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Japan makes Prius palatable with road map to hydrogen cars

Japan has outlined a 25-year roadmap to get hydrogen-powered cars onto its roads, hydrogen-powered machinery into its factories and fuel cells into millions of homes. The nation's Ministry, for Economy Trade and Industry, recently outlined the plan, which has three phases. In the first, the nation aims to commercialise a …
Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid.

LIFE on Titan: If there's one thing aliens HATE, it's a SALTY BALL

Astro-boffins have come up with new and compelling evidence that the ocean buried inside Saturn’s largest moon Titan is probably as salty as Earth’s Dead Sea, sadly making it an unlikely location for alien life. Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, …
The canards bolted to the Vulture 2, with Playmonaut in his seat

Experts suspiciously eye LOHAN's cantankerous canards

As ever, we're grateful for our reader experts' feedback on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, and today we have a round-up of your comments on the Vulture 2 spaceplane's cantankerous canards. As we reported last month, the aircraft's forewings have finally been tamed, and here they are attached to the …
Lester Haines, 3 Jul 2014
qubit

Boffins cage qubits inside superconducting silicon

Boffins at the University of Maryland's Joint Quantum Institute think they're on the verge of creating qubits (quantum bits) that could be fabricated using technologies close to today's silicon techniques. The JQI group wants to create a blend of superconductor-style qubits and semiconductor qubits: superconducting wires and …
The Tharsis payload at 30km

Brit SPACE HEDGEHOG team flies student Mars payload

We're pleased to report that the team behind the 2013 space hedgehog drama - which saw a knitted mascot dramatically go awol over Blighty - has finally got a cluster of student experiments in the air without mishap. Last March, CASSiE (Cosmic Ambassador for Space Science and Engineering) accompanied 70 miniprojects packed into …
Lester Haines, 2 Jul 2014
Encapsulation of OCO-2 ahead of launch

NASA: Satellite which will END man-made CO2 debate in orbit at last

Updated NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) not only managed to lift off today, it also achieved successful separation from its booster stack and got into orbit. Youtube Video The satellite – which will study the absorption of sunlight by carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere – is the third attempt to get a CO2-measuring craft …
Jeffrey Meldrum

Like frozen burgers, 'Bigfoot' DNA samples have a touch of horse

Oxford boffin Professor Bryan Sykes' quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot by DNA testing supposed samples of the mythical beasts' fur and flesh has come up with dogs, bears and horses, but no Sasquatches, Yetis or Abominable Snowmen. In a study soon to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Sykes and colleagues …
NIST's one-way photonic metamaterial

NIST shows off one-way photon-passing metamaterial

If photonics is ever to displace or supplement electronics in microprocessors, the operations we perform on electrons need to be replicated on photons. A group at NIST is the latest to demonstrate a photonic diode – a device that passes light in one direction only, similarly to how diodes pass electrons in one direction only. …
Encapsulation of OCO-2 ahead of launch

NASA aborts third attempt at finally settling man-made CO2 debate

NASA's third attempt to bring some much-desired clarity to the debate over human-produced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been postponed today after two previous rocket liftoffs ended in disaster. The space agency’s last effort to measure the CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere was the Glory satellite in 2011, which crashed into the …
Rosetta

Comet-chasing Rosetta spies SWEATY prey

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta comet-chaser has clocked 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko "releasing the equivalent of two small glasses of water into space every second" - enough to " fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in about 100 days". Graphic showing rate of water vapour outgassing from the comet It's going to take a …
Lester Haines, 1 Jul 2014
The LDSD's rocket motor fires. Pic: NASA

NASA flying saucer vids show fire in the sky

NASA has released some entertaining short video clips from last Saturday's test of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), showing how the future Mars payload delivery tech flight featured a mighty thruster, some hot airbag action and a while lot of a-whoopin' and a-hollerin'. The LDSD launched below an enormous helium- …
Lester Haines, 1 Jul 2014
Artist's illustration of Supernova 1987A

Speed of light slower than we thought? Probably not

With the simple headline “Einstein was wrong”, yet another piece of questionable physics has garnered world attention. It starts with this kind of canned statement, which originated at Phys.org and apparently arose from this uncritical write-up at the Medium-hosted Physics at Arxiv blog. To quote Physics at Arxiv, “James …
cassini

SPACE: The FINAL FRONTIER. These are the TEN-YEAR images of star probe Cassini

NASA is chuffed to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the splendid Cassini spacecraft's arrival in orbit around mighty Saturn, the ringed gas colossus of the outer solar system. Cassini left Earth on October 15th, 1997 and visited Jupiter in 2000. On July 1st, 2004, it surrendered to Saturn's gravity. Cassini image of …
Cambridge's superconducting magnet levitating

Cambridge's tiny superconducting magnet breaks strength record

Boffins at the University of Cambridge say they've packed the equivalent of three tonnes of magnetic force into a superconducting material roughly the size of a golf ball. In what they call a “trapped field” experiment, the university says its researchers managed to cram a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into the brittle “high …
Super Earth

SUPER EARTH possibly home to life FOUND in our 'solar backyard'

A team led by Australian astronomers has discovered a huge planet relatively close to Earth that resides in the so-called Goldilocks zone, where conditions are right for liquid water to exist on the surface. GJ 832 c has a mass about five times that of Earth and orbits a red dwarf star every 16 days. The newly discovered planet …
Iain Thomson, 1 Jul 2014

Shrew'd boffins spot TINY ELEPHANT species

Take a look at this critter. No, it's not a mouse, it's not a rodent at all ... This creature is more closely related to an elephant than a shrew. Photo of the mouse Boffins from California Academy of Sciences have found a new, round-eared species of elephant shrew, which are known colloquially as a sengi. The newly …
Jasper Hamill, 30 Jun 2014
Angry-looking cat. Pic by  Guyon Morée from Beverwijk, Netherlands. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

True fact: Your CAT wees ... like a racehorse

Racehorses have long been noted for the prodigious length of their - wait for it - toilet breaks. Yet boffins have claimed that all animals actually wee for the same amount of time, demolishing equines' much-vaunted status as the greatest urinators on Planet Earth. Researchers measured dozens of species to find that all animals …
Team Register, 30 Jun 2014
India's PLSV-C23 rocket on launch pad

Indian rocket set to sling five satellites

LIVE VID India will today attempt to launch several satellites that will include Earth imaging and microsatellite payloads. The nation's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV) specialises in hoisting satellites into sun-synchronous polar orbits, with 25 successful launches recorded by April 2014. Perhaps its highest-profile launch in …
The LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pic: NASA/JPL

NASA pulls FLYING SAUCER out of Pacific ocean

Pics NASA has successfully test-flown its “flying saucer” – the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) – after weather conditions permitted the trial on Saturday. The LDSD is a concept lander design for future flights to Mars. The craft works by inflating a “Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator” (SIAD), which NASA …
Team Register, 29 Jun 2014

Physicist proposes 1,000-foot state-sized walls to stop tornadoes

Do you fear extreme weather events as climate change increasingly roils our atmosphere? Chill, Cassandra; a US physicist has a plan for preventing devastating tornadoes in the American midwest: build a series of Brobdingnagian 300-metre-high walls to enclose Tornado Alley. Tornado Alley map Fear not, Reg readers, San …
Rik Myslewski, 26 Jun 2014
Our intrepid party playmonaut on a sofa, surrounded by blondes

LOHAN laid bare in intimate interview

Vid podcast Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project might enjoy an interview I did earlier this week with Christiaan van Vollenstee of DIY Drones. The chat, beamed live from the SPB's mountaintop HQ on Wednesday, features discussion of various aspects of our audacious ballocket mission and a particularly fine pair …
Lester Haines, 26 Jun 2014
Particle jets belching from the supermassive black hole at the centre of Centaurus A. Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

Black hole three-way: Supermassive trio are 'rippling' space

Boffins have found three supermassive black holes orbiting each other at the heart of a galaxy – and the trio could be rippling the very fabric of space and time. Particle jets belching from the supermassive black hole at the centre of Centaurus A. Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/ …
Perseus galactic cluster

'Sterile neutrinos' re-ignite 'we found dark-stuff' debate

Astro-physicists remain cautiously (around media) excited (among themselves) about an unexpected X-ray signal discovered in a survey of galactic clusters. Having first put their findings in the public sphere in March, as reported by The Register at the time, the work has now passed peer review to hit the presses in the …

Drone-assisted Swiss construct virtual 3D castle

Those readers with a penchant for castles but a disinclination to visit Switzerland can enjoy a virtual shufti Château de Chillon, thanks to UAV image processing software outfit Pix4D. A view of the virtual 3D Chillon Castle In half a day, the company snapped "6,200 aerial and terrestrial images using DJI Phantom 2 Vision, …
Lester Haines, 25 Jun 2014
First text

Study of Brit students finds TXTING doesn't ruin your writing

Avid texters and their parents and teachers can relax after a study found that the use of wacky text-speak syntax doesn't appear to spill over into writing performed at school or work. The study, Exploring the longitudinal relationships between the use of grammar in text messaging and performance on grammatical tasks, rounded up …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Jun 2014
white dwarf star

Shine on you crazy diamond: Distant dwarf may hide space jewel

Astronomers say they have discovered a white dwarf star that could be the coldest of its type ever detected. The boffins said that the dwarf star resides alongside the pulsar PSR J2222-0137 and could hold at its core a diamond the size of the earth. Estimates would place the star's age at 11 billion years, roughly the same as …
Shaun Nichols, 25 Jun 2014

iFind: Critics slam Kickstarter campaign for miraculous battery-free phone finder

As the old saying goes: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It remains to be seen if that adage applies to iFind - hailed as "The World's First Battery Free Item Locating Tag". As of Monday morning, iFind - the brainchild of "WeTag" - had attracted over $500,000 of funding on Kickstarter, thanks to the support of …
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2014
The Turbo Ace Octocopter. Pic: Turbo Ace

Fearful of the drone-filled skies? Get some protection

Those fearful of a future where the skies are darkened by swarms of camera-bearing drones peering over their garden fences and peeking through their bedroom windows should proceed directly to Kickstarter and the "Personal Drone Detection System". Rattling the tin in defence of personal privacy is Domestic Drone Countermeasures …
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2014
The Tardis in a field

TIME TRAVEL TEST finds black holes needed to make photons flit

University of Queensland researchers have doubled-down on the question of whether quantum mechanics can exhibit “time travel” behaviours, producing a simulation of time travel using a single photon following a “closed timelike curve” (CTC). No, it's not actually time travel. Rather, the UQ work is looking at what we can predict …

LONGER flights burning MORE fuel can CUT planes' climate impact

British scientists have suggested that the world's airlines could cut their climate impact – by flying further and therefore burning more fuel. The seemingly-paradoxical claim is based on a calculation of the climate impact of contrails on the world's climate. The researchers suggest that rather than simply calculating the …
Curiosity looking good on first Martian birthday

One amazing reason why NASA boffins are celebrating Curiosity's 687th day on Mars

As Curiosity trundles across the plains of Mars, its controllers at NASA are preparing to hold a bit of a party – as on June 24 the rover celebrates its first full Martian year (687 Earth days) on the Red Planet. Curiosity looking good on first Martian birthday Curiosity is looking good on its first Martian birthday The rover …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jun 2014
View of the LHC tunnel sector 3 to 4

Higgs boson even MORE likely to actually be Higgs boson - boffins

Boffins are becoming increasingly hardline in their stance on the particle discovered in 2012 and lauded as the Higgs boson. They say it is, in fact, the Higgs boson and not something else. CMS event showing characteristics expected from the decay of the Higgs boson Researchers have discovered that the bosons decay into …
Titan after shot with circle

Titan sprouts 'Magic Island', say astroboffins

Astroboffins monitoring Titan have spotted something new that hints at how the moon's weather works. The folks behind the discovery have named the new feature a “magic island”, because nobody knows what it is or why it appeared. The discovery is detailed in a Nature Geoscience letter titled “Transient features in a Titan sea” …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jun 2014
Enhanced images of the M51 galaxy

Sky-scraping boffins mash amateur astronomers into huge virtual telescope

Amateur astronomers worried that Big Astronomy would render them obsolete can relax: the kinds of techniques used to create huge virtual telescopes are now being applied to the huge collections of astro-pics published on the Internet. As keen astronomy-watchers know, the effective aperture of telescopes can be expanded by …
orbcomm

Engineering fault stops SpaceX launch of machine comms satellite network

Elon Musk might have a tight timetable to get humans to Mars, but his SpaceX booster company is behind schedule on its current launch calendar, thanks to an engineering glitch. With minutes to go before launch at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX's latest Falcon rocket was shut down after engineers spotted pressure fluctuations in the unit …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jun 2014
A black hole

COSMIC BELCH from supermassive black hole stuns boffins

Pic The dimming of the bright centre of an active distant galaxy may be the result of unexpected behaviour from a supermassive black hole at its heart, according to NASA. A black hole Bad gas ... Artist's impression of a black hole The scientists, using NASA and ESA space observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope, …

VIDEO SELFIE DRONE: 'AirDog' UAV follows you everywhere you go

A Kickstarter campaign to take the art of sports videography to new heights with the stalking "AirDog" quadchopper has thundered past its funding target. Described as "the world's first auto-follow action sports drone", the AirDog will lift a GoPro and then chase its owner wherever he or she runs with a programmable tracker. …
Lester Haines, 20 Jun 2014
Close-up of the canards connections, with Playmonaut a miniature fireman

LOHAN in FIGHT to DEATH with brace of cantankerous canards

Our plucky Playmonaut is back in his seat in the Vulture 2 spaceplane following the recent servo meltdown which had prompted his rapid exit from the vehicle. The miniature emergency required a servo swap-out, and while we were about it, we decided to upgrade the linkages to the canards, and bolt the cantankerous forewings to the …
Lester Haines, 20 Jun 2014
Breaking ground on Cerro Armazones for the E-ELT

KA-BOOOM! Boffins blow up mountain to make way for telescope

Work has commenced on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the 40-metre-class 'scope that will sit atop Chile's Cerro Armazones mountain and collect thirteen times more light than any comparable instrument. The project almost started with a bang: this video starts with plenty of tedious speeches before, at about the …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jun 2014

Hubble Telescope loosens Kuiper belt to reveal ICY BODY for NASA boffins' PROBE

NASA’s Hubble Telescope committee has approved a plan to have the space 'scope search for something beyond Pluto for the space agency's New Horizons craft to visit after it flies by next summer. Artist's rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Kuiper Belt object — a city-sized icy relic left over from the birth …

Elon Musk: Just watch me – I'll put HUMAN BOOTS on Mars by 2026

Electrocar and rocket tycoon Elon Musk says he'll put the first human beings on Mars well before the 2020s are finished – and also promised to float his SpaceX firm on Earth stock exchanges once the interplanetary mission gets underway. "I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's …
Iain Thomson, 18 Jun 2014

LOHAN seeks X-Plane bod for simulating relationship

If you're a dab hand with X-Plane's Plane-Maker who just happens to fancy eternal internet glory as part of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, then today's your lucky day. The current state of play with our Vulture 2 spaceplane is that we've replaced the smoking servo which recently gave our plucky …
Lester Haines, 17 Jun 2014