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Beardy Branson chucks cash at His Muskiness' Hyperloop idea

Richard Branson, the billionaire behind the Virgin brand, has reportedly invested an undisclosed sum in Elon Musk’s barmy Hyperloop supersonic tube train project, seemingly competing with the billionaire ideas man's own firm. Beardy gets to join the Hyperloop One board, according to the Beeb, and the firm will also add its …
Gareth Corfield, 13 Oct 2017
The Lovell Telescope, credit Mike Peel; Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester

Top of the radio charts: Jodrell Bank goes for UNESCO World Heritage status

Jodrell Bank is going forward for nomination as a World Heritage Site early in 2018. As featured in Geek’s Guide to Britain, Jodrell Bank is home to the Lovell Telescope, the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world, and "probably the only Grade 1 listed structure that’s on wheel," according to the site. Reg man …
Kat Hall, 12 Oct 2017
Intel's 17-qubit quantum chip

Look! Over there! Intel's cooked a 17-qubit chip quantum package

Intel reckons it's stolen a base in the race to build quantum chippery, by shipping a cryogenically-cooled 17-qubit chip to Netherlands-based QuTech. QuTech is Chipzilla's quantum research partner – QuZilla, so to speak. Regular readers of spooky-action-stories will know a qubit is a fragile creature, losing data if there's …
Visualisation of Haumea's rings

Someone liked dwarf planet Haumea so much they put a ring on it

VIDEO Back in January, a Spanish-led group of astroboffins turned telescopes skywards to watch an occultation of dwarf planet Haumea, and got a surprise. With the analysis in, it turns out the space rock that circles the sun beyond Pluto has a ring – the first planet discovered beyond Neptune to sport such cosmic jewellery. The …

They've only gone and made a chemical-threat-detecting ring

Smartwatches and Fitbits might be the cool wearables du jour, but they're hardly able to tell you if you're standing in a cloud of noxious chemicals. However, a team of boffins hopes to some day fill this, er, gap in the market with their hip prototype, the broad goal of which is to help keep you alive. Juliane Sempionatto, …
Andrew Silver, 11 Oct 2017
2012 TC4 - NASA impression

NASA readies its asteroid warning system for harmless flyby

With asteroid 2012 TC4 about to pass between Earth and the moon, NASA is gearing up for its much-anticipated live test of its warning system. Back in July, the approaching rock caused a brief flurry of speculation that an impact was imminent, before the European Space Agency issued a “calm down” statement. With error bars …

Three words: Synthetic gene circuit. Self-assembling bacteria build pressure sensor

Beware, 3D printers. Self-assembling bacteria are coming for your jobs. Specially designed bacteria can organise themselves to make a three-dimensional pressure sensor, new research shows. Scientists are engineering these critters in order to some day help more cheaply and efficiently manufacture materials that can perform …
Andrew Silver, 10 Oct 2017
Fibre, image via Shutterstock

Boffins' bonkers fibre demo: 53 Tbps down ONE piece of glass

If you've always wanted to pump more than 50 Tbps down a data centre fibre, good news: it can be done. The bad news is that right now, it needs a fair whack of boffinry and equipment. Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has laid claim to a four-fold increase over previous fibre transport …

What does the Moon 4bn years ago and Yahoo! towers this week have in common? Both had an awful atmosphere

Our Moon had an atmosphere visible from space almost four billion years ago – thanks to volcanic eruptions on its surface spewing a concoction of gases at a rate faster than they could escape the heavenly body. A NASA study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters this week describes our ancient rocky companion in a …
Katyanna Quach, 07 Oct 2017
Spacewalkers repairing Canadarm2

After seven-hour operation, the ISS has a new 'hand'

NASA commander Randy Bresnik and astronaut Mark Vande Hei have spent seven hours upgrading one of the International Space Station's robot arms. The pair worked to attach a new Latching End Effector – the “hand” at the end of the Canadarm2 – to replace one that wore out. Canadarm2 is any old gripper: as well as performing …

In current affairs news: Teen boffin with lots of potential crafts electric honeycombs out of oil

A teenager studying electrically charged particles has captured the formation of an ill-understood electric honeycomb structure called the Rose window. The Rose window – named after stained-glass designs in Gothic churches – is interesting to physicists, because how electricity moves through fluids is important for printing, …
Katyanna Quach, 06 Oct 2017
ViaSat2

Foiled again! Brit military minds splash cash on killing satellites with... food wrapping?

Blighty's defence boffins are now spending £10m per year on space research, including a satellite mission set for blast-off in 2019. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is spending a total of £50m over the next five years on space "innovation", in particular for two space-related projects. One of these is the …
Gareth Corfield, 05 Oct 2017
The Soyuz capsule descending under its parachute this morning. Pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA tests supersonic parachute, to help us land on Mars

Vid NASA has successfully tested a parachute designed for low-density atmospheres like that found on Mars. The test saw the NASA Wallops facility launch a Black Brant IX rocket, a 58-footer often used for tests and sub-orbital missions, as part of the agency's Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE). …

Biochem boffins win the Nobel Prize for cryo-electron microscopy

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to a trio of researchers that have developed a new technique that captures three dimensional images of biological molecules. Jacques Dubochet, an honorary professor at the Swiss University of Lausanne, Joachim Frank, a professor at New York's Columbia University and Richard …
Katyanna Quach, 05 Oct 2017
Super-villain Dr Evil puts finger to lip in scheming manner, asks for one million dollars. Pic: New Line Cinema

Li-quid hot mag-ma: There's a Martian meteorite in your backyard. How'd it get there?

New research adds extra support for where exactly six meteorites that travelled from Mars to Earth millions of years ago, called "nakhlites", may have originated. It also helps establish what the very unusual volcanic activity on the red planet at the time may have looked like. As the paper states, "Martian plume-fed edifices …
Andrew Silver, 04 Oct 2017
Radio waves reach earth from space

Rosetta probe's final packets massaged into new snap of Comet 67P

The European Space Agency (ESA) has been able to squeeze one last photo out of the Rosetta probe. Rosetta crash-landed onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in September 2016 and the ESA revealed the last image it captured. That snap was thought to have been taken from an altitude of about 50m, but the agency now thinks it was …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Oct 2017

Physicists win Nobel Prize for spotting ripples in fabric of space-time

The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three researchers crucial to the first detection of ripples in the fabric of space-time – gravitational waves. Half the prize went to MIT physicist Rainer Weiss and the other half to California Institute of Technology physicists Barry Barish and Kip Thorne. They're all …
Andrew Silver, 03 Oct 2017
drawing of live cat and cat skeleton

Forget the 'simulated universe', say boffins, no simulator could hit the required scale

That “we live in a simulation" trope being advanced by Elon Musk and some folk on the fringes of science? Fuggeddaboutit, because it's impossible to build a simulator that would reproduce what humans already know about quantum systems. That's the confident conclusion drawn from a paper that revels in the title “Quantized …

Life began after meteorites splashed into warm ponds of water, say astronomers

Life began on Earth only a few hundred million years after the planet’s surface was cool enough for pools of liquid water to form, according to a new study published today. Astronomers from McMaster University, Canada and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Germany have calculated the probability of meteorites carrying …
Katyanna Quach, 03 Oct 2017
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Bad news! Astroboffins find the stuff of life in space for the first time

Scientists have announced today that a stable organohalogen, a class of compounds normally produced by organisms on Earth, has been detected for the first time in space. But discovering the faint traces of the chemical known as Freon-40 or methyl chloride (CH3Cl) or chloromethane in places that predate life has dashed hopes of …
Katyanna Quach, 03 Oct 2017

Nobel Prize for boffins who figured out why you feel like crap after long-haul flights

Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbach and Michael Young have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm". Those who travel the world will recall the uncomfortable feeling of adjusting their internal clocks to a new time zone. These so-called …
Andrew Silver, 02 Oct 2017
asteroid

Geoboffins claim to find oldest trace of life in rocks 4bn years old

Scientists claim to have found the oldest evidence of life on Earth – contained in Canadian rocks 3.95 billion years ago, when our planet had no oxygen and was being pelted by asteroids. A paper published on Thursday in Nature describes grains of graphite found encased in a rock structure called the Saglek Block along the …
Katyanna Quach, 30 Sep 2017
BFR

Musk: Come ride my Big F**king Rocket to Mars

Elon Musk thinks he can get humans onto Mars within the next seven years. On Friday, he told the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, how he intends to do it. Key to Musk's plans is the BFR (aka a Big Fucking Rocket), a 106-metre (348-foot) tall beast slightly shorter than the Saturn V, and 9 …
Iain Thomson, 29 Sep 2017

Hubble spies most distant comet zipping through Solar System

The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a picture of the farthest-away inbound comet, at a whopping 1.5 billion miles from Earth. It's a strange find. The comet – codenamed C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS, or K2 for short – has already become active. It is developing a vast 80,000-mile-wide halo of dust as its surface sublimes, despite …
Katyanna Quach, 29 Sep 2017
Black hole - spaghetti visualisation. Artist's impression.  NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Ancient fat black holes created by belching Big Bang's dark matter

The largest and oldest supermassive black holes were created from a giant clump of dark matter and gas after the Big Bang, according to a supercomputer simulation. Supermassive black holes have long been a mystery to the world's eggheads. It’s a puzzle how the gigantic voids over 13 billion light years away – and date back to …
Katyanna Quach, 29 Sep 2017
Mars city

Dome, sweet dome: UAE mulls Martian city here on Earth ahead of Red Planet colonization

Three years ago the United Arab Emirates announced plans to stage a manned mission to Mars. Now the kingdom plans to build a massive Mars colony in the desert to test out the technologies they will use to live there. The Mars Science City will be a series of domes with 1.9 million square feet of living space encompassing …
Iain Thomson, 28 Sep 2017
Black holes come together to produce gravitational waves in a visualisation

Did the Earth move for you, too? Grav waves sensed from black holes' bang 1.8bn LYs away

Scientists have recorded the most accurate reading of gravitational waves yet by using the upgraded LIGO and Virgo observatories together for the first time. The ripples were detected on August 14 at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington state in the US, and the Virgo …
Katyanna Quach, 28 Sep 2017
Moon

NASA, Roscosmos: We're building a lunar space station!

Crewed deep space exploration is back on the agenda, after NASA and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos announced they will co-operate on efforts to create a cislunar space station. The joint statement between the two agencies was signed yesterday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. The two …

Boeing slams $2m on the desk, bellows: Now where's my jetpack?

Boeing and its pals today offered a whopping $2m (£1.49m) in prizes to anyone who can design and build a working “personal flying device." The GoFly competition aims to spur on the development of safe, quiet, ultra-compact jetpacks that can hover, take off and land, and fly for at least 20 miles. "Now is the time,” as the …
Katyanna Quach, 26 Sep 2017

Japanese boffins try 'token passing' to scale quantum calculations

Apart from actually performing computations, one of the most difficult quantum computing challenges is getting qubits to scale. A Japanese team has published what it believes is a solution to the problem of scale. Quantum gates are complex creatures with many more components than their classical equivalents, so instead of …
JET interior photo UKAEA

Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham

Geek's Guide to Britain I’m in a room that, in normal circumstances, is not fit for human habitation. It features a number of big red buttons surrounded by illuminated yellow rings – just in case. “Push button to switch off Jet. Press only in case of extreme emergency,” the signs read, informatively. This is the Torus Hall, a 40,000m3 space the size …
SA Mathieson, 25 Sep 2017

Don't panic, but.. ALIEN galaxies are slamming Earth with ultra-high-energy cosmic rays

The most energetic cosmic rays bombarding Earth originate from outside our Milky Way Galaxy, according to research published just before the weekend. More than 400 scientists from 18 countries working under the Pierre Auger Collaboration wanted to solve the mystery of where these special rays – containing extremely rare and …
Katyanna Quach, 25 Sep 2017

Hurricane Maria leaves Arecibo radio telescope damaged and dark

In the midst of the humanitarian disaster unfolding after Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria, astronomers working at the Arecibo radio telescope have reported damage that will leave it unable to operate for months. Work done at Arecibo is the source of dozens of Reg stories, but there's been little news of late as the …
Sputnik, image via Shutterstock

Sputnik-1 replica used to test the real thing goes under the hammer

A replica of Sputnik-1 used to test the real thing's performance goes to auction this week. Auction house Bonhams has listed the proto-satellite for sale at its Air and Space Sale this coming Wednesday. Expected to fetch between US$100,000 and $150,000, the replica is billed as a “test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, one of …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Sep 2017
his low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin." The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took multiple images on Aug. 5, 2015, that were stitched together into this selfie. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA, wait, wait lemme put my drink down... NASA, you need to be searching for vanadium

Scientists hoping to discover evidence of life on Mars should search for vanadium, a metallic element, according to a paper published in Astrobiology this month. Vanadium is a silvery, malleable transition metal with an atomic number of 23 in the periodic table. It’s rarely found in nature, but on Earth it is known to occur in …
Katyanna Quach, 22 Sep 2017

Ducks ding dongs in face of stiff competition

Waterfowl situation... Some alpha ducks bully smaller ducks so much when competing for mates that the beta birds' undercarriages barely take off, so to speak, a new study has found. Ducks are pretty unusual, in that some species temporarily grow their penises for the mating season, and penis shape and size is already diverse …
Rebecca Hill, 21 Sep 2017

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