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Festive post-pub noshtastic neckfiller: HEARTY HOG MAW

We're now well into the season of festive excess, and doubtless readers will already be sustaining a severe pummelling to livers and credit cards in equal measure. We can't do much to mitigate the effects of excess Yule spending, but we can offer you something substantial and yet a bit different to soak up the booze: the hearty …
Lester Haines, 26 Dec 2014

Vid: Reg lecture launches readers from Clerkenwell to outer space

Register Events If you’re at all concerned that the UK is falling behind in the race to space, Dr Geraint Jones’ Reg Christmas Lecture should put your mind at ease. A couple of dozen Reg readers bravely ascended the stairs to the upstairs room at the Craft Beer Company in Clerkenwell on December 9. Once there, a team of highly trained Reg …
Joe Fay, 24 Dec 2014
International Space Station

Mysterious STAR set to appear on Christmas Eve above Blighty: The ISS

NASA's International Space Station is expected to be shining brightly above Britain's skies tonight. Budding young scientists can probably catch a glimpse of ISS between 5pm and 7pm today - weather permitting, of course. @Space_Station decorated for the holidays as the #ISS crew studies life in space: http://t.co/AabwSB90ba …
Team Register, 24 Dec 2014
Hybrid aircraft

Cambridge boffins and Boeing fly first hybrid airplane over British skies

Video The first hydrocarbon/electric aircraft has taken to the skies over Southern England as part of trials to find out if such combo systems have a place in aviation's future. Youtube Video The aircraft, a heavily modified microlight, uses a conventional four-stroke petrol engine as its main power source and an electric motor …
Iain Thomson, 24 Dec 2014
Festo's "mechanical roo"

Privacy-loving BOXING KANGAROO BIFFS DRONE out of the sky

Footage has emerged of a kangaroo boxing a drone out of the sky. Newzulu posted the footage below, in which said marsupial takes a shot at a camera-bearing autonomous craft. To Vulture South's trained eye*, this looks like an Eastern Grey, a mid-sized 'roo that's not noted for being particularly aggressive. Indeed, Kangaroos …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2014
Non-sleeper

Who wants SLEEP DEPRIVATION for Christmas?

If you've popped an iPad under the tree, thanks for your generosity: you've given the gift of poor sleep, disrupted circadian rhythms and an increased chance of cancer later in life. So says a quartet of boffins* from Harvard's Medical School and Cologne's Institute of Aerospace Medicine, after they watched twelve normal healthy …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014
The Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre

Reg Oz chaps plot deep desert comms upgrade

It's been a while since The Reg travelled to the remote Australian community of Willowra to perform a Windows XP upgrade, and longer still since we updated readers on our plan to improve the internet connection in the town's adult learning centre. We'd like to fix the internet problem because the Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre …
NuStar's view of the Sun

NASA's 'crazy' plan yields dramatic pictures of our X-ray Sun

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) was designed to probe the distant galaxy looking for black holes, but NASA has recently been aiming the orbiting instrument at the Sun to get a close-up view of our star's atmosphere. "At first I thought the whole idea was crazy," said Fiona Harrison, principal investigator for …
Iain Thomson, 23 Dec 2014

Purple glistening plasma, you say? Orion plummets back to Earth

Vid NASA has released video images of its Orion spaceship as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere earlier this month. It shows the view that astronauts might eventually see if the US space agency's mission to send human beings to Mars in 2021 proves successful. On 5 December, Orion flew unmanned this time. In order to gather as much …
Kelly Fiveash, 21 Dec 2014
Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Why the chemistry between Hollywood, physics and maths is so hot right now

Interview Folks in the scientific know like to pick apart movies about science and science fiction, pointing out all the ways in which they don’t embrace real facts and theories. They also love to complain about how nerds are so often portrayed on film the same way, as socially inept weirdos, sweet maybe, but not really taken seriously. …
Artist's concept of Kepler 22b

Kepler's STILL GOT IT! Space telescope spots SUPER-EARTH 180 light years away

The Kepler space telescope might be damaged goods, but the clever hacks created by NASA's boffins have kept it running and it has spotted a new – if distant – planet that could harbor water, just like Earth. "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries. Even better, the …
Iain Thomson, 20 Dec 2014

Vulture 2 design hero describes epic 'hobby' project

It's a traditional SPB tip of the hat today to Vulture 2 spaceplane designer Chris Dodd, who's been chewing the fat with The Engineer about his involvement with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project. Chris Dodd and the virtual Vulture 2 on a computer monitor Long-term LOHAN fans will recall Chris (pictured …
Lester Haines, 19 Dec 2014
India's GSLV Mk-III rocket clears the tower

India's heavy launch rocket passes flight test

India yesterday conducted a successful test of its new GSLV Mk-III X/CARE launch vehicle. The new rocket is a three-stage affair designed to haul 4,000kg payloads to geosynchronous orbit. The first stage offers uses two S200 Large Solid Booster (LSB) with 200 tonnes of solid propellant apiece. Those boosters straddle the second …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014
GhostSwimmer

Don't panic, US Navy has only deployed a ROBOT SHARK (but where are the lasers?)

Pics and video The US Navy has shown off the first images of its latest aqua-drone: a five-foot-long robot shark that's been swimming off the shores of Virginia. The Navy's robot shark at rest GhostSwimmer at rest Dubbed GhostSwimmer, the 100lb machine (in Navy-speak, an AUV or autonomous underwater vehicle) is capable of swimming in water …
Iain Thomson, 18 Dec 2014
Space Cowboys movie still

LEGS IN 2015: SpaceX Falcon's landing PUT ON HOLD

NASA and SpaceX have announced that the firm’s fifth ISS resupply mission - which was also the first test of its ground-breaking leggy landing on a floating platform - will be postponed until next year. The Falcon 9 rocket that boosts the Dragon cargo-craft to the International Space Station was supposed to test its X-wing-aided …
SpaceX' autonomous spaceport drone ship

Friday: SpaceX will attempt to land rocket on floating, robotic 'spaceport drone ship'

Upstart start-up rocketry firm SpaceX is planning to try out its new upgraded rocket landing legs on its next trip to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow. Youtube Video The private space firm has been trying to make the game-changing dream of a precise soft-landing, reusable rocket come true with its Falcon 9 booster …
The death of Venus Express

ESA: Venus probe doomed to fiery death on weird planet's surface

The European Space Agency has administered the last rites to its Venus Express probe, saying that the spacecraft is now out of control and has gone "gently into the night." "The available information provides evidence of the spacecraft losing attitude control most likely due to thrust problems during the raising maneuvers," said …
Iain Thomson, 17 Dec 2014
Lester firing an AR-16 at the gun range

American bacon cured with AR-15 assault rifle

It's been quite a week for the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team, as myself and Edge Research Laboratory's David Patterson travelled to Spaceport America in New Mexico, and took delivery of the Vulture 2 spaceplane in Denver, picking up a couple of rocket motor reloads along the way. We covered plenty of road …
Lester Haines, 17 Dec 2014
David Bowie life on mars

It's whiff, Jim, but not as we know it: Curiosity sniffs ORGANICS on Mars

Two new papers on the latest data from the compact chemistry laboratory aboard nuclear-tank Curiosity show organic compounds in Mars' atmosphere and rocks – and therefore offer tantalizing clues to the Red Planet's watery past. Youtube Video In the past 20 months Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory has sniffed …
Iain Thomson, 17 Dec 2014
Mercury North pole

NASA asks world+dog to name Mercury's craters (back off, 4chan)

There's a chance to enter the history books (or at least a planetary geography atlas) as NASA is asking the public to help name five prominent features on Mercury, the tiny planet closest to the Sun. In 2004 NASA launched Messenger – its MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging probe – the first craft …
Iain Thomson, 16 Dec 2014
CGI image of Lunar Mission One on the Moon

HUMAN HAIR will soon be FOUND on MOON: Brit 'nauts aim for SPAAAACE

Blighty-backed moonshot Lunar Mission One has managed to hit its Kickstarter goal of £600,000 in crowdfunding, just a day and a half ahead of the cut-off point. After a fast-paced start, helped by media coverage and endorsements from the likes of celebrity rockstar physicist Brian Cox, raised £200,000 in three days, things …
Our LOHAN mission patch design

El Reg's mighty rocket spaceplane Vulture 2 arrives in US of A

The Vulture 2 spaceplane arrived safely in the USA last week, and is currently resting at a secure facility in Denver courtesy of Jeff Anderton of video production outfit Mass Transit. Our rocket ship's relocation came as part of my own trip Stateside, which saw myself and Edge Research Lab's David Patterson on a reccy to …
Lester Haines, 16 Dec 2014

'Turn to nuclear power to save planetary ecology from renewable BLIGHT'

+Analysis Sixty-six heavyweight boffins active in the field of biodiversity conservation have pleaded with the world's greens to get over their objections to nuclear power, pointing out that renewable energy means terrible losses of endangered animals and plants. "Biodiversity is not only threatened by climate disruption arising largely …
Lewis Page, 16 Dec 2014
LHC cooling

Cool Large Hadron Collider to fire into doubly powerful ring

CERN boffins have started powering up their improved Large Hadron Collider – and say the particle accelerator will fire with twice the energy of its previous run by March. "With this new energy level, the LHC will open new horizons for physics and for future discoveries," said CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. "I'm looking …
Iain Thomson, 15 Dec 2014
Our Playmonaut on the runway at Spaceport America

LOHAN's Plucky Playmonaut touches down at Spaceport America

Our plucky Playmonaut sensationally landed at Spaceport America in New Mexico last Thursday, although sadly not this time at the controls of the Register's soaraway Vulture 2 rocket ship. The diminutive Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) pilot walked the tarmac of the fabled gateway to the heavens as myself and David …
Parallel universe wormhole

Is there ANOTHER UNIVERSE headed BACKWARDS IN TIME?

Cosmologists reckon we could be sitting opposite an alternative universe where time is moving backwards, thanks to the Big Bang. Dr Julian Barbour of College Farm, Dr Tim Koslowski of the University of New Brunswick and Dr Flavio Mercati of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics have tried to figure out the age-long …
Lindsay Dodgson, 15 Dec 2014
Candor Colles map

MARSQUAKES shook up range of hills in ancient lake bed

NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS) reckon they've found evidence of ancient earthquakes on Mars. Or should that be Marsquakes? The evidence was spotted in the west Candor Chasma, one of the canyons in the Valles Marineris canyon system. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Dec 2014

Rosetta beams back colour pics: 67P shades of grey are SO HOT right now

Pic Astro boffins working on the European Space Agency's lauded Rosetta mission, which spectacularly landed a probot on a speeding space rock last month, have revealed that Comet 67P is, well, very grey. The ESA's OSIRIS team meticulously produced a colour image of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by superimposing photos "taken …
Kelly Fiveash, 14 Dec 2014
Hubble image with dark matter mass overlay

Dark matter-hunting boffins spot EXCITING signal in X-ray spectrum

Vid Boffins believe they may finally have detected the first sign of dark matter, after picking up an unusual photon emission signal in X-rays coming from space. Scientists from the EPFL lab of particle physics and cosmology (LPPC) and Leiden University are expected to publish their findings next week in Physical Review Letters. In …
Team Register, 13 Dec 2014
A NASA artist's impression of a miniature solar system

Aged star could give us clues to HOT TEEN's behaviour

A distant star could tell us exactly what our Sun was like as a teenager, as astronomers say that it could be like “looking back in time”. Rings of a distant star Kicking up dust The star, given the catchy name HD 107146, has whole a load of dust from Pluto-sized objects swarming around it. Scientists are studying the star by …
Lindsay Dodgson, 12 Dec 2014
Laser weapon aboard USS Ponce

US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

Pic and video After years of promises the US Navy has deployed its first operational laser cannon, which has been built into the USS Ponce and sent into a combat zone. The 30-kilowatt laser weapon system (LaWS) has been mounted high up on Ponce's superstructure, and a flashy video released by the Navy shows it blowing up parts of boats and a …
Iain Thomson, 11 Dec 2014
NIST's LEGO watt balance

Boffins weigh in to perfect kilogram quest with LEGO kit

How many boffins does it take to make a LEGO machine to measure a fundamental physical unit? Nine, apparently – but the outcome, a LEGO watt balance, can measure a kilogram with about one per cent inaccuracy. The serious point to the National Institute of Standards and Technology-led effort (NIST) is that with the Le Système …
Nobel Prize

DNA egghead James Watson sells Nobel prize for $4.8m, gets it back

DNA brainiac James Watson has got his Nobel Prize medal back from Russia’s richest man, who bought the gong from the scientist for $4.8m (£3m). While Watson gets to keep the medal, the money raised is still going to science. Watson, along with coworkers Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick*, was awarded the Nobel Prize for …
Iain Thomson, 11 Dec 2014

Did rock-hard aliens turn young Earth MOIST? New probe data emerges

Data from Europe's comet-chasing Rosetta probe has cast further doubt on the theory Earth's oceans were seeded by icy space rocks pummeling our planet. In its ten-year game of catchup with Comet 67/P, the craft has been using its Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) to sample stuff flying off the …
Iain Thomson, 11 Dec 2014
Nanocomposites

Boffins cure BONING PROBLEMS in 'virtual lab'

Computer simulations can act as "virtual laboratories" and replace trial-and-error testing for creating new materials, say boffins at University College London. The UCL scientists used the power of two supercomputers to show how a composite material is formed, meaning that the properties of potential new materials can be …
Lindsay Dodgson, 10 Dec 2014
Sheep

Boffins: We have found a way to unlock the MYSTERIES OF SHEEP from old parchments

Top-level boffins say they have discovered a valuable new tool for mapping the genetic history of sheep: namely, the extraction of DNA from old documents, which are generally written on parchment made from the skin of sheep or other animals. It seems that before such modern innovations as mass production of paper, typewriters …
Lindsay Dodgson, 10 Dec 2014
Crop of doctor with pen and clipboard

Brit boffins debunk 'magnetic field and cancer' link

University of Manchester researchers reckon they've eliminated one of the mechanisms that might have linked mobile phones to cancer. The research is also bad news for those who think power lines are cancer-carriers. Dr Alex Jones in the University's School of Chemistry led a team examining whether weak magnetic fields affected …
Titan Upfront

So - you thought you knew all about the INSTANT COFFEE DUNES of TITAN?

Shifting the hydrocarbo-ice "sand" dunes of Titan – ice moon of Saturn – takes more effort than had previously been thought, say boffins. Previous ideas on the wind speed required to blow dune-forming particles around the famous satellite were seemingly wrong. Space boffins from the University of Tennessee and Johns Hopkins …
Artist's concept of Curiosity

Mars was a WET mistress: Curiosity probes once-moist bottom

NASA's nuclear-powered Curiosity rover has found evidence the three-mile-high Mount Sharp on Mars was once under a large lake. Mount Sharp lake A few billion years earlier and Curiosity would have needed water wings "We are making headway in solving the mystery of Mount Sharp," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger …
Iain Thomson, 8 Dec 2014
Professor Martin Green, UNSW

Solar sandwich cooks at 40 per cent efficiency

Australian solar trailblazer Professor Martin Green's group at the University of New South Wales is claiming a world record in solar efficiency, and this time it's not the usual half-per cent incremental improvement. The Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics that Green directs says its combination of off-the-shelf …

NASA prods sleeping New Horizons spacecraft: Wakey, wakey, Pluto's calling

NASA has awoken its New Horizons spaceship as it draws closer to dwarf planet Pluto, nearly nine years after the mission to explore the system began. Boffins at the John Hopkins University applied physics lab (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, confirmed late last night that the switcheroo from hibernation to "active" mode had been …
Kelly Fiveash, 7 Dec 2014
Fountain pen

You don't have to be a genius to tap into Albert Einstein's BRAIN

Thousands of papers containing the musings and correspondence of physics megaboffin Albert Einstein have been published online by Princeton University. The collection containing 13 volumes, dubbed The Digital Einstein Papers, was made available on Friday. It covers Einstein's writings from his youth to 1923. A trove of archives …
Team Register, 6 Dec 2014