Matt’s Favorites: Killer Bees, Apple Unpersons An Exec, And Much More
What’s the latest and greatest from the amazing world of science and technology? Hey, pull up a virtual sofa, relax and check out these dandies…
* When bees attacked a Texas couple over the weekend, it seemed like a scene out of a horror film, according to the way one of the victims described the scene to the Associated Press. More than 30,000 bees swarmed the couple as they exercised their small horses. At first, the woman and one of the horses jumped into the pool to avoid the stings. There were so many bees that the sky turned dark, as if it was night, she said. So, 30-plus years after the initial killer bee hysteria, why do these attacks seem more frequent now?
* Bob Mansfield, the Apple executive at the center of a mysterious executive shakeup last year, has disappeared from the company’s executive leadership page. The Apple technology chief’s bio vanished from the page in the past 24 hours, according to MacRumors. An Apple spokesperson told Reuters that Mansfield has been removed from the executive team but remains employed by the company on special projects.
* Apple’s upcoming radio service has made its way into iTunes, or at least a beta version of the software given to developers on Monday.
* Apple’s long been rumored to be working on adding fingerprint scanning technology to its gadgets, something that appears to be confirmed in a new version of its iOS software that went out Monday. iOS 7 beta 4, which was released to developers Monday morning, has some new code (but not a visually available feature) for biometric scanning.
* Less happily in Appleland: It has been more than three years since Apple‘s (AAPL) labor problems first become major news. Now, in what has become another of the natural cycles of the world, the company is under fire from a non-profit for “deplorable working conditions” in “Apple’s entire supply chain.”
* Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004, surveying the planet, its rings, and its satellites. Currently, it sends back to Earth more than 60 raw photos a day of Saturn in all of its moods, as well as its satellites, and NASA has made these images freely available for public use. Fabio Di Donato, an Italian IT consultant who likes to make videos in his spare time, has collated more than 200,000 Cassini photos taken between 2004 and 2012, processed them, and edited them into a mind-blowing film set to Shostakovich.
* When NASA called on the public on June 18 to help plan an asteroid retrieval mission, the public responded in droves. Non-profits, private companies and international organizations sent in more than 400 proposals, the agency said in a press release. The mission involves redirecting an asteroid and parking it in orbit near the moon, so that NASA astronauts can later explore it.
* America’s space agency was created by a stroke of President Eisenhower’s pen 55 years ago Monday. While this makes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration old enough to retire — or at least get a discount on movie tickets — NASA is likely only getting started. A birthday is always a good time to reflect on one’s accomplishments before forging onward into the future.
* “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other,” Katharine Hepburn once said. “Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” Despite the famed actress’s remarks, human males and females do have a strong tendency to live together in monogamous pairs, albeit for highly varied periods of time and degrees of fidelity. Just how such behavior arose has been the topic of much debate among researchers. A new study comes to a startling conclusion: Among primates, including perhaps humans, monogamy evolved because it protected infants from being killed by rival males.
* Ilya Segalovich, the co-founder of Russia’s largest search engine, Yandex, died Saturday at a London hospital. He was 48. Yandex director general and fellow founder Arkady Volozh said in the company’s blog that Segalovich was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year. He responded positively to chemical therapy, but then developed a brain cancer that caused his death.
* In an attempt to continue its real-world indexing and the unification of all its services, Google has relaunched Zagat, the dining review and ratings company it acquired in September 2011.
* Overstock.com announced last Thursday that it would be undercutting Amazon book prices by 10 percent. Not to be outdone, Amazon matches the prices … on some titles.
* A group of students at the University of Texas at Austin built and successfully tested a GPS spoofing device to remotely redirect an $80 million yacht onto a different route — essentially hijacking it, the Houston Chronicle reports. The project was completed with the permission of the yacht’s owners in the Mediterranean Sea this past June.
* Despite increasing hard drive and cloud storage, disk media are not going away — in fact there are plans afoot for disk storage with a capacity of at least 300 GB.