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Matt’s Favorites: Mind Control Of Robots, Mars Rover On The Move, And Much More

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Minnesota Mind Control
(credit: istock) Technology Report
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What’s newest, wackiest and absolutely the most fun in the ever-changing world of high tech? Well, spend a few minutes finding out right here…

* Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering have developed a technique that lets people control unmanned aerial vehicles with their mind. The noninvasive method doesn’t require implanting an object, like a computer chip to measure brain activity. Researchers used a technique called electroencephalography (EEG), which is a unique brain-computer interface that attaches to a person’s head, and records the electrical activity of a subject’s brain using an EEG cap fitted with 64 electrodes.

* Ten months after a spectacular landing in Gale Crater, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is wrapping up a second drilling campaign, mission managers said Wednesday, and the science team is gearing up to begin the long trek to Mount Sharp, a towering mound of layered rock 5 miles away that is expected to shed new light on the red planet’s history and habitability.

* After years of quiet and largely unsuccessful diplomacy, the U.S. has brought its persistent computer-hacking problems with China into the open, delivering a steady drumbeat of reports accusing Beijing’s government and military of computer-based attacks against America. Officials say the new strategy may be having some impact.

* Vine, the Twitter-owned video-sharing app, launched for Android devices on Monday. And it was only a matter of hours before the mobile app was hacked, or shall we say, “Rickrolled.”

* The latest report on the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster: None dead, none likely to die. No, really. From the story: “Yet such is the imbalance of dread to risk on matters nuclear that this accident was enough to turn public opinion and governments against nuclear power. Never mind that coal mining kills almost 6,000 people a year, or that populations of coal-mining areas have death rates about 10 per cent higher than non-mining areas, or that coal emissions drive global warming.”

* With star astronaut Chris Hadfield recently back on planet Earth after five months in orbit, many are wondering what he will do next. Will Hadfield stay with the Canadian Space Agency? Bring his outreach skills to politics or business? Or do something different altogether?

* NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has given astronomers a rare look at an enormous stellar eruption, allowing them to map out the aftermath of such blasts in unprecedented detail.

* Software giant Microsoft has unveiled the updated version of its touch-enabled Windows 8 operating system at the world’s second largest computer show in Taipei. Tami Reller, chief financial and marketing officer of the company’s Windows Division, said that Windows 8.1 would be available on both PCs and tablets later this year.

* BlackBerry’s next flagship smartphone, the all-touchscreen BlackBerry A10, will launch during the holidays, CNET has learned. The BlackBerry A10 is the successor to the Z10, and further builds upon the company’s burgeoning lineup of devices.

* Turkish authorities have detained 25 people accused of using social media to spread false information and provoke anti-government riots, according to several reports.

* And here’s today’s episode of Idiotic School Administrators Theatre: A school bus driver is fired for posting on Facebook that his school turned a hungry child out of a lunch line because said child was 40 cents short of lunch money.

* Engineers at UC San Diego are testing small, mobile robotic vehicles that create virtual reality maps with temperature data that firefighters can use in real time.

* Scientists with the Department of Energy have designed a new type of battery — based on sulfur — that they say outpaces the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries in flammability, cost, and ability to hold a charge.

* Amazon acted like a bully and threatened publishers when discussing a new e-book sales structure, according to two publishing CEOs who testified during the Apple e-book price-fixing trial over the last two days.

* Scientists and psychologists for years have debated whether there’s a connection between video games and real-world violence. Do video games refine hand-eye coordination and spur creativity — or instead turn you into a sociopath? That question has been raised to a fever pitch following national tragedies such as the one in Newtown, Conn. And though studies, with the exception of a few, have pointed out that a connection between fantasy video game violence and real-world violence doesn’t, in fact, exist, the Centers for Disease Control is stepping up its efforts to research a possible link between the two.

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