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Lightning, photo via Shutterstock

Shocking. Lightning strike knocks out neuro patient's brain implant

A report published in the Journal of Neurosurgery documented the alarming experience of a patient who got a little too close for comfort to a lightning storm while undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS is used to treat neurological movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and involves inserting electrodes into …
Richard Speed, 03 May 2018
NASA's Kilopower Reactor depicted on the Moon

NASA demos little nuclear power plant to help find little green men

NASA has announced successful tests of a small fission reactor capable of producing about 10 kilowatts of power, and hopes the technology will prove suitable for use on the Moon or Mars. The space agency’s developed the reactor because crewed missions will need lots more electricity than can be generated by either the Sun or …
Simon Sharwood, 03 May 2018

Astroboffins score a first by spotting traces of helium on an exoplanet

Astronomers have detected helium floating around in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time, according to a paper published in Nature on Wednesday. The discovery was made after a team of scientists probed WASP-107b with the Hubble Space Telescope. It's an exoplanet located about 200 light-years away from Earth that …
Katyanna Quach, 03 May 2018
Lunar Resource Prospector (pic: NASA)

NASA lunar rover trundles to a meeting with Doctor Hacksaw and Mister Axe

NASA has hinted that its Lunar Resource Prospector rover won’t be going to the Moon anytime soon. Not in one piece at any rate. The American space agency's new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, pulled out his axe on his third day in the job, and tweeted out what hinted at confirmation of the rover’s cancellation. We’re …
Richard Speed, 02 May 2018
Boy with a backpack hides his eyes and cries. Pic by Shutterstock

Blighty: If EU won't let us play at Galileo, we're going home and taking encryption tech with us

Britain has warned it would attempt to stop the EU using its encryption tech on the Galileo project while launching its own satellites. The UK is able to block the EU from ordering any more Galileo satellites while it remains a member of the club. Such a move would, however, only result in a short delay and may actually end up …
Richard Speed, 02 May 2018
Nowlight in Kenya

Grab your lamp, you've pulled: Brits punt life-saving gravity-powered light

The second generation of a deciwatt gravity-powered lamp designed by the British industrial designers behind the Psion computer keyboard was launched today. Few innovations we cover can claim to save lives, but this just might be one of them. The $5 Gravity Light, designed by London's Therefore Inc, offers the world's poorest …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 May 2018
NASA Galileo Probe (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

NASA scientists have made some new discoveries about Jupiter's giant moon Ganymede, thanks to a dedicated team, an elderly VAX machine and 20-year-old data from the long-defunct Galileo probe. Fifteen years after Galileo (no, not that one) ended its days with a plunge into the atmosphere of Jupiter, NASA scientists have …
Richard Speed, 01 May 2018
Six parked concordes photo British Airways

Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Geek's Guide to Britain For a generation that never heard the sonic boom as Concorde broke the sound barrier overhead, the iconic white arrow-shaped aircraft dubbed "The Rocket" by British Airways is just a story our parents told. Before we travel to the museum in Filton, Gloucestershire, that houses it, let's take a trip back in time. Aérospatiale/ …

North will remain North for now, say geo-magnetic boffins

Earth's magnetic field flips from time to time, but boffins are now confident it won't happen again any time soon. Research published April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) says Earth scientists' assessment of our magnetosphere suggest we're more likely to see a …

Bill Gates declined offer to serve as Donald Trump's science advisor

Bill Gates reportedly turned down an offer to serve as President Donald Trump's science advisor. The offer was first reported by health sector site Statnews, which interviewed the Microsoft founder and philanthropist about his public-health-related activities. During the discussion, Gates told Statnews he'd discussed …
New Shepard Launch (pic: Blue Origin)

Mannequin Skywalker takes high ground on Bezos-backed rocket

Jeff Bezos-founded spaceflight firm Blue Origin set a company record yesterday by sending its capsule on a sub-orbital trajectory with an apogee of 351,000 feet (107km) before landing both booster and capsule safely in West Texas. It was the company's eighth flight using the third version of the New Shepard booster – a single- …
Richard Speed, 30 Apr 2018

Double double, soil and trouble, fire burn and heat shield bubble: NASA cracks rover, has dirty talk with ESA

There was good news and bad news for interplanetary exploration today. The bad news is that the heat shield for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover has cracked. Thankfully, it hasn't even taken off let alone attempted to land on Earth's sister world. The good news is that NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed an agreement …
Richard Speed, 27 Apr 2018
Sentinel-3B Lift Off  (pic: ESA)

It's not rocket science! Actually it is, and it's been a busy frickin week

Russia and China celebrated a pair of successful launches this week, with a Rockot booster placing Sentinel-3B into orbit while China's Long March 11 lobbed five imaging sats into space. The launch for the European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday evening from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome added to the growing Copernicus fleet with a …
Richard Speed, 27 Apr 2018

Want to make a super-earth? Bring on the frikking lasers

A team of physicists have attempted to recreate the internal conditions of a ‘super-Earth’ planet in a lab, by shooting laser beams at iron samples. Super-Earths are a type of exoplanet. They have a higher mass than Earth, but are not as massive as Uranus and Neptune. The giants are about 15 and 17 times the mass of Earth. A …
Katyanna Quach, 27 Apr 2018
Macro-scale entanglement

I spy with my little eye ... a quantum drum with TRILLIONS of atoms

Gravitational wave measurements, and quantum computing and communications are just two applications of an international experiment that created entanglement between objects large enough to be visible to humans. At 15 microns, the “drumheads” described in this paper at Nature are of the scale of a human hair, much larger than …
Gravitation Lensing (pic: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild and F. Summers (STScI))

James Webb Space Telescope + luck = long distance astrofun

Researchers hope that NASA's budgetary-challenged James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may score some good fortune with a boost from galactic alignment. While European Space Agency (ESA) scientists are breathless with excitement at the volume of star survey data received from the Gaia satellite, NASA researchers are comforting …
Richard Speed, 26 Apr 2018

Astroboffins peep at the largest orgy of galaxies banging into each other

Astronomers have spotted a whopping 14 galaxies on the verge of merging to create what could be the densest and most massive galactic cluster in the universe. The discovery was made after the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica scanned the night sky and found a population of rare, extremely bright objects nicknamed SPT2349-56. …
Katyanna Quach, 26 Apr 2018
ESA's Gaia star map

Incredible Euro space agency data leak... just as planned: 1.7bn stars in our galaxy mapped

The European Space Agency (ESA) has emitted a huge dump of data from its Gaia mission to 3D map the Milky Way. Wednesday's mega-release, containing high precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars, dwarfs the first release of data in 2016, which pinned down the position of 1.14 billion stars and the distances and motion …
Richard Speed, 26 Apr 2018

That's no moon... er, that's an asteroid. And it'll be your next and final home, spacefarer

Students and eggheads are designing a futuristic spaceship from an empty asteroid shell capable of housing astronaut crews as they slowly move between stars on trips that could last hundreds of years. The TU Delft Starship Team (DSTART) – based at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands – are working on a project …
Katyanna Quach, 26 Apr 2018
Astronaut losing control in space

Blighty stuffs itself in Galileo airlock and dares Europe to pull the lever

The furore over Britain's potential loss of access to Europe's Galileo satellite system post-Brexit turned up a notch this week – as a report blamed British officials' iffy approach to negotiations. The report in question, published on April 24 by Parliament's Select Committee for European Scrutiny, asked some questions that …
Richard Speed, 25 Apr 2018
Teen takes selfie with patient in hospital bed (in homey setting)

$50 add-on can turn your mobe into a less misanthropic House MD

Researchers have come up with an optical gadget which, when attached to a smartphone, can check samples for 12 infectious diseases at once. The team, led by Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University, devised the equipment to solve the problem of diagnosis …
Richard Speed, 25 Apr 2018
Walter Spier L Peter LeComber R photo courtesy University of Dundee Archive Services

The tech you're reading these words on – you have two Dundee uni boffins to thank for that

Every time you use a smartphone, glance at your smart watch, fire up a computer, watch TV or endure a PowerPoint presentation, you experience a little bit of Dundee. The flat-panel technology we use in modern devices wasn't invented by megacorps in Japan or Silicon Valley but by a pair of academics in Scotland's fourth-largest …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Apr 2018
ESA Sentinel 3 (pic: ESA/ATG medialab)

Russians poised to fire intercontinental ballistic missile... into space with Sentinel-3 sat on board

The European Space Agency (ESA) is all a-quiver at the prospect of the second Sentinel-3 satellite launch, due this evening atop a Russian Rockot launcher. The spacecraft will ride to space at 1757 UTC on 25 April from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia aboard an elderly converted Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ( …
Richard Speed, 25 Apr 2018

Cosmic prang probe: Euro space boffins to smash sats, virtually

The European Space Agency is launching a new research project to study satellite collisions in space. “We want to understand what happens when two satellites collide,” said Tiziana Cardone, an ESA structural engineer leading the project, on Tuesday. “Up until now a lot of assumptions have been made about how the very high …
Katyanna Quach, 25 Apr 2018
Bloke in a pigsty bachelor pad

Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls

Vid At about $20 per square metre, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have devised a way to turn walls into a touch interface. In a paper [PDF] scheduled to be presented at CHI 2018, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Montreal this week, researchers Yang Zhang, Chouchang (Jack) Yang …
Thomas Claburn, 24 Apr 2018
Four years of NEOWISE collection

Scratch Earth-killer asteroid off your list of existential threats

Video NASA's fourth release of data from its NEOWISE asteroid-hunter may well come as a relief, as it's again failed to spot a rock worthy of Bruce Willis' attention. The new data dump, (downloadable here), brings the mission's total to 29,246 objects. Those objects were observed in the four years since NASA mission scientists …

Astroboffins discover the stink of eggy farts wafting from Uranus

Scientists have solved a pressing mystery about our Solar System. Does Uranus smell like farts? Yes, yes it does. A paper published on Monday in Nature confirms that Uranus contains clouds of hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs. "If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus' clouds, they would …
Katyanna Quach, 23 Apr 2018
Europe as seen from space

Brexit has shafted the UK's space sector, lord warns science minister

A letter to UK science minister Sam Gyimah has outlined the impact of Brexit on Britain's space sector, and it doesn't make for happy reading. The letter (PDF) by Lord Whitty follows oral evidence given to the Lords' EU Internal Market Sub-Committee on 15 March. The committee followed up the session with a jolly to the "space …
Richard Speed, 23 Apr 2018

Here's another headline where NASA is dragged through the mud for cheap Mars wise cracks

Pic Water that once flowed across the surface of Mars caused the formation of mud cracks that were spotted by NASA's Curiosity rover, scientists have confirmed. The fractures were discovered in 2017 while the nuclear-powered robot was busy snapping away pictures of the Gale Crater – an area believed to be a 3.5-billion-year-old …
Katyanna Quach, 20 Apr 2018

Bloke fruit flies enjoy ejaculating, turn to booze when starved of sexy times

A new study reveals that male fruit flies enjoy the sensation of ejaculation, and are more likely to turn to alcohol when sexually frustrated. Sound familiar? The research published in Current Biology on Thursday is, apparently, the first to prove the rewarding nature of orgasms among insects and mammals. “Successful mating …
Katyanna Quach, 19 Apr 2018

Musk: I want to retrieve rockets with big Falcon party balloons

While waiting for TESS to get off the launchpad on Monday, chief exec Elon Musk joked on Twitter about how SpaceX might set about recovering the second stage of the booster. SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2018 The idea is …
Richard Speed, 19 Apr 2018

SpaceX finally Falcon flings NASA's TESS into orbit

NASA’s TESS spacecraft is in orbit following a successful launch from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 left the launch pad at 22:51 UTC after a delay to deal with unspecified issues with the rocket’s guidance systems. The first stage engines shut down just over two minutes later as planned. The …
Richard Speed, 19 Apr 2018

Pyro-brainiacs set new record with waste-heat-into-electricity study

Californian scientists have come up with a way of converting waste heat from electronics back into electricity with improved efficiency, according to a study in Nature Materials. The system uses a process called pyroelectric energy conversion, which the study shows can take low-quality waste heat (which it might interest you …
Richard Speed, 19 Apr 2018

Hello DARKNESS, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again... about a 10,000-pixel alien-hunting camera

Astronomers are building the world’s largest and most advanced superconducting camera – with the goal of snapping clearer shots of exoplanets for scientists hunting alien life. Thousands of exoplanets have been detected by telescopes in space. Instruments on probes look for the characteristic dip in light emitted from stars …
Katyanna Quach, 18 Apr 2018
Plastic waste bottles polyethylene recycling

Scissors cut paper. Paper wraps rock. Lab-made enzyme eats plastic

A new enzyme developed at the University of Portsmouth will enable the recycling of plastic used for disposable drinks containers. A commercial infrastructure based around the enzyme would have two benefits: disposing of the original container, and creating new clear plastic for reuse. Professor John McGeehan said the …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Apr 2018
TESS delayed while Mars Express reboots (pic: ESA and SpaceX)

NASA's TESS mission in distress, Mars Express restart is a success

A Guidance and Navigation Control (GNC) issue scuppered last night's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9. Conversely, the European Space Agency (ESA) celebrated a successful restart of the Mars Express orbiter following a software update. TESS is less Scheduled for launch yesterday, the …
Richard Speed, 17 Apr 2018

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