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Milky Way stars and planets

Astroboffins mine data in pursuit of lonely, homeless RUNAWAY GALAXIES

Astronomers have observed 11 runaway galaxies wandering aimlessly around in spaaace. The discovery was revealed by star-gazing boffin Igor Chillingarian of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (HSCA) and Moscow State University, who was the lead author of a study published in the Science journal on Friday. Scientists dub …
Kelly Fiveash, 25 Apr 2015
Hubble anniversary image

Hubble hits 25th anniversary IN SPAAACE – time for telescope to come home

Pics On 24 April, 1990, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida carrying a very special cargo: 24,490lbs (11,110kg) of advanced optics, electronics, and antennas that made up the Hubble Space Telescope. The 'scope has revolutionised our understanding of the universe, in part thanks to five …
Iain Thomson, 25 Apr 2015

SUPERVOLCANIC MAGMA reservoir BUBBLING under Yellowstone Park

Geoboffins have claimed that a massive lake of magma found under the Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano could fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over. The study, published in Science this week, follows from the University of Utah's seismologists discovering and surveying a deeper reservoir of partly-molten rock which lies 12 …
Stegosaurus

SEX: Naughty female stegosauruses offered it on a PLATE

Differences in stegosauruses' armour plating may have had distinctly sexual origins, the University of Bristol's Evan Thomas Saitta suggests. Sophie, the teenage Stegosaurus starlet on display at the Natural History Museum, has 19 plates along her back. These are quite thin, suggesting no particular utility in defence. …
The EcoBot's artificial heart. Pic: Bristol Robotics Laboratory

MEPs: Oi, Juncker! Hands off our science and research dosh

MEPs are pushing back against European Commission plans to slash science funding. Commish president Jean-Claude Juncker wanted to remove €2.7 billion from the €80bn budget of Horizon 2020, but according to science groups including the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences, the League of European Research …
Jennifer Baker, 23 Apr 2015
Geckos playing with collar

Russian space geckos caught on film playing with jeweled collar

Video Not all “space gecko” experiments end in fiery doom: a group of thick-toed geckos sent into orbit have been filmed seem to have enjoyed playing with a collar floating around their capsule. That's interesting to the behavioural boffins in charge of the project, because “play” is a pretty advanced behaviour to be exhibited by a …
Laser printed transistor

Boffins laser print flexible transistors

Printing transistors is nothing new – silicon fabrication is, after all, essentially a print process – but printing silicon ink onto flexible substrates is usually a problem because there's too much heat for the medium to handle. The difficult step is annealing, as that process turns a silicon ink into the polysilicon that forms …
Tim Anderson, 23 Apr 2015
Twilight Zone, 'Time Enough At Last'

Got a big day planned in 15 BEELLLION years? You need this clock

The world's most accurate clock has been invented, and is ideal for anyone who doesn't want to be a second late over billions and billions of years. Boffins have improved the accuracy of the best optical atomic clock by a factor of three, so that it will not lose a second in 15 billion years – which is greater than the age of …
Kat Hall, 22 Apr 2015

Coffee cup-sized MIT machine can SEE actual ELECTRONS, boast boffins

A particle detector created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can detect the movements of individual electrons in a radioactive gas. The machine is designed to measure the mass of the neutrino, which is considered to be tiny even by the standards of subatomic particles. In an article published in Physical Review …
The supervoid

Something's missing in our universe: Boffins look into the SUPERVOID

The biggest structure in the Universe has astro-boffins a-twitter because there's less stuff in it than there should be. If you pop over to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society you'll find the snappily-titled Detection of a supervoid aligned with the cold spot of the cosmic microwave background, which explains …

El Reg assembles mighty Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse

El Reg's participation next week in the 2015 Live Below the Line challenge – to survive for five days on one pound a day for food – is set to be more entertaining than ever as we've assembled a mighty Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse featuring no fewer than 11 brave souls. I first did the challenge back in 2013, in support of Malaria No …
Lester Haines, 22 Apr 2015

Japan showcases really, really fast … whoa, WTF was that?!

For the second time in a week, Japan has smashed speed records, showcasing a really, really fast train outside Tokyo on Tuesday. The maglev monster managed to hit 603KPH (375MPH) on a test track close to Mount Fuji, beating a record it set just days earlier with a run reaching 581km/h. The seven-car Lo Series carried 49 …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Apr 2015
Vampire squid

VAMPIRE SQUID romps stun scientists: Unique sex lives revealed

Pic Scientists studying vampire squid have discovered the weird creatures of the vasty deep are unique among their class in the way they reproduce. Cephalopods, which include squid and octopuses, breed at the very end of their life cycles, funneling all their energy into creating eggs that are released shortly before the parent dies …
Iain Thomson, 21 Apr 2015
fmri_brain_v2

Neurobabble makes nonsense brain 'science' more believable

Neuroscientific explanations of human behaviour appeal to people because we’re suckers for simplified, mechanistic brain-centred explanations – even if they’re rubbish or don’t make sense. A droll study by four psychologists tested psychological statements and placed them alongside “irrelevant” information from neuroimaging fMRI …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Apr 2015

Flying giant octopus menaces New York

The New Statesman has pulled off a bit of a blinder by whipping out a giant octopus to helpfully explain to readers just how much a manhole cover weighs. The good burghers of Buffalo, New York, were recently menaced by a flying metal disk as the result of an underground explosion, apparently prompted by an electrical cable fire …
Lester Haines, 21 Apr 2015
Ceres' bright spots  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Spotty dwarf Ceres BARES ALL in NASA's SHINY CLOSEUPS

The two bright patches on dwarf planet Ceres have been spotted again by NASA astroboffins. The patches baffled boffins who didn't expect the worldlet to shine so bright, or indeed shine much at all. Tinfoil-hatters quickly came up with all sorts of theories about the patches, especially after NASA had nothing to say about them …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Apr 2015

High on bath salts, alleged Norse god attempts tree love

A 41-year-old Florida man is facing a pantheon of charges after allegedly getting hammered on bath salts, declaring himself to be Norse storm god Thor, attempting to commit "a sexual act on a tree", shrugging off two taserings, and assaulting a police officer. According to this report, Kenneth Crowder was spotted this month …
Lester Haines, 20 Apr 2015
Falcon 9 crash landing. Image credit: SpaceX

KABOOM! Billionaire fingers dud valve in ROCKET WIBBLE PRANG BLAST

Billionaire biz baron Elon Musk has revealed some detail on why his firm SpaceX's scheme to bring back a first stage booster rocket in one piece just failed on the most recent attempt. The Register reported on the drama as it unfolded on Tuesday. Once again, Falcon 9 successfully launched the capsule payload to 'nauts on the …
Kelly Fiveash, 19 Apr 2015
Ceres

DWARF PLANET Ceres beams back SUNNY north pole FROWN

In the build up to NASA's first science orbit of dwarf planet Ceres later this month, the agency's spacecraft Dawn has been capturing stunning images of the extraterrestrial body. Astroboffins have released an impressive animation of Ceres, after it was snapped from a distance of 21,000 (33,000 kilometres) on 10 April. NASA has …
Kelly Fiveash, 18 Apr 2015

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Tortilla de patatas

As regular readers know, the Special Projects Bureau's headquarters is a mountaintop redoubt in a sleepy corner of rural Spain, so it was inevitable that we'd eventually turn our wobbly dining attention to the legendary "tortilla de patatas" (potato omelette). This no-frills classic – comprising just eggs, spuds and onion – is …
Lester Haines, 18 Apr 2015

Gwyneth Paltrow flubs $29 food stamp dare, swallows pride instead

A not particularly shamefaced Gwyneth Paltrow has admitted she failed to survive for seven days on $29 (20 quid) for food as part of the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, which invites participants "to walk in the shoes of 1.7 million New Yorkers who rely on SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)." At the behest of celebrity food-botherer Mario …
Lester Haines, 17 Apr 2015
SpaceX Dragon docking

One small shot for Man, one espresso maker IN SPAAACE: Dragon snatched by ISS

+Vid SpaceX has completed its sixth supply run to the International Space Station: the Dragon capsule, loaded up with cargo and launched on Tuesday, has finally arrived at the orbiting science lab. The space station's Canadian-built robot arm captured the capsule at 0655 ET (1155 UTC) after SpaceX engineers guided it in a slow but …
Iain Thomson, 17 Apr 2015
USS independence then and now

RADIOACTIVE WWII aircraft carrier FOUND OFF CALIFORNIA

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says it has found the final resting place of the USS Independence, a World War Two aircraft carrier. The Independence (CVL-22) was commissioned as cruiser, but adapted to become a light carrier as the demands of the Pacific war made mobile air power …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Apr 2015
messenger

Don't shoot the Messenger: NASA's suicide probe to punch hole in Mercury

+Vid On April 30, a 16-metre-wide crater will be formed on the surface of Mercury by the hand of Man. Well, actually, by NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (Messenger) spacecraft, which will end its 11-year mission by piling into the planet's surface at 3.9km per second (8,724 MPH). The probe is …
Iain Thomson, 17 Apr 2015

Oz energy company AGL promises to decarbonise by 2050

Australian energy generator AGL has published a new Greenhouse Gas Policy (PDF) in which outlines “a pathway to decarbonisation of its electricity generation by 2050.” The policy means the generator will do the following: Continue to provide the market with safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy options Not build, …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Apr 2015
IBM_Spintronics

Graphene spintronics crowned latest Moore's Law extender contender

Wonder material graphene could provide the basis for the future of circuitry, by using a technique known as spintronics, boffins have mused. Spintronics uses the spin of individual electrons as the encoding method for data. This is significantly smaller than using charge, which requires thousands of electrons. Unfortunately, …
Simon Rockman, 16 Apr 2015
Philae

Comet 67P found to be COMPLETELY UNATTRACTIVE

The Philae Lander should soon see enough sun to resume operations on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenkoduring April or May, the European Space Agency's (ESA's) lander manager Stephan Ulamec told the European Geosciences Union General Assembly earlier this week. Philae hitched a ride to 67P aboard the Rosetta probe and descended to …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Apr 2015
pluto

NASA probe sent to faraway planet finds DWARF world instead: Pics

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has taken the first true color photograph of Pluto and its largest moon Charon – all while speeding toward the dwarf planet at four kilometres a second (8,950 miles per hour). The pictures were taken from around 115 million kilometres (71 million miles) away and so are somewhat blobby to say the …
Iain Thomson, 15 Apr 2015

Nuclear fusion simulator among boffinry tools picked for monster Summit supercomputer

In November, the US government announced it will build Summit, a $325m supercomputer capable of performing 300 quadrillion calculations per second if you redline it. When installed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2017 and powered up by 2018, it will be the fastest computer in the world compared to its publicly known …
Chris Williams, 15 Apr 2015

SPB brews up fetching beer + bacon t-shirt design

Those who live by the motto Ad Astra Tabernamque ("To The Stars And The Pub") – with the possible addition of "...and then home for a bacon sarnie"* – should proceed forthwith to El Reg's merchandising tentacle Cash'n'Carrion to feast their eyes on our limited edition "SPB Equation" t-shirt. The artwork for our SPB Equation t- …
Lester Haines, 15 Apr 2015
Smartwatches

Health apps and wearables make you nervous, not fit, say boffins

The British Medical Journal has staged a debate on the topic “Can healthy people benefit from health apps?” The debate seems to your correspondent to be a draw. Iltifat Husain, editor, iMedicalApps.com, and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina, USA, argued the “Yes” case …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Apr 2015
Ceres

Dwarf planet Ceres has TEN bright spots, astroboffins say

Dwarf planet Ceres has ten bright spots, not just the two that the Dawn spacecraft saw as it approached the worldlet in February. The two bright patches sparked all manner of speculation about their origins. Some suggested they could be volcanoes or a frozen lake reflecting the Sun. As news, and new images, of the bright spots …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Apr 2015

NASA to put the stars in your hands with coming-soon-now API portal

NASA has let it be known its working on an API portal so it can put more data into developers' hands. “Data is one of the most important assets at NASA,” writes Dan Hammer, a presidential innovation fellow at the agency. “”We have data on comets, measurements of mars, and real-time imagery of earth. But what good is data if you …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Apr 2015
SpaceX CRS-6 launch

Easy ... easy ... Aw CRAP! SpaceX rocket ALMOST lands on ocean hoverbase

Vid SpaceX very nearly landed the lower stage of its Falcon 9 rocket in one piece at sea on Tuesday – as the capsule payload of the rocket successfully made its way towards the International Space Station. The rocket, carrying a Dragon cargo capsule loaded with supplies for the space station, blasted off on schedule, and separated …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2015
IBM Watson QA Power7 cluster

Apple, IBM jump into bed for health data love in

Apple has partnered with IBM to use Big Blue’s former Jeopardy contestant Watson to crunch cloudy data obtained from Cupertino's fruity and still hard-to-come-by watches. The move is part of IBM’s unveiling of its Watson Health Cloud, intended to provide a platform for health researchers to aggregate information collected from …
Kat Hall, 14 Apr 2015
Glaciers on Mars

Scummy transients FOUND ON MARS by NASA rover

Hard on the heels of news from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that Mars could have extensive sub-surface glaciers, Curiosity Rover has gone a step better and found evidence of “transient” liquid water. It's neither pure enough nor (as a liquid) plentiful enough to support life, but it's still enough to get the boffinry quietly …
MGH's microbead diagnostics

US hospital boffins demo cancer-busting smartphone kit

America's FTC might be chasing after snake-oilers offering “detect cancer” smartphone apps, but that doesn't mean your mobe can't play a genuine diagnostic role. Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital reckon with a bit of cloudy goodness, custom-made add-on optics and the right reagent kit, smartphones can gather …
The Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre

Help! We need to pick a platform for our desert adventure

Things have slowed down a bit in our efforts to build a super network-groomer for the remote Australian community of Willowra, because there's been a changing of the guard at the Wirliyajarrayi Learning Centre. While we wait for new staff to arrive and to help us out with some ping tests and better photos of the network cabinet …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Apr 2015
SpaceX CRS-6 patch

HOVER ROCKET space station podule mission LIGHTNING HOLD DRAMA

NASA has postponed today's launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – loaded up with supplies for the International Space Station, including a new espresso coffee machine – after an approaching storm started blasting out. The craft was set to liftoff about an hour ago from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Launch postponed due to lightning …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2015
SpaceX launch

HOT HOVERSHIP-ON-HOVERSHIP ACTION: SpaceX ready for barge boing

SpaceX will be launching a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station this evening. It will be the seventeeth Falcon 9 launch - and SpaceX are attempting to land the first stage in a controlled vertical descent to a floating platform once again. Were the rockets – typically jettisoned once the primary stage of …
Peryton signal

Strange radio telescope signals came from microwave ovens

Boffins' lunches have been fingered as the source of a long-standing mystery: the peryton, which clouded discussions of the origin of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). Perytons have some similarities to FRBs (such as signal dispersion), but scientists were always fairly certain that their origin was terrestrial. At Parkes, for example, …

Soil and sand harden as SPEEDING MISSILES and METEORS SLAM into GROUND – boffins

Physicists have claimed that soil and sand toughen up when struck with hefty force from meteors and missiles hitting the ground at high speed. A lab-based test to simulate such impacts was carried out by boffins at Duke University, after they secured financial backing from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency. They studied …
Kelly Fiveash, 12 Apr 2015