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Matt’s Favorites: Plastic In The Great Lakes, Jetman Wows Oshkosh, MIT Mea Culpa, And More

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So what’s the haps today in science and technology? Glad you’re curious… it’s fascinatin’ stuff.

* Already ravaged by toxic algae, invasive mussels and industrial pollution, the Great Lakes now confront another potential threat that few had even imagined until recently: untold millions of plastic litter bits, some visible only through a microscope. Scientists blame health and beauty products containing tiny plastic “microbeads,” which thankfully are being phased out.

* The Massachusetts Institute of Technology released on Tuesday a report on its role in the prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, concluding that it maintained a neutral stance and did no wrong. However, it also suggested that MIT’s approach was not the right one for any institution that hoped to be “a tough leader or a moral leader.”

* Next time you’re stuck in traffic, just imagine soaring above it all with a personal jetpack like Yves Rossy. The Swiss adventurer just made his debut U.S. flight in grand style. Jetman, as Rossy is known, appeared alongside a vintage B-17 bomber at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., in his first public flight in the U.S.

* Since being definitively discovered in 1992, the study of exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — has grown into a massive field of astronomy that reached a new milestone Monday. For the first time ever, an exoplanet was observed passing in front of its parent star in X-rays, which can provide a breadth of new information about a planet’s properties and the environment it inhabits.

* Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier who provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents, was found guilty of nearly all the charges filed against him, but not guilty of aiding the enemy. He still could spend many decades in a military prison.

* Gentlemen, do strollers make you feel like less of a man? Czech-based automotive company Skoda has come up with a solution: the vRS Mega Man-Pram, created to celebrate the launch of the third-generation Octavia vRS family car in the U.K.

* Wow, someone builds a driveable replica of the Griswolds’ Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation.

* Future buyers of Apple’s rumored low-cost iPhone can potentially find a host of cases awaiting them on Amazon. Available for preorder, the Elago S5C Slim Fit 2 cases specifically list the iPhone 5C as part of their names. A few of the cases promise to be in stock on August 23, while others show a date of August 26. The regular cases sell for $9.99, while the editions that include a screen protector go for $24.99.

* The fragmentation of the Android market is both a strength and a weakness for users and developers, according to a new report by Open Signal. On the one hand, it can be difficult to find and make apps that function across the entire Androidecosystem, while on the other hand there are literally thousands of options to choose from.

* The Coravin Wine Access System pours a glass of wine without the need to open the bottle. The secret is a very thin needle that gets to the precious fluid inside. And best of all, it keeps oxygen from getting to the wine, allowing wine enthusiasts to get to wine by the glass without sacrificing the bottle.

* Aston Martin only made about 1,200 DB4 cars back in the day, and today some versions can fetch millions at auction. But Ivan Sentch is 3D-printing his own. The resident of Auckland, New Zealand, has printed nearly three-quarters of the sections for his replica of the classic sports car.

* Here’s an interesting look at how to reassert your expectation of online privacy by using Internet services that promise to protect your confidentiality.

* Fourteen months after listing on the Nasdaq, Facebook has finally circled back to within striking distance of its initial offering price of $38 a share.

* Amazon’s next-generation Kindle tablets will easily outrace the current models, according to Boy Genius Report. Citing information from “multiple trusted sources,” BGR cited pre-launch benchmark tests that measured the new lineup’s performance as three times faster than that of the existing editions.

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