Matt’s Favorites: Private Rocket Ready, Grand Theft Auto V On Shelves, And Much More

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Grand Theft Auto

So what’s the latest and coolest in the wonderful world of science and technology? Hang on, here we go…

* In a major milestone for NASA, Orbital Sciences Corp. is readying a two-stage Antares rocket for launch Wednesday from the coast of Virginia to boost an unmanned Cygnus cargo ship on a maiden flight to the International Space Station.

* At long last, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V is on store shelves. And before long, the game could prove extremely popular, according to some analysts. Grand Theft Auto V will post 14 million unit sales worldwide by the end of this month, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note to investors on Monday. Overall, Pachter thinks Rockstar’s hit title could reach 24 million unit sales over its lifetime, helping the franchise potentially generate more than $1.4 billion.

* Speaking of store shelves, good luck finding an iPhone 5S on one Friday.

* And some Verizon customers who picked up the 4G LTE version of the Google Nexus 7 tablet may not be able to actually activate the device on Verizon’s network, despite technical compatibility. Disgruntled buyers taking to social-media outlets like Twitter and Google+ report that people who bought a Nexus 7 from a third-party source were not able to activate Verizon’s LTE on their new tablets. Tech blogger Jeff Jarvis tweeted that he waited days after contacting Verizon’s customer service through social media and in-person visits to receive the Twitter response that “not all LTE tablets are created equal.”

* Wonder how badly the Chinese had to torture this blogger to get him to denounce his own blog on state TV and praise government censorship. Or maybe they just threatened to wax the guy’s family.

* Here’s an amazing look at the size of the shadow banking system.

* How frustrating is it when a pipe bursts, and you have to wait hours for a plumber to come replace or repair it? How about being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire? Or when your toddler’s plastic train breaks apart, and a tantrum ensues?  Researchers at the Centre for Electrochemical Technologies in San Sebastian, Spain, may have just created a quick fix for all of these headaches, and many more: You might someday be able to just hold the broken plastic pieces back together, and watch them fuse before your eyes.

* And here’s very cool time lapse footage of the righting of the Costa Concordia.

* And in the biblical plagues and infestations department, how about a bizarre cricket invasion in Wichita, Kan.

* Did you Google Miley Cyrus’s name in the wake of the twerking scandal? If so, you might have compromised your Internet security, says the security firm McAfee. The company just released a list of the most dangerous celebrity name searches. Cyrus isn’t at the top of the list — she ranks 20th — but she’s on there.

* The firewalls blocking social media sites in Iran came down on Tuesday, only to be put back in place hours later. Officials say it was a “technical” glitch that allowed Iranians to tweet and share on Facebook after more than four years of forced social media silence.

* Ohhhh, myyyyy, it’s George Takei! He’s now out with a video series to explain technology.

* As they say, everything old is new again. That would be an especially delicious irony if future humans once again become cavemen — on Mars. A vision for troglodyte existence put forth by Germany’s ZA Architects calls for astronauts to live in caverns under the surface of Mars that would be dug out by solar-powered robots. This bold concept imagines living underground in tunnels chiseled from basalt that naturally forms in hexagonal shapes. Just imagine the house parties.

* And this is cool: The smaller an animal is, and the faster its metabolic rate, the slower time passes for it, scientists have found. This means that across a wide range of species, time perception is directly related to size, with animals smaller than us seeing the world in slow motion.

* Canadian scientists have had it with politicians bending or ignoring their peer-reviewed research results, so they’re protesting. Good on ‘em.

* High-speed eruptions of charged particles from the sun may be to blame for recent failures of satellites that people rely on to watch TV and use the Internet, scientists say.

* A lot farther away, a new image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows an enormous collection of galaxies and star clusters in stunning detail. Hubble spied 10,000 or so of the estimated 160,000 globular star groupings thought to reside in the huge galaxy cluster Abell 1689, which lies about 2.25 billion light-years away from Earth. For comparison, our own Milky Way galaxyhas only about 150 globular clusters, which are spherical clumps of old stars tightly bound by gravity.

* Microsoft announced a few months ago that Windows 8.1 will be a free upgrade for anyone already running Windows 8. That still holds true. But Tuesday, company officials shared more on how much Windows 8.1 will cost for those running an older version of Windows. For those running Windows XP, Windows Vista, orWindows 7Windows 8.1 will cost $119.99. Windows 8.1 Pro will cost $199.99.

* Facebook product manager Justin Shaffer, rumored to be co-leading the social network’s video advertising initiative, is leaving the company after three years on the job. Shaffer landed at Facebook in 2010 when the social network purchased Hot Potato, a location-based startup where Shaffer served as co-founder and CEO. His departure was first reportedby the Wall Street Journal. Facebook confirmed Shaffer’s exit to CNet and said he was working on the company’s video team.

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