So what’s the latest and greatest in the ever more wonderful, wild and weird world of science and technology? Well, here ya go, my friends, to get you all ready for the weekend…
* Some high-tech stock exchange this is: The Nasdaq stock market endured a three-hour shutdown Thursday afternoon. The Nasdaq, heavily concentrated with technology stocks, is home to bellwether shares such as Apple, Microsoft, Ebay, Yahoo and more recently Facebook. The shutdown is the latest in a long line of glitches that have disrupted financial markets. Yeah, makes me feel real confident in the ol’ 401k!
* Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin completed a five-hour 58-minute spacewalk today, installing a camera-aiming platform on the hull of the International Space Station after engineers concluded it would work properly despite a misaligned attachment plate. (Guess it’s good we still get along with the Russians someplace.) And speaking of space, rest in peace, former Shuttle astronaut Gordon Fullerton.
* Who knew teens were so concerned about their privacy? According to a Pew Research Center study released Thursday, of the 58 percent of U.S. teens aged 12 to 17 who have downloaded apps to their cell phone or tablet computer, 51 percent have avoided certain apps due to privacy concerns, and 26 percent have uninstalled an app because they found out it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share.
* If you stepped outside and snapped a photo of yourself waving to space on July 19, you might be famous. NASA on Wednesday released a collage of photos of people around the world who greeted the Cassini spacecraft. NASA encouraged people to submit photos of themselves waving at the spacecraft from Earth on the same day Cassini took dramatic photos of Earth through Saturn’s rings. The space agency has compiled those photos in a collage the depicts the planet from space.
* It’s not just us backyard astronomers who bitch about light pollution: Marine biologists say green sea turtles are nesting at remarkable rates along Florida’s beaches, but a lot of hatchlings may get lost on the way to the ocean because of a phenomenon called skyglow. (Well, either that or they’d just rather go to the club.)
* For many people living with Parkinson’s disease, the mere act of chewing and swallowing can be a challenge. One way to deal with this is to blend foods up to minimize the need to chew. But what if it’s difficult merely bringing the spoon to one’s mouth without spilling its contents? Enter the Liftware Spoon by Lift Labs in San Francisco — poised to hit the market in September – whose patented spoon technology actually helps stabilize tremors in people with Parkinson’s, essential tremor, and related disorders.
* You knew this had to happen: A nascent backlash against autonomous cars. Even though they’d drive better than humans and cut down on accidents. Because freedom!
* A desktop 3D scanner that will make 3D printing a whole lot easier has gone on sale. Yay!
* Apple has purchased another company that deals in local map data. This time it’s Embark, a company that specializes in public-transit information and directions.
* At this point it’s looking more and more like Apple’s got a gold-colored version of the iPhone on the way, nor is what it will look like a mystery given a handful of leaks in recent days. But if you’re the type of person who wants more proof, App Advice has posted a slew of new shots of the gold variant, which is expected to join the silver and black models of Apple’s next iPhone when it debuts next month.
* The recent boom in wireless network buildout has not come without a price: a spike in wireless worker falls and deaths from those cell towers. Take it easy and be safe, folks.
* Pandora Media, the company behind the Web’s biggest radio service, touted big sales gains in its fiscal second quarter, as mobile revenue nearly doubled from a year earlier — but investors were dismayed by its outlook for profit to come, pushing shares down in after-hours trading.
* Activist shareholder Carl Icahn took to Twitter again on Thursday to advance his plan to amplify Apple’s plan to buy back its own shares, saying he and Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook are scheduled to discuss the matter soon. (Then there are those of us who think a lot of these share buybacks are just an excuse for corporate bigwigs to juice up their earnings per share and stock price without, you know, doing any stuff like creating new jobs or innovating.)
* Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is taking a personal interest in renewing the company’s media clout. AllThingsD reported Thursday that she is personally ushering through deals with Katie Couric and Conde Nast.
* Let it be? Instant karma? Michael Zuk, a Canadian dentist, has purchased one of John Lennon’s teeth. He’d actually like to clone the singer-songwriter from the DNA.
* Can’t wait to see these: The incredible ‘first light’ images captured by the new adaptive optics system called Magellan|AO for “Magellan Adaptive Optics” in the Magellan II 6.5-meter telescope are at least twice as sharp in the visible light spectrum as those from the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
* A federal judge on Thursday denied Samsung’s request for a new patent trial over Apple’s “bounce-back” patent. Samsung filed a motion for a new trial regarding the “bounce-back,” or ’381, patent in July. Originally, Apple accused more than 20 Samsung smartphones and two tablets of infringing on this technology, which covers the “bounce-back” that users get when they scroll to the bottom. The patent also includes a host of touch-screen actions, including dragging documents. During last year’s Apple v. Samsung trial, the jury ruled that Samsung infringed on the ’381 patent with 18 of its products. For its part, Samsung denies ever infringing on this patent.
* Word has it that Amazon may be jumping on the wireless Internet service bandwagon. According to Bloomberg, sources familiar with the matter say that the e-commerce giant is testing a new spectrum wireless network in Cupertino, Calif.
* Are you ready for a new caped crusader? Ben Affleck was unmasked Thursday as the actor who will portray Batman in “Man of Steel 2,” the planned sequel to this summer’s Superman blockbuster. Movie fans got their first taste of the new movie, which pairs up the two superheroes for the first time on the big screen, during a panel discussion at Comic-Con last month.
* Not only does this hotel have a thing or three to learn about hygiene, it also has a thing or a million to learn about public relations. You do not sue a man for writing a bad Trip Advisor review after he actually brings a few sample bed bugs down to the front desk!