Matt’s Favorites: Really Slow Solar-Powered Flight, NASA Takes A Staycation, And More

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Solar Impulse

So what’s new, different or even strange now that I’m back from the Tech Tour? Here’s what I found on a Sunday night…

* This week, the phone makers were criticized for turning is back on smartphone crime, the first ever Web page was reactivated for its 20-year anniversary and stem cells helped save a little girl’s life. Looking back at some of the off-beat stories last week, we explore what happens if you swear at Google Glass and the saddest day of 2013 — so far.

* This offhand comment on CNN was pretty amazing — the U.S. government intercepts, stores and searches every single email and phone call. Ohhh. Kaaayyy.

* Here’s something much cooler and much less scary — masks that give you superhuman powers.

* In a huge first for aviation, the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse took off early Friday morning from Moffett Field in California to start the first leg of a pioneering cross-country flight. But it’ll take some time — the experimental plane is hoping to reach its final destination of New York’s JFK airport in around two months. A typical trip on a non-stop fuel-filled plane would take a little over six hours.

* Samsung Electronics Co. says the U.S. Department of Defense has approved using Samsung smart phones for its networks. The South Korean company said Friday the Galaxy S4 smart phone has become the first Android device to meet the security requirements set out by the U.S. government.

* The next NASA mission is not to Saturn, Venus or even the moon. The space agency is taking a staycation on Earth, and headed to Greenland where scientists are hoping to find out more about the country’s massive ice sheet and its surrounding frosty landscape.

* A record-setting blast of gamma rays from a dying star in a distant galaxy has wowed astronomers around the world. The eruption, which is classified as a gamma-ray burst, or GRB, and designated GRB 130427A, produced the highest-energy light ever detected from such an event.

* Double-amputee Jason Koger used to fly hundreds of miles to visit a clinician when he wanted to adjust the grips on his bionic hands. Now, he’s got an app. Koger came to Philadelphia last week to demonstrate the i-limb ultra revolution, a prosthetic developed by the British firm Touch Bionics. Using a stylus and an iPhone, Koger can choose any of 24 grip patterns that best suit his needs.

* Smartphones are everywhere these days and nearly 100 million Americans have one, but carrying around a high-tech gadget also makes you vulnerable to high-tech threats. Here’s how to protect yourself.

* Here’s a close look at sinkholes. Truth is, nearly every state’s geology is susceptible to ground collapses that can swallow cars, homes, even entire neighborhoods.

* YouTube reportedly could launch its paid subscription service for some of its specialist video channels as early as this week. The a la carte service, which could involve as many as 50 video channels, would allow single channel subscriptions for as little as $1.99 a month, people familiar with the plan tell The Financial Times.

* The final flight of the U.S. Air Force’s X-51A Waverider program wasn’t a long one, but it was long enough. The Air Force cheerfully announced Friday that the scramjet-powered X-51A flew for more than six minutes last week. Of that total flight time, partner Boeing said, three and a half minutes was done on scramjet power and the vehicle reached a top speed of Mach 5.1, which pushed it into the hypersonic range that researchers had been hoping for.

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