Science > More stories

Bluetooth-enabled miracle washing orbs? Are you kidding?

If you're one of those still waiting impatiently for the bloody flying car and robot butler we were promised back in the 1950s, and need a consolation quick fix of 21st-century domestic tech, then have a shufti at the Crystal Wash 2.0 - a bluetooth-enabled miracle washing orb currently the subject of a Kickstarter tin-rattle. …
Lester Haines, 3 Feb 2015

GROUPTHINK HIVE MIND informs climate change believers

Both sides of the climate change debate tend towards group conciousness and define their positions based, in part, on hating the other side of the argument, according to a letter published in Nature: Climate Change. Public division about climate change rooted in conflicting socio-political identities(PDF), penned by folks from …
Jupiter Ascending

BY JUPITER: The science behind Friday's Solar System light show

Vid The Slooh Observatory is holding a one-hour event, beginning at 7pm UTC (11am PST) today, to discuss Jupiter in opposition – using telescopes at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. On Friday, February 6, Jupiter will be in opposition to the Earth, making it the brightest natural object …
Iain Thomson, 2 Feb 2015
Philae

Lost SPACECRAFT believed FOUND ON COMET

The European Space Agency has released an image it says hints at where the Philae lander dispatched to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko came to rest. Comet-watchers will recall that Philae was carried to 67P by the Rosetta spacecraft, which dropped the washing-machine-sized lander last November 12th. All went well until the …

Turbocharged quad-core Raspberry Pi 2 unleashed, global geekgasm likely

Pics The Raspberry Pi Foundation is likely to provoke a global geekgasm today with the surprise release of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. It's a turbocharged version of the Pi B+, boasting a new Broadcom BCM2836 900MHz quad-core system-on-chip with 1GB of RAM – all of which will drive performance "at least 6x" that of the B+. Speaking …
Lester Haines, 2 Feb 2015
Mars' Point Lake

Black Beauty Martian meteorite IS a SPOT-ON match with Red Planet's DARK PLAINS: boffins

Scientists believe that a recently discovered Martian meteorite – dubbed Black Beauty – is representative of the "bulk background" of rocks on the surface of Mars. The 4.4 billion-year-old space stone, known as NWA7034, was found in the Moroccan desert several years ago. Black Beauty Mars meteorite A chip from Black Beauty. …
Kelly Fiveash, 1 Feb 2015

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Sizzling sag aloo

We're disappointed to report that despite our attempts last week to raise the tone of our post-pub neckfiller nosh recipes by the classy use of a soupçon of français, we have not yet attracted a sponsor willing to back our efforts to push the culinary envelope. No matter, because the latest offering for your wobbly dining …
Lester Haines, 1 Feb 2015
Earth

Earth's soil moisture to be sniffed by DIRTY-MINDED satellite

NASA has successfully launched a satellite that will collect global observations of Earth's soil moisture. The U.S. space agency's bird – dubbed the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite – was blasted into space on the unmanned United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. During SMAP's three-year mission, the sat's expected …
Team Register, 31 Jan 2015
Planck view of BICEP2 field (image credit: ESA/Planck)

Tearful boffins confirm grav wave tsunami NOT caused by Big Bang

Claims that a gravitational wave tsunami swept the universe from the Big Bang have turned to dust ... interstellar dust. Last September, the smart money was already backing the idea that the signal didn't come from the early universe and, on Friday, scientists agreed that the "gravitational waves remain elusive." No conclusive …
Team Register, 31 Jan 2015
German shepherd guard dog standing in flood water

'LOOK into my EYES: You are feeling very worried about the climate ... SO worried'

Comment A trick-cyclist who promised several years ago to use a new form of mass hypnosis to get the public motivated to fight climate change claims that he's done it. In fact the claim is bogus: it is itself part of his attempt to carry out his plan of manipulating public opinion. The trick-cyclist is, as regular readers of these pages …
Lewis Page, 29 Jan 2015
Charles Townes

Charles Townes, inventor of the laser and friend to both science and religion, dies

Obituary Charles Hard Townes, one of the winners of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the laser and a pivotal player in astronomy and reconciling science and religion, has died at the age of 99 after a brief illness. "Charlie Townes had an enormous impact on physics and society in general. Our department and all of UC …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jan 2015

Cisco says GHOST is more Casper than Sleepy Hollow

Cisco has put forward at least a partial response to 2015's first branded bug, GHOST, saying that in The Borg's world, the glibc vulnerability is probably of relatively low severity. That would, at least, explain why it's not being hunted with quite the urgency of something like Heartbleed in 2014: right now, Cisco's advisory …

The new Falcon Heavy: MOST POWERFUL ROCKET since the Apollo moonshots

SpaceX has released a video animation of its Falcon Heavy, the mega-rocket of "scale and capability unequalled by any other currently flying". Falcon Heavy is still to make its maiden voyage, but when it does the lift off thrust will total nearly four million pounds, equal to fifteen Boeing 747 jet liners at full power, said …
Kat Hall, 28 Jan 2015

Virtual Vulture 2 swoops into Spaceport America

Vid Last weekend, our Vulture 2 spaceplane finally swooped down to an automated landing at Spaceport America, thanks to some hot hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) action by Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Pixhawk autopilot wrangler Linus Penzlien. Linus has been working on ArduPilot HIL simulations using Tennessee X-Plane ace …
Lester Haines, 28 Jan 2015
The COSIMA instrument aboard Rosetta

I'll get my coat – there's a dusty one flying off Comet 67P

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is shedding four years worth of accumulated dust as it hurtles towards the Sun, say scientists after studying the output of the Rosetta spacecraft's COmetary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser, aka COSIMA. A gaggle of astroboffins have penned a letter titled “Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sheds dust …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2015
NASA animation of BL86 plus moon

Passing asteroid MOONS the HUMAN RACE

Space-watchers peering at the fly-by asteroid 2004 BL86 will have missed a detail that NASA caught: the flying mountain has its own moon. Future discoveries excluded, BL86 is expected to be the Earth's nearest-and-largest encounter for quite some years, until it approached its moon hadn't been seen. As Space.com states, the …
Rings around distant planet

Excitement in boffinry circles as GIGANTIC ALIEN RING BLOTS OUT SUN

Pics The first planetary ring system outside of our Solar System has been spotted and it's massive – in fact, it's 120 million kilometers in diameter. "This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn's rings are today," said Eric Mamajek, professor of physics and …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jan 2015

Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

A group of researchers working for National ICT Australia reckons computer science courses need to look at artificial intelligence from an ethical point of view – and the popularity of sci-fi among comp.sci students makes that a good place to start. As the research team, which included NICTA's Nicholas Mattei, the University of …
Silicon micro-ring resonator

Photons link arms on chip to hasten march of quantum crypto

A multinational collaboration of boffins reckons it's come up with a chippable solution to one of the practical problems of quantum communications: getting a good source of entangled photons. While commercial quantum key distribution (QKD) devices already exist, getting as much of the process onto silicon is the foundation of …
SKA artists impression

IBM details PowerPC microserver aimed at square kilometre array

IBM has revealed more about a PowerPC microserver it says will help to crunch data gathered by the square kilometre array (SKA), the colossal radio telescope to be built across South Africa and Australia. Once operational, the SKA is expected to generate around an exabyte – a million terabytes - of data each day. Even sorting …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2015
ISS against a spring moon

NASA greenlights SpaceX and Boeing to carry crew to ISS in 2017

Crew and cargo resupply missions will be launched from US soil by 2017, with SpaceX and Boeing both sending rival systems into low Earth orbit from now on. "I don't ever want to write another check to Roscosmos after 2017," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a press conference at the Johnson Space Center, referring to the …
Iain Thomson, 26 Jan 2015
ISS against a spring moon

NASA greenlights SpaceX and Boeing to carry crew to ISS in 2017

Crew and cargo resupply missions will be launched from US soil by 2017, with SpaceX and Boeing both sending rival systems into low Earth orbit from now on. "I don't ever want to write another check to Roscosmos after 2017," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a press conference at the Johnson Space Center, referring to the …
Iain Thomson, 26 Jan 2015

BOT AN ABOMINATION: Mechanical DRONE VAMPIRE spreads wings

Vid Swiss researchers, who developed a robot that can walk on its wings across tricky terrain, have flaunted their latest prototype which they hope could one day be used in search and rescue operations. Or something. Youtube Video The latest model from EPFL builds on the previous design of the drone, dubbed DALER (Deployable Air- …
Team Register, 25 Jan 2015
New Horizons spacecraft approaching Pluto

FROSTY MISTRESS of the Outer System: Pluto yields to probe snapper

NASA's New Horizons spaceship, which has been on its mission to Pluto for nine years now, is expected to start snapping photos of the icy planet today. The probe has travelled roughly 3 billion miles away from Earth for its closest approach with the dwarf planet expected to take place on 14 July this year. Boffins at the U.S. …
Team Register, 25 Jan 2015
Hand precision grip

SUPERHANDS! Fossils of early human ancestors reveal a GRIPPING development

Ancestors of humans who lived around three to two million years ago appear to have had the ability to use their hands in a very similar way to how we grip tools today, according to a new study from anthropologists. Power "squeeze" gripping and forceful precision employed by humans were understood to relate to a reduction in tree …
Team Register, 24 Jan 2015
Sag aloo mixed with our chickpea stew

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Chickpea stew à la Bureau des Projets Spéciaux

As winter tightens its frosty grip across the land, and a chill wind bites hard to the quick, the moment has arrived to contemplate a hearty post-pub dish designed to fill bellies on a budget and warm the cockles of the heart. So hereforth, mes amis, we present for your dining pleasure our very own Special Projects Bureau …
Lester Haines, 24 Jan 2015
Artist's conception of a watery asteroid being torn apart white dwarf GD 61

ATTACK of the FLYING MOUNTAIN: 2004 BL86 goes by like a BULLET

NASA has warned skywatchers that a huge asteroid will pass over European and North American skies on Monday and that it will be the biggest space rock to do a fly-by of our planet until 2027. Most asteroids that pass us are smallish, between 50 and 100 meters wide. This latest visitor, asteroid 2004 BL86, is half a kilometer (0. …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jan 2015
Doomsday clock

Doomsday Clock says 3 MINUTES to MIDNIGHT. Again

+Comment The famous Doomsday Clock, which has been showing anywhere between 17 and two minutes to midnight since 1947, has advanced to three-minutes-to for the third time – on this occasion due to a perceived increase in the menace from human-driven climate change. The organisation which runs the Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic …
Lewis Page, 23 Jan 2015
Comet 67P closeup

SPACE the FINAL FRONTIER: These are the images of COMET PROBE ROSETTA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released details of the first bushel of studies derived from the Rosetta spacecraft's visit to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The journal Science has devoted a special issue to seven studies of the comet, but let's do a summary here. For starters, boffins have decided that 67P is fluffy, or …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2015

Oz father and son team plan suborbital spaceplane

An Australian father and son team is attempting to develop a radical low Earth orbit spaceplane ultimately intended as a "space courier service" to return payloads from aloft. High-altitude ballooning (HAB) vets Robert Brand and son Jason, 12, (pictured below after one of their balloon flights) are in the initial stages of " …
Lester Haines, 22 Jan 2015
Chicken Jalfrezi and rice with a beer. Pic by Shutterstock

Drinking to forget? OK. But first, eat a curry... QUICK!

If you've had the kind of Patch Tuesday that ends in a mass attack of BSODs, new vulns in Java and someone advertising your routes as traversing Norfolk Island, you're quite likely to head for the pub and thence to a curry. According to research published in Neuropsychopharmacology, is that one of curry's important active …
Feral camel

How do you solve a problem like Willowra?

One of the things we've had to consider as we plot our return to Willowra, and our mission to improve the performance of the network in the Wirliyajarrayi Learning Centre, is what kind of hardware to use. If you're coming in late to this tale, the learning centre offers the first publicly-acessible, internet-connected PCs in the …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2015
Press photo Credit: E. Brun

SECRETS of the LOST SCROLLS unlocked by key to HEALTHY BOOBS

Carbonised scrolls from a Roman library destroyed in a volcanic eruption are being read using a cunning X-ray technique more commonly employed in medical screening for breast cancer, boffins have announced. The scrolls in question are the famous Herculaneum library ones. Herculaneum was a Roman resort located on the Bay of …
Lewis Page, 21 Jan 2015
Artist's impression of Dawn flying past the dwarf-planet Ceres

NASA probe snaps increasingly detailed shots of MOIST DWARF goddess

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has transmitted a series of images of the dwarf planet Ceres - part of its first ever mission to the biggest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. New images of Ceres from the Dawn vehicle Dawn will transmit increasingly sharp images of Ceres - named for the Roman goddess of agriculture and …
Kat Hall, 21 Jan 2015
black and white pic of alan turing

Alan Turing's LOST NOTEBOOK goes under the hammer

Auction house Bonhams says it has a lost Alan Turing notebook for sale. The auctioneer says the notebook “dates from 1942 when he was working at Bletchley Park to break the German Enigma Code.” The 56 hand-written pages reportedly includes “... works on the foundations of mathematical notation and computer science”. The …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015

Penguin high-flyers: Andrew Tridgell on the Linux autopilot

Vid The indefatigable Andrew Tridgell popped up at linux.conf.au in new Zealand last week, where he delivered an entertaining presentation on the state of play of porting ArduPilot to Linux. ArduPilot is the open source software which controls our own Vulture 2 spaceplane on the 3DR Pixhawk autopilot. As Tridge demonstrated, it …
Lester Haines, 20 Jan 2015
Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft wants LAMP for wireless mobe charger

Microsoft Research has put forward the idea of charging mobile phones with a beam of light. Explained in a paper titled AutoCharge: Automatically Charge Smartphones Using a Light Beam (PDF), the idea is to use a Kinect motion sensor to spot a phone, then focus a lamp on it to bathe phones in light and charge them wirelessly. …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2015
Schematics of the Parkes FRB detection

MYSTERY RADIO SIGNAL picked up from BEYOND our GALAXY

The Australian Parkes radiotelescope – even though under threat from budget cuts – has produced its first chunk of science for 2015, and it's a substantial one indeed. The mighty Antipodean instrument has given astronomers their only real-time view so far of the unexplained phenomenon known as the Fast Radio Burst (FRB). FRBs …

SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS that 2014 was record HOTTEST year? NO

+Comment So the results are in. The main US global-temperature scorekeepers - NASA and the NOAA - say that last year was definitely the hottest year on record. But they've been contradicted by a highly authoritative scientific team, one actually set up to try an establish objective facts in this area. On the face of it, there's no …
Lewis Page, 19 Jan 2015
Asteroid BL86 orbit diagram

Is is a Bird? Is it a Plane? NO! LOOK OUT it's an ASTEROID!

Next week, a half-kilometre chunk of rock is going to provide a show for amateur and professional astronomers alike. NASA reckons the asteroid 2004 BL86 flyby, at just three times the Earth-Moon distance, will be the nearest pass by any known object for quite some time to come. The next asteroid to pass similarly close will be …
Unknown planets could exist beyond Pluto

OTHER EARTHS may be orbiting our Sun beyond Neptune

Astroboffins believe at least two hidden planets may exist in our solar system – far beyond Pluto. If the claim from scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge is confirmed, the "results may be truly revolutionary for astronomy," said Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, who co-authored the study …
Team Register, 18 Jan 2015
Maser developed by Princeton University researchers

REGARD our TINY but POWERFUL LASER, suitable for very SMALL sharks

Shrinking the scale of semiconductor materials to help build powerful quantum-computing systems has proved to be a real head-scratcher for scientists. However, boffins at Princeton University have come up with a device that they think could be a "major step forward" for the tech. The university's associate physics professor, …
Team Register, 17 Jan 2015