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Manhattan-sized iceberg splits from glacier – and spotted FROM SPACE

Pic One of Earth's biggest icebergs ever seen has been discovered by orbiting satellites. The huge freeze-blob was just carved out from Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier, and slid into the ocean. Greenland iceberg That's enough ice for a lot of gin and tonics The iceberg was formed between August 14 and 16, and was caught on …
Iain Thomson, 24 Aug 2015

White Stork mates with ISS, delivers bundles of resupply joy

Japan's space truck Kounotori 5 ("White Stork 5") today successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), bearing 4.5 tonnes of scientific kit and supplies. White Stork captured by the ISS's Canadarm2. Pic Scott Kelly White Stork captured by the ISS's Canadarm2. Pic: Scott Kelly/Twitter ISS Expedition 44 …
Lester Haines, 24 Aug 2015

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The Ugandan 'rolex'

Our latest expedition into wonderful world of wobbly dining takes us to Uganda, where street vendors punt the popular "rolex", according to one Reg reader who, having tried one in the capital Kampala, reckoned it was a good fit for post-pub dining. The rolex, we should explain, has nothing to do with timekeeping, but gets its …
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2015
CAT_wind tunnel for testing turbine shapes photo SA Mathieson

Rock reboot and the Welsh windy wonder: Centre for Alternative Technology

Geek's Guide to Britain There are plenty of tourist attractions scattered around the coast of Cardigan Bay in Wales. But for the last four decades, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has provided something appropriately... alternative. There is an early sign of this in the car park – a huge wind turbine blade, placed as if to diminish the …
SA Mathieson, 21 Aug 2015

Euro X-ray 'scope snaps Milky Way's 'tumultuous heart'

A new image from the European Space Agency's (ESA) XMM-Newton X-ray 'scope gives a nice view of the wild party at the Milky Way's "tumultuous heart". The XMM-Newton image of the Milky Way's centre The snap spans around one thousand light-years and was compiled from all XMM-Newton probes of the area, "adding up to about one …
Lester Haines, 21 Aug 2015

NASA reveals Cassini probe's last glimpse of Saturn's icy moon Dione

NASA has released images from the Cassini probe's last fly-by of Saturn's moon Dione. The August 17 encounter captured Dione's icy pockmarked landscape from a distance of 474 kilometres above the moon's surface. Cassini came within 100km of Dione in December 2011. The images offer another look at the haunting moon and were …
Darren Pauli, 21 Aug 2015

Gas giant cores actually built from shedloads of gravel

New research has lent weight to the idea that the cores of gas giants, such as Saturn and Jupiter, were quickly formed from billions of small pebbles, rather than a smaller number of more substantial rocks over an extended period of time. According to Nature, previous wisdom had it that these planets built up from "a stately …
Lester Haines, 20 Aug 2015

Antiques in spaaaaace! Retired space shuttles cannibalised for parts

NASA’s budget woes have forced it to consider sending museum pieces into space. With funding cuts looming, NASA engineers are saving cash by cannibalising parts from retired shuttles in museum displays to use on the International Space Station (ISS). The space shuttle programme was shut down in 2011, and the US’s four shuttle …
Jennifer Baker, 20 Aug 2015
Oil Pump Jack by  cc 2.0 attribution

Could our fear of fracking be appeased with CO2 sequestration?

A plan to use CO2 to replace the water used in controversial energy technique fracking has been met with a mixed reception by experts contacted by The Register. New Scientist reported on work done by Andres Clarens and his team at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, to pump CO2 into fracking sites, which could act as a …
Simon Rockman, 20 Aug 2015
his low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin." The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took multiple images on Aug. 5, 2015, that were stitched together into this selfie. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity rolls over onto Martian WET PATCH, takes satisfied selfie

The Curiosity Rover has found the wettest patch of ground it's yet observed on Mars. The nuclear-powered laser-packing space tank has spent the last week or so in the "Marias Pass" region where it unleashed its drill to turn parts of a rock named “Buckskin” to powder. That powder's since been subjected to analysis by …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Aug 2015
Pinky and the Brain

Boffins raise five-week-old fetal human brain in the lab for experimentation

A scientific team in Ohio has managed to raise the most complete human brain yet, and plan to use it for testing drugs and trying to understand autism. The brain is at the same stage of development as a five-week-old fetus and contains 99 per cent of the same cells that you'd find in an in-utero equivalent. It's about the size …
Iain Thomson, 19 Aug 2015

Japan's 'White Stork' soars heavenwards to ISS

Japan earlier today successfully launched its Kounotori 5 ("White Stork 5") ISS resupply vehicle from Tanegashima Space Center. Carrying 5.5 tonnes of scientific equipment and supplies, Kounotori 5 was lifted aloft by an H-IIB rocket in a dramatic night-time fire and smoke spectacle. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ( …
Lester Haines, 19 Aug 2015
Bletchley Park

Colossus veteran flies a drone over Bletchley Park

An operator of Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, returned to her wartime workplace to fly a drone this week. Joanna Chorley, 89, returned to Block H at Bletchley Park to operate the drone quadcopter. The drone’s on-board camera provided an aerial view of the home of Colossus and the rest of Bletchley Park. …
John Leyden, 19 Aug 2015

Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?

Worstall on Wednesday I get the point of driverless cars: once they actually work they're going to be great for everyone except the recreational driver, and it wouldn't be a surprise to find the technology being made mandatory for use on some of the public road network some decades down the line. But what I've not been able to grasp is why are all …
Tim Worstall, 19 Aug 2015
Atlas robot outside

Been sleeping well lately? No nightmares? Here's a lumbering Google bigfoot bot

Boston Dynamics, the Google-owned mobile robot developer, has posted a new demonstration of its Atlas robot walking around the forest. In the video, Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert shows how the Atlas anthropomorphic robot is being developed to maneuver itself over more difficult outdoor terrain. The video demonstrates …
Shaun Nichols, 19 Aug 2015
Amateur astronomer Waldemar Skorupa recorded this image from Kahler Asten, in Germany, on November 16, 2013. Credit: Waldemar Skorupa (Kahler Asten, Germany), via

Snowball spud gun shows comets could have seeded Earth with life

Scientists have been speculating for years now that comets might have seeded life on Earth, but a Japanese team has performed an experiment that shows it's a valid possibility. Dr Haruna Sugahara from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokohama, and Dr Koichi Mimura from Nagoya University built …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2015

Indian Mars probe beams back 3D canyon snaps

India's Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft, aka Mangalyaan, has beamed back 3D images of the Ophir Chasma, which forms part of the Red Planet's massive Valles Marineris. One of the images of the Ophir Chasma. Pic: ISRO The Ophir Chasma poses for Mangalyaan. Pic: ISRO The snaps were captured by the spacecraft's Mars Colour …
Lester Haines, 18 Aug 2015

Boffins identify world's (possibly) first flowering plant

US and European plant boffins have identified what may be the world's first flowering plant, an aquatic species which once grew abundantly in freshwater lakes in what is now Spain. The team, led by Indiana University paleobotanist David Dilcher, examined more than 1,000 fossilised specimens of Montsechia vidalii, dating back …
Lester Haines, 18 Aug 2015
Kirk and Spock contemplate castles built in the air

Captain, dark energy sensor readings show dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way

Astronomy teams at the University of Cambridge and America's Fermilab looking for evidence of dark matter have spotted eight (relatively) tiny galaxies orbiting our Milky Way. "DES is finding galaxies so faint that they would have been very difficult to recognize in previous surveys," said Keith Bechtol of the University of …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2015

Testing times as NASA rattles Mississippi with mighty motor burn

VID NASA has released a video of last week's test burn of an RS-25 motor, which will ultimately power the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS). The 535-second blast – equivalent to "the amount of time the engines will fire during an actual launch" – took place last Thursday on the A-1 test stand at the Stennis Space …
Lester Haines, 17 Aug 2015
51 Eridani b

Boffins spot a SECOND JUPITER – the gas giant's baby sister

Pic Pictures from the universe-scanning Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) show a young Jupiter-like world that formed just 20 million years ago. That's well after the dinosaurs became extinct on grand old Earth. Gemini spots the planet 51 Eridani b ... Superb imaging from Gemini The young gas giant, dubbed 51 Eridani b, is about …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2015
Artist's representation of the Skylon. Pic: Reaction Engines

EU clears UK to give £50m to SABRE space launcher engine

Their benevolent highnesses at the European Commission have seen fit to allow the UK to grant £50m towards the designing of the SABRE space launcher, after questioning whether the grant was in line with EU state aid rules. The Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) is a reusable engine for the Skylon single-stage-to- …

Riddle solved: Do bears crap in the woods? No – they're stressing out over drones instead

Vid Bears, those savage and fearless predators of the wild, are driven to distraction by hovering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs aka drones). Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been studying local black bears using iridium satellite GPS collars fitted with heart-rate monitors, and a drone to keep track of them from …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2015
Artist's impression of Philae on Comet 67P

Chill, Philae: Shadow may protect comet lander from Sun roasting

Video If the Philae lander hitch-hiking on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko isn't dead, its dark hiding-place might just protect it from being destroyed by the heat as comet, lander and the Rosetta spacecraft swing around the sun. As the comet nears today's perihelion (closest approach) today (European time), the European Space …

NASA primed for 9-minute live test of mighty rocket motor

NASA will tomorrow broadcast live a test firing of its RS-25 powerplant, "one of four engines that will power the core stage of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS), and carry the agency’s Orion crew capsule as part of the journey to Mars and other deep-space destinations". The motor is expected to roar into life at 17:00 EDT …
Lester Haines, 12 Aug 2015
Galaxy RGG 118

Put it away: Dwarf's 'supermassive' marvel is actually smallest thing boffins have ever seen

At the heart of every large galaxy resides a supermassive black hole, and astroboffins have found the smallest one yet – about 340 million light years away. "In a sense, it's a teeny supermassive black hole," said Elena Gallo, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2015
Astronauts on the International Space Station are ready to sample their harvest of a crop of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce from the Veggie plant growth system that tests hardware for growing vegetables and other plants in space. Credit: NASA

Lettuce in SPAAACE: Captive ISS 'nauts insist orbital veg is 'awesome'

VID As promised, astronauts aboard the International Space Station have eaten the first ever "fresh food grown in the microgravity environment of space" - "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce. Astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui were the first to sample the produce from the Veggie orbiting vegetable patch, although …
Lester Haines, 11 Aug 2015

What a shower: METEORS will BLAZE a FIERY TRAIL across our skies

The BBC is pulling its annual trick of promising skygazers a "dazzling display" of Perseid meteors this week, as the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. Peak meteor activity will be tomorrow night (Wednesday August 12) from around 2300 UK time, and enthusiasts can expect "at least one every few …
Lester Haines, 11 Aug 2015
New Lanark photo via Shutterstock

Get thee behind me, Satanic mills! Robert Owen's Scottish legacy

Geek's Guide to Britain The European Route of Industrial Heritage marks New Lanark as an anchor point in the global development of textiles and architecture, and so it is. Nestled in the Clyde Valley the village owes its existence to the falls that were harnessed to refine raw cotton sent in from the colonies: a picture-postcard image from a time …
Bill Ray, 11 Aug 2015
GAMA image of galaxies

Boffins: The universe is DOOMED and there's nothing to be done

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were are going out. Don't worry, though: the heat death of the universe is still hundreds of trillions of years away. That's the conclusion of work announced by the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, which has looked at 200,000 "nearby" galaxies across 21 wavelengths between the …

Take THAT, Tesla: Another Oz energy utility will ship home batteries

The Tesla PowerWall announcement is having an effect in Australia, but perhaps not the one Elon Musk predicted: utilities are moving to head it off with their own solar/storage offerings. Shortly after the Tesla battery launch, NSW's AGL announced its solar customers could add electrical storage, and now Queensland's Ergon …
A woman on Mars?

'WOMAN FOUND ON MARS' – now obvious men are from Venus

Pics Yet again citizen observers have spotted something odd on Mars – this time what appears to be a woman in a long flowing gown standing on a cliff face. Martian woman The truth is out there; or maybe not "It looks like a woman partly cloaked. The woman seems to have breasts... indicated by the shadow on its chest," reports …
Iain Thomson, 10 Aug 2015

Aussie bloaters gorging on junk food 'each and every day'

Australians have been warned to get their dietary act together, after a survey revealed a growing and alarming trend for junk food excess. According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 40,000+ respondents to its Healthy Diet Score Survey – "a scientifically validated survey which …
Lester Haines, 10 Aug 2015

Microsoft co-founder recovers ship's bell of 'The Mighty Hood'

A team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has recovered the ship's bell of battlecruiser HMS Hood – the pride of the Royal Navy, which, on 24 May 1941, was sent to the bottom of the North Atlantic by the German battleship Bismark, with the loss of 1,415 lives. Video still showing the recovery of the bell of HMS Hood An …
Lester Haines, 10 Aug 2015
Spartan satellite launcher

Queensland boffins ponder Scramjet satellite launch plan

The University of Queensland has launched a new plan to use scramjets as satellite launch vehicles. Scramjets – aka supersonic combusting ramjets – require air to pass through an engine at supersonic speeds. Fuel is added to that supersonic air, then ignited, with the result being a supersonic plume of hot gas capable of …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Aug 2015
Astronauts on the International Space Station are ready to sample their harvest of a crop of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce from the Veggie plant growth system that tests hardware for growing vegetables and other plants in space. Credit: NASA

First SPACE SALAD on Monday's menu for ISS astronauts

Fresh food grown in space will, for the first time, be consumed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). NASA has announced the meal will take place on Monday, when red romaine lettuce grown aboard the ISS will be added to the menu. The lettuce was produced under Operation Veggie, an effort that's seen a …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Aug 2015

Facebook unleashes mighty data trove to learn how you laugh

Facebook data scientists Udi Weinsberg, Lada Adamic, and Mike Develin say most social media addicts will write 'haha' once a week, that New Yorkers are emoji addicts, and none uses 'lol' anymore. The awesome demonstration of big data rigs at The Social NetworkTM uses a regular expressions set to crawl over an unspecified …
Darren Pauli, 10 Aug 2015
MINOS Experiment image taken by Peter Ginter for Fermilab - The MINOS experiment sends a beam of neutrinos 450 miles straight through the earth from Fermilab to northern Minnesota - no tunnel necessary

Beaming boffins feel the rhythm as neutrinos oscillate over 500 miles

Scientists working on the NOvA experiment have spotted what they say is evidence of oscillating neutrinos for the first time in the lab's particle accelerator. Since February 2014, boffins have been stashing data and recording interaction of the abundant, yet elusive, subatomic particles as they interacted in the specially- …
Kelly Fiveash, 9 Aug 2015
Angry-looking cat. Pic by  Guyon Morée from Beverwijk, Netherlands. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Surprise! Evil-eyed cats MORE LIKELY to be SNEAKY PREDATORS – boffins

Vid Vision boffins have seen the light – they believe that the shape of pupils in animal eyes can often reveal whether the beast is a hunter or the hunter's prey. Researchers at UC Berkeley eyeballed 214 species of land creatures during the study. They found that animals with pupils shaped in vertical slits were far more likely to …
Kelly Fiveash, 8 Aug 2015
Kids harassing a robot

Boffinry breakthrough: Bullied bumble bot bolts brutal brat beatdowns

Vid Researchers in Japan have programmed a robot to flee children after groups of tearaways were recorded abusing the 'droid. A study by Japan's ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories found that kids, particularly when left unsupervised, will bully, harass, and sometimes even attack robots. As noted by IEEE …
Shaun Nichols, 7 Aug 2015

Boffins have made optical transistors that can reach 4 TERAHERTZ

Aluminum-doped zinc oxide is the key to building faster, optical chips, according to researchers at Purdue University, Indiana. They've modelled an all-optical, CMOS-compatible transistor capable of 4THz speeds, potentially more than 1,000 times faster than silicon transistors. The all-optical bit means that the data stream …
Simon Rockman, 7 Aug 2015

Tobacco field bacteria offers hope for buzz-kill smoking therapy

Help may soon be at hand for those who have tried and failed to quit smoking, thanks to a bacterium that guzzles down nicotine. Chemistry boffins reckon the organism may hold the key to a future anti-smoking therapy. An enzyme from the Pseudomonas putida bacterium – originally isolated from soil in a tobacco field – consumes …
John Leyden, 7 Aug 2015