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Matt’s Favorites: Chinese Hackers Crack Dams, New Robot Hand, New Robot Bugs, And Much More

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Consumers Energy's Croton Dam on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Consumers Energy’s Croton Dam on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County. Wikimedia Commons photo.

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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What’s new and wonderful from the world of high tech on this final day of the Tech Tour? Now that’s a question worth answering!

* Here’s more fun from our great and good friends the Chinese: Chinese hackers have infiltrated a sensitive U.S. Army database that contains information about the vulnerabilities of thousands of dams located throughout the United States, International Business Times reports. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams has raised concerns that information gathered in the hack could help China carry out a cyber-attack on the national electrical power grid.”

* The chance of having a robot that can open a can of soda for you is becoming more of a possibility. Using a three-fingered model, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and iRobot have released a robotic hand that is able to pick up a 50-pound weight, use a small set of keys and survive being hit by a baseball bat.

* After over a decade of work, the so-called “RoboBee” has taken flight. Harvard University Researchers have been dedicated to creating an insect-sized robot for years and the work has finally paid off. According to the researchers, the robot half the size of a paperclip and weighing less than a tenth of gram, was able to hover for a few moments and then flew on a “preset route through the air.”

* As smartphones become more ubiquitous, stealing smartphones has also been on the rise. But should cell phone makers like Apple and Samsung offer a kill switch to deter crime? According to the New York Times, San Francisco’s district attorney George Gascon believes that major phone manufactures have a responsibility to create a kill switch to permanently disable phones that have been stolen.

* In the next five years or so, scientists are poised to discover proof that space and time can wrinkle in the form of gravitational waves. These waves were predicted almost 100 years ago by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, but have yet to be seen.

* NASA’s venerable Mars rover Opportunity has overcome a glitch that put the robot into standby mode late last month, agency officials announced Thursday.

* Google has started sending its Glass Explorer edition to developers and early adopters in hopes that they will find interesting ways to use the augmented-reality glasses. The eyewear uses voice recognition to take commands and display information, for uses including turn-by-turn navigation, taking photos and translating languages on the spot. Now, a developer has found a way to make a photo with the glasses with just a wink of the eye.

* Huston Huddleston is playing a seminal role in the “Star Trek” universe right now. It’s OK if you don’t recognize his name. He didn’t appear in any of the television shows. He hasn’t been on-screen or working behind the scenes of any of the movies. He is, however, captaining a massive project that, when finished, will be a source of delight to “Star Trek” fans everywhere. He’s rebuilding the bridge of the Enterprise.

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