haines, 10 Nov 2015

Royal Mail mulls drones for rural deliveries

The Royal Mail's chief exec has envisioned a future with drone deliveries and driverless vans. Jumping enthusiastically onto the airborne parcel bandwagon, Moya Greene told the CBI's annual conference she'd "love to see" UAVs taking on rural delivery services to "more remote places where you don’t have to deliver too much". …
Lester Haines, 10 Nov 2015
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E.ON fined £7m for smart meter fail

The UK's energy regulator Ofgem has slapped supplier E.ON with a £7m fine for failing "to supply relevant business customers through advanced electricity meters by the April 2014 deadline". In 2009, E.ON was given five years to provide its roughly 20,000 business customers with smart meters. Ofgem reports: "E.ON only …
Lester Haines, 09 Nov 2015

Flying drug mule crashes in Manchester prison

A quadcopter carrying drugs and mobile phones crashed in a yard of Manchester's Strangeways prison last Friday, and while residents were deprived of that particular cargo, a former inmate claims cases of airborne contraband delivery are "rife". According to the Manchester Evening News, a Prison Service spokesperson said: "A …
Lester Haines, 09 Nov 2015

Space fans eye launch of Lego Saturn V

A proposed Lego Saturn V is gaining momentum down at Lego Ideas, and is well on the way to the 10,000 supporters it needs to be considered for production. The miniature heavy lifter features a full-fat Apollo 11 Moon mission kit, including lunar orbiter and Eagle lander. The Lego lunar orbiter and lander For the LEGO fans …
Lester Haines, 09 Nov 2015

Scarface's explosive 'Little Friend' goes under the hammer

The M16 rifle used to explosive effect by Al Pacino as Cuban drug dealer Tony Montana in the climactic battle scene of Scarface goes under the hammer later this month in Los Angeles. The Scarface M-16. Pic: Julien's Auctions The non-firing firearm, complete with prop M203 grenade launcher, features large and loud in Brian …
Lester Haines, 06 Nov 2015
Inside the Dragon capsule (from top left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: SpaceX

Fancy flying to Mars? NASA's hiring

NASA has put out a call for the next generation of astronaut candidates, in anticipation of regaining the ability to put people aloft space aboard US-built spacecraft. The space agency's head honcho, Charles Bolden, said: "This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, …
Lester Haines, 05 Nov 2015

US radar paparazzi snap 'Halloween Asteroid'

NASA has served up some radar images of the so-called "Halloween Asteroid" - a 600 metre diameter ball of rock that whisked past Earth on 31 October. Mercifully, Bruce Willis' services were not required, as asteroid 2015 TB145 - to use its official title - came no closer to Hollywood than 1.3 lunar distances (480,000km). NASA …
Lester Haines, 04 Nov 2015

RIPE rebrand whiffs slightly of joss-sticks

LOGOWATCH The magnificent era of corporate rebranding excess have long passed - heady days in which brainstorming strategy boutiques would crank the whalesong up to 11 and give forth on the empowering effects of emotionally compelling and strategically grounded brand frontage paradigms. However, there are still a few joss-stick embers …
Lester Haines, 04 Nov 2015

Music lovers move to block Phil Collins' rebirth

Concerned music lovers are backing a petition aimed at preventing Phil Collins' musical rebirth. The former Genesis drummer and famed solo artist stepped out of the limelight in 2011, intending to spend more time with his family. However, he announced last month he was planning a new album. He told Rolling Stone: "I'm no …
Lester Haines, 04 Nov 2015

Spanish town trumpets 'Clitoris Festival' thanks to Google snafu

A Spanish town got lips smacking in anticipation last week after the municipal website announced a forthcoming "Clitoris Festival". The powers that be in As Pontes, Galicia, had intended to trumpet the annual Feira do grelo, or "Rapini Festival", in honour of the leafy delicacy. However, while the original description in …
Lester Haines, 03 Nov 2015

Cash injection fuels SABRE spaceplane engine

The UK's Reaction Engines Limited has announced a healthy injection of funds into the development of its revolutionary SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) power system. The company has inked a deal with BAE Systems, which will "invest £20.6m in Reaction Engines to acquire 20 per cent of its share capital and also …
Lester Haines, 03 Nov 2015
The Manifold mounted atop the Matrice quadcopter

Chinese fire up world's 'most powerful' drone brain

Chinese UAV outfit DJI is trumpeting the release of what it describes as the "most powerful computer designed for drones" – the "Manifold" embedded computer packing a quad-core ARM Cortex A-15 processor. The Manifold With NVIDIA's Tegra K1 and you've got the power to "transform aerial platforms into truly intelligent flying …
Lester Haines, 02 Nov 2015

Skype founders planning non-drone robodelivery fleet. Repeat, not drones

Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis are poised to unleash a fleet of trundling robodelivery vehicles, promising to get up to two bags of groceries to your door within 30 minutes. Starship Technologies' bots, which are capable of delivering up to 5km from a central hub at a leisurely 6km/h, have all the bells and …
Lester Haines, 02 Nov 2015

Google snaps Dutch woman completely taking the piss

NSFW Google has moved with its usual lightning speed to erase an entertaining street scene captured by one of by its Street View prowlcams in the in the Dutch town of Almere. Our censored version of the Street View woman No sooner had the apparently worse for wear micturator been splashed across Live Leak than expert blurring …
Lester Haines, 02 Nov 2015
Image of Enceladus taken during Cassini fly-by. Pic: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Cassini probe teases with intimate Enceladus snaps

NASA has published some unprocessed images of Saturn's moon Enceladus, grabbed earlier this week when the Cassini spacecraft swooped to within 49km (30 miles) of the icy satellite's south polar region. Images from the intimate encounter include Enceladus posing with Saturn's rings... Enceladus and Saturn's rings. Pic: NASA/ …
Lester Haines, 30 Oct 2015

Volvo eyes kangaroo detection tech

Swedish motor manufacturer Volvo is developing "kangaroo detection" tech aimed at reducing the number of collisions between metal and marsupial. The company reckons there are "20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year costing over AU $75 million in insurance claims". It already has the "City Safety" system, which …
Lester Haines, 30 Oct 2015

Post-pub nosh neckfiller special: The WHO bacon sarnie of death

Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) shocked the civilised bacon-eating world by classifying processed and red meat as "carcinogenic to humans" and "probably carcinogenic to humans", respectively. Now boasting a "Group 1" rating for the increased risk of provoking colorectal cancer, processed meat products …
Lester Haines, 30 Oct 2015

Yamaha unleashes motorcycling robot

Multiple MotoGP world champ Valentino "The Doctor" Rossi had better watch his back, because Yamaha has just unleashed a motorcycling robot which was "created to surpass you", as a rather creepy video explains. Yamaha unveiled the "Motobot" at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday. According to the company, it's an "autonomous …
Lester Haines, 29 Oct 2015

NASA's Cassini probe skims icy moon Enceladus

NASA's Cassini spacecraft yesterday made it closest approach yet to Saturn's moon Enceladus, swooping to within 49km (30 miles) of the icy body's south polar region. In the process, it passed through the liquid plumes which spew from Enceladus, originating in its sub-surface ocean. Scientists hope a small sample of plume …
Lester Haines, 29 Oct 2015

Aussies' distinctive Strine down to drunk forefathers

Australians' distinctive accent – known affectionately as "Strine" – was formed in the country's early history by drunken settlers' "alcoholic slur". This shock claim, we hasten to add, comes from Down Under publication The Age, which explains: The Australian alphabet cocktail was spiked by alcohol. Our forefathers regularly …
Lester Haines, 28 Oct 2015

Ex-Microsoft craft ale buffs rattle tankard for desktop brewery

US home-brew tech outfit PicoBrew has raced past its Kickstarter fundraising target for its Pico "fully automatic craft beer brewing appliance". The device will produce five litre batches of "fresh personalized craft beer" in 5-7 days with minimum hassle, thanks to "convenient pre-packaged ingredient PicoPaks produced by …
Lester Haines, 28 Oct 2015

Balloon-lofted space podule hits 30,000m

US space flight outfit World View has successfully test flown a 1/10 scale model of its balloon-lofted passenger podule, and reckons it'll be ready to welcome paying customers aboard the full-fat version in 2017. The gondola hit 30,624 metres (100,475ft) before detaching from the mighty helium-filled orb, after which it …
Lester Haines, 27 Oct 2015

Bacon can kill: Official

As predicted last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified processed meat as "carcinogenic to humans". The decision is based on the findings of 22 experts from 10 countries working with WHO's cancer tentacle the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Having reviewed the "accumulated scientific …
Lester Haines, 26 Oct 2015

The iPhone 6 doused in bromine - an incendiary mix or not?

Vid In case you've been wondering, like you do, just what happens if you pour bromine on an iPhone 6S, the Daily Telegraph reports on a vid which shows the Jesus mobe "bursting into flames" when doused in the malodorous element. Don't Ever Pour Bromine on an iPhone 6S! Well, we don't want to rain on this fiery spectacle, but it's …
Lester Haines, 26 Oct 2015

El Reg revisits Battle of Agincourt on 600th anniversary

Today is St Crispin's Day, and the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. On 25 October 1415, the scant forces of Henry V administered a righteous shoeing to a numerically superior French army, in the process securing immortality in the annals of British military legend. Disagreeably, some historians have attempted to …
Lester Haines, 25 Oct 2015

Reg reader post-pub chef brews superscharf currywurst

It's agreeable to get a bit of feedback on our post-pub wobbly dining delights, and we're always keen to hear just how readers get on with our recipes. Last week, we presented for your eating pleasure the German classic currywurst, and quicker than we could say Currysoße, Sir Sham Cad reported back on his own hot pig-in-a-tube …
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2015

Apollo 15 commander's watch clocks up $1.6m at auction

A timepiece worn by Apollo 15 commander Dave R. Scott on the surface of the Moon has sold at auction for an astronomical $1,625,000. Apollo astronauts normally strapped a standard NASA-issue Omega Speedmaster Professional to their wrists, but Scott carried a personal Bulova Wrist Chronograph as back-up on the 1971 mission. It …
Lester Haines, 23 Oct 2015

Fully working U-Boat Enigma machine sells for $365,000

A fully-functioning four-rotor M4 Enigma WW2 cipher machine has sold at auction for $365,000. The M4 Enigma which sold at auction yesterday. Pic: Bonhams Rare and pricey. Pic: Bonhams The German encryption device, as used by the U-Boat fleet and described as "one of the rarest of all the Enigma machines", went under the …
Lester Haines, 23 Oct 2015
Neil Cardy's massive bacon sarnie from a cafe on the A90

Bacon as deadly as cigarettes and asbestos

In really, really bad news for bacon lovers, a shock report says the World Health Organisation (WHO) will next week add processed meat to its "carcinogenic to humans" list. That's according to the Daily Mail, which claims that, according to "a well-placed source", a gathering of international scientists have checked the …
Lester Haines, 23 Oct 2015