Matt’s Favorites: Private Spaceflight Whoops And Much More
So what’s up on a crisp, cool autumn Monday in the wonderful, occasionally wacky worlds of science and technology? Well, pull up a seat and as dear ol’ Sonny Eliot used to say, let’s throw another anchorman on the fire…
* A commercial cargo ship making its maiden flight to the International Space Station aborted its initial approach to the lab complex early Sunday because of suspect navigation data. Officials with Orbital Sciences Corp., builder of the Cygnus cargo craft, said engineers quickly identified the problem and were developing a software patch, but another approach was on hold until Tuesday.
* The company behind Grand Theft Auto V says the game reached $1 billion in worldwide sales on Friday, after just three days on the market. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., says GTA-V reached that milestone faster than any other video game or blockbuster movie in history.
* Can’t wait to get your hands on the new gold iPhone 5S? Well, too bad — you’re going to have to. The phone went on sale online just after midnight. Within 10 minutes, the ship date slipped to seven to 10 business days. By 12:30 a.m. EDT, the projected shipping dates were already backlogged into October.
* And a day after the iPhone 5S hit the streets, a group of hackers in Germany say they have successfully bypassed the biometric security on the Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor by using “easy everyday means.”
* And more Apple product trouble: Apple has reportedly pulled a software update for its Apple TV after reports that the update is bricking users’ set-top boxes and causing networking issues. The on-device Apple TV 6.0 update, which was released on Friday, was taken down Saturday night, reverting to version 5.3 as the most recent update for download, according to 9to5Mac. After downloading the update, some Apple TV users have reported losing device functionality as well as stored content.
* Meanwhile, in California, an overnight campout for the new iPhone turned chaotic Friday morning when two men were arrested for fighting outside an Apple Store and a man’s plan to hire homeless people to wait in line for the coveted devices backfired, authorities said. And in Texas, an iPhone purchaser is robbed at gunpoint.
* NASA on Friday gave up on the Deep Impact spacecraft, which suddenly fell silent after nearly nine years of exploring comets. The U.S. space agency declared an end to Deep Impact, which in 2005 smashed a comet with a projectile to give scientists a peek of the interior. The spacecraft went on to rendezvous with two more comets.
* And despite the disappointing lack of methane findings reported Thursday from NASA’s Curiosity rover, Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society says that hope is not lost for finding life on the red planet.
* And speaking of NASA, if you need some time off your feet, NASA might have a mission for you. A NASA study is recruiting volunteers to lie in a bed that is tilted downward at a 6 degree angle for 70 days. Subjects who complete the entire bed rest project can earn up to $18,000.
* Wow: An H-bomb that accidentally plunged into a North Carolina field in 1961 came far too close to actually exploding, according to a secret document newly published by the Guardian.
* A Canadian start-up makes serious waves on Kickstarter with a cheap ($116!) photolithographic-based 3D printer, part of a mega effort to drive down costs — and confusion — commonly associated with consumer 3D printing.
* After meeting several injured veterans, Joseph Anand started reading articles about their difficulties with physical therapy. He took a special interest, as he always has with military affairs, and quickly decided he wanted to help. The goal might seem ambitious for a 14-year-old, but it was par for the course with Joseph, a home-schooled whiz kid who has already compiled an enviable list of accomplishments.
* There’s news on the Microsoft (MSFT) Surface tablet front. The company will announce its new Surface products on Monday. Meanwhile, back at Microsoft’s online store, the company has started a new program: Trade in an old iPad for store credit. And Microsoft really hopes consumers will use it to buy a Surface. A new SEC filing by Microsoft shows why: According to some reworked financials, the increasingly important hardware part of the business actually shrank since the introduction of the Surface tablet line.
* In 2012, a record 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa. With 500 rhinos killed so far this year, and with three months to go, 2013 is on track to set a new deadly record, according to a Sky News report. The rampant poaching has led the South African Government to dispatch military to Kruger National Park, the country’s main game reserve.
* The tech startup scene is mainly cloistered to a few hubs, namely Silicon Valley and New York, and a few other pockets. But if you haven’t heard much about the companies just trying to get off the ground, starting Monday, perhaps you will. As part of the JOBS Act’s implementation, “general solicitation” restrictions will be lifted. That means companies will be able to tweet, shoot videos, pitch, and call potential investors about their fundraising efforts, instead of legally having to keep mum about investment opportunities. So, if you pay even scant attention to startups, expect them to get louder about raising money.
* “Star Trek” will mark its 50th anniversary in 2016, but a new book by artist Juan Ortiz will make you feel like you’re back in the 1960s. “Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz” reintroduces each episode of the original series as a time-worn period poster.
* And speaking of Star Trek, Richard Branson tells a newspaper that the original James T. Kirk refused an invitation to fly on Virgin Galactic because he’s scared of flying.
* And a new trans-Pacific data cable has become mired in the U.S.-China geopolitical rivalry.