Matt’s Favorites: Another Private Company Hits Orbit, Social Media In Boston Apprehension, Alan Alda Translates Science, And Much More

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The Antares rocket lifts off from the launchpad at the NASA facility on Wallops Island Va., Sunday, beginning a test mission that has now been deemed a success. The Orbital Sciences Corp. rocket will eventually deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

The Antares rocket lifts off from the launchpad at the NASA facility on Wallops Island Va., Sunday, beginning a test mission that has now been deemed a success. The Orbital Sciences Corp. rocket will eventually deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

What’s the latest in the fascinating world of high technology? Let’s take a look…

* Add another private spacecraft company to the list of those that can get us to low Earth orbit. After repeated mechanical and weather delays, the launch of the Orbital Sciences Inc. Antares rocket from the Virginia coast was a success late Sunday afternoon. Its dummy payload achieved orbit and will now drift in space for a few days before falling back to Earth and burning up on re-entry. There’s a spectacular eight-minute launch video, too.

* Social media accounts maintained by CBS News programs, “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours,” were compromised on Saturday, the two programs’ official Twitter accounts said. A post on the “60 Minutes” Twitter microblog account, @60Minutes, said, “PLEASE NOTE: Our Twitter account was compromised earlier today. We are working with Twitter to resolve.” Another post read, “A message that was posted earlier to this account was not written or sent by @60Minutes or its staff.”

* Social media was a vital resource this week is locating the Boston Marathon suspects. However, with such a huge flow of information, there can be negative repercussions, and misinformation runs rampant.

* I’ve frequently described what I do here at the Technology Report as translation — taking what science discovers and what scientists do and translating it so that regular folks can understand it. That’s because science types frequently stink at communication — for one thing, they can’t fathom how the rest of us can operate without their level of understanding about their subject matter. Well, somebody else is now in that line of work — Alan Alda, the longtime actor, is now a college professor, teaching scientists how to relate to people in ways they can actually understand.

* Fun. Here’s a stunning new photo of the Horsehead Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope, which is now an amazing 23 years old. In infrared light, it bears a striking resemblance to a sea creature, like a jellyfish.

* Eric Schmidt met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in secret in 2011, according to the transcript of a wide-ranging discussion published late Thursday by the document-leaking organization.

* Blackstone Group LP has ended its pursuit of Dell Inc, three people familiar with the matter said on Thursday, easing the way for founder Michael Dell and his private equity partner Silver Lake to go ahead with a $24.4 billion deal to acquire the world’s No. 3 PC maker.

* Getting busy might sound like a good way to pass the time on long space journeys, but it may not be the best idea, experts say. If humans attempt to push the boundaries of exploration, space-based procreation will be an essential part of keeping a crew alive for the lifetime of a mission to a distant star. However, scientists don’t know how safe sex in space and childbirth may be.

* The Senate is expected to pass legislation this week that would empower states to tax online purchases.

* The plane I can’t wait to fly because of its huge windows as long as it doesn’t burst into flames in midair, the Boeing 787, has been cleared to fly again by the FAA.

* So there’s still hope for me. A 59-year-old Russian has set a record as the world’s oldest spacewalker.

* Yahoo is ending its email service in China. Meanwhile, it also announced it will shut down Yahoo Deals, SMS Alerts, and Mail and Messenger apps for feature phones at the end of April.

* When Superstorm Sandy struck the United States Oct. 30, it didn’t just devastate the Eastern Seaboard, it shook the ground as far away as the West Coast.

* New research shows that even worker ants make career moves. Granted, there are only three careers, but the ability to make transitions between them is still pretty amazing for creatures without a brain

* The late Aaron Swartz said in an interview for the documentary film, set to be completed late this year, that he was more worried about the U.S. government than about teenage hackers in basements.

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