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Zaphod Beeblebrox style third arm cyborg prosthesis unveiled

Yet another development ripped from the pages of that great work, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has moved a large step closer to reality this week as a professor in the US reveals a special prosthetic arm which - rather than being intended solely to replace missing limbs - could be used instead to create "a three-armed …
Lewis Page, 7 Mar 2014
Traffic in Beijing during period of heavy pollution

China to blow away smog with DRONES

China is set to unleash a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles to clear the smog from its skies as part of Beijing’s newly declared “war on pollution”. The smog-busting drones were designed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and will be tested later this month at airports and ports, according to a Chinese language Xinhua …
P/2013 R3 breaking up

Hubble 'scope snaps 200,000-ton chunky crumble conundrum

Vid The Hubble space telescope has filmed strange asteroid P/2013 R3 disintegrating chunk by chunk as it screams around our Sun. As announced at the orbiting probe's website here, this particular crumbling space rock is something that's never been seen before. It all started when two surveys, Catalina and Pan-STARRS, spotted an odd …

Bloke rattles tin for giant 3D two-headed beast

We suspect that the Kickstarter-funded 3D printer bubble is fast approaching burst point, as hopefuls queue up to rattle their tins and get their necks in the DIY-extruded trough. It's a tough market. California outfit TJIKO Labs recently failed to raise the $35k it needed to get a snap-together printer into production, so it'll …
Lester Haines, 6 Mar 2014

Squidge-droids maker updates iRobot for SUCK, SCRUB action

Video How do you get to sell 10 million robots? By appealing to the laziness in us... It’s perhaps not the way iRobot would choose to describe its business model, but coming from space race roots and military manoeuvres – it originally made Darpa's squidgy squeezy soft warbot – to end up making megabucks cleaning household floors does …
Bob Dormon, 6 Mar 2014
Jamie at his school

Blighty teen boffin builds nuclear reactor INSIDE CLASSROOM

A British teenager has become the youngest person to build a nuclear fusion reactor. Jamie Edwards, a 13-year-old from Preston, persuaded his headmaster to let him build the reactor in a classroom. He was so persuasive that the head of Penwortham Priory Academy even handed over £3,000 worth of funding after Jamie reassured him …
Jasper Hamill, 6 Mar 2014
Cassini image of Jupiter. Pic: NASA

NASA robot plans mid-2020s trip: Europa. Wet, radioactive life forms (hopefully). Bliss

NASA is plotting a mission to send its robotic lander to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons and the place deemed most likely to host life. The American space agency has reserved $15m of its $17.5bn annual budget to pay for a robotic journey to the icy moon. "Europa is a very challenging mission operating in a really high radiation …
Jasper Hamill, 5 Mar 2014
Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001

Very fabric of space-time RIPPED apart in latest Hubble pic

Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 is ramming through the Norma galaxy cluster so hard it's spilling its guts out, leaving bright blue streaks of its own gases behind. Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 The spiral is zooming in between other galaxies in the Norma cluster, over 200 million light years away, at a speed of nearly 4.5 million …

Chillax, cranky commentards: Anger can KILL YOU

A new study has shown that within the first two hours after an angry outburst, you're five times more likely to suffer a heart attack and four times more likely to have a stroke than if you had kept your cool. To reach this conclusion, a trio of researchers from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center performed a " …
Rik Myslewski, 5 Mar 2014
Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth

WHOA: Get a load of Asteroid DX110 JUST MISSING planet EARTH

Updated + vids Asteroid 2014 DX110 will, on Wednesday, March 5, pass Earth within 345,600km – that's closer than the Moon at 384,400km. The fly-by should be a beauty: the asteroid is a 30m (98ft) space rock that will whizz by at 2106 UTC (1306 PST, 1606 EST). Updated at 2345 UTC to add: See below for videos of the event. The Pan-STARRS 1 …
comet

Dark matter killed the dinosaurs, boffins suggest

Comets may not be the product of the Sun exerting its influence over rocks in the Oort Cloud, but may instead be pushed Earth-wards by dark matter. So say Lisa Randall and Matthew Reece from Harvard's Department of Physics, in a paper titled “Dark Matter as a Trigger for Periodic Comet Impacts”. The pair write that “Large …

NASA's 2015 budget plea: Jobs, pork, small business – OK, science

NASA would receive $17.46bn as its share of the Obama administration proposed budget for fiscal 2015, released on Tuesday, down from the $17.65bn it's receiving this year, but healthily up from the $16.87bn it managed to scratch out in sequester-squeezed 2013. That is, if NASA can convince members of Congress that it would be in …
Rik Myslewski, 5 Mar 2014

Reg reader rattles tin for GoPro camera 'Stubilizer'

Update Those among you who feel their lives lack stability are directed to Reg reader Stuart Smith's "Stubilizer" - a range of stabilising platforms for GoPro cameras which has just launched on Kickstarter. Stuart Smith models a 2-axis, helmet-mounted Stubilizer Stuart Smith sports a Stubilizer Back in January, we chewed the fat …
Lester Haines, 3 Mar 2014

Massive new AIRSHIP to enter commercial service at British dirigible base

An enormous airship built for the US forces has been bought back by its British designers and is to go into commercial service based in old Blighty. Regular Reg readers will already be familiar with the ship, formerly designated as the first of the US Army's* planned fleet of Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) …
Lewis Page, 3 Mar 2014
Image of Perseus cluster

Boffins say dark matter found with X-ray

Two teams working on the search for dark matter have independently suggested the search could concentrate at a specific X-ray wavelength, following study of data collected by the XMM-Newton space observatory. While it's not a proof of anything just yet, the two groups – one from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, …

Frenchman eyes ocean domination with floating, mobile Bond villain lair

A French plan for oceanic domination is shaping up nicely with the news that construction is poised to begin on the SeaOrbiter vessel as early as Spring 2014. Artist's impression of the SeaOrbiter SeaOrbiter: Oceanic domination ahoy Described as "the only vessel in the world allowing a 24h/24 exploration on long-term …
Lester Haines, 28 Feb 2014
DNA

Google sticks its servers behind genomics alliance

Google is throwing its considerable weight, and cloud servers, behind a global genomics alliance with the aim of advancing medical research for future generations. The Chocolate Factory announced today that it is joining the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, which it describes as an “international effort to develop …
Phil Muncaster, 28 Feb 2014

Pine trees' scent 'could prevent climate change really being a problem'

A "major enigma" has been cracked in atmospheric chemistry, revealing the details of a negative feedback mechanism which could "actually limit climate change from reaching such levels that it could become really a problem in the world". Can't smell the forest for the trees around here The negative feedback in question is the …
Lewis Page, 27 Feb 2014
Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg assists FE Chris Cassidy and FE Luca Parmitano in spacewalk prep

NASA could have averted near DROWNING TERROR in SPACE

NASA could have prevented the near-drowning of International Space Station 'naut Luca Parmitano last summer, an investigation panel has decided. The European Space Agency astronaut almost drowned when the helmet of his spacesuit started filling with water during a spacewalk in July. Parmitano managed to navigate his way back …
Artist's concept of Kepler 22b

Worlds that could support LIFE found among 715 new planets

Boffins working with the Kepler space telescope have verified the existence of 715 planets in what is the project's largest mass-discovery to date. "This is the largest windfall of planets, not candidates that has ever been announced at one time," said Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration scientist for NASA's astrophysics …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Feb 2014
GoGet's autonomous research car Ethel the Yaris

Australian car-share biz GoGet working on autonomous vehicle

GoGet, a celebrated Australian car-share company, is attempting to build a self-driving car. GoGet rents cars by the hour to its members. Bookings are made online and a smart card provides entry to the company's fleet of 1,300-plus vehicles. The company offers conventional cars with petrol, hybrid or electric drivetrains, vans, …
Simon Sharwood, 26 Feb 2014
Hurrican Dean, as seem from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Another climate change myth DEBUNKED by proper climate scientists

Proper climate scientists with PhDs in the subject and everything say they have "debunked" a climate change "myth" which is commonly repeated on the internet. The myth in question is the idea that global warming is causing an increase in the number of tropical cyclones/hurricanes. Certainly there's plenty of support among …
Lewis Page, 26 Feb 2014

Fukushima radioactivity a complete non-issue on West Coast: Also for Fukushima locals, in fact

A new study carried out in the "radiation zone" areas just outside the Fukushima nuclear powerplant in Japan has confirmed that the lifetime health risk to people living there from the damaged powerplant is so small as to be undetectable. Naturally, Californians almost 5,000 miles away are still terrified for their own safety. …
Lewis Page, 26 Feb 2014

LOHAN chap brews up 18% ABV 'V2' rocket fuel

It hasn't escaped some readers' attention that our Vulture 2 spaceplane's moniker might handily be abbreviated to "V2", which got Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team member Paul "Lord Shax" Shackleton thinking about rocket fuel, and indeed fuel for the human elements of our audacious ballocket mission. Hitler's …
Lester Haines, 26 Feb 2014
Traffic in Beijing during period of heavy pollution

China in the grip of a 'NUCLEAR WINTER': Smog threat to crops

The heavy air pollution gripping China has become so severe that experts fear crops in the region will be unable to grow properly this season. The South China Morning Post cites research from China Agricultural University in reporting that the air pollution which has settled over Beijing in recent months has blocked out so much …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Feb 2014

The Sun ERUCTATES huge ball of GAS at 4 MILLION MPH

Pics & video NASA has published images and a video of a massive solar flare that the sun belched forth at 4.4 million miles per hour, which lasted from 0039 until 0103 UTC on Tuesday morning, and reached its peak at 0049. Different wavelengths reveal different details of the X-class solar flare (click to enlarge) The images were captured …
Rik Myslewski, 26 Feb 2014
SpaceX's Grasshopper rises 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet), hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. Pic: SpaceX

SpaceX set to try HOVER LANDING for re-usable rockets on March ISS mission

In a potentially game-changing development for space travel, it has emerged that the booster rocket which will launch the next supply capsule to the International Space Station will attempt to make a soft hovering landing after it falls back to Earth. Mounting landing legs (~60 ft span) to Falcon 9 for next month's Space …
Lewis Page, 25 Feb 2014

Final LOHAN test flights codenamed 'Punch' and 'Judy'

The grand finale of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) saga is approaching, and is now so tantalisingly close you could almost reach out and stick a match to it. It's been a long, winding road, to be sure, but we still have a few things to wrap before we can finally see what happens when you stick a rocket motor in …
Lester Haines, 25 Feb 2014
picofcenturysmall2

'G-WIZ like' object doing 40,000 MPH CRASHES on the MOON

Vid An unidentified object roughly the size of a G-Wiz car smashed into the Moon last September going at 61,000km/h, causing a devastating, record-breaking explosion clearly visible to the naked eye, astronomers say. Youtube Video The Royal Astronomical Society sets the scene: On 11 September 2013, Prof Jose M Madiedo was …
Lewis Page, 25 Feb 2014

Health boffins say wind turbines don't make you sick

The twentieth review of the impact of wind turbines on human health in Australia since 2003 has found the same thing that the previous 19 found: there's no evidence that wind turbines have any impact on human health. The review (PDF), by the National Health and Medical Research Council, was requested by the incoming government …

Enterprising French chap cranks up €100k 'flying car'

A French entrepreneur is hoping that by 2015, those with €100,000 in spare change will slip the surly bonds of earth aboard his Vaylon Pégase (Pegasus) flying car. Artists impression of Pegasus in flight. Pic: Vaylon La voiture volante. Pic: Vaylon Jérôme Dauffy's vehicle is actually a powered paraglider concept, with the …
Lester Haines, 24 Feb 2014
chalk outline of  human body at crime scene

Climate change will 'CAUSE huge increase in MURDER, ROBBERY and RAPE'

An "environmental economist" has produced a study in which he claims that climate change this century will "cause" millions of violent crimes in the United States, over and above those that would have happened anyway. Matthew Ranson holds a B.A. in Environmental Science and Public Policy and Economics and a PhD in Public Policy …
Lewis Page, 24 Feb 2014

MIT wants quasars to help put free will to rest

The last of three loopholes held to remain in Bell's Theorem, “setting independence”, is under the spotlight with an MIT research group saying that quasars could be used as random number generators and help prove* the validity of quantum mechanics. (*The Register is well aware that quantum mechanics has withstood the most …
Artist's concept of Curiosity

Curiosity now going BACKWARDS

Putting a nuclear-powered, laser-armed space tank on Mars is one of humanity’s most remarkable achievements, and now we've even figured out how to make it go backwards! Curiosity, the space tank in question, last week shifted into “R” and travelled just over 100 metres in a single day. That's the longest distance the rover has …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Feb 2014
Mars One colony development

Muslim clerics issue fatwa banning the devout from Mars One 'suicide' mission

A religious row has broken out over Mars One's plans to send volunteers to the Red Planet on a one-way mission that will be televised for the world's entertainment. In April the Dutch group Mars One announced plans to send four people to a Martian habitat by 2023, with more settlers arriving every two years. The estimated $6bn …
Iain Thomson, 22 Feb 2014

'Polar vortex' or not, last month among the WARMEST Januaries EVER RECORDED

It may come as a surprise to shivering citizens of the US lower 48 who are brittle from the "polar vortex" freeze-out – which is back, by the way – or soggy Brits wringing out from the recent floods, but last month was one of the warmest Januaries on record when measured globally. How warm? It depends upon whose analysis you …
Rik Myslewski, 22 Feb 2014

Self-forming liquid metal just like a TERMINATOR emerges from China lab

Scientists in China say they have developed a way to manipulate liquid metal substances into self-assembling shapes and forms. The researchers, working out of Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reckon that by applying an electric charge to liquid metal alloys, they could control the behavior of substances …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Feb 2014

Intel, Sun vet births fast, inexpensive 3D chip-stacking breakthrough

A startup headed up by former Intel chip architect, Sun Sparc CTO, and Transmeta cofounder David Ditzel has developed a way to allow communication in 3D stacked chips without the expense and fabrication hassles of creating physical connections between the layers. ThruChip Communications' ThruChip Interface (TCI) uses inductive …
Rik Myslewski, 21 Feb 2014

Antarctic glacier 'melted JUST as fast LONG before human carbon emissions'

Top boffins from the British Antarctic Survey say that the Pine Island Glacier - famous as a possible major cause of global-warming-powered sea level rises - was melting just as fast thousands of years ago as it is melting today. “This paper [just published] is part of a wide range of international scientific efforts to …
Lewis Page, 21 Feb 2014

French youth faces court for illegal drone flight

A French youth who used a drone to capture impressive aerial footage of the city of Nancy is facing an appearance before the beak on a charge of "endangering the lives of others". Nans Thomas, 18, strapped a GoPro camera to an unspecified vehicle* he bought on the internet to produce a noteworthy video, which quickly became a …
Lester Haines, 21 Feb 2014
Artist's impression of Planck; Pic: ESA

Missing matter found by squinting through gravitational lens

Some of the universe's “missing matter” might have been found in an unexpected place: exactly where it ought to be, sitting in galaxies. The missing matter question arose when the ESA's Planck mission team published this paper on Arxiv, in which they pointed out an apparent discrepancy between the “wrinkles” in the cosmic …
Astrobotics rover

Google picks five teams to share $6 MEEELLION funding in Lunar X Prize

Next year Google could dish out its $30m Lunar X Prize if a private organization manages to safely land a vehicle on the surface of the Moon and trundle it across the lunar regolith. Now the first $6m of that money is up for grabs. Of the 18 teams competing for the grand prize, five have been selected to take part in trials this …
Iain Thomson, 21 Feb 2014