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Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight

The matter of whether our Vulture 2 spaceplane's servos will freeze at altitude will be resolved on Saturday by our US allies at Edge Research Lab, when they send a complete spaceplane autopilot/battery/servo rig stratowards. Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) regulars will be aware we've been fretting about our …
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2014
Interstellar movie black hole special effects

Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar

Vid Youtube Video Ahead of the release of Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated space movie Interstellar, the film-makers reveal how theoretical physicist Kip Thorne helped them to create scientifically accurate special effects for a black hole. It’s a pretty clever piece of marketing for the movie, which has relied on the …
Sea Harriers

Kingston's aviation empire: From industry firsts to Airfix heroes

Geek's Guide to Britain He learned to fly aged 22, set up his first aircraft factory aged 24 and by 30 his fighters dominated the skies over the Western Front. Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith - later, Sir – founded the Sopwith Aircraft Company in 1912, turning out aeroplanes from a Edwardian roller-skating rink in Kingston upon Thames. Yes, the …
Gavin Clarke, 24 Oct 2014

COMET 67P is basically TRAILING a HORRIFIC STENCH through space

The Rosetta probe that is orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is mainly preoccupied with firming up its plans for landing on the surface: however, there's still science to be done – and boffins have been taking a sniff at how the space snowball smells. For the last two months, the Rosetta Orbiter Sensor for Ion and Neutral …
Iain Thomson, 24 Oct 2014
Comet Siding Spring from 8.5m kms out

MAVEN snaps eight-bit SPACE INVADER

Comet Siding springs is proving a tricky subject for photography. But surely humanity's robot observers can do better than the image below, snapped by the MAVEN orbiter at a distance of about 8.5 million kilometres and depicting the comet as a Space Invader. Comet Siding Spring from 8.5m kms out Comet Siding Spring seen from 8. …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Oct 2014

Boffins want to put Quanta in containers, after docking

Don't laugh: a group of Japanese and Australian boffins want to use container ships to carry around entangled quanta. Entanglement is hard to maintain over any great distance – a few tens of kilometres through optical fibre, a hundred or so through the atmosphere – because of noise. Repeaters are forbidden by the “no-cloning …
Deinocheirus mirificus

LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved

The secrets of a long-armed, “totally bizarre” dinosaur have finally been plumbed after bone-boffins unearthed a much fuller specimen of the odd creature. Deinocheirus mirificus Since 1965, when scientists in Mongolia dug up two huge dino forearms measuring 2.4m, baffled boffins have wondered what kind of giant lizard they …

Are there sounds on Mars? NASA launches audio athenaeum

Audiophiles at NASA have published more than 60 samples of historical space artefacts to the administration's Soundcloud account. The athenaeum opens up the opportunity to listen to some of space exploration's idiosyncratic oddities, including quips and musings between Houston and astronauts, pings from the distant Kepler, or …
Darren Pauli, 23 Oct 2014

Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING

Climate change may be causing alpine goats to shrink in size, according to biologists at Durham University. Researchers analysed records of alpine animal sizes to discover that Chamois goats now weigh 25 per cent less than they did back in the '80s. Dr Tom Mason from the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham …
Team Register, 23 Oct 2014
Neanderthal display in museum

RUMPY PUMPY: Bone says humans BONED Neanderthals 50,000 years B.C.

Boffins in Germany have extracted the oldest human DNA yet discovered – from a 45,000-year-old thigh bone found in Siberia. And after studying the genetic goop, the researchers have concluded that humans started interbreeding with their Neanderthal cousins about 60,000 years ago. 45,000 year old human bone 'What a slut' A …
Iain Thomson, 23 Oct 2014
Magnetic fields of sunspots interacting

Trips to Mars may be OFF: The SUN has changed in a way we've NEVER SEEN

+Comment A drop in the solar wind of a kind never yet seen in the space age has made travel beyond Earth orbit a lot more dangerous, according to boffins – so much so that a manned mission to Mars may not be feasible for many decades. "The behavior of the sun has recently changed and is now in a state not observed for almost 100 years," …
Lewis Page, 22 Oct 2014
Are you ready for your closeup, comet siding springs?

Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill

The first images of Comet Siding Spring, a celestial body deemed so menacing that humanity cocooned its very best robots, has turned out to be rather smaller than imagined. The first images of the comet, captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, suggest …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Oct 2014
Artist's impression of a manned mission to Mars

MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less

Women, not men, should form the crew of the first personned mission to Mars, according to boffin and pretend NASA-naut Kate Greene. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) Greene, the crew writer for one of NASA’s HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) pretendy Martian mission, said in an article for Slate that female …
The SPB shirt in close-up

Luscious LOHAN t-shirts fly into Vulture Central

It's all go at Vulture Central today as skilled operatives prepare to ship our LOHAN Kickstarter reward t-shirts, which flew in the door late last week and will shortly be flying straight back out. We're sure those of you who stumped the cash for this top-notch apparel will be as pleased as we are with the finished products, …
Lester Haines, 21 Oct 2014
Orionid meteor shower

Watch live! NASA video streams Orionid meteor shower – or go outside and look yourself

Vid If you're in a position to see the constellation of Orion tonight then it's time to enjoy the annual Orionid meteor shower – as the Earth slams into the debris left by Halley's Comet's 1986 visit at about 148,000 MPH. orionids Look to the East for nature's fireworks display. Credit Dr. Tony Phillips "The Orionid meteor shower …
Iain Thomson, 21 Oct 2014
Germany celebrates winning Fifa world cup 2014 in Brazil

You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data

Evidence-based decision making is so clearly sensible because the alternative — making random decisions based on no evidence — is so clearly ludicrous. The “evidence” that we often use is in the form of information that we extract from raw data, often by data mining. Sadly, there has been an upsurge in the number people who move …
Mark Whitehorn, 20 Oct 2014

Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars

Comet Siding Spring has made a close pass by Mars, apparently without incident to the human-built machines in the neighbourhood. NASA says the “Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter … continues operating in good health after sheltering behind Mars during the half hour when high-velocity dust particles from comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Oct 2014
NASA Sunjammer concept image

No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer

Reports are emerging that NASA has decided not to go ahead with next year's Sunjammer mission, which was to demonstrate the use of “solar sail” propulsion. The project has attracted US$21 million of NASA cash under a contract awarded in 2011 to Californian company L'Garde. The agency's interest had been piqued by vacuum chamber …

Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE

Primitive, lake-dwelling armoured fish "invented" internal fertilisation and copulation 385 million years ago in Scotland, a top palaeontologist has found. According to Professor John Long at Flinders University in Australia, the discovery is big news for the evolutionary history of sexual reproduction. Male fossils expertly …
Team Register, 19 Oct 2014

COMET barrels towards Mars, machines of humanity race for cover

Pic A cosmic rock that is older than mankind is expected to come within 87,000 miles (139,500 km) of Mars today. An artist's impression of comet Siding Spring's flyby oft Mars. Image credit: NASA NASA has been gearing up for the close encounter by hiding its satellites to protect the kit from being damaged by passing comet debris …
Kelly Fiveash, 19 Oct 2014
NASA image of solar flare

NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun

Vid NASA scientists have unveiled data that they believe shows how the Sun's energy moves from the surface of the star at the centre of our Solar System through its fiery atmosphere. In a series of papers published in the latest issue of Science magazine, the astro boffins presented their findings from the US space agency's …
Kelly Fiveash, 18 Oct 2014
Bones, Kirk and Spock prepare to transport in Star Trek

Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody

Page File Anyone who’s read Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, a searingly bleak and intricate fantasy series, will be bitterly disappointed with Willful Child (and yes, pedants, that is how he spells it). Starship Enterprise Instead of a blistering and fascinating foray into sci-fi, Erikson does a limp, lacklustre job of …
The first X-37B following landing at Vandenberg AFB after the inaugural OTV-1 mission. Credit: USAF

America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft

The US Air Force has confirmed that its X-37B spacecraft designated Orbital Test Vehicle 3 has glided back to Earth and landed at 0924 PT (1724 UTC) at Vandenberg Air Force Base. "The landing of OTV-3 marks a hallmark event for the program," said the unnamed X-37B program manager in a statement. "The mission is our longest to …
Iain Thomson, 18 Oct 2014

Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box

Amid all the LOHAN excitement over the last couple of weeks - which saw a right royal knees-up at Vulture Central, our audacious spaceplane mission crash-land on CNN and me apparently called "burly and bald" by Die Welt - we have actually been doing some real work ahead of our relocation to Spaceport America. LOHAN regulars will …
Lester Haines, 17 Oct 2014
Mimas

That's no – actually it is: DEATH STAR MOON 'could be full of life-friendly water'

Mimas has long been thought to be one of the less noteworthy moons of its vast ringed primary, Saturn – apart from its frankly worrying resemblance to the Death Star, that is. But now, a new study indicates that the humdrum space boulder could have, er, hidden depths. Mimas Actually, that is a moon. Not a space station A team …
Iain Thomson, 17 Oct 2014
A rescued joey

Prehistoric swingbelly KANGAROOS were TOO FAT to jump – scientists

It's certainly Australia's iconic animal, yet boffins have claimed the kangaroo hasn't always performed its most famous trick: hopping. Once upon a time, the Skippy the Bush Kangaroo's ancestors may not have actually bounded along, instead favouring a gait akin to a drunken human. "At best, they'd have been really clumsy …
Jasper Hamill, 16 Oct 2014
Lockheed Martin's compact fusion reactor

Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized FUSION reactor breakthrough boast

Pic Lockheed Martin has caused quite a stir with its announcement that it will ship fusion reactors the size of a truck within the next decade. Lockheed Martin's compact fusion reactor "Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent …
Iain Thomson, 16 Oct 2014
67P_Churyumov_Gerasimenko_August_8th

On Nov 12, a human-made space lab will try to HARPOON a COMET and land on it

Pic The European Space Agency (ESA) has officially set the date for its Rosetta probe's Philae lander to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The craft will harpoon and set down on the high-speed cosmic rock on November 12. Rosetta comet landing spot ESA hoping for a safe touchdown The Rosetta space probe is orbiting …
Iain Thomson, 16 Oct 2014

Ancient Brits 'set wealthy man's FANCY CHARIOT on FIRE' – boffins

Archaeologists digging in Leicestershire say they have discovered the remains of a prestige-marque chariot dating from the second or third century BC, which had seemingly been torched on purpose by local inhabitants. The most prestigious badge in Iron Age British chariots According to a statement released by Leicester uni: …
Lewis Page, 15 Oct 2014
Lester poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN crash lands on CNN

It's a tip of the hat today to CNN, which has unleashed a news report nicely capturing the spirit of our audacious Low orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission. CNN operatives were down at Vulture Central last Friday during a right royal spaceplane knees-up, as was Nina Trentmann of Die Welt. Those of you of a German …
Lester Haines, 15 Oct 2014
Rosetta Selfie from 10 miles

This isn't a sci-fi movie: It's a human-made probe snapping a comet selfie

Pic The European Space Agency’s Rosetta comet-hunter craft has sent back its last selfie, taken from just 10 miles – 16 kilometres – from Comet 67P/C-G. The selfie was snapped by Philae, the lander that will descend to the comet on November 12. The lander used its CIVA instruments to take the snap. The CIVA-P part of the instrument …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Oct 2014

Beers all round as Vulture 2 lands in Blighty

Pics The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has just about recovered from a lively night last Friday at Vulture Central, which saw mission sponsors, Register hacks and a select group of our individual Kickstarter backers mix it up with the international press. The spaceplane landed in Blighty a couple of weeks back …
Lester Haines, 14 Oct 2014
flames_fire_destruction

PANTS on FIRE? Too late for you. But others will benefit from singed trouser phone alert

Boffins at Stanford University have invented a system which could banish the dreaded trouser fire to the annals of tech history. Regular readers of The Reg will know that the batteries used in mobile phones have a horrible tendency to blow up at inopportune moments. Whether it's an iPad Nano going kaboom in Japan, a Swiss woman …
Jasper Hamill, 14 Oct 2014
The X-37B lifts off from Cape Canaveral. Credit: ULA

SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION

The United States’ hush-hush robot spaceplane, the mysterious X-37B, is due to touch down at the US military space base in California this week, following a 22-month clandestine mission in orbit above undisclosed nations. The US Air Force has so far launched two of the clandestine spaceships, which look a little like mini-space …
Galileo

Hardened Hydrazine the source of Galileo satnav FAIL

A “shortcoming in the system thermal analysis performed during stage design” (for the Fregat launch vehicle’s fourth stage) was the reason two of Europe's Galileo satnav craft ended up in the wrong orbit following a launch earlier this year. As we reported back in August, two failure meant two Gallileo sats landed in the wrong …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Oct 2014
An obese belly, dangling freely. Pic: Tony Alter

Lies, damn pies and obesity statistics: We're NOT a nation of fatties

The messaging cannot be any clearer. We, like much of the developed world, are in the midst of an obesity crisis caused in large part by eating too much. Our super-size culture of fast food, sugary drinks and junk diets is turning us into a nation of over-sized and unhealthy slobs with expanding waist lines and it’s getting …

Flies WANT beer booze and now we know why - yeast

Flies love a pint of beer as much as the rest of us, so it transpires, because they are deceived by yeast chemicals that mimic the fragrance of fruit, according to Euro boffins. As well as transforming sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol, microbes in yeast produce molecules that attract winged warriors to transport these ‘yeast …
Paul Kunert, 11 Oct 2014

White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?

Worstall @ the Weekend This year's Nobel Prize in Physics went to the three Japanese guys who worked on, and got right, the blue LED. It's an excellent piece of work, enabling a whole new ensemble of energy efficient lamps and colour LED screens, and fully deserving of the prize. And yes, it might well change society in wondrous and wonderful ways. …
Tim Worstall, 11 Oct 2014
Doctor Who on Kill The Moon

'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan

Last week’s Doctor Who review of Kill The Moon certainly sparked some strong opinions. On Twitter, there were those who couldn’t agree more: Preach it #doctorwho http://t.co/HE7rdFEgFG — ℓilliane (@MakeItLast) October 5, 2014 . @TheRegister reviews the rather un-Physicsy #DoctorWho ep http://t.co/hjzMImzqqz — Stephen …

US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: US is losing science race

Rock star astrophysicist Neil Tyson says the United States has lost pole position in scientific research and its people must refocus on innovation rather than wait for "the next app". Tyson (@neiltyson), Carl Sagan's former student and the narrator of recent popular documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, said …
Darren Pauli, 10 Oct 2014

ROBOT TROUSER SNAKE stiffens to master slippery mounds

Scientists say their new snake robot has cracked the tricky problem of slithering up slippery mounds. The trouser(ed) snake robot This undeniable pushing-back of the frontiers of science comes to us courtesy of Professor Daniel Goldman's Complex Rheology And Biomechanics Lab ("the Crab Lab") at the Georgia Institute of …
Lewis Page, 10 Oct 2014

'MYSTERIOUS PYRAMID STRUCTURE' found on COMET beyond Mars: Landing planned

Exciting news from outer space today, as it has emerged that a "mysterious" pyramid-like "structure" has been discovered on the surface of a comet plunging towards the inner solar system from beyond the orbit of Mars. Necropolis-esque comet structure The comet in question is 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the discovery has …
Lewis Page, 10 Oct 2014