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Orion on the launch pad

It was SPACECRAFT vs BOAT at ORION LAUNCH. The boat won

Mars wannabe spacecraft Orion got stuck on the ground at Cape Canaveral after a number of delays to its scheduled launch. The first test flight of NASA’s new human-carrying space shuttle has been beset by problems, including a boat that wandered into the red zone, a “second stage propellant conditioning issue”, and finally, high …
Orion on the launch pad fuelling up

Orion 'Mars' ship: Cosmic ray guard? Go. Parachutes? Go. Spacerock shield? Go!

NASA’s potentially Mars-bound spaceship is set for its first test flight today, with a 70 per cent chance of good weather for the blast-off. Orion on the launch pad fuelling up The space agency has just finished fuelling up Orion, which it hopes will be the successor craft to Apollo and will carry astronauts to the Moon, …
Random numbers

Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened

In 2012 a group of Chinese quantum physicists pulled off an acclaimed success in quantum-based factoring, running an adiabatic quantum algorithm for the number 143, at the time believed to be the largest number ever factored in a quantum computation. It now seems that paper, here, could have overlooked something: in a new paper …

Euro spacemen clear Ariane 6 for liftoff

The European Space Agency (ESA) has committed to building a new generation of Ariane launch vehicles. The Ariane 6's four-stage design has been on the table for over a year, but ESA member states hadn't signed off on its construction. At this week's ESA Ministerial Council that changed, with the Resolution on Europe's Access to …
Galileo

Magnifico! Galileo satellite nudged back into correct orbit

The European Space Agency has managed to salvage one of two misplaced Galileo satellites that it is using to build an alternative to the US's GPS system. ESA launched the fifth and sixth satellite that will make up the Galileo constellation on August 22 – but the were sent into the wrong orbit. It was initially thought the …
Iain Thomson, 4 Dec 2014
The Monash University Bionic Eye

Donors back boffins' wireless eye replacement

Monash University's work on a direct wireless sensor-to-brain interface to bypass optic nerve damage has had a boost with donations totalling AU$2 million that will help get the technology ready for human trials. The university has announced that Marc Besen and Monash chancellor Alan Finkel have each chipped in AU$1 million, to …
Artist's rendering of the Orion spacecraft at the Moon

Orion: To Mars, the Moon and beyond... but first, a TEST FLIGHT through Van Allen belt

NASA’s Orion spacecraft, rescued from the chop by President Barack Obama and aimed at reviving the US’s dormant manned space exploration with trips to Mars, the Moon and asteroids, will have its first test flight this week. Youtube Video The Apollo-like ship has been seen by some as nothing more than a stealthy bit of …

Hominid ancestors beat humans to the drinks cabinet, say boffins

Here's a surprise: the ability to metabolise alcohol evolved long, long before humans became brewers, wine-makers or distillers – about 10 million years before. In research published in PNAS (abstract here) in late November, a bunch of genetic detectives have worked backwards through the development of the enzymes that handle …
Antares rocket fails

FOUR, count 'em, FOUR big rockets launching in next seven days

Spaceports are increasingly common these days but, if the coming week is anything to go by, then some sort of rocketry air traffic control could be something the boffins need to sort out. In all, four launches are planned for the coming week, from four different countries. This rate of activity is a reflection of quite how …
Iain Thomson, 2 Dec 2014
The Antikythera Mechanism

By the Rivers of Babylon, where the Antikythera Mechanism laid down

A new analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism, the intriguing meshed gears device hauled from the Aegean in 1900, suggests it may be of Babylonian origin. The Mechanism is engraved in Greek and is widely thought to have been able to track the cycle of the Moon and of both Solar and Lunar eclipses, among other natural phenomena. …
Artist's impression of Philae on Comet 67P

ESA finds FOURTH comet touchdown for Philae lander

The European Space Agency has conducted deeper analysis of just what happened to the Philae lander during its descent to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and now believes the craft bounced off the wandering rock three times, not twice as was previously thought to the be case. The new analysis re-tells the now-familiar story of …
Dunce

Australia dumbs down: Chief Scientist says research performance lags the world

Australia likes to flatter itself that it's good at sciences: the nation's scientists did, after all, invent WiFi and lots of other useful stuff. But when the nation looks in the mirror it should be honest and and admit it's wasting away, says a new report from the nation's Chief Scientist. In a report presented to the …

Social media data is RIDDLED with human behaviour errors, boffins warn

Researchers who heavily rely on social media data when studying human behaviour have been warned that such information can be very easily skewed. Computer scientists at McGill University in Montreal and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh said in a paper published yesterday in the Science magazine that trick-cyclists were …
Kelly Fiveash, 30 Nov 2014
Richard Bedford's bacon on a roll with melted cheese

Eat FATTY FOODS to stay THIN. They might even help your heart

Have our health authorities been spouting unscientific nonsense for the last few decades? Dr Pan Pantziarka looks at whether official advice on fatty foods has been wrong all along. Richard Bedford A reduction in dietary fat consumption, especially saturated fat, has been the cornerstone of official dietary advice for as long …

Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

Worstall @ the Weekend Back last week we had the news from Google bods (almost but not quite boffins) telling us there's no way to make renewable energy fuel in an advanced industrial society. Our esteemed editor here at El Reg then pointed out that we've got a reasonable and cheap method of producing all the power we need: nuclear. The frustration …
Tim Worstall, 30 Nov 2014
Hayabusa2 gives asteroid asteroid 1999JU3 the horn

Japan pauses asteroid BOMBING raid – still no word from Bruce Willis?

Japan's space agency JAXA has called off the launch of its Hayabusa2 asteroid-mining mission. The plan is to send a probe to a far-flung space rock, blast a hole in it, grab some material, and return it to Earth. However, bad weather on our home world this week has delayed the launch of the gutsy expedition to sometime next …
Iain Thomson, 28 Nov 2014

Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

Most people have heard of the human genome project (HGP), few have yet heard of the human proteome project (HPP) but it is going to transform your life in a far more fundamental way than the HGP never did. The human genome project was completed in April 2003 - we are currently the only species known to have deciphered its own …
Mark Whitehorn, 28 Nov 2014
DNA

DNA survives fiery heat of re-entry on test rocket

Sounding rockets are sub-orbital spacecraft used to test rocket technologies and to run other experiments. Launches of such craft are quite common and most escape attention: the TEXUS-49 mission launched from Sweden on March 29th, 2011, and now doesn't even produce a clean hit on Google. But the mission is now of rather …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 8th

Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring

Scientists on the Rosetta comet mission team report they are confident that the Philae lander is not down for the count and should be revived in the spring or summer of next year once it has had a chance to warm up a bit. "We expect to have enough energy to boot around March next year. Then Philae needs to be heated until we can …
Iain Thomson, 27 Nov 2014
Bill Gates

Gates Foundation to insist on Open Access science

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has drawn a line in the sand: as of next year, it will only fund research that is released in full, for free, immediately upon publication. The Foundation's pitching the decision as enabling greater scrutiny of research, and therefore better outcomes. A new Open Access Policy spells out the …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2014
First part from 3D printer on ISS

NASA 'nauts have a go on Star Trek replicator IN SPAAAAACE (sort of)

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have tested their new 3D printer – proving they can manufacture small parts while in orbit, somewhat. "This first print is the initial step toward providing an on-demand machine shop capability away from Earth," said Niki Werkheiser, project manager for the ISS 3D Printer at NASA …
Iain Thomson, 26 Nov 2014
Engineers making quantum devices at the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW: Credit: Australian National Fabrication Facility

UK boffins: We'll have an EMBIGGENED QUANTUM COMPUTER working in 5 YEARS

Oxford boffins have vowed to have the largest quantum computer ever made up and running within five years and help Blighty regain its place at the top of the tech world. The government has announced the creation of four "Quantum Technology Hubs" which will collaborate to build a small device called the Q20:20. Sadly, this won't …
Jasper Hamill, 26 Nov 2014

I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations

Most films take a sombre view of time travel. Beings from the future will look back on our concepts of time travel seen in films as different as the Time Bandits and the Edge of Tomorrow and wonder what the hell we were thinking. The Terminator franchise has pushed timelines further out, postponing Judgement Day until 21 April …
Lucy Orr, 26 Nov 2014

LOHAN sponsor Lucidica explains the benefits of being French

Back in October, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team welcomed our magnificent Kickstarter sponsors to Vulture Central, and among those who rolled up to be frisked by security at the door were representatives of London-based IT support firm Lucidica. The Lucidica team at Vulture Central With fighting livers at …
Lester Haines, 26 Nov 2014
NASA MMS screen grab

NASA preps mission to probe Earth's magnetic mysteries

Video Next March, all going well, NASA will launch a bunch of spacecraft to try and unravel the mechanism of what's called magnetic reconnection, a process by which Earth's magnetic fields connect and disconnect. It's not only a question of fundamental science: during magnetic reconnection, there's an explosive release of energy that' …

Boffins find Jackie Chan's SUPERCOP is good for something

Blu-Ray might not be setting the world afire, but boffins have turned up a surprising upside of the technology that can be applied to solar PV manufacture. It turns out the pit-and-peak pattern that encodes a movie on the disk helps improve light absorption if reproduced on the surface of a solar cell. Published in Nature …
Guinevere gets a clean

Suffering satellites! Goonhilly's ARTHUR REBORN for SPAAAACE

Geek's Guide to Britain Big data? Pah. Arthur is big hardware. He weighs in at 1,118 tonnes, has a diameter of 25.9 metres and is 52 years old. From his home, a high plateau on Cornwall’s remote Lizard peninsula – as far south as you can go on the island of Great Britain without falling off – he has played his part in Space Age history, appropriate …
SA Mathieson, 25 Nov 2014
How TXTing stresses your spine

Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU

Medical boffins have codified two new gadget-derived diseases. The new “Digitillnesses” are known as “text neck” and “telepressure”. The former, as detailed [PDF] by Kenneth Hansraj MD, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, results from the fact that looking down at a smartphone puts your …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Nov 2014

Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins

Vid After using a submersible robot to probe the frozen waters of Antarctica, climate and ecosystem scientists conclude its sea ice "may be thicker than previously thought." Youtube video of the Linux-powered sub in action "Our surveys indicate that the floes are much thicker and more deformed than reported by most drilling and …
Iain Thomson, 25 Nov 2014
X-wing and Y-wing starfighters of the Rebel Alliance approaching the Death Star

Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs

Pics and video SpaceX boss Elon Musk has been showing off steerable wings on his company's Falcon rocket booster – and a floating landing pad to catch the reusable craft out at sea. Musk revealed the tech in a series of tweets over the weekend. He said future builds of the Falcon rocket system would carry stabilizing tabs – dubbed "X-wings" – …
Iain Thomson, 24 Nov 2014
The full Expedition 42 crew aboard the ISS

We come bearing caviar: ISS 'nauts arrive at station in SPAAACE

The latest members of the International Space Station's crew have arrived on board – and they come bearing gifts. The full Expedition 42 crew aboard the ISS The full Expedition 42 crew aboard the ISS. From left: Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Yelena Serova, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, NASA astronauts Butch …

Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray

Wannabe Bond villains who'd been planning a world-domination strategy involving sharks armed with a frikkin' lasers should be aware that Wicked Lasers has announced it's withdrawing its "horrendously dangerous" handheld death rays. Long exposure shot showing laser in street According to a brief email from the company's press …
Lester Haines, 24 Nov 2014
NASA's new Europa photo

NASA revisits Europa with modern image-processing software

NASA has re-issued a famous image of Jovian moon Europa, after subjecting it to “modern image processing techniques” for the first time. The 1.6km-per-pixel, 2300x1700 image is actually a composite of several captured by the Galileo probe during the craft's first and fourteenth orbits through the Jupiter system, in 1995 and 1998 …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2014
Concept pic of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle during re-entry. Credit: ESA

ESA's spaceplane cleared for lift-off in February 2015

Arianespace has put the launch of its IXV spaceplane back on the schedule, announcing a February 2015 date for the flight. The launch was recently postponed, but the organisation now says it's agreed with French space agency CNES that IXV – the Intermedia eXperimental Vehicle – will ascend to space on February 11 2015. The IXV …
Toilet

The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS

This is an article that some readers, particularly those of a fainter-hearted disposition, might want to avoid. It’s about a big movement that some people might find a tad distasteful. For those of a more intrepid nature: we’re going to be looking at something called “microbiome” and the impact this is having in a wide range of …

Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Comment Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation …
Lewis Page, 21 Nov 2014

Glasgow boffins: We can now do it, Captain. We DO have the molecular storage power

If the number of electrons on flash storage is getting too few for reliability then use molecules for bit storage instead, and that's exactly what Glasgow uni boffins have gone and done it. Smarty-pants at the university Schools of Chemistry and Engineering, working with Rovira i Virgili University, Spain, have created clusters …
Chris Mellor, 21 Nov 2014

FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study

Data Journalism* The BMI-fuelled "obesity epidemic" bandwagon continues to rumble along, with the latest ridiculous report claiming that swingbellies are now twice as serious a menace to human prosperity as climate change. No, really. The giant brains of the McKinsey Global Institute have assembled this authoritative graph, which ranks the …
Lewis Page, 21 Nov 2014
By Frank Wouters, licensed under CC 2.0

Hey, it's ... Gecko man, Gecko man, does almost whatever a GECKO can

Vid A graduate student at Stanford has successfully climbed a 3.7-metre glass wall using a pair of super-sticky gloves modeled on the feet of gecko lizards. Youtube Video The kit was developed at the California university with funding from Uncle Sam's boffinry headquarters DARPA. The gloves are covered with 24 little sticky pads – …
Iain Thomson, 21 Nov 2014
View of the LHC tunnel sector 3 to 4

Hunt for Higgs Boson and dark matter now starts ON YOUR SOFA

If you're not too busy this weekend, why not sit down on your sofa and try to find a Higgs Boson or dark matter? The idea's feasible because CERN yesterday released data generated by the the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS). “one of two large general-purpose particle physics detectors” at the Large Hadron Collider. CERN says the CMS …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Nov 2014
Cern

CERN IT boss: What we do is not really that special

When the head of infrastructure services at CERN tells you that he has come to the conclusion that there’s nothing intrinsically “special” about the systems at the multi-billion atom-smasher, you naturally want to check you’ve heard correctly. After all, when we sat down with Tim Bell at the OpenStack Summit in Paris recently, …
Joe Fay, 20 Nov 2014
Our plucky Playmonaut celebrates his riches with a bevy of beauties

NXT: The first SPAAAACE cryptocurrency

It's fair to say that our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission has attracted a broad spectrum of sponsors, and among those who've climbed aboard is NXT, which aims to be the first cryptocurrency into space, or at least the stratosphere. NXT is a Bitcoin rival launched in 2013, "currently positioned at #5 by …
Lester Haines, 20 Nov 2014