Matt’s Favorites: Ford-UM Open Battery Tech Center, Rosebud Galaxy And Much More
So what’s the best of science and technology for this fine Tuesday morning, when the Tigers will finally be able to get back at it and shred some Sox? Glad I can help… here it is.
* First, , here’s your daily linkage to your Tech Report home page, the Tech Report Page Two (trust me, it contains much fascinatin’ news), as well as the link to our latest report on tech-related events coming up.
* Ford Motor Co. and the University of Michigan are opening a new battery research and manufacturing lab that they hope will speed the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars. The center, on the university’s campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles.
* Astronomers are studying a wispy rose-shaped galaxy some 350 million light years away, looking for clues to the violent galactic collision that likely created this celestial bloom. The Hubble Space Telescope captured detailed images of the galaxy dubbed PGC 6240, with its hazy petal-like shells that become increasingly sparse as they get further away from the galaxy’s bright center. Scientists described the formation as a “pale rose in the sky” as they unveiled the new Hubble images and video of galaxy PGGC 6240.
* In a steamy tropical forest 46 million years ago, a prehistoric mosquito bit a critter, drew blood and was blown into a lake in what is now northwestern Montana. Belly full, she died and sank. Flash forward to the present. Researchers found the minuscule female insect fossilized in a paper-thin piece of shale – which had sat in someone’s basement for 25 to 30 years with other rocks – and concluded it still contains its last supper. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports a first for biology: a blood meal found intact in a fossil.
* The Canadian government is trying to change the way cable providers offer their programming, according to Reuters. Canada’s industry minister announced on Sunday that cable and satellite television providers soon will be required to offer individual channels to customers, rather than bundles that force customers to pay for channels they don’t watch, Reuters reports.
* At your neighborhood coffee shop, you can order your beverage in small, medium or large. Now, you can do that with phones, too. HTC Corp. is introducing a larger version of its popular HTC One phone, becoming the latest phone maker to offer its flagship device in three sizes – and, of course, three prices. The new HTC One Max has one feature unavailable on the smaller models: a fingerprint identification sensor similar to that on Apple’s new iPhone 5S. It’s an optional way to unlock a phone without using a four-digit passcode. Unlike Apple’s version, however, the Max can be programmed to automatically open one of three favorite apps, depending on which finger is used. HTC spokesman Tom Harlin said the company designed the Max with a fingerprint sensor to make the larger device easier to operate with one hand.
* This time last year, the world watched in awe as daredevil Felix Baumgartner became the first human to break through the sound barrier with his own body, freefalling from the edge of space back to Earth. Now, Red Bull Stratos is sharing those stories in a new documentary. “Mission to the Edge of Space: The Inside Story of Red Bulls Stratos” takes fans through the five-year planning process. It also offers the first detailed account of technical issues the crew faced on launch day, including what happened with Baumgartner’s heated faceplate.
* Microsoft is updating its Windows software for cellphones to accommodate larger devices and make it easier for motorists to reduce distractions while driving. It’s the third update to Windows Phone 8 software since the system’s release a year ago. Devices with this update will start appearing in the coming weeks, and older phones will be eligible for a free upgrade, too.
* And speaking of smartphones, here is a fun look back at some of Samsung’s kookiest designs ever.
* It’s been a year since California passed a law letting driverless cars on the road — and major automakers are now busier than ever building vehicles that don’t need you — including this Cadillac driven (well, actually, not driven) by CBS News.
* While iTunes Radio is being rolled out, Pandora is sounding boastful. We’ll see.
* The National Security Agency is collecting hundreds of millions of contact lists from e-mail and instant message accounts from around the world, according to a Washington Post report. The collection, which was revealed in documents supplied by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, occurs when Internet services transmit the data, typically when users log in, compose a message, or sync devices, the Post reported. The agency is said to analyze that data to identify hidden connections among foreign intelligence targets.
* For the second time in about a month, a malfunction on United Airlines’ Web site is letting customers buy tickets on the cheap. Passengers can take advantage of the error by setting up a “MileagePlus” account and tricking the site into getting them a ticket with frequent-flyer miles they don’t have, according to Mashable.
* While computer programming and coding are becoming more common K-12 class options, these subject matters are still a mystery to many students. A nonprofit called Code.org is trying to change that by enlisting a star-studded entourage of techies (Gates, Zuckerberg, etc.) to help with its new “Hour of Code” campaign.
* A new study shows that the more people learn just how small NASA’s budget is of the overall federal budget (currently a minuscule 0.5 percent), they’re more likely to support the space agency.
* Scientists have found evidence of a comet explosion over the Sahara desert 28 million years ago. That’s how the Egyptians got glass — the melted desert sand.
* Madonna reportedly buries herself in her BlackBerry during the premiere of the movie “12 Years a Slave.” Some complain. She explains it was for business. One famous movie theater chain bans her in protest.
* Rumors suggest that Google will come clean about Android 4.4 by the end of the month, even as early as October. Here’s what else people are saying.
* Donald Trump demands a bigger iPhone screen. No, really. And it had better be huuuuuuuuuuge.
* U.S. Cellular is jumping on the shared data plan bandwagon. The wireless carrier on Monday introduced shared data plans for consumers and small businesses. The plans line up with similar ones offered by larger carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T. These latest offerings also spell an end to U.S. Cellular’s unlimited data plan.
* More evidence that it’s us rich countries that really have to take the lead on climate change. An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says that the 1.23 billion people in the OECD, the club for rich countries, could produce just as much climate change effect by cutting our carbon output 8 percent — achievable in ways we’d barely notice — as the world’s poor could by cutting theirs to zero, which would mean permanent misery.