So what’s the latest haps in the hippest of high tech? Well, let’s check the Intertubes…
* The Italian astronaut who nearly drowned when his helmet filled with water during a July 16 spacewalk took to his blog this week to describe the experience. Luca Parmitano, 36, started the post by recounting his excitement in the moments immediately preceding the mission.
* Researchers have recently determined that nine 5,000-year-old Egyptian iron beads were crafted from meteorites, rather than iron ore. The beads were discovered in an ancient Egyptian cemetery, strung together with gold and other precious materials, in 1911.
* And speaking of the sun, another possible electronics-disrupting solar storm is headed for Earth.
* Holy mackerel — Yahoo bumps Google out of the top spot for visits on the Web, a spot Google had held since 2008.
* On Aug. 20, NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory satellite captured a death-diving comet as it approached the sun. At almost the exact same time, the sun threw off a cloud of particles known as a coronal mass ejection. The comet quickly vaporized.
* Facebook wants to get more of the world’s more than 7 billion people — all of them, actually — online through a partnership with some of the world’s largest mobile technology companies. The partnership, called Internet.org, says its goal is to “make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected” — about 5 billion people.
* Well, this certainly sounds too good to be true — a drug candidates that mimics the beneficial effects of exercise.
* And there’s been a breakthrough to make future computer chips out of graphene, which offer the potential of calculations orders of magnitude faster than today’s silicon chips.
* An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.
* There’s been another leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Operators said Tuesday that 80,000 gallons of highly radioactive water escaped from a storage tank. That’s on top of a massive leak that was discovered last month. All of this has devastated Japan’s fishing industry.
* As of Tuesday, the Earth’s ecological budget for the year has maxed out. For the rest of the year the planet will operate on an ecological deficit. And it’s only August. So claims the Global Footprint Network, which calls today “Earth Overshoot Day,”its annual estimate of when human consumption exceeds the planet’s ability to regenerate its resources for the year.
* Oy: The U.S. government has released a secret court ruling from 2011 that found some surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency illegal and that estimated the NSA collected many thousands of “wholly domestic communications” between Americans. The Electronic Frontier Foundation heralded as a “victory” Wednesday’s release of the 86-page opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, set up under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
* Yikes — a new bug in Tumblr has posted porn at random across some blogs. The Yahoo-owned blogging platform says an infrastructure fail is to blame for bizarre content showing up where it shouldn’t.
* Criminals have recently hijacked the wire payment switch at several US banks to steal millions from accounts, a security analyst says. Gartner vice president Avivah Litan said at least three banks were struck in the past few months using “low-powered” distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks meant to divert the attention and resources of banks away from fraudulent wire transfers simultaneously occurring.
* Here’s a look at this week’s “blue moon” full moon in all its glory.
* Cable TV companies and Internet service providers are dead last in customer service, according to a new study.
* We’ve seen Elon Musk’s vision for a supersonic Hyperloop shooting passengers across California in less an hour, but it’s uncertain if it will ever become a reality, as Musk has said he has no plans to build the full system. So what do you do when Tony Stark is just too darn busy to save the world (or at least revolutionize public transit)? Well, you can organize on Reddit, or you can fire up some 3D printers to create a nifty scale model.
* Smartphone keyboard fans could soon find what they’re looking for if rumors of the LG Enact (VS890) QWERTY slider for Verizon pan out. Alleged photos and rough details reportedly obtained by tipster @evleaks, point to a 4-inch display, 5-megapixel rear camera, and a good ol’ fashioned five-row QWERTY keyboard.
* Apple’s new iTunes Radio will launch next month with several advertisers paying for commercial spots, according to the folks at AdAge. Citing information from “people familiar with the negotiations,” AdAge said that Apple has already lined up advertising deals with McDonald’s, Nissan, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, and possibly one or two other companies. Advertisers will pay anywhere from millions to tens of millions of dollars to run ads within the music service over a 12-month period, according to AdAge.
* Facebook sharing will extend far beyond the walls of the social network as the company has released its embedded posts feature to all members Wednesday. Embedded posts are part of Facebook’s play to link its network of 1.15 billion people to current affairs and breaking news. The feature, first released to a select group of media organizations last month, now lets anyone embed public Facebook updates, like the one below from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on their own Web sites.
* Behold the Kegerator, which fuses vintage video games with a beer keg chiller.
* ESPN has held preliminary discussions about possibly offering its programming on an Internet-based TV service like those reportedly under development by Apple, Google, and Intel. John Skipper, the president of the Disney-owned sports network, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that it was looking to sell online TV providers on a package of its more popular channels already offered to pay-TV subscribers, such as its namesake flagship channel, ESPN2, and ESPN News.