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LOHAN seeks X-Plane bod for simulating relationship

If you're a dab hand with X-Plane's Plane-Maker who just happens to fancy eternal internet glory as part of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, then today's your lucky day. The current state of play with our Vulture 2 spaceplane is that we've replaced the smoking servo which recently gave our plucky …
Lester Haines, 17 Jun 2014
Cryptophytes

POND SCUM shine a path to more efficient solar cells

Researchers looking at the way algae use quantum mechanics in photosynthesis have found a genetic switch that turns the critters' “quantum coherence” on or off. It's been known for some time that photosynthesis takes advantage of quantum mechanics to improve light harvesting. As this IOP Science article explains in some depth, …

Space station 'nauts will use URINE-FUELLED ESPRESSO MACHINE

A critical issue standing between humanity and its manifest future - that is to say, the availability of decent coffee in space - has been solved with the invention of an espresso machine which it's planned to send up to the International Space Station (ISS), groan-inducingly dubbed the ISSpresso. Italian astronauts Paolo …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Jun 2014

British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

A top British scientist has come out with new research flatly contradicting the idea that extremely cold winters in North America – like the one just past – will become more frequent due to global warming. This new analysis disagrees completely with the assessment of President Obama's personal science advisor. Dr James Screen of …
Lewis Page, 16 Jun 2014
Mosaic of pics from the Cassini spacecraft show Saturn's moon Enceladus

We'll PROBE Pluto's MOON CRACKS for mystery ocean – NASA

The cracked face of Pluto’s moon Charon could indicate the satellite's core was once warm enough to hold a subterranean ocean, according to NASA boffins. Mosaic of pics from the Cassini spacecraft show Saturn's moon Enceladus Mosaic of pics from the Cassini spacecraft show cracked surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Credit: …
Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth

NASA uses new technique to snap high-res asteroid images

Video A recent upgrade at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico has helped NASA capture high-res images of the asteroid 2014 HQ124, which passed fairly close by Earth last week. The upgrade allowed the researchers to operate the 305-metre Arecibo in tandem with other radio telescopes to improve the resolution of a technique in …

US allows commercial use of sharper satellite snaps

US-based satellite-images-for-sale outfit DigitalGlobe has had a win: its national government will allow it to sell higher-resolution images. As we noted in March, the US Senate has been considering whether local satellite operators should be allowed to sell more detailed images. The reason for the deliberations was that while …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jun 2014

Splash! Three times as much water as ALL of Earth's oceans found TRAPPED underground

A group of US researchers has discovered evidence that deep below the Earth's surface there may be as much as three times as much water as in all of our oceans combined. Schematic cross section of the Earth’s interior showing water trapped under the Earth's mantle Unfortunately, at such extreme depths, the new-found treasure …
Rik Myslewski, 13 Jun 2014

Smartphone SEX APPS will give you CUPID'S MEASLES - study

Have you fondled your slab in the hope of finding sex with a handsome stranger? Then you may want to get down the clap clinic pronto, because people who seek sex using smartphone apps are more likely to catch a nasty STD. That's the key point from a new study of hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr. Bonk-mad boffins in Los Angeles …
Jasper Hamill, 13 Jun 2014
Satellites over Earth

Google in talks to nail Virgin as 'partner' in satellite internet plan

Google is reportedly in talks with Virgin Galactic for a multi-million dollar joint venture and an equity stake in the business, according to Sky News. The Chocolate Factory is planning to sink its cash into a project with the space tourism biz that will use Virgin Galactic tech in its plans to put hundreds of satellites into …
This geometric figure illustrates the concept of magic states and their relation to contextuality. The triangular region contains quantum states that are not magic and do not exhibit contextuality. States outside the triangle do exhibit contextuality and may be useful as a resource in the magic-state model of quantum computing.

Boffins lay out 'practical requirements' of 'realistic' QUANTUM COMPUTER

Canadian boffins have brought quantum computers a step closer to reality, by identifying one feature that will be key to finally building one – "contextuality". Our computers use the binary system of 1 and 0s. Quantum computers use qubits (quantum bits), which can exist in "superposition", meaning that they're simultaneously 0 …
Neil Cardy's massive bacon sarnie from a cafe on the A90

Eating a fat bacon sarnie? Have a defibrillator handy

A study has grimly concluded that men who fill their faces with more than 75g of processed meat a day are significantly more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. This terrifying announcement for hardcore bacon lovers is based on a 1997 examination via questionnaire of the dietary habits of 37,035 chaps from Central Sweden. …
Lester Haines, 13 Jun 2014

NASA scrubs FLYING SAUCER over Hawaii ballocket mission

NASA has scrubbed the planned test flight of its rocket-powered flying saucer - the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) - due to unfavourable wind conditions. The LDSD was due to lift off between 3 and 13 June at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii, to test technologies that may one day …
Lester Haines, 13 Jun 2014
The LOHAN team poses with the finished spaceplane

Spaceplane design nipper Ariadne gets a promotion

We're delighted to announce today that Ariadne - the young nipper responsible for the design of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's fetching vinyl wrap, has been promoted to "Sub-orbital aesthetics consulting engineer" for the Special Projects Bureau. To make it official, she now has her very own badge, courtesy of Chris Pyper down at …
Lester Haines, 13 Jun 2014
qubit

Microsoft in hunt for the practical qubit

Redmond says it has joined the search for a practical qubit, in an effort to kick along the development of quantum computers. Head of research at Microsoft Peter Lee has told the MIT Technology Review digital summit that Redmond will be supporting research in other labs with funding, as well as doing its own work at its Station …
Siats meekerorum

DINOSAUR BLOOD: JUST RIGHT, as Goldilocks might say, if drinking it

It's one of the mysteries of the ages: what temperature was dinosaur blood? Some studies seemed to show the physiology of warm blood, others cold. Now, research led by the University of New Mexico suggests they fell neatly in the middle. Led by PhD student and lead author John Grady, the researchers decided to take a fresh look …

Soccer Football in SPAAACE! ISS 'naut nails zero-G bicycle kick

Video Unless you've been living on a deserted island for the past year or so, you know that the World Cup kicked off today with a match between Brazil and Croatia – and three crew members of the International Space Station have produced a video to celebrate the greatest team-sports event in the world over which they're orbiting. …
Rik Myslewski, 12 Jun 2014

Déjà spew: US would accept higher bills for less CO2 by two-to-one

You don't have to be a Kumbaya-warbling liberal to be willing to pay more for energy if it means reducing carbon emissions, nor do you even have to believe that climate scientists are on the up-and-up "when they warn about climate change." A poll commissioned by Bloomberg News found that 62 per cent of Americans said they'd be …
Rik Myslewski, 12 Jun 2014
Giant impact, common at the end of planet formation

Come off it, Moon, Earth. We KNOW you're 60 million years OLDER than we thought

Geoboffins have cracked open some ancient crystals to discover that the Earth and the Moon are actually 60 million years older than previously thought. Giant impact, common at the end of planet formation You’d imagine that figuring out the age of the hunk of rock right under our feet would be something that scientists had …
NPL Large Pressure Tank, photo: Gavin Clarke

Measure for measure: We visit the most applied-physicist-rich building in the UK

Geek's Guide to Britain Shielded by lime trees in a quiet corner of south-west London, a low, modern building constructed of green glass sits on rolling lawns behind a high metal fence. It’s a discreet facility save for a huge white sign facing the road with an blue official crest and three large letters that spell out NPL – the National Physical …
Gavin Clarke, 12 Jun 2014

So, what exactly defines a 'boffin'? Speak your brains...

The recent protest by computer scientist Yossi Oren of Columbia University that he hadn't been hailed as a boffin here at El Reg prompted some lively debate at Vulture Central as what exactly defines the term. Some of us, while conceding that scientists such as Oren are indeed clever chaps, felt that his area of expertise lacked …
Lester Haines, 12 Jun 2014
Placoderm mating

Wedding tackle started out as PROTO-SHARKS' LEGS, boffins say

Researchers from Australia and the UK have taken a look back over the fossil records of placoderms - an early type of armoured fish - and come up with a startling suggestion: some of the earliest male genital organs known to palaeontology started out as a kind of “legs”. Well, not quite legs, since placoderms were aquatic: …
DARPA's gecko-inspired Z-Man paddles

SPIDER-TROOP, Spider-troop, does whatever a spider troop can

Mad military boffinry agency DARPA has come up with the latest iteration of a fan-favourite tech – gecko-inspired climbing pads that will allow GI Joes to scale walls like Spider-Man. The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has used its Z-Man project to get the first known example of a human climbing a 25-foot (7. …

US MARTIAN FLYING SAUCER tests above Hawaii: postponed

Today's planned launch of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) has been cancelled, meaning that ballocket fans have once again been denied the thrill of seeing a mighty 963,000m3 helium-filled orb lift a rocket-powered flying saucer into the upper atmosphere. NASA had its LDSD all prepped and ready to roll yesterday, …
Lester Haines, 11 Jun 2014

MIGHTY SOLAR FLARES fail to DESTROY CIVILISATION. Yes!

Vid Humanity has once again dodged apocalypse after a solar flare failed to bring civilisation to its knees. NASA gives particularly huge flares the rating of X-Class, with an X2 being twice as powerful as X1 and an X3 twice as intense as X2 again. The latest one was a whopping X2.2 and erupted into space on June 10. NASA …
Jasper Hamill, 11 Jun 2014

FLYING SAUCER 'designed for Mars atmosphere' in Pacific US military base

NASA reckons the weather in Hawaii is looking vaguely hopeful for the launch later today of its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) - the flying saucer ballocket mission designed to test inflatable deceleration airbags for possible deployment on future Mars landings. The agency slapped a photo up on Twitter yesterday …
Lester Haines, 11 Jun 2014
Mars

World first: ANIMATED GIF of Mercurian SUN ZOOM from MARS

Ever wondered what on earth the Mars Rover Curiosity is actually doing all the way out there on the surface of the Red Planet? Staring into space, that's what. Whilst peering up at the stars last week, the car-sized nuclear powered prowler caught sight of the planet Mercury passing in front of the sun, representing the first …
Jasper Hamill, 11 Jun 2014
Aerial still of the Dallas Cowboys stadium

Dallas Cowboys to return 'dumbass' Texan's chopper

The Dallas Cowboys have located the quadcopter which a self-confessed "dumbass" pilot planted on the roof of the team's AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the local Star-Telegram reports. The unnamed operator's DJI Phantom Vision went into "return to home" mode when he "let the building get between me and the transmitter", as he …
Lester Haines, 11 Jun 2014

Glacier's hot butt melts ice, boffins say

Underground sources of geothermal heat have been named as one reason Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier is melting. Thwaites Glacier is a big contributor to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is thought to be in danger of collapse in part because glaciers aren't sending it as much ice as has previously been the case. If the whole …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jun 2014

Urine a goldmine for fuel-cell materials: boffins

Over the centuries, urine has been collected for all manner of unpleasant industrial applications. Now, a new research paper suggests pee could be a big contributor to the future of carbon fuel-cell technology. According to this paper in Nature, doped collections of carbon atoms recovered from human urine have the right kind of …

Egghead dragged over coals for mining Bitcoin on uni supercomputer

The US National Science Foundation has suspended a researcher for using two university computers to mine Bitcoins. In its biannual report [PDF] to the US Congress, the government agency revealed the misdoing and recommended action: The researcher misused over $150,000 in NSF-supported computer usage at two universities to …
Simon Rockman, 10 Jun 2014
Aerial still of the Dallas Cowboys stadium

Texan parks quadcopter atop Dallas Cowboys stadium

A self-confessed Texan "dumbass" is attempting to retrieve his quadcopter from the roof of the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington after interrupted radio comms prompted an unplanned touchdown atop the lofty structure. Aerial still of the Dallas Cowboys stadium The vehicle in question is a DJI Phantom Vision, which went …
Lester Haines, 10 Jun 2014

Cunning Reg reader cracks LOHAN hot coupling condundrum

We invite fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project to raise a glass or two today to the Reg reader who finally cracked the problem of just how to hook up our Vulture 2 spaceplanes's rocket motor heater. To summarise, we've got a space-grade Polyimide Thermofoil flexible heater wrapped round our aircraft's …
Lester Haines, 10 Jun 2014
The new hexaquark

Massive news in the micro-world: a hexaquark particle

A German research synchrotron is trumpeting its find of a new exotic particle with six quarks – the largest quark number ever observed. The "dibaryon" (two baryons) is described in a paper in Physical Review Letters (abstract here, pre-print version here at Arxiv). If you're like this Vulture South hack, the paper reads as a …
Elon Charges a tesla S

Look inside ELON MUSK'S CAR! Tesla S wundervehicle has voom

The Model S isn’t the car Tesla wants to sell. At an event in London over the weekend when the company handed over the first right-hand drive to UK customers – including mummy-pr0n purveyor EL "50 Shades of Grey" James – SpaceX bigwig Elon Musk said the car was “more expensive than we would like”, and that he would like to thank …
Simon Rockman, 9 Jun 2014

NASA beams vid from space via laser

Vid NASA has pulled off an impressive bit of space data transfer by beaming a 175 meg hi-def video from the International Space Station to the ground via laser. The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) experiment used a 2.5W 1,550nm laser to beam the vid earthwards in just 3.5 seconds, a feat which "would have taken more …
Lester Haines, 9 Jun 2014
The Moon

Evidence of ancient WORLD SMASHER planet Theia - FOUND ON MOON

Traces of mysterious planet Theia have been found on the surface of Earth's Moon. Boffins have analysed samples of rock brought back by Apollo astronauts, and claimed they contain bits of another world. The discovery appears to back up the theory that the Moon was formed when Theia slammed into Earth some 4.5 billion years ago …
Jasper Hamill, 6 Jun 2014
The servo doused in foam as a fireman, doctors and workers gather around our Playmonaut

Plucky Playmonaut bails out of smoking Vulture 2

Our plucky Playmonaut has decided to take a long weekend off after a servo meltdown during a ground avionics test of our Vulture 2 spaceplane prompted a sharpish exit from the vehicle. Here's the scene immediately after the scare, as emergency crews rushed in to cordon off the area, douse the offending kit with foam and gave our …
Lester Haines, 6 Jun 2014
The two types of plastiglomerate

Plastic is the new rock, say Geologists

Geologists have identified what they say is a new class of rock. 'Plastiglomerates', as the new rocks are called, form when plastic debris washes up on beaches, breaks down into small pieces, becomes mixed in sand or sticks to other rocks and solidifies into an agglomerate mixing all of the above. Such rocks, say US and Canadian …
Pack ice on Mars. image credit ESA

YOU - NASA. Enough with the ROBOTS, get some PEOPLE to MARS

Vid It's time to stop mucking about and get your ass to Mars. That was the message delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, but it's also the advice proffered by a report into NASA's interplanetary activities. The National Research Council (NRC) has published a report in which it told NASA that its ultimate goal should be …
Jasper Hamill, 5 Jun 2014
The M55 star cluster

Boffins publish SciFi story to announce exoplanet find

Boffins from the Queen Mary University of London have chosen an unusual way to announce a new exoplanet find, commissioning a short story describing the recently-revealed worlds. There's a paper about the find too, and a promise of more to come in a future issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The paper …

Russians turn Raspberry Pi into fully-fledged autopilot

Anyone with an interest in Raspberry Pis and autopilots – in common with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team – should nip down to Indiegogo to check out the Navio: an impressive-looking autopilot shield for the diminutive fruity computer. The Russian team behind the Navio is already well on the way to raising …
Lester Haines, 4 Jun 2014