Matt’s Favorites: Royal Baby Draws Huge Crowd Online, Back To School Tech, Corpse Flower Blooms, And More
What’s the latest and greatest from the wonderful world of science and technology? Well now, let’s take a look around the Interwebs…
* I can’t tell you how much I don’t care about this because it’s hard to describe infinity, but just like you can’t fight gravity even though it’s “only a theory,” you can’t fight all this foofraw about Prince Whatsizname either — the United Kingdom’s royal baby already has a noble following on Facebook. According to Facebook, there were over 1 million mentions related to the royal baby within the first hour of the news. (Meanwhile, this analysis shows most men don’t give a crap. Like me!)
* As dozens of wireless speakers flood the market, here’s a look at some of CNET’s top picks to take with you back to school. And here also are back to school reviews for tablets and e-readers. And for TVs. And for printers and peripherals. And for home theater and audio gear. And for headphones, and you can’t forget headphones to keep the roommate happy. And for games and gaming gear. And for PCs and Macs. And for smartphones. And finally, for action cameras.
* The giant “corpse flower” at the U.S. Botanic Garden is in full bloom. The massive flower takes its name from the odor it emits at peak bloom: when the spathe (the part that looks like a flower) unfurls, it smells as lovely as a rotting corpse.
* Sorry about that, Aussies: The U.S. Navy jettisoned four undetonated bombs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off the coast of the state of Queensland, Australia, on July 16. “The information we have is there’s minimal environmental impact; it is a safe situation for the environment, for shipping, for navigation,” U.S. Navy spokesman Cmdr. William Marks told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
* Apple says that hackers may have gained access to personal information of software developers who make the company’s apps. Apple Inc. says its website for software developers was hacked Thursday. It’s possible that some developers’ names, mailing or e-mail addresses were accessed, although other information was encrypted and can’t be accessed.
* I can’t personally vouch for these, but CBS News Monday published this list of methods to keep your online activities hidden from the prying eyes of the NSA.
* As expected, the sun expelled a mega coronal mass ejection, giving observers one heck of a light show. On Monday at 2:24 a.m. Eastern time, the CME shot out of the sun’s northwest limb (around active region 1794) at about 715 miles per second, or about 2,574,000 miles per hour. NASA considers that rate “a fairly fast speed” for this event. Fortunately, it seems unlikely the CME’s countless tons of solar particles will cause any harm to the majority of satellites orbiting Earth, or to electronics on the Blue Marble. NASA says the eruption, located on the far side of the sun, traveled toward Mars.
* Here’s a look at the cosplay at Comic-Con. Just be grateful your Tech Report doesn’t include smellavision — I’ve heard of a new affliction called “fanboy funk” that comes from traveling too far to Comic-Con on a shoestring budget and then walking around in the California warmth in these outfits.
* This is cool: A look at what Wi-Fi would look like if we could see it.
* Samsung announced Monday that is will hold its first developers conference in October. The conference will be held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, from Oct. 27 to 29. Registration for the event is not yet open, but the company is taking email addresses.
* Google rolled out its new Gmail inbox in May, but some people are still confused by the new tabs. The new feature separates users’ inbox into different categories. Tabs were added so that users could filter their inbox by groups, like primary, social and promotions, which are the default settings. However, users can add updates and forums as an option. Those who want to switch back to one category inbox can do so in settings.
* Internet service providers in Britain will be asked to automatically block access to pornography sites unless customers opt in, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday. Cameron announced the move as part of measures to stop extreme sexual images he said were “corroding childhood.”
* The Apple “phablet” may not be a rumor after all. The tech giant is testing larger screens for iPhones and iPads, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, Apple has asked its Asian suppliers for a prototype of smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and tablet screens just under 13 inches.
* The world’s most endangered cat species could be extinct within the next 50 years, according to British researchers. The likeliest way to save the Iberian lynx, their study shows, is to base conservation efforts around climate change, and how it impacts prey.
* Netflix’s second-quarter profit surged as the Internet’s biggest video-streaming site continued to gain subscribers with an original content strategy that last week reeled in Emmy nominations. But shares in the company were down about 6.3 percent to $245.35 after hours, as its nearly six-fold increase in earnings had more to do with reining in costs than blowing away expectations on subscriber growth.
* Mom said to reach for the stars, right? Now you can. By donating surplus processing power from their Android devices, so-called citizen scientists are joining researchers at IBM’s World Community Grid and the Einstein@Home project who hope to speed up the work they are currently doing on AIDS and pulsars.
* Speaking of Mom, I can’t really improve on this headline: This really is the saddest Web site on Earth. It tells you how many times you’re likely to see your parents before they die.
* Dramatic sea level rises caused by global warming aren’t new. A little over two and a half million years ago, the world got warmer and sea levels went up 60 feet.
* A look at a new measles epidemic, 15 years after the anti-vaccine panic started.