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Matt’s Favorites: Mars’ Wet Past And Much More

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Jeez, this view of Mars from NASA's Curiosity rover looks just like that vacant lot I got snookered into buying outside Vegas.

Jeez, this view of Mars from NASA’s Curiosity rover looks just like that vacant lot I got snookered into buying outside Vegas.

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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So what’s the newest and coolest from the worlds of science and technology as we hit the midweek mark? Well, just sit back and enjoy, and watch out for the Hump Day camels…

*First of all, here are the links to your Tech Report home page, the Tech Report Page Two (trust me, it contains much fascinatin’ news), as well as our latest event notices.

* Water, water everywhere, and some of it fit to drink. That’s the picture of ancient Mars that has emerged during the past few months thanks to discoveries by NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since touching down inside Gale Crater in August 2012.

* In space but closer to home, a European satellite is facing a fiery doom next month, when it is expected to begin falling from space to end a successful mission to map Earth’s gravity. The spacecraft runs out of fuel in October, but exactly when and where it will fall to Earth isn’t yet known. The fiery re-entry of the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite, which the European Space Agency has billed as the “the Ferrari of space,” will occur about two or three weeks after the satellite runs out of fuel in mid-October, ESA officials said.

* And here’s a CNet selection of the world’s best space photographs so far this year.

* A first-of-its-kind online database of coral reefs launched this week to help scientists understand the changes brought about by over-exploitation, pollution and climate change. The Catlin Global Reef Record is intended to allow scientists to collaborate on work related to the major coral reef ecosystems. Between one third and one half of the world’s corals have been lost in the last 50 years, according to a statement about the database’s launch.

* Someone just couldn’t wait to get their hands on a new gold iPhone 5S. An anonymous bidder paid $10,100 to buy one of the coveted new devices on eBay. The gold iPhones, which went on sale Friday, quickly sold out in stores and online, and are back-ordered until October.

* Although Apple’s (AAPL) new iOS 7 mobile platform brings a wealth of new features to the iPhone and iPad, some users have uncovered a few security vulnerabilities you should be aware of. Both of these security issues are related to the operating system’s “control center,” and it doesn’t seem that either of these are critical. Nonetheless, you might deem them important enough to disable the control center on the lock screen, which is where the problems manifest themselves.

* Better news on the Apple hardware front: The A7 processor in Apple’s iPhone 5S is twice as powerful as the A6. An iFixit teardown explains one reason why.

* Speaking of teardowns, Apple’s iPhone 5S costs $199 to make, the iPhone 5C $173. 

* And Apple on Tuesday brought out a refresh of its iMac all-in-one desktop line. Under the hood of the latest iMacs, available Tuesday, are Intel’s fourth-generation quad-core Haswell processors, 802.11ac Wi-Fi capabilities, and faster PCIe flash storage options, Apple said.

* Ruth Patrick, a scientist whose research on freshwater ecosystems led to groundbreaking ways to measure pollution in rivers and streams, died Monday at a Pennsylvania retirement community. She was 105.  Patrick is credited with creating an approach that assesses the health of a lake, stream or river by evaluating the quantity, diversity and health of its plants, insects, fish and other organisms — not solely examining the chemistry of the water itself.

* A public school district in Fresno, California, in one of the first such programs in the country, will provide each of its 15,000 students with a tablet loaded with curriculum specifically designed for the new technology.

* Well, how about that — China has lifted some of its Internet censorship, but only in the Shanghai area.

* Federal researchers have been working on a system to measure and predict the destructiveness of wildfires — similar to the way officials use the magnitude scale for earthquakes and to other tools to rate and evaluate tornadoes and hurricanes.

* Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam believes there’s a shelf life on unlimited data plans. As the wireless world moves toward delivering more video and becomes the center of communication, unlimited offerings aren’t sustainable, McAdam said on Tuesday during an investor conference.

* YouTube video comments can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but Google is arming uploaders with Google+ comment moderation powers.

* For similar reasons, mostly that so many all online comments seem to come from dolts with far too much time on their hands, Popular Science is shutting down the comments section on its articles, 

* Worried about data from your lost Android phone or tablet getting into the wrong hands? You can now lock down your device remotely. Released in August, Google’s Android Device Manager is a handy service that allows you to see the location of a lost or stolen Android device. You can also remotely tell the device to ring as well as erase all of its data. Now, you can add one more feature to that list. The latest update to Android Device Manager enables remote password locking. If you want to prevent others from accessing your missing device, you can send a new password to secure it.

* New York police cracked down on drivers distracted by their smartphones this past summer to the tune of a 365 percent increase (compared to summer 2012) in the number of tickets issued for texting while driving. Because the epidemic shows no sign of deceleration, New York is trying a different approach by designating rest stops along highways as “texting zones.”

* And WSB-TV in Atlanta tells us that Gwinnett County police officer Jessie Myers has issued more tickets for texting and driving than any other officer in the state. Officer Myers said he sees most people typing away on their phones while waiting at red lights. ‘Most people think they’re safe there,’ Myers said. However, he said it’s still illegal.

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