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capsule

Amazon supremo Bezos' Blue Origin blows its top over Texas desert

Vid + pic The fifth flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket saw a successful blast-off for the crew capsule, as the company simulated an emergency escape for future crews. That is one hell of a booster. #InFlightEscape #GradatimFerociter https://t.co/7ZRRe2HnMO — Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 5, 2016 The rocket rose up over the …
Iain Thomson, 5 Oct 2016
Chilling the Delft silicon qubit

Intel-backed boffins demo long-lived silicon qubit

Bit by bit, the world gets closer to creating the quantum equivalent of a storage gate – a silicon-based qubit that can last long enough for general-purpose computing. If you want to use the superposition – the quantum property in which a gate can exist as 0 and 1 at the same time – for computation, it needs a usable “ …

After baffling Falcon 9 rocket explosion, SpaceX screams: Hands off our probe!

The quest to discover exactly why a SpaceX rocket exploded on the pad last month is getting complicated – with politicians fighting over who will control the investigation. On Thursday, a group of ten Republican congresscritters sent a letter [PDF] to NASA administrator Charles Boden, Federal Aviation Administration boss …
Iain Thomson, 4 Oct 2016

British trio win Nobel prize for physics

A trio of British scientists working in US universities have been awarded this year's Nobel prize for physics. The prize will be shared by David Thouless (82), Duncan Haldane (65) and Michael Kosterlitz (76) for their work on exotic states of matter. The men will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (£720,000) prize. Thouless …
Kat Hall, 4 Oct 2016
Rosetta snap of Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Pic: ESA

Swansong for Rosetta as it lands on the duck-shaped comet

It has been an epic journey, much more than 12 years in the making, but Rosetta has gone out in a blaze of glory. The final commands were uploaded to the spacecraft mid-morning on September 29 – and now there is no going back. Rosetta was programmed to touch down on comet 67P some time in the late morning of September 30. It …
Monica Grady, 4 Oct 2016
Sniper

SpaceX searches for its 'grassy knoll' of possible Falcon rocket sabotage

In its search for the reason behind last month's explosion that destroyed its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX has vowed to leave no stone unturned. Now one of its staffers may be taking things a little too far. The doomed Falcon 9 suffered a catastrophic failure while being fueled for a static firing test. It is believed a failure in …
Iain Thomson, 4 Oct 2016
Impact chip on the ISS

Simulation shows how space junk spreads after a satellite breaks up

Vid Whether it's a satellite breaking up or the detritus of a launch, the whole space community agrees that space junk is a huge problem. After all, even a fleck of paint can make a noticeable dent in the International Space Station's windows. Tracking space debris is a lot easier if you know where to look, so US Naval Research …
Milky Way photo via Shutterstock

SETI's mega alien hunt shovels more data onto IBM's cloud

The SETI project, which hunts for alien life and has generated hundreds of terabytes of data every day, has poured its bits over IBM’s cloud for citizen scientists to pick over. SETI – the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence – is releasing 16TB of radio telescope transmissions drawn from the Allan Telescope Array to …
Gavin Clarke, 30 Sep 2016
Artist's impression of Rosetta orbiting its prey. Pic: ESA, image by AOES Medialab

Rosetta spacecraft set for smash landing

Update The European Space Agency was set to crash its Rosetta space probe into comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as the final stage of its 12-year research mission at 12.18pm BST today (7:18am EDT). The 19km descent from orbit was to end with a walking pace impact but Rosetta is not designed for landing and is not expected to survive. …
John Oates, 30 Sep 2016
Giant Magellan Telescope

Top interview: Dr Patrick McCarthy – boss of the world's future largest optical telescope

Pics + vids Construction has now started on the Giant Magellan Telescope – which will be the world's largest optical viewing device mankind has ever built – using record-breaking mirrors and advanced electronics. Youtube Video The telescope, located high in the Chilean mountains, will be able to show us images with up to ten times the …
Iain Thomson, 30 Sep 2016
Processes in Mars' surface material can explain why particular xenon (Xe) and krypton (Kr) isotopes are more abundant in the Martian atmosphere than expected, as measured by NASA's Curiosity rover. Cosmic rays striking barium (Ba) or bromine (Br) atoms can alter isotopic ratios of xenon and krypton.

Curiosity sniffs Mars' odd atmosphere wafting out of its soil

Mars' atmosphere is wafting up from its cold, dead soil, according to new findings from the Curiosity Rover. A new paper titled In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory explains that this story starts with the Viking landers, which recorded “krypton and xenon detections and …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Sep 2016
Vintage PC with floppy drive, dot matrix printer and old school desk phone, steaming coffee: a still life. photo by Shutterstock

DARPA does a podcast

US military lunacy department DARPA has begun offering a podcast. This is cautious move from an agency more famous for being well ahead of the technology curve and creating killer laser beams, cyborg soldiers and telepathic control systems. Of course the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also created much of …
John Oates, 28 Sep 2016
Signs of recent tectonic activity on mercury

Signs of recent tectonic activity found on cooling Mercury

NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) craft has found evidence that Sol's innermost planet is tectonically active. That's kind of a big deal because until now only Earth was known to be tectonically active. And because tectonic activity brings lovely stuff up from a planet's innards, …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Sep 2016

Elon Musk: I'm gonna turn Mars into a $10bn death-dealing interplanetary gas station

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has laid out an audacious multibillion-dollar plan to send colonists to probably die on Mars. On Tuesday, he unveiled an Interplanetary Transport System: a fleet of spacecraft capable of delivering people to the Red Planet so they can create a permanent human settlement complete with a fuel-generating …
Shaun Nichols, 27 Sep 2016
Europa crust

Hubble spies on Europa shooting alien juice from its southern pole

Pics and video Images from the Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter's most intriguing moon, Europa, appear to show plumes of water being ejected from the surface into space. The telescope took a series of ten shots of Europa over 15 months in the last two years as it passed in front of Jupiter, using the reflected light from the gas giant to …
Iain Thomson, 26 Sep 2016
Cambridge bikes photo MK Jones via Shutterstock

Turing, Hauser, Sinclair – haunt computing's Cambridge A-team stamping ground

Geek's Guide to Britain King’s Parade in Cambridge looks like the last street on earth to have anything to do with computing. On one side is an absurdly ornate college gatehouse in yellow stone and King’s College Chapel, which combines the barn-like shape of a tiny chapel with the scale and detail of a cathedral. The other side is lined by tall …
SA Mathieson, 26 Sep 2016
Falcon9

SpaceX: Breach in liquid oxygen tank caused Falcon 9 fireball ... probably

A large breach in the liquid oxygen tank of SpaceX’s Falcom 9 rocket likely caused the explosion during a test at the start of this month, investigators have said. A static firing test at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida ended abruptly when the rockets burst into flames on the launchpad and disintegrated, along …
Paul Kunert, 24 Sep 2016
Scholz' Star. Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester

Cosmology is safe and the Universe is one giant version of the Barbican

Scientists have confirmed that the universe is very likely the same in every direction, showing that the assumption of the universe being isotropic can be safely used in cosmology. The results, published in Physical Review Letters show that there is only a 1 in 121,000 chance that the universe is non-isotropic. On small …
Katyanna Quach, 23 Sep 2016

British unis mull offshore EU campuses in post-Brexit vote panic

British universities are looking to deepen links with their continental counterparts or even open offshore campuses in order to maintain their EU ties. Universities face a double hit of reduced research funding and fewer EU students choosing British institutions thanks to Brexit uncertainty. Staff recruitment has also been hit …
John Oates, 23 Sep 2016
A Badger

Pretending to be a badger wins Oxford Don 10 TRILLION DOLLARS

The annual Ig Nobel Prizes were handed out on Thursday night, as always “honoring achievements that make people laugh, then think”. Among this year's winners were “Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird.” Foster turned that research into a book, Being a …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Sep 2016
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Zuckerberg to spend $3bn+ to rid world of all disease by 2100 (Starting with Facebook, right?)

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have promised at least $3bn in funding for a medical initiative to cure, prevent or manage all known diseases by the end of the century. The program, managed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) that the duo set up after the birth of their first child, will fund scientific research that …
Iain Thomson, 21 Sep 2016

Asian hornets are HERE... those honey bee murdering BASTARDS

A sleepy Cotswold town could be about to witness the genocide of local honey bees following the discovery of invasive predatory Asian hornets. Sightings of the inch-long death bringers have been confirmed in the Tetbury area in Gloucestershire for the first time. Although it has a long, powerful stinger, it's the hornet's …
Katyanna Quach, 21 Sep 2016
ESA Rosetta history

Rosetta probe's final death dive planned for just after last call next Friday night

The European Space Agency (ESA) has held an hour-long hangout to explain what's likely to happen when its Rosetta spacecraft touches down on Comet 67p. On Sunday, after a final manoeuvre, the spacecraft will start a 14-hour descent. Operations manager Sylvain Lodiot says the agency expects Rosetta to land somewhere inside a …

What's Chinese and crashing in flames? No, not its economy – its crocked space station

The first space station lofted into orbit by China is coming down next year, the country's space agency has confirmed. The Tiangong-1 mini-station was launched on 29 September 2011, and has been visited by three manned missions. Its size is nothing on the scale of the International Space Station – Tiangong-1 is just 12 meters …
Iain Thomson, 21 Sep 2016
skull_648

2,000 year old man found dead near 2,000 year old computer

Video The ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera has already yielded up archeological wonders but now marine archeologists have found a body buried in the wreck that could yield up some clues as to the ship’s origins. The shipwreck, one of the largest found from the ancient world, was discovered in 1900 and is best …
Iain Thomson, 20 Sep 2016
Pluto, visible and X-ray

Pluto's emitting X-rays, and NASA doesn't quite know how

The Chandra space telescope has spotted X-rays emanating from Pluto. What? That's “cold, dead, former planet Pluto with no magnetic field”, to most of us: orbiting between 4.4 billion km and 7.4 billion km from the sun out in the Kuiper belt, with no way to generate heat. That Pluto. Since we don't suppose the former-planet …

NASA starts countdown for Cassini probe's Saturn death dive

NASA has revealed its final plans to crash the Cassini probe into Saturn next year. Cassini–Huygens, to give the craft its full name, launched in 1997 and skipped past Venus twice and Earth once for some gravity-assisted acceleration action. It then grazed Asteroid 2685 Masursky, used Jupiter for acceleration and arrived at at …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Sep 2016

Map to the stars: Gaia's first data dump a piece of 3D Milky Way puzzle

The European Space Agency has revealed the first catalogue of stars mapped during its Gaia mission today. The Gaia space probe aims to capture over a billion stars, distant galaxies and quasars to produce the largest and most detailed three-dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy. Nearly halfway into its mission, the probe …
Katyanna Quach, 14 Sep 2016

UK Science Museum will reconsider its 'sexist' brain quiz

The Science Museum in London has announced it will reconsider its exhibition on sex and gender – after it faced criticism over a quiz that tested whether a brain was male or female. Located on the first floor, Who Am I? is a permanent gallery that has been in the museum over 15 years. The exhibition explores the underlying …
Katyanna Quach, 14 Sep 2016

Post-Brexit UK.gov must keep EU scientists coming, say boffins

Attracting and retaining EU talent remains a top concern for UK science following Brexit, according to today’s House of Lords Select Committee meeting about EU membership and UK science. David Phoenix, vice-chancellor and chief executive of London South Bank University, Patrick Vallance, president of pharmaceuticals R&D at …
Katyanna Quach, 13 Sep 2016

Jeff Bezos' thrusting cylinder makes Elon Musk's look minuscule

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin has revealed designs for its first orbit-and-beyond-capable boosters. The “New Glenn” rocket is named in honour of first United States astronaut to orbit the Earth, John Glenn. The 82m-tall, two-stage craft will pack 3.85 million pounds of thrust. If it lifted today, that would …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Sep 2016

Upstart AI dreams of 'disrupting' digital marketing – with sex

Silicon Valley machine-learning biz Sentient Technologies promises to bring the power of natural selection to marketing via AI, rather than digital marketers. The constant chopping and changing of web design can be a fiddly process. What’s the best font? What’s the perfect ratio of image to text? Where should the logo be? …
Katyanna Quach, 12 Sep 2016

Microsoft thinks time crystals may be viable after all

Microsoft researchers have teamed up with physicists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, to show how time crystals might be possible. First proposed by Nobel-prize winning theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, time crystals are hypothetical systems that spontaneously break time-translational symmetry (TTS) – a …
Katyanna Quach, 12 Sep 2016
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

Curiosity rover likes big buttes but it cannot lie around

Mars looks just like the American southwest, says NASA after landing images of some big buttes on Mars. The Curiosity rover has spent the last few weeks in a region of Mars called “Murray Buttes” that apparently reveals “The layered geologic past of Mars”. We're not sure what's in those layers, but NASA speculates that the …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Sep 2016

NASA's OSIRIS-REx is off to nick some rocks from asteroid Bennu

NASA has successfully launched its first mission sending a spacecraft to an asteroid with the aim of returning samples of space rocks back to Earth. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft blasted off from NASA’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:05pm EDT (12:05am BST) yesterday. After almost an hour, OSIRIS-REx separated …

Elon Musk says SpaceX Falcon 9 fireball investigation is 'biggest challenge yet'

SpaceX are still investigating the explosion that caused its Falcon 9 rocket, and the Facebook satellite it was carrying, to erupt into flames last week. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, tweeted earlier this morning and called the “Falcon fireball investigation” the “most difficult and complex failure” the company has faced in 14 …

Boffins ID bug behind London's Great Plague of 1665

Scientists have revealed Yersinia pestis as the bacteria that caused London's 1665 Great Plague. The findings were made from studies of DNA from some of the 3,500 bodies in a mass grave burial pit uncovered at an excavation site at the Liverpool Street Crossrail site. Testing at labs in Germany revealed DNA of Yersinia pestis …
Darren Pauli, 9 Sep 2016

Star Trek's Enterprise turns 50 and still no sign of a warp drive. Sigh

Star Trek @ 50 Zooming through space faster than the speed of light is integral in science fiction if the story unfolds over different planets, galaxies and universes. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had hyperspace, the TARDIS in Doctor Who travelled through a time vortex, and Star Trek used warp drive. The sight of the Starship …

It's time for humanity to embrace SEX ROBOTS. For, uh, science, of course

Humankind is still considering whether we could create sex robots – but should we, considering the ethical and legal questions arising from the creation of sex data and non-adult sex robots? During August's extraordinarily warm and enjoyable Electromagnetic Field festival, Dr Kate Devlin, a researcher at Goldsmith's department …
Sleeping man on couch with a beer , popcorn and a food-stained vest. Photo by Shutterstock

Retired Philae lander slouches on Comet 67P

The European Space Agency's (ESA) obsolete robotic lander Philae has been spotted lying on its side in the dark depths of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as the Rosetta mission nears completion. The images were snapped on 2 September by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on board the spacecraft, which has orbited the comet within …
Kepler

Second 'dimmer switch' star spotted

One curious case of “what's that?” in astronomy is a puzzle: two gets astrophysicists on the way to an answer. An oddly-dimming star called EPIC 204278916 (EPIC in this article) might help boffins understand the “Dyson sphere” (no, it's not) Tabby's star. The group led by Simone Scaringi from the Max Planck Institute for …

International Space Station astros prepare to rejoin us Earthlings

Three astronauts from the International Space Station are expected to fly home tomorrow after spending 172 days floating in space. Expedition 48 Commander and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, Soyuz commander and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, will leave the ISS in the …