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Concept pic of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle during re-entry. Credit: ESA

Europe just flew titchy reusable SPACEPLANE IXV around the planet

Video Europe's first reusable spaceplane has had a successful flight, traveling 413km (256 miles) above the Earth before splashing down on the other side of the planet. The delayed Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane lifted off from ESA's spaceport in French Guiana at 1340 GMT on Tuesday heading east atop a three- …
Iain Thomson, 11 Feb 2015
Reconstruction of past climate. Credit: Insititute of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

'Giving geo-engineering to this US govt is like giving a CHILD a LOADED GUN'

An official US government report just has recommended that further research should be carried out into various methods of "geoengineering" the climate so as to combat global warming. But one of its authors disagrees with himself, saying that giving such technology to the current US leadership would be "like giving a loaded gun …
Lewis Page, 11 Feb 2015
South Park

Worried you got PINK EYE when you shook hands? Doctor Google will see you now

Data-scraping ad giant Google is to begin serving up what it claims will be more "relevant" search results for netizens who seek information about medical conditions online. Chillingly, once Google users tap their perceived ailments into Mountain View's search engine, the company has promised it will be "easier to do more …
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Feb 2015
Nano heat mapping at UCLA

Boffins turn nano-wires into their OWN thermometers

We know that electronic components get hot, but understanding the fine detail of heat in a circuit feature measuring nanometers is difficult. Infrared imaging relies on wavelengths that are bigger than the features involved, leading to low resolution. Touching a spot with a (tiny) thermometer is high resolution, but its accuracy …
Google car

Back seat drivers fear lead-footed autonomous cars, say boffins

If you're the kind of person who reaches for a phantom brake-pedal when forced to be a passenger in a car, you're not alone. Research from psychologists in the US and UK suggests everybody's like that and that this tendency is going to be a problem for autonomous car-makers. In short: whether they say so or not, most passengers …
Falcon9

HISTORIC HOVER-ROCKET takeoff held up by 'SLEDGEHAMMER' winds

Updated It's third time unlucky for SpaceX – today's launch of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed at the last minute due to bad weather. Winds in the upper atmosphere were ruled too strong, with gusts exceeding safety limits by 151 per cent. Elon Musk expressed concern about the conditions early on Tuesday but wind speeds failed …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2015
Jeff Spicoli thinks you're awesome

Amazing, cool, wow: Humans naturally use POSITIVE words, and that is GOOD

Unlikely as it may seem to anyone who has ever used the internet, linguistically people really do "always look on the bright side of life," according to a scientific study. The University of Vermont conducted a "big data" study of billions of words across a number of languages and concluded that: "probably all human language …
Kat Hall, 10 Feb 2015

NASA plots methane-detecting laser in SPAAACE

NASA is working on a laser-based instrument it hopes will be able to take flight to measure atmospheric concentrations of important greenhouse gas methane. The work is being led by Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Haris Riris, who collaborated with Jim Abshire of Goddard in developing the CO2 Sounder Lidar (light detection …
When white dwarf stars collide

Boffin the boffin and his boffinry pals in double dwarf super-prang alert

Pics A boffin called Boffin and other scientists at the European Southern Observatory say they have spotted an astronomical first: two doomed white dwarf stars that will likely spark a supernova when they collide. The puny pair, in the planetary nebula* Henize 2-428, will crash into each other in about 700 million years, we're told. …
Iain Thomson, 9 Feb 2015
The Sima de los Huesos hominins lived approximately 400,000 years ago during the Middle Pleistocene

Official: Single people need to LOWER their EXPECTATIONS

Listen up, singletons, there’s no point waiting around for Mr Perfect. According to scientific research, having any old schmo right now could give you an evolutionary advantage. New research from Michigan State University researchers found that although an individual could hold out for the perfect mate and run the risk of coming …
Wide angle image makes the moon look much bigger than the earth

BEHOLD the magnificent lunar backside in our MOON VIDEO

Vid NASA has stitched together images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to produce a stunning video showing what the moon looks like from The Other Side. NASA video - A View From The Other Side It shows that there are many more, and larger craters than on the side which faces the Earth. What it doesn’t have is the large dark …
Simon Rockman, 9 Feb 2015
A person's chubby legs are seen above a scale. Photo via Shutterstock

SWINGBELLIES! Take heed! Drinking WINE is good for your LIVER

Great news today for those who haven't seen their feet lately and who enjoy a slurp of red wine: chemicals in dark grapes have been found to protect the liver from the harmful effects of being a fatty. Glugging red wine - or munching actual grapes, should that be your bag - doesn't prevent or reduced actual embulgement. What is …
Lewis Page, 9 Feb 2015
The proposed Twinkle satellite

Brit boffins want £50 million to launch exoplanet observatory

A bunch of UK boffins led by University College London (UCL) is looking for funds for an exoplanet-watching satellite – but we're not talking Kepler-level money. The group hopes that £50 million – including launch costs – will be enough to kick off a three-year mission to get Surrey Satellite Technology to build a spacecraft to …
Falcon explodes

Elon Musk: Hover rocket? Check. Hover ship? Check. Let's DO THIS

Elon Musk's SpaceX will attempt – for the second time – to land one of its reusable Falcon 9 rockets on a floating hover-ship out at sea, just a month after its last effort ended with a catastrophic explosion. Blast off of the rocket is expected to happen later today, Sunday, when it is scheduled to launch a space weather …
Kelly Fiveash, 8 Feb 2015
Microcapsules loaded with sodium carbonate solution

Ex-squeeze me? Baking soda? Boffins claim it safely sucks CO2 out of the air

A team of scientists believe they have made a "significant advance" capturing carbon dioxide with a little bit of help from one of the main ingredients in baking soda. They developed microcapsules made up of "a highly permeable polymer shell" and a fluid composed of sodium carbonate solution* to suck out carbon dioxide from coal …
Kelly Fiveash, 7 Feb 2015

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The Red Dwarf chilli chutney egg sarnie

Our pushing of the culinary envelope takes us into intergalactic space this week, as we present for your post-pub consideration the magnificent Red Dwarf chilli chutney egg sarnie, likened to "a cross between food and bowel surgery". That's how Arnold Rimmer described Dave Lister's unholy creation in episode Thanks for the …
Lester Haines, 7 Feb 2015

TOTAL DARKNESS lasted 550 MILLION years until the first STARS LIT UP

The first stars were formed much later than had been previously thought in the boffinry community, according to new maps of the universe's "ancient light" from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite. Astrophysicists have now calculated that the universe is roughly 13.8 billion years old, based on the light emitted by …
Kat Hall, 6 Feb 2015

GRUNTY CHIMPS 'blend in among locals' after moving to Scotland

Chimps imported to a Scottish zoo have learned to grunt like the locals, boffins have discovered, in a finding sure to wobble a few linguistic applecarts. Nine immigrant primates from a safari park in the Netherlands had been accustomed to using high pitched moans to call for apples, their favourite food, but all this changed …
Paul Kunert, 6 Feb 2015
Ceres

NASA: Check out this TWIRLY SPACE DWARF – and NEVER moan about our budget

NASA has released a series of pictures showing a high-res twirly view of the dwarf planet Ceres, jewel of the asteroid belt. The US space agency's Dawn spacecraft recently flew in to grab a closer look at the dwarf planet, flying within 90,000 miles of its surface to snap the photos NASA later released as a GIF. Dwarf Planet …
Shaun Nichols, 6 Feb 2015
Robot hotel

Forget robo-butlers – ROBO-MAIDS! New hotel staffed by slave-droids

A Japanese theme park will open a new hotel in July that is cleaned and operated almost entirely by robots. Guests will be met by robotic desk staff (so, no good trying to bribe one for a room upgrade) and have their bags carried by mechanoid porters. Even the room cleaning will be carried out by mechanical employees, and …
Iain Thomson, 5 Feb 2015
Pluto and its five moons

SWELLING moons of ice dwarf Pluto snapped by NASA spy-probe

NASA’s New Horizons camera-probe has sent back humanity's first closeup images of Pluto as the spacecraft heads toward the ice world at a blistering 31,000 miles an hour. The photos, taken 126 million miles from the dwarf planet, show a dot along with its largest moon, Charon. The aim of the mission is to better map Pluto and …
Kat Hall, 5 Feb 2015
Concept art depicting the lights of an ET civilisation on an exoplanet. Credit: David A Aguilar (CfA)

ALIENS are surely AMONG US: Average star has TWO potentially Earth-like worlds

Boffins in Australia have applied a hundreds-of-years-old astronomical rule to data from the Kepler planet-hunting space telescope. They've come to the conclusion that the average star in our galaxy has not one but two Earth-size planets in its "goldilocks" zone where liquid water - and thus, life along Earthly lines - could …
Lewis Page, 5 Feb 2015
Fiber optics

UK boffins DOUBLE distance of fiber data: London to New York WITHOUT a repeater

Researchers at University College London say they have found a way to dramatically increase the distance data can be sent intact over ordinary fiber optic cables – by partially working around the Kerr Effect. A phenomenon discovered by Scottish physicist John Kerr in 1875 limits the distance coherent data can travel. The effect …
Iain Thomson, 5 Feb 2015

LICKED: Behold my TOAD-PROOF ERECTION, boasts Aussie boffin

An Australian scientist says that he has succeeded in mastering one of mankind's deadliest enemies: invading toads which sweat toxic hallucinogenic drugs. "This is the first study to demonstrate long-term control of cane toads," says Professor Mike Letnic of New South Wales uni. 'This is a cane toad with a tracking device …
Lewis Page, 5 Feb 2015
Silicene's structure

Silicene takes on graphene as next transistor wonder-stuff

University of Texas boffins have offered up another material they reckon is a hot bet for future generations of Moore's-law-beating super-fast transistors: silicene. Throwing its hat into the ring as an alternate to the popular wonder-stuff graphene, silicene – a single-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms – is, like graphene, hard …
Europa Clipper

NASA: Give us JUST 0.5% of the federal budget and we'll take you to MARS and EUROPA

President Obama has proposed raising the NASA budget to $18.5bn in 2016 - and the space agency says it would use the funds to plan missions to the water-moon Europa and to capture asteroids and bring them back to Earth's orbit for study. The budget proposal would raise NASA's funding by $519m. NASA's administrator Charles Bolden …
Iain Thomson, 3 Feb 2015

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 …