Matt’s Favorites: General Dynamics Correction, Boston Bombing Clues, West Michigan Judge’s Phone Embarrassment, Mars Madness, And Much More

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An artist's illustration of the Inspiration Mars Foundation's spacecraft for a 2018 mission to Mars by a two-person crew. The private Mars mission would be a flyby trip around the Red Planet. Inspiration Mars Foundation photo.

An artist’s illustration of the Inspiration Mars Foundation’s spacecraft for a 2018 mission to Mars by a two-person crew. The private Mars mission would be a flyby trip around the Red Planet. Inspiration Mars Foundation photo.

So, what’s new and amazing and disturbing in the world of high tech? Glad you asked, here goes…

* First, some accuracy housekeeping: A story last week on the All Things Green conference in Macomb County last week erred in saying that General Dynamics Land Systems operates on renewable power. Instead, their site power is offset with renewable power through their energy provider.

* Are the clues to solving the Boston Marathon bombings caught on tape? About two hours after the winner of the race crossed the finish line on Monday, two bombs exploded just seconds apart. Three people were killed and more than 170 were wounded. Police and federal agents are asking the public to submit photos and amateur video that might give clues to the person or persons who planted the bombs.

* On a much much lighter note, a West Michigan judge holds himself in contempt of court and pays a $25 fine after the ring of his smartphone interrupted legal proceedings. “Judges are humans,” Raymond Voet of Ionia County said. “They’re not above the rules.”

* They’ll be crammed into a space the size of an RV for more than a year, breathing recycled air, subsisting on dehydrated food and drinking their purified urine. If they die, they’ll be freeze-dried in a body bag. And if they survive, they’ll have to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at a screaming 8.8 miles a second. But applications are flooding in for the first manned mission to Mars, the project team said.

* A major computer fail at American Airlines brought down the company’s reservations system, leaving passengers stranded for several hours. The systemwide delay, which started Tuesday morning, grounded all flights for several hours, according to the airline’s tweets. American Airlines said the system was “fully restored” in an update on its Facebook page shortly after 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.

* Orbital Sciences Corp. made final preparations Tuesday for the first test flight of its Antares rocket, a new commercially built two-stage booster designed to launch unmanned cargo ships to the International Space Station starting later this year. In another first, the rocket will be launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport — MARS — at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Virginia coast southeast of Washington, D.C.

* Researchers say the presumed birth of a bald eagle chick in southeastern Pittsburgh would be the first in more than 200 years in the western Pennsylvania city. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says the chick apparently hatched over the weekend in a nest in Hays near the Monongahela River.

* Here’s a really interesting idea about the origin of life that could explain a lot — why we haven’t seen aliens, and why we can’t “grow” life out of primordial Earth soup in the lab.

* Computers controlled by a swipe of the hand – a staple of science fiction flicks like “Minority Report” – could soon hit the mass market as the result of a new deal between Hewlett-Packard Co. and a San Francisco start-up called Leap Motion.

* The first offshore U.S. wind farm gets a major boost — a $2 billion investment from the Japanese.

* Oracle Corp. released a major security update on Tuesday for the version of Java programming language that runs inside Web browsers to make it a less popular target for hackers. The patch fixes 42 vulnerabilities within Java, including “the vast majority” of those that have been rated as the most critical, said Oracle Executive Vice President Hasan Rizvi.

* Intel Corp. said its current-quarter revenue would decline as much as 8 percent and trimmed its 2013 capital spending plans, as personal computer sales drop due to the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones. Shares in the world’s largest chip maker rallied as much as 3 percent after hours but quickly gave up the gains. The stock had been battered over the past week after researcher IDC revealed that PC sales notched a record quarterly decline in the first quarter.

* The White House Tuesday delivered a formal veto threat against a controversial data-sharing bill called CISPA that would allow intelligence agencies to collect personal information about Americans from private companies. A House committee approved CISPA last week without four key privacy amendments.

* The European Union’s trade chief will seek the backing of EU states to investigate Chinese telecoms equipment makers Huawei and ZTE, even without a complaint from European manufacturers, EU diplomats said on Tuesday. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, has been collecting evidence to prepare a possible case against Huawei and ZTE over state subsidies it says allows the companies to undercut European firms.

* In June, Harvard’s Clean Energy Project plans to release to solar power developers a list of the top 20,000 organic compounds that could be used to make cheap, printable photovoltaic cells. The list, culled from about seven million organic molecules that a crowdsourcing-style project has been crunching over the past two-plus years, could lead to solar cells that cost about as much as paint to cover a one-meter square wall.

* Here’s a handy guide on what to do if your iPhone goes for a swim.

* Windows 8 touch devices will dive in price, according to Intel executives. The price of Windows 8 touch devices, including laptops, will sink to price points that penetrate inexpensive tablet territory. These new “innovative” designs will be based on Intel’s upcoming quad-core “Bay Trail” chip, Intel executives said today during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call.

* Do you regard the world you inhabit with a profound sense of resentment and contempt? Do you long to escape the bosses, relatives, and other sources of boredom that distract you from the reveries of your smartphone? If so, then perhaps Facebook Home is the product for you!

* Circumcision changes the bacteria ecosystem of the penis, perhaps explaining why the foreskin-snipping procedure reduces the risk of HIV infection, a new study finds.

* As Samsung, Google, and Microsoft forge ahead with smartphones, smartwatches, and other smart devices, Apple could be experiencing production delays across the board. According to Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who recently visited Apple’s Asian suppliers, the rumored iPhone 5S will most likely be delayed.

* On Wednesday, a Swedish court indicted Gottfrid “anakata” Svartholm Warg—the Pirate Bay founder who has been held in a Swedish detention facility for more than six months. Gottfrid was indicted with three other co-defendants, and the four have been charged with fraud.

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