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Virgin Galactic backers said wavering after spaceship crash

Virgin Galactic backers said wavering after spaceship crash

Virgin Galactic is pushing ahead with construction of its second SpaceShipTwo craft, following the first's disastrous crash last Friday, though some early ticket holders are already backing out and requesting refunds. The second space ship - which will carry serial number two - is around 65-percent built, Virgin Galactic said today. Meanwhile, outspoken company founder Richard Branson has accused "self-proclaimed experts" of drawing conclusions about the craft's safety when "a lot of whom know nothing about what they talk about," following early statements by the National Transportation Safety Board about initial findings.

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Facebook “I’m a Voter” sends election apathy on a guilt-trip

Facebook “I’m a Voter” sends election apathy on a guilt-trip

It's voting day in the US, and Facebook is pushing apathetic social networking addicts to get out and cast a ballot, running another highly-visible campaign to encourage activity in the midterm elections. A new banner running at the top of the Facebook wall offers the virtual equivalent of a sticker for those who take advantage of their democratic rights, while clicking the "I'm a Voter" widget takes users to a map to find out where their nearest voting station is. It's not just idle whistling, however: research indicates Facebook's timely prompts - not to mention the virtual peer pressure of seeing those of your friends who have already voted - actually gets people into the booths.

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“Transparent cockpit” AR could fix driver blind spots

“Transparent cockpit” AR could fix driver blind spots

Who says augmented reality is just for games or entertainment? The same ideas and technologies that allows us to superimpose virtual images onto real objects in almost realistic fashion could very well save lives in the future. Take, for example, this "transparent car" concept from researchers from Keio University in Japan, a system that could potentially work around drivers' blind spots, letting them see crucial information that are otherwise occluded to them by doors, windows, ceilings or floors, giving them the details that they need to make that life-saving decision.

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Virgin Galactic crash investigation finds early aero oddity

Virgin Galactic crash investigation finds early aero oddity

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo unexpected deployed its "feathering" system shortly before crashing, the National Transportation Safety Board investigators have said of the incident on Friday last week, which saw one pilot killed and another seriously injured. "About nine seconds after the engine ignited, the telemetry data told us that the feather parameters changed from lock to unlock," NTSB acting chairman Christopher Hart revealed during a press briefing today, something which took place on the fateful test flight at Mach 1.0 - the speed of sound - but which should not have happened until around Mach 1.4.

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China recovers its first unmanned spacecraft to return from moon

China recovers its first unmanned spacecraft to return from moon

Saturday saw China recover its first spacecraft to take part in an experiment of flying to the moon and returning. While the craft didn't actually land on the surface, as that's what this mission was practice for, it did successfully fly around the moon on an eight-day trip, marking the first time in almost 40 years that an unmanned ship returned to Earth after making a lunar rotation.

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Virgin Galactic’s Branson vows “the dream lives on”

Virgin Galactic’s Branson vows “the dream lives on”

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, has spoken publicly on the crash of SpaceShipTwo, promising to not only figure out what brought down the craft during a test flight last week, but hopefully continue working toward the dream of space tourism. The incident, on Friday, saw SpaceShipTwo explode over the Mojave desert in California during a test of the new engine, killing one pilot in the process and leaving the other with major injuries. Second explosion of a private space endeavor in the space of a week, it has renewed questions around commercial space flight.

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashes in engine test [Update]

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashes in engine test [Update]

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed during today's test flight, with the high-speed rocket plane coming down east of Mojave. Virgin Galactic first confirmed an incident had taken place via Twitter, with a terse message saying the space plane "has experienced an in-flight anomaly," and promising additional information on the situation to follow. According to local reports, which also confirmed the crash, there has been one fatality and one injury, with SpaceShipTwo itself in pieces on the Californian desert.

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Scientists develop “decoder” that transcribes thoughts

Scientists develop “decoder” that transcribes thoughts

Not much in this world is private any more, but your thoughts -- specifically the ones you think but don't speak -- are the one thing you can be certain stays private. That certainty mightn't be so strong in the future, however, with a team a researchers revealing that they've successfully decoded volunteers' unspoken thoughts. The work was done by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who hope the technology can one day be used to give a voice to individuals who aren't able to speak.

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This 45,000-year-old leg bone will change how old you think we are

This 45,000-year-old leg bone will change how old you think we are

A paper has been published by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig which shows the results of their decoding of a set of genes from a 45,000-year-old modern human male from Sibera. It'd be enough to noteworthy that this man was nearly twice the age of the otherwise eldest modern human whose genome was sorted, but there's another point to be had, as well. This leg bone not only has modern human genes, but Neanderthal as well.

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Gogoro teases big battery plans for smarter city travel

Gogoro teases big battery plans for smarter city travel

Power: it's something none of us can do without, both the enabling and limiting factor of everything from smartphones through to electric vehicles, and it's ripe for a revolution. Hoping to lead just that is Gogoro, startup brainchild of former HTC innovation chief Horace Luke and Matt Taylor, and coming out from the shadows today to share a few early hints about its plans "to transform energy distribution" within smart cities. I caught up with Luke to find out more, curious at indications that some new power system potentially for EVs could be on the cards.

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