Matt’s Favorites: Exoplanet Hunter, Fusion Drive, Earth From Space, Anonymous Attacks Israel, And Much More
So what’s the latest in the wonderful, ever-changing world of science and technology? Well, this obviously ain’t all of it, but I sure had fun looking…
* First, as has become customary on a Monday, the five strangest tech stories of last week, as judged by CBS News.
* NASA has selected a $200 million mission to carry out a full-sky survey for exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. The space observatory, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is scheduled for a 2017 launch.
* Also in spaceland, NASA is working on plans to robotically capture and tow a small asteroid back to Earth’s vicinity by the end of the decade, setting the stage for manned visits to learn more about the threat asteroids pose, the resources they represent and to help perfect the technology needed for eventual flights to Mars.
* Speaking of Mars, astronauts could be a step closer to our nearest planetary neighbor through a unique manipulation of nuclear fusion. University of Washington researchers and scientists at a Redmond-based space-propulsion company are building components of a fusion-powered rocket aimed to clear many of the hurdles that block deep space travel, including long times in transit, exorbitant costs and health risks.
* And here’s wonderful time lapse video of Earth as seen from the International Space Station. Michigan stars in a couple of shots early — the Great Lakes are very recognizable.
* Anonymous claims that a cyberattack launched against Israeli government Web sites this weekend has caused billions of dollars of damage, although Israeli officials say there have been no major disruptions.
* A U.S. trade agency judge has decided the text-selection feature Samsung has on its mobile devices infringes an Apple patent. If upheld, the ruling could stop Samsung from sending devices to the United States.
* The process of creating products with a 3D printer just got much more interesting. We’ve all heard about the coffee cups, toys and even medical advancements that have come from this new digital model. It now might also be the future of many other industries as well, since scientists at Oxford University in England have developed a way to create synthetic living tissue.
* T-Mobile subscribers can now preorder the iPhone 5 before it officially hits stores in another week. The carrier’s Web page lists all varieties of the iPhone for preorder — the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models in either black or white. Consumers will also find their purchase options different from the ones offered by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.
* Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has taken another step toward getting back into the air, a battery certification flight.
* Researchers working at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin have taken their Visible Light Communication technology, which makes it possible to use standard “off-the-shelf” LED (Light-Emitting Diode) room lights for data transmission, to the next level by boosting the speed up to 3Gbps (Gigabits per second).
* Allen Stern, a respected tech blogger and entrepreneur who shifted his attention to helping others improve their health, died last week, prompting an outpouring of condolences and tributes on the Internet. The cause of death was not released, but Stern had struggled with his weight for many years and had recently lost more than 125 pounds through diet and exercise, according to friend Louis Gray. His age was not immediately clear.
* Will Austin, Texas be the second city to get Google’s super high speed network?
* A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.
* Here’s why you should stick to those STEM careers, kids. A letter of abject misery from a Ph.D. student in literature who will never, ever, ever have a real job.
* And in animal science, well, this is just wrong.