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Boffins: Searching for ALIENS is like looking for PIZZA among students

Boffins have warned that humanity may have missed out on finding aliens because we are looking for the wrong signs. A researcher at the University of St Andrews said we could draw closer to “a profound moment for humanity”, if only we followed his rules on how to find life out in deepest space. He warned that the presence of a …
Jasper Hamill, 15 Sep 2014
SLAC's battery charging test rig

Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around

US boffins are overturning the understanding of how Li-ion batteries charge, by watching the behaviour of individual molecules as they absorb charges. It's long been assumed that a battery charges fairly uniformly – in other words, that electrons are distributed evenly across the charge-carrying material as the battery charges. …
The Antikythera Mechanism

Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces

Archaeologists have set out on another expedition to the Antikythera wreck site, with the aim of finding the missing pieces of the site's famous “ancient computer”. The Antikythera Mechanism is a device which has fascinated the world ever since its discovery in 1901, since it seemed to embody technology far beyond the roughly 60 …
Jaws on Blu-ray disc

Stricter shark and manta ray trade rules enforced from today

Vid Manta ray species and five types of shark now have greater protection from international trade, following new measures that were adopted last year. From today, anyone without an adequate permit will be banned from selling meat or fins taken from oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead shark ( …
Kelly Fiveash, 14 Sep 2014
Illustration of an atom

The sound of silence: One excited atom is so quiet that the human ear cannot detect it

Boffins believe they have successfully demonstrated the sound a single atom makes when excited - even though it is completely inaudible to the human ear. The researchers at the University of Columbia and Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology "captured" the very soft sound, according to a paper published in Science journal …
Team Register, 13 Sep 2014
Using a giant machine gun for propulsion

Let XKCD's Randall Munroe satisfy your curiosity in this excerpt from his book, What If

Read an extract of the book that's hit the top of the New York Times and the Sunday Times bestseller lists this weekend - What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by XKCD's Randall Munroe. The science-inspiring missive was reviewed by El Reg here, now read Munroe's answer to the question of how much …
STEREO image of the Sun. Pic: NASA

Sleepy spotless summer Sun's shock solar storm surge stuns scientists

Vid The massive solar storm bathing Earth in radiation this week was a significant event not for its strength, but for its timing, say astronomers. On Wednesday, scientists detected a couple of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which have been showering our planet, and will continue to do so over the next two days. As the peak of the …
Shaun Nichols, 12 Sep 2014
Our LOHAN mission patch design

Who wants to be there as history is made at the launch of our LOHAN space project?

As our Kickstarter campaign to get the Vulture 2 spaceplane off the ground at Spaceport America rattles along nicely, we're offering our final reward today: the chance for two people to meet the team in New Mexico, spend a few days and attend the historic launch. The way it works is this: you get yourself to the airport in El …
Lester Haines, 12 Sep 2014

It's official: LOHAN's arboreal avoidance algorithm is PANTS

It's official: Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) arboreal avoidance algorithm will henceforth be known as PANTS (Pixhawk Avoidance of Nearby Tree System). A round of applause and some mission stickers for Sir Sham Cad, who topped our poll to determine a suitable acronym for the sensational APM parameter …
Lester Haines, 12 Sep 2014
Spinosaurus aegyptiacus

DUCKCROCZILLA 'alien' dinosaur could emerge from THE SEA

Pic Paleontologists have published the first pictures of a gigantic half-crocodile, half-duck dinosaur that evolved to swim – and was bigger than the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex. Spinosaurus aegyptiacus Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ... "Working on this animal was like studying an alien from outer space …
Iain Thomson, 11 Sep 2014
Curiosity self-portrait at Rocknest in the Gale Crater

NASA on Curiosity bot: Mission accomplished (for now at least)

Pics NASA and JPL scientists have declared the first stage of Curiosity's ongoing mission to explore strange new places on Mars a success, after the laser-equipped space tank reached the foothills of Mount Sharp. The road ahead for Curiosity The winding road ahead for Curiosity (click to enlarge) "Curiosity now will begin a …
Iain Thomson, 11 Sep 2014

LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig

Our Kickstarter campaign to take the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission to Spaceport America in New Mexico is going tin-rattlingly well, but we still need a final drive to reach the target before we can start packing our bags. We've got plenty of goodies on offer as rewards for backers, and as an extra incentive …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2014
Solar flare

Sun's MASSIVE solar storm belch to light up Earth's skies

Video A "significant" solar flare emitted by the Sun on Wednesday will hit our planet over the next few days – most likely causing auroras to appear over certain areas. As a result of an X1.6 solar flare intercepting Earth, a dazzling overhead light display could reach as far south as Maryland in the east of the US and down to Kansas …
Chris Williams, 11 Sep 2014

LOHAN enjoys some hot hardware-in-the-loop action

Take one spaceplane autopilot, a German brain surgeon, and throw a virtual Vulture 2 courtesy of a Tennessee X-Plane ace into the mix, and you've got the perfect recipe for some hot Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) action. Screen grab of the first Vulture 2 HIL simulation While we at SPB …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2014
Stanford U's ant-sized radio

Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor

Electronics boffins at Stanford University are putting their mark on the Internet of Things by way of a tiny radio-plus-computer that uses scavenged radio signals for its power. Instead of shrinking discrete components and patching them together, the Stanford team set out to create a single silicon component that integrates …
Rosetta selfie

'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet

Pic The European Space Agency has maneuvered its Rosetta probe into the perfect position for a selfie with its target – comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta selfie "Breaker one-nine, this here's the Rubber Duck" (click to enlarge) The image was taken on September 7 using cameras on Rosetta's Philae lander that will …
Iain Thomson, 10 Sep 2014

City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub

Boffins have discovered the remains of a hidden city two miles from Stonehenge, after creating digital maps of the ancient site to an unprecedented level of detail. The researchers found 17 previously undiscovered religious monuments, as well as a huge burial mound, dozens of smaller ones and the remains of a timber building …
Jasper Hamill, 10 Sep 2014
Bull trout. Credit: Joel Sartore/ National Geographic & Wade Fredenberg/ USFWS

TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans

Boffins have observed a worrying alliance between trout and eels, which have joined forces to launch a sea-had (jihad, geddit?) against other ocean-dwelling species. Cooperation is as rare in the animal kingdom as it is in the United one, so fish-folk at the University of Cambridge were astonished to see two different underwater …
Jasper Hamill, 10 Sep 2014
Rukwatitan bisepultus

Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS

Pic Paleontologists at Ohio Uni have unearthed the partial skeleton of an entirely new species of titanosaur – the massive herbivores that were the largest animals ever to walk on the planet which is nowadays ours. Rukwatitan bisepultus "Looks like Derek ate a bad shrub. You OK, mate?" The new specimen, Rukwatitan bisepultus, was …
Iain Thomson, 9 Sep 2014
Stephen Hawking, weightless and happy

Hawking: Higgs boson in a BIG particle punisher could DESTROY UNIVERSE

Once upon a time, Stephen Hawking was so sure the Higgs Boson was a fantasy that he bet $100* against its discovery. But now the British boffin has dramatically changed his mind, warning that the so-called god particle could go rogue and destroy the entire universe. Clearly annoyed that Peter Higgs, who predicted the existence …
Jasper Hamill, 9 Sep 2014
Nicaraguan meteorite investigated by soldier

NASA said a 60ft space alien menacing Earth wouldn't harm us: Tell THAT to Nicaragua

Pics The Nicaraguan government reckons a meteorite that created a huge hole in the ground just outside its capital's main airport may have been part of the 2014 RC asteroid that skimmed past Earth at the weekend. Some NASA experts aren't so sure, however. In fact, they've practically ruled it out. Nicaraguan meteorite Nicaraguan …
Iain Thomson, 8 Sep 2014
3D Robotics drone in Richard Branson's house

Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway

Youtube Video Richard Branson has invested in 3D Robotics and set the firm’s drones loose over his tropical island Necker. The hirsute entrepreneur was captured by the drones playing tennis and kitesurfing, while the wee machines also captured “drone’s eye views” of the island. “It’s amazing to see what a little flying object …

LOHAN premieres spaceplane mission summary vid

Video summary of the entire LOHAN mission. In response to calls for a Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) summary video in support of our ongoing Kickstarter tin-rattling to launch the Vulture 2 spaceplane in New Mexico, we've put together a bare-bones overview of just how our audacious ballocket mission will work when …
Lester Haines, 8 Sep 2014
ASKAP from the air

Square Kilometre Array reveals its 1.6TB-a-day storage and network rigs

Australia's first pass at the Square Kilometre Array – the Boolardy Engineering Test Array – is about to get commissioned into a fully-live system. The test array, known naturally enough as BETA, is part of the science-before-the-science: a proving ground for some of the new technologies being used for the SKA project, in …
Curiosity self-portrait at Rocknest in the Gale Crater

Is there life on Mars? Cloud-gazing Curiosity accused of lacking scientific focus

Mars rover Curiosity recently tweeted having its head in the clouds, which just so happens to serve as a good metaphor for a mission that an independent committee of experts say lacks scientific focus. A Planetary Mission Senior panel reviewed Curiosity's work to date on behalf of US space agency NASA. The rover's escapades on …
Team Register, 7 Sep 2014

California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins

Scientists say the California blue whale population has rebounded to near historical levels, chalking up a win for conservation. The big bellowing beasts of the ocean, which weigh in as adults at 190 tons and measure nearly 100 feet long, have done a decent job of recovering from whaling, according to a scientific study …
Kelly Fiveash, 7 Sep 2014
"Armageddon" image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Touchstone Pictures

Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds

A 60-foot-wide asteroid only discovered last week will have a close encounter with the Earth on Sunday, sliding past our planet a scant 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) from the surface. The asteroid, dubbed 2014 RC, was only discovered on August 31 by the US Catalina Sky Survey. It was confirmed by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on …
Iain Thomson, 6 Sep 2014
Photo of an espresso

Boffins hunch over steaming cups of coffee to find HIDDEN SECRETS of caffeine

A crack team of international researchers have revealed the freshly sequenced genome of the coffee plant and, as a result, unearthed interesting findings about the kick ass chemical caffeine. Scientists found that coffee developed caffeine-linked genes independently of any common ancestor, such as chocolate and tea. The boffins …
Kelly Fiveash, 6 Sep 2014
Planet Labs' Doves in their coop

Look out, world! Space Station satellite cannon has A MIND OF ITS OWN

Vid A satellite launcher deployed on the International Space Station has surprised astronauts by firing off its payload without human intervention. The CubeSat Deployer, manufactured by Texas firm NanoRacks, is designed to emit its miniature satellites on a strict schedule – but the spacemen noticed that the cannon appeared to be …
Iain Thomson, 5 Sep 2014

Vote NOW for LOHAN's arboreal avoidance algorithm acronym

Poll As we recently reported, Vulture 2 brain surgeons Linus Penzlien and Andrew Tridgell are working on an advanced autopilot arboreal avoidance algorithm to combat the menace of magnetic trees, which prove strangely irresistible to balloon payloads and aircraft. This being LOHAN, tradition dictates that we christen the incredible …
Lester Haines, 5 Sep 2014
Intel_helmet

Finally, a USEFUL smart device: Intel boffins cook up gyro-magneto-'puter bike helmet

Five Intel interns from Oregon State University have devised an Atom-powered bike helmet that calls home if the rider crashes. The smart helmet protects the bike rider, plays music and receives calls from a smartphone if there is a crash. A silent, unresponsive cyclist? An emergency number gets automatically called to get help …
Chris Mellor, 5 Sep 2014

Beer in SPAAAACE: Photographic PROOF

We're delighted to report that rocket boffin Chris Smith has finally delivered photographic evidence of beer in space, a couple of months after he first dispatched a pint of London Pride to the stratosphere. A frozen pint of London Pride in the stratosphere Chris, of European Astrotech, launched his first flight in July from …
Lester Haines, 5 Sep 2014
Qantas A380 tail

Data entry REAR-END SNAFU: Weighty ballsup leads to plane take-off flap

We're all accustomed to tales of woe that children are becoming too fat, but how about too-light kiddies spoiling the balance of an aircraft? An error at Australia's Canberra airport left a 168-seat Boeing 737 struggling to take off because a group of 87 schoolchildren was entered into the check-in system as adults. As noted in …
Dreadnoughtus schrani

DREADNOUGHTUS: The 65-TON DINO that could crumple up a T-Rex like a paper cup

Paleontologists report that they have discovered the remains of a new type of dinosaur - dubbed Dreadnoughtus schrani - that tipped the scales at 65 tons, was 85 feet long ... and was still growing fast when it died. Dreadnoughtus schrani Dreadnoughtus schrani - our weightiest dinosaur to date Kenneth Lacovara, associate …
Iain Thomson, 4 Sep 2014
Our place in the Laniakea supercluster

You are here => Earth is in 'the suburbs' of an IMMENSE HEAVEN

Astronomers have finally figured out just where the heck in the Universe we are – and it turns out to be the suburbs of a galactic supercluster now known as Laniakea. Galaxies don’t tend to be scattered throughout the Universe willy-nilly; they tend to bunch up into clusters, groups and superclusters. Our Local Group contains …
Lycurgus_Cup

4th Century GOBLET could REVIVE CORPSE of holographic storage

Cambridge boffins have discovered that thin films of silver nanoparticles can increase optical storage density and create multi-coloured holograms. The effect was first noted way back in fourth century Roman times (circa 290-325 AD) with the crafting of the Lycurgus Cup, an engraved glass goblet that has a green tint when lit …
Chris Mellor, 4 Sep 2014
Kati with the box on the scales

Crack team weighs LOHAN's substantial box

While our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project moves rapidly forwards on multiple fronts, it's worth noting that behind the scenes, there's plenty of grunt work going on that doesn't involve the excitement of strapping spaceplanes to van roofs, rescuing stranded Playmonauts or shaking Middle England. For example, …
Lester Haines, 4 Sep 2014
Nimbus and Modis Images 50 years apart

NASA finds ancient films that extend Arctic ice record by 15 years

An ancient and now public trove of imagery from one of the world's earliest Earth-sensing satellites, one of the American Nimbus spacecraft fleet, has been recovered and celebrated for the fact it extends climate records by 15 years. This feat of data archaeology means that scientists now have access to 250,000 images from the …
Our Vulture 2's dismantled avioncs

Our Vulture 2 rocket spaceplane crammed with MORE POWER

Our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane is in bits for the last time as we make the final modifications before declaring the aircraft fully operational - at least in the hardware department. Our Vulture 2's dismantled avioncs During a recent test, we identified a couple of problems - a dodgy port canard servo and a a lack of …
Lester Haines, 3 Sep 2014
Made in Space 3D printer

NASA clears zero-G 3D printer for mission to SPAAAAACE

A special 3D printer designed to work in zero-gravity conditions has received flight certification from NASA and will shortly be sent up to the International Space Station for astronauts to try out. The space stations forthcoming 3D printer Astronauts will soon be able to build their own plastic gewgaws The snappily named 3-D …
Iain Thomson, 3 Sep 2014

Cave scrawls prove Neanderthals were AT LEAST as talented as modern artists

A primitive and apparently meaningless marking ground into a rock by a Neanderthal using a crude implement more than 39,000 years ago would appear to support the idea that the pre-human ape-men possessed artistic faculties at least as sophisticated as those of the "young British artists" movement of the '90s. Dahling, such …
Lewis Page, 2 Sep 2014

Flurry of solar flare-ups sets off COSMIC PLASMA EXPLOSION

Vid Footage of solar flares taken by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory. The Sun had a flurry of flare activity at the end of August, releasing over half a dozen solar flares in a day, some of which were accompanied by coronal mass ejections. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spotted the activity in images captured at extreme …