Science > More stories

The Tanami Desert en route to Willowara

Australia's new broadband satellites won't be all the help Willowra needs

One of the things we've been asked about our project to figure out how to improve network performance at the Wirliyajarrayi Learning Centre in the remote Australian town of Willowra is why we are bothering. It's a decent question to ask because Australia is building a new Long Term Satellite Solution (LTSS) that promises multi- …
she should look alarmed

Virtual reality WHIPLASH CHAIR in shutdown scare

MWC 2015 Incongruous among the mobile marketing solutions and miscellaneous apps in the Spanish section at Mobile World Congress was the VR experience from Spanish company Whiplash. On a stand which was significantly too small, the company demonstrated its two-axis articulated seat tied to binocular displays. As one hapless potential …
Simon Rockman, 5 Mar 2015

UK spaceport, phase two: Now where do we PUT the bleeding thing?

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has narrowed its shortlist of potential locations for Europe's first spaceport, which would provide a UK base for future commercial space flights and satellite launches. In response to a three-month consultation on the plans, the UK government said that it had received "widespread support …
OUT-LAW.COM, 5 Mar 2015
Homo jaw

Boffins find Earth's earliest Homo in Ethiopian hilltop

It looks like mankind's earliest ancestors go back a lot further than first thought. After 13 years digging in the Rift Valley region of Ethiopia, team of researchers have found a 2.8-million-year-old jawbone from our genus. Creatures of the genus Homo were thought to have evolved around two million years ago, producing various …
Iain Thomson, 5 Mar 2015
Stegosaurus

Sophie the Stegosaurus was a teenaged fat lass claims triple-D model

Pic + vid Scientists at the Natural History Museum have used 3D models to work out what its famous Stegosaurus would have weighed when she was alive. And the answer is: a lot. The dino exists today at the London museum as a skeleton nicknamed Sophie after the daughter of the hedge fund manager who bought the ancient bones. It is the most …
Iain Thomson, 4 Mar 2015

Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship

Pics A team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has located the final resting place of monster Japanese battleship Musashi, some 70 years after she was consigned to the depths off the Philippines during the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf. The discovery marks the end of an eight-year search for the sunken behemoth, according to Allen' …
Lester Haines, 4 Mar 2015

Lost WHITE CITY of the MONKEY GOD found after 500 years

In a scene straight from Raiders of the Lost Ark, archaeologists believe they have found the fabled lost White City of the Monkey God in Honduras. Aided by former Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers, the team of scientists uncovered the location in the Mosquitia jungle, along Honduras's eastern coast, over 500 years after the …
Kat Hall, 4 Mar 2015
Curiosity's robotic arm probes first rock

Curiosity rover RENDERED ARMLESS by short circuit

Humanity's Mars-resident nuclear-powered, laser-packing space tank Curiosity has a broken arm. NASA boffins said the problem emerged on 27 February when "the rover was conducting an early step in the transfer of rock powder collected by the drill on the arm to laboratory instruments inside the rover." During that operation " …

Atomic keyring's eerie blue glow lights SPB lab

The news last week that El Reg merchandising tentacle Cash'n'Carrion had sourced new tritium-powered glowrings prompted some atomic-powered nostalgia from those readers who'd bought the original Traser. Way back in 2002, we laid our hands on a big batch of these novelty keyrings, and promptly shifted thousands of them. No …
Lester Haines, 3 Mar 2015
Waves and particles (original resolution)

Is light a wave or a particle? Beaming boffins prove it's BOTH

The old conundrum is right: not only is light both a wave and a particle, but Swiss boffins have captured it behaving as both at the same time. And this is what it looks like (click for the bigger version): EPFL wave and particle image Upper image - light as wave Lower image - light as quanta Image: EPFL The researchers …
DSS 35 deep space telescope

NASA upgrades Rosetta, Voyager and moon landing tracker

NASA has upgraded the Australian facility housing antennae that captured signals from the first Moon landing and still helps to track the Voyager missions. The Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station already houses Deep Space Stations (DSS) 34, 43, 45 and DSS 46. The latter is a 26 metre antenna that received the first video of …
SpaceX launches electric satellites into orbit

SpaceX lofts two all-electric ion-drive comsats to Clarke orbit

Pics Another month, another successful SpaceX launch. This time, a Falcon 9 sent into orbit a twin set of communications satellites that eschew chemical-engine propellant in favor of solar power. Typically, half the weight of a satellite is its propulsion fuel, used to maneuver it into position once in space. However, the two just- …
Iain Thomson, 2 Mar 2015

US military SATELLITE suddenly BLOWS UP: 'Temperature spike' blamed

In a story reminiscent of the movie Gravity, near-Earth orbits have a bunch of new space junk chunks to worry about after a satellite exploded. After an event was first noticed by orbital tracking company CelesTrak, the US Air Force has confirmed to Space News that the 20-year-old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight …
Planet Labs' Doves in their coop

Satellite cannon starts shooting Doves, this time under control

The nano-sat launcher aboard the International Space Station has stopped malfunctioning and started spitting its payload into space as intended. The NanoRacks deployment was due last year, but was interrupted when it started launching its 6kg Planet Labs Doves satellites without instructions. The fault was traced to over- …
Spacewalking outside the ISS. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA 'nauts complete another EPIC SPACEWALK to route cables around ISS

Astronauts working on NASA's International Space Station have snaked yet more cabling around the orbiting science lab. Live images of Terry Virts' and Barry Wilmore's latest spacewalk were beamed down to Earth and aired via the U.S. agency's live TV feed. The 'nauts carried out the installations to reconfigure the ISS for new …
Kelly Fiveash, 1 Mar 2015
Grad James Stevenson, astronomer Jonathan Lunine and chemical engineer Paulette Clancy, with a Cassini image of Titan in the foreground of Saturn, and an azotosome, the theorised cell membrane on Titan. Credit: Cornell University

BOFFINS: Oxygen-free, methane-based ALIENS may EXIST on icy SATURN moon Titan

Scientists believe they have come up with a solid model for a new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that could thrive in the harsh, icy conditions of Saturn's mysterious freezing moon, Titan. The researchers at Cornell University reckon they have come up with "the first concrete blueprint of life not as we know it." …
Kelly Fiveash, 28 Feb 2015
Hyperloop plans

Elon Musk plans to plonk urban Hyperloop subsonic tube on California

Billionaire space baron Elon Musk has inked a deal with land developers in California to allow his company to begin installing an over-hyped, loopy new transport system appropriately dubbed Hyperloop. Previous mutterings from Musk had suggested that the first railgun-like tube-way would be constructed by Hyperloop Transportation …
Kelly Fiveash, 28 Feb 2015

Churchill's blood valued at £560,000. Take that Stalin!

The blood circulating in Winston Churchill's veins was worth around £560,000, on the basis of a valuation placed on a small phial of it being auctioned next month. Dukes Auctions is estimating the phial of his blood obtained by a nurse in 1962 could fetch £1,000, although a spokeswoman from the auction house said that due to the …
Kat Hall, 27 Feb 2015
SkyProwler drone

SkyProwler VTOL transformo-drone set to darken skies

Joe Public's appetite for new UAV tech must surely have a limit, but that's still some way off if the case of the SkyProwler "Multi-Mission VTOL Transformer Drone" is any indication. Having soared past its $100,000 Kickstarter goal in a matter of days, Arizona-based Krossblade Aerospace Systems is set to unleash the vehicle …
Lester Haines, 26 Feb 2015
Ceres

Spotty Ceres baffles boffins with bright patches

The Dawn spacecraft sent by NASA to investigate the asteroid belt's largest bodies has spotted a second bright spot on the surface of Ceres, sparking speculation that the dwarf planet might be significantly stranger than first thought. Dawn is slowly approaching Ceres using its ion drive to match orbits, and its latest pictures …
Iain Thomson, 26 Feb 2015

Laughing gas and rubber: A recipe for suborbital flight?

This summer, the skies above Nevada will thunder to the sound of a mighty hybrid rocket motor, as the Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group (BURPG) sends its Starscraper vehicle past the symbolic 100km Kármán line. BURPG group shot at motor test site BURPG: Laughing gas and rubber Having recently tin-rattled its way to …
Lester Haines, 26 Feb 2015
Pictured: a total spaz who can't stop hitting himself

Trolls prevail because good men do nothing: boffins

A recent study into online bullying has found that nine out of 10 internet users won't do a thing to stop it. Researchers from Ohio State University found that when confronted with examples of bullying, many users shy away from direct confrontation. The study pitted 221 student volunteers in a simulated support chat environment …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Feb 2015
bionic hand

Boffin: Use my bionic breakthrough for good, and not super cyborgs

Austrian scientists have used a technique dubbed "bionic reconstruction" to connect a robot hand to human nerves, enabling directly brain-controlled prosthetics for the first time. "Bionic reconstruction is a holistic concept that covers more than just surgical technique," said Prof Oskar Aszmann, MD, Head of the Christian …
Iain Thomson, 25 Feb 2015
Superluminous quasar J0100+2802

COSMIC FATTY from the DAWN of TIME simply can't exist – astroboffins

Researchers from Australia and China have turned up an unfeasibly large black hole that almost dates back to the beginning of time. At 12 billion times the Sun's mass, and in a quasar that was a million billion times as energetic as the Sun, it's not actually the largest black hole ever spotted. However, its redshift indicates …
International Space Station

Russia considers keeping its own half of the ISS alive after 2024

Russia has decided that if Europe ends its involvement in the International Space Station (ISS), it will undock and keep its half alive. A meeting of the Roscosmos science and technical council has recommended that the Russian space agency continue to support the ISS until 2024. After that, the Federal Space Agency statement …

Wanna free web domain for a year? Hey, it's not rocket .science

This morning has seen the launch of the dot-science top-level domain – and one registrar at least is offering them for free. That's right, AlpNames is offering one year's registration for zero dollars. The typical price for a dot-science domain will be $40 per year, but in order to give the launch a boost the registry owners, …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Feb 2015

Love rats show sex while drunk will sober you up, say boffins

Sydney University boffins reckon there just might be such a thing as a sobering drug – and that it's something the body makes naturally. In joint research with the University of Regensburg in Germany, the researchers found that in drunk rats, the so-called “cuddle hormone” oxytocin ameliorated alcohol's effect on the drunken …
Marconi and transmission equipment

Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer

Geek's Guide to Britain This is the story of a 22-year-old technology genius, who, stung by the lack of interest in his work in his homeland, moved to a new country to develop his ideas. In a single year, this individual extended the performance of a key technology of his time by a factor of more than 20. It sounds like an outlandish tale even by …
SA Mathieson, 23 Feb 2015
2001: A Space Odyssey

Spacewalking NASA 'nauts hook up power and data cables to ISS Harmony module

NASA astronauts clocked up hours of walking in the void of space on Saturday, as they continued to rig the forward end of the Harmony module and Pressurised Mating Adapter-2 with power and data cables. Terry Virts and Barry Wilmore routed 340 of 360 feet of cable during their walks, the U.S. space agency said. NASA added: The …
Team Register, 22 Feb 2015

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: El Reg eggs Benedict

A few days ago, we offered wobbly dining fans the Post-Pub Noshographic - a procedural flowchart to steer our beloved readers through the after-boozer neckfiller decision-making process. That handy guide serves for immediate deployment as you stagger through the front door, a gibbering and dribbling mess in search of immediate …
Lester Haines, 22 Feb 2015

New Mexico mulls sale of first US commercial spaceport (and LOHAN launchpad)

A New Mexico State Senator has proposed to sell off Spaceport America, saying the site has no viable business model – while claiming that Virgin Galactic may be in breach of contract after a disastrous spaceplane flight ended in death. The spaceport opened for business in 2006 but has seen hard times, hosting just 21 vertical …
Iain Thomson, 21 Feb 2015
Stephen Hawking, weightless and happy

HAWKING ALERT: Leave planet Earth, find a new home. Stupid humans

Human aggression threatens to destroy Earth so we'd better start colonising planets soon, pioneering physicist Stephen Hawking has said. "I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be space and that it represents an important life insurance for our future survival," said Hawking, speaking at London's Science …
Kat Hall, 20 Feb 2015
The Colossus Mk II, photo: Gavin Clarke

Royal Mail's Colossus move gets ex-WREN's stamp of approval

Once muzzled by officialdom, former operators of Colossus have reacted well to a Royal Mail stamp marking the achievements of the computing beast and its designer, Tommy Flowers. The Colossus stamp is part of eight in the Royal Mail’s series, called Inventive Britain. The world’s first electronic, programmable computer, …
Gavin Clarke, 20 Feb 2015
DNA Helix

Want a MEEELLION-year data storage? Use DNA of course

Swiss boffins have used their weird wizardry to devised a way to store data for a million years using DNA, or so they claim. Perhaps DNA should be changed and adopt a new acronymic meaning: Digital Nucleotide Archive. The researchers were led by boss boffin Robert Grass (Die Haupt Boffiner – think that’s the translation, Ed), a …
Chris Mellor, 20 Feb 2015

El Reg chefs whip up Post-Pub Noshographic

Our post-pub nosh neckfiller recipes have proved immensely popular over the last few months, as we've strived to bring our beloved readers the very best antidotes to a rigorous night on the sauce. However, amid the smacking of lips and the rattling of pots and pans, we have noticed a trend for commentards to decry some recipes …
Lester Haines, 20 Feb 2015
A close up at atomic level of limpits' teeth. Image via Portsmouth University

HOLY SEA SNAILS! Their TEETH are strong enough to build a plane

Forget the Killer Rabbit from Monty Python, limpets – a type of aquatic snail – have far more power behind their bite, say the scientists who've discovered their teeth are composed of the strongest natural material. The creatures need high strength teeth to scrape algae off rocks. But researchers from Portsmouth University have …
Kat Hall, 19 Feb 2015
Photograph of the killer shrimp. Pic: Defra

Prawn cocktail offers hot new way to make solar cells

Wrap your laughing gear around this: researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have discovered that materials from shrimp/prawns can replace expensive elements in solar cells. The boffins working on nano-structured solar cells found that chitin and chitosan can make the quantum dots that are coated onto structures …
Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth

Watch a hot, speeding space alien explode all over Earth's Beaver

Video Three NASA cameras have picked up the fiery entrance and explosive exit of a 500lb (226kg) chunk of space rock in the skies over Pennsylvania in the wee small hours of Tuesday. Youtube Video The meteor was spotted at 0450 local time (0950 UTC) sixty miles above Beaver Falls. It was filmed by three video cameras that are part of …
Iain Thomson, 18 Feb 2015
Scholz' Star. Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester

BLOOD STAR of the NEANDERTHALS passed close to our Sun

Back when Homo sapiens neanderthalensis strode or shambled or knuckled along the earth, about 70,000 years ago, the prehuman simians may have been able to see a small star passing through the fringes of our solar system. So say the authors of a new paper, The Closest Known Flyby of a Star to the Solar System, in The …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Feb 2015
Total Recall

Big Brother in SPAACE: Mars One picks first 100 morons to suffocate, er, settle on Red Planet

Pics The final 100 wannabe Mars One colonists have been announced. The organizer of the project has received 202,586 applications from Earthlings longing for a one-way trip to the fourth rock from the Sun – and claims it will fire the first four settlers to Mars in 2024. It will fund the whole thing through sponsorship and a reality …
Iain Thomson, 17 Feb 2015
Google Street View penguins

PENGUINS are just TASTELESS, say boffins

Penguins may be immaculately tailored but it seems they may be a bit tasteless in other areas; specifically that of, erm, taste. This is according to new genetic research which indicates that the smartly turned out flightless birds of the Antarctic have the genes to detect only two of the five tastes (which are sweet, sour, …
Lewis Page, 17 Feb 2015

Boffins now one step closer to male birth control pill

Boffins are developing two new methods for birth control that may eventually lead to the availability of a “male pill”. H2-gamendazole, an organic compound that prevents sperm from reaching maturity, is going through animal testing. Sperm cells grow a tail and head in the testis, but H2-gamendazole blocks this metabolic process …
John Leyden, 17 Feb 2015