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Rocket Lab's Peter Beck with a model of Rutherford

Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

A new outfit launched in Auckland, New Zealand, believes that by next year it'll be ready to sling satellites spacewards for as little as $5m. The only hitch is its need to recruit a few rocket scientists – ah, about 30 – who are prepared to relocate to New Zealand. Rocket Lab has just kicked off an American presence to help the …
borg_cube

Resistance is not futile: Here's a cookie sheet of luke-warm RRAM that proves it

Boffins devising Resistive RAM (RRAM) have found that using porous silicon oxide makes the devices easier to manufacture, longer lasting and less power hungry. The researchers, at Rice University, Texas, stumbled upon silicon oxide RRAM five years ago. The stuff works as computer storage by having differing resistance levels …
Chris Mellor, 29 Jul 2014
opportunity selfie

NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark

The plucky Opportunity rover-droid, whose wheels first touched the red Martian dirt back in 2004, has trundled past the 25 mile mark for the first time and in so doing claimed humanity's off-world long distance driving record. NASA records that Opportunity went for a 48 metre trundle on July 27th and in so doing saw its odometer …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jul 2014
Candle in the dark

Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency

Video A fire on the International Space Station (ISS) – intentional of course – has provided hints at the kinds of research needed to make engines on Earth cleaner and more fuel efficient. Surprisingly, the experiments turned up flames burning at lower temperatures than thought possible. In the research, astronauts set fire to large …

LOHAN's stirring motto: Ad Astra Tabernamque

It's official: The stirring motto for our audacious Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) ballocket mission is Ad Astra Tabernamque. The public vote came down firmly in favour of us heading both to the stars and the pub, and we're not going to argue with that. Per Cervisiam Ad Astra ("Through Beer To The Stars") and …
Lester Haines, 28 Jul 2014
By Frank Wouters, licensed under CC 2.0

Russia: There is a SPACECRAFT full of LIZARDS in orbit above Earth and WE control it

It's all systems gecko up in space, after the Russians finally regained control of a spacecraft packed full of horny lizards. The world's eyes anxiously turned towards Russia last Friday as it was revealed its space scientists had lost control of the satellite Foton-M4, which was on a mission to shoot the world's first zero- …
Jasper Hamill, 28 Jul 2014
Siats eating an iguanodontian and intimidating early, small-bodied tyrannosauroids.

Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins

The dinosaurs would have survived the asteroid that smashed into Earth and wiped them all out had it not been for the rather poor – from their point of view – timing with which it arrived. The demise of these scaly – or indeed, even feathery – overlords may not have happened if the space rock hit a few million years later or …
Jasper Hamill, 28 Jul 2014
Boeing 787 battery fire

BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff

Battery capacity remains a big issue in devices ranging from phones to electric vehicles – and one of the biggest constraints is the materials used to make electrodes. A paper published at Nature Nanotechnology (abstract here), offers a promising lead for improvements as boffins say they've hit on a way to replace today's anode …
CSIRO Parkes radio telescope

Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is warning that two iconic Australian astronomy facilities – the Parkes radio-telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array at Narrabri, are at risk of closure after the federal government pulled $AU114 million from the agency's funding. The …

Google to feed machines with evidence of human physical weaknesses – and that's a good thing

Google's X laboratory is working with a team of biologists and geneticists to analyze human frailties using the web giant's computing might. The project, called the Baseline Study, is recruiting 175 volunteers to contribute tissue samples, blood, sweat, tears, and urine for processing. The test results will then be fed into …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014
Kulindradromeus zabaikalicus, a plant-eating feathered dinosaur

Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends

Pic Boffins now reckon it's possible any or all dinosaurs sported feathers, after finding the first ever example of a dino with feathers and scales. Kulindradromeus zabaikalicus, a plant-eating feathered dinosaur Kulindradromeus zabaikalicus, a plant-eating feathered dinosaur Before now, only flesh-eating mighty lizards were …
A proposed LOHAN mission patch

Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto

Poll It's been a blast, but after some serious linguistic tomfoolery, the time has come to decide on a stirring motto to adorn our proposed Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission patch. A proposed LOHAN mission patch Thanks to everyone who contributed, and you can see how our beloved readers gave Latin a right shoeing …
Lester Haines, 25 Jul 2014
Starship Enterprise

Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket

The US Government Accounting Office (GAO) has told NASA it has a massive funding shortfall for its ambitious Space Launch System (SLS) rocket if the spacecraft has any chance of blasting off on schedule. "The agency’s current funding plan for SLS may be $US400 million short of what the program needs to launch by 2017," the …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014
Enormous coprolite

METRE-LONG DINOSAUR POO going under the hammer

A colossal dinosaur poo is about to go to under the hammer. Auction house I.M. Chait has listed what it describes as an “Enormous and rare coprolite” said to measure 40 inches - 101.6cm - from end to end. The object is believed to have been the result of a meal consumed during the Miocene-Oligocene epoch, some 23 million years …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Jul 2014
Elephant

SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans

Few people can fail to notice that an elephant's appendage is way bigger than a dog's, but it may come as more surprise that it can use it better too. Boffins have named elephants as the top sniffers in the animal kingdom, possessing twice as many functional olfactory receptors (ORs) genes as hounds. ORs help organisms detect …
Jasper Hamill, 24 Jul 2014
The Sunswift solar car

World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record

The University of New South Wales' Sunswift, the third-placed car in the Cruiser class of the 2013 World Solar Challenge, claims to have set a new record for the swiftest single-charge traversal of a 500km course. The record attempt took place on Wednesday at the Automotive Research Centre's 4.2km track. Sunswift travelled 500km …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Jul 2014

Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol

The human spine is poorly-designed for the rigours of modern life, but so are the drugs most commonly prescribed to help you endure a bad back. That's the conclusion of a new study looking into whether paracetamol, the drug most often suggested to treat bad backs, actually helps. Reported in The Lancet, the study funded by the …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Jul 2014
A proposed LOHAN mission patch

Reg Latin scholars scrap over LOHAN's stirring motto

It's fair to say that the quest for a stirring motto for our proposed Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission patch is proving to be the most fun we've had in a long while. A proposed LOHAN mission patch So great was the response to our call for suggestions that we're buried under a magnus congestus of Latin, a …
Lester Haines, 23 Jul 2014
Neal's Yard introduces its 'Green Scientists'

Climate: 'An excuse for tax hikes', scientists 'don't know what they're talking about'

People all around the world, responding to a survey by Ipsos MORI, have generally agreed with the ideas that scientists don't really know what they're talking about when it comes to the climate – and that governments are using environmental issues as an excuse to raise taxes. These not-so-green views were transmitted as part of …
Lewis Page, 23 Jul 2014
Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Turing biopic with Cumberbatch, Knightley to premiere at London Film Festival

Vid Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the legendary codebreaker and computer boffin, will open the prestigious London Film Festival in early October. Official Imitation Game trailer on YouTube. The British Film Institute announced that The Imitation Game, a dramatisation of Turing’s life, will …
Professor Eryk Dutkiewicz, Macquarie University

All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on

The 5G arms race has commenced, but beneath the duelling “my 5G is faster than your 5G” demos, there's serious work going on – and whatever the future of 5G, that work will change the future of mobility one way or the other. With that in mind, The Register spoke to Professor Eryk Dutkiewicz of Macquarie University. In May, …
Transformer Pulsar J1023

Second galactic flip-flop pulsar surprises boffins

Video “Where did it go?” is the kind of question astrophysicists love to answer, and work by NASA's Fermi gamma-ray space telescope has helped find out what happened to a radio pulsar that seemed to go dark in 2013. The mystery arose in June 2013: a pulsar's radio beacon vanished to be replaced by a huge increase in its gamma ray …

Ever wanted to be a Playmonaut? El Reg's Vulture 2 spaceplane sim reveals what it's like

Last month, we put out call for an X-Plane Plane-Maker bod to enter into a simulating relationship with our Vulture 2 spaceplane team. Straight out of the blocks was Billy Bargagliotti of Memphis, Tennessee, who enthusiastically emailed he'd be delighted to get involved with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) …
Lester Haines, 23 Jul 2014

Kickstarter tin-rattlers offer reboot of '80s Integrated Space Plan megagraphic

Those readers with a large blank wall space and a penchant for enormous flow charts outlining mankind's future beyond the surly bonds of Earth should nip down to Kickstarter where for a mere $25 you can secure yourself an updated Integrated Space Plan (ISP). The original ISP was an impressive piece of work made back in the …
Lester Haines, 22 Jul 2014
A bat swing captured by MAP

Boffins fill a dome with 480 cameras for 3D motion capture

Video Move over Gollum: Carnegie-Mellon boffins are working on 3D motion capture that works without tracking sensors, and can pull together images from hundreds of sensors. Their work, documented in full here, goes way beyond the motion capture tricks that let Peter Jackson give Gollum and King Kong to the world: they put their …
2001: A Space Odyssey

Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab

The US government is taking artificial intelligence research seriously again, and so are some companies that will surprise you. IARPA – an agency whose job is to develop and furnish the US spy community with advanced technology – has gathered companies and academics to discuss modern machine intelligence at a one-day conference …
Jack Clark, 21 Jul 2014
Our happy travellers surrounded by armed police at LAX

New BOMB detect-o-tech 'could give sniffer dogs competition': TRUE

Researchers working on a new type of bomb detector technology have made the rather underwhelming boast that their kit "could soon give bomb-sniffing dogs some serious competition". “Bomb-sniffing dogs are expensive to train, and they can become tired,” said study co-lead author Ren-Min Ma, one of the boffins who came up with the …
Lewis Page, 21 Jul 2014
Artist’s impression of deep blue planet HD 189733b

MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets

Everyone knows that exoplanets need to be in the sweet Goldilocks spot (“not too hot, not too cold, just right”) next to their sun to support alien life: but now British boffins have said they reckon oceans might be necessary too. Artist’s impression of deep blue planet HD 189733b Researchers at the University of East Anglia …
WASP-12b getting devoured by its sun

The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots

The Sun seems to have given itself a few days off. As noted by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, with reference to data from the Royal Observatory of Belgium's Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations (SILSO) project, last Thursday July 17th saw the Sun produce no sunspots. That's the first sunspot-free day since 2011. And …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jul 2014

Cave pits, ideal for human bases, FOUND ON MOON

Moon-gazing boffins have found many steep-sided, shaft-like pits which might have caves or overhangs that would be ideal locations for lunar bases of the future. Using images beamed back from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists identified more than 200 holes with steep sides. Most of the pits were found in …
Jasper Hamill, 21 Jul 2014
Apollo 11 astronaut patch

Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON

45 years ago today - that is, July 20th - the human race left its first bootprint on a body other than the Earth we'd been treading for the last few million years, as Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle lunar module's ladder and onto the dusty regolith of the Moon. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind …
Iain Thomson, 20 Jul 2014
MIT robot fingers

Fear a terrifying killer robot revolution? GET A GRIP: Boffins invent cyborg hand for humans

Photo A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a powered glove equipped with two robotic fingers that is designed to augment the puny flesh and bone accouterments that adorn our human hands. MIT robot fingers Who wants five fingers when you can have seven? Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT The glove has sensors to …
Iain Thomson, 19 Jul 2014
Photo of HIV/AIDS researcher Dr Joep Lange, who was killed in the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists

Several passengers aboard downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 were headed to the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia when the plane crashed, according to reports. On Friday, the International AIDS Society confirmed in a statement [PDF] that "a number of colleagues and friends" were aboard …
Neil McAllister, 18 Jul 2014

MYSTERIOUS Siberia CRATER: ALIENS or METEOR not involved, officials insist

A huge, enigmatic crater which has suddenly appeared in a remote region of Siberia was definitely not caused by an unidentified object falling from space, the Russian authorities insist. The mysterious crater seen from a passing helicopter. Credit: Konstantin Nikolaev "We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite. No …
Lewis Page, 18 Jul 2014
A proposed LOHAN mission patch

That stirring LOHAN motto: Anyone know a native Latin speaker?

We asked for it, and we got: in spades. In response to our call for a stirring motto for the proposed Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) embroidered mission patch, we were buried under suggestions from all corners of Regosphere diaspora. A proposed LOHAN mission patch Indeed, so great was the response that it's …
Lester Haines, 18 Jul 2014
Rosetta comet picture - wide angle

Spinning SPACE DUCK is comet-chasing Rosetta probe's PREY

New images captured by the Rosetta comet-chaser reveal that its target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, may be a “contact binary” – a class of object with two distinct and different segments. The European Space Agency (ESA) has been kind enough to provide an animated GIF of the comet to show off the two distinct parts of the …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jul 2014
ATLAS experiment "candidate event"

CERN data explains how Higgs heavies other matter

Ever since the putative discovery of the Higgs boson in 2011, one of the next-big-thing searches in physics has been to confirm the mechanism by which the exotic particle imparts mass to other particles. Now, a team led by boffins from Brookhaven National Laboratory think they've contrived just such a test. In work conducted at …

German brain surgeon flies in for vital LOHAN operation

We invite fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission to raise a foaming stein or two today to Linus Penzlien - the man who has recklessly volunteered to perform brain surgery on our Vulture 2 spaceplane's Pixhawk autopilot. Linus poses with a quadchopper Linus, 34, will fly from his native Hamburg to the …
Lester Haines, 17 Jul 2014
Artist's concept of Curiosity

ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial

Picture NASA's Curiosity rover has stumbled across a massive iron meteorite half buried in the sands of Mars – an object the US space agency has dubbed Lebanon. The Lebanon meteorite found by Curiosity The Lebanon meteorite found by Curiosity The two-metre-wide rock was discovered by the Martian robot on May 25. It was photographed …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jul 2014

Huge FOUR-winged dino SPREAD LEGS to KILL – scientists

Flabbers around the world were gasted this week, as news emerged of a previously unknown flying dinosaur equipped with feathered legs – giving it the ability to make precision landings or attacks on its prey. Feathery death from above The 125-million-year-old dinosaur is of the Microraptor group and is named Changyuraptor …
Lewis Page, 16 Jul 2014

Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT

Elon Musk has taken another step in his transformation into James Bond supervillain, with the FAA granting SpaceX approval to start building its own spaceport in Texas. The FAA has issued a “Record of Decision” (PDF here) stating its support for the issuing of licenses to SpaceX. The facility, to be built near Brownsville, …
Illustration of Barak Dayan's photonic router

New photonic router works by flipping reflective atom's lid

Quantum boffins from Israel's Weizmann Institute have demonstrated a two-input/two-output router that works entirely with single photons – no electronics required. It's not the first time a photonic router has been demonstrated, but what's different about the Israeli work is that everything is photonic: the device has two …