So what’s the latest and greatest from the ever-fascinating world of science and technology on this, the day I depart for my 10-day Tech Tour? Well, let’s fire up the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and go for a spin…
* 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 reports on tech-related events coming up, HR notices from the Michigan tech world, and tech-related awards and certifications.
* A marine science instructor snorkeling off the Southern California coast spotted something out of a fantasy novel: the silvery carcass of an 18-foot-long, serpent-like oarfish. Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant sea creature with eyes the size of half dollars to shore on Sunday. Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime.
* Two girls were arrested in a Florida bullying case after one of them admitted online over the weekend that she harassed a 12-year-old girl who killed herself last month, a sheriff said Tuesday. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said they arrested a 14-year-old girl because they were worried she would continue cyberbullying other girls. The girl is accused of threatening to beat up 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, telling her “to drink bleach and die” and saying she should kill herself, the sheriff said. After nearly a year of bullying by as many as 15 girls, authorities said Rebecca climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant Sept. 9 and hurled herself to her death.
* Chevrolet integrated Apple’s personal assistant Siri into two cars last year, and it’s gone so well that the company is adding the functionality to six more vehicles. The way Siri integration works is by wirelessly connecting to the Chevy MyLink infotainment system via Bluetooth. This allows people with newer generations of the iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, or iPod Touch running iOS 6 or iOS 7 to perform Siri-related tasks using a voice activation button on their car’s steering wheel.
* The private U.S. space technology company, SpaceX, has completed another successful test of its Grasshopper reusable rocket system. The footage of the October 7th test launch was captured by a camera mounted on a hexacopter drone hovering near the launch pad near McGregor, Texas.
* Last year, Felix Baumgartner became the real-life version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth” when he took a daredevil freefall from nearly 128,000 feet above the planet’s surface. The Red Bull-sponsored Stratos mission kept viewers on edge for nine breathtaking minutes. It was exciting enough to view the external video of the freefall, but now Red Bull has released a full point-of-view video that lets you experience the jump all over again from Baumgartner’s viewpoint.
* Here’s a fascinating look at Ada Lovelace, born 1815, the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, the first woman programmer.
* The New York Stock Exchange is edging out its tech-heavy rival for the biggest stock debut of the year. Twitter says it will list its shares on the NYSE, not the Nasdaq. The micro-blogging service does not say in its latest regulatory filing when it expects to start trading, but the debut is expected before Thanksgiving. (Oh, and by the way, Twitter’s revenue doubled to $168 million.)
* Yahoo net earnings for the third quarter were $297 million, down 91 percent from a year ago, the company reported Tuesday. Yahoo noted that 2012’s Q3 net earnings included a net gain of $2.8 billion related to the sale of Alibaba Group shares, which is part of the reason why the earnings decreased significantly this year. Third-quarter earnings beat Wall Street expectations, with 34 cents a share on revenue of $1.14 billion, down 5 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting 33 cents a share on revenue of $1.08 billion.
* The search giant may be the next major player to enter the smartwatch market. A Google smartwatch is just about finished, 9to5Google said Monday, citing information from an anonymous source. If 9to5Google’s source is accurate, Google Now may be at the forefront of the new watch and tie in with your Android smartphone.
* India’s first spacecraft bound for Mars is counting down toward a late October launch, a mission that — if successful — could make the country’s space agency one of the elite few of space powers to have explored the Red Planet. India’s Mars orbiter launch window opens on Oct. 28 and closes on Nov. 19, with the arrival at the Red Planet targeted for September 2014. If all goes well, India would become the fourth country (or group of countries) to reach Mars, after the former Soviet Union, the United States and Europe.
* Apple has sent invitations to the press for an Oct. 22 event. According to CNET, the tech giant is widely expected to unveil new iPads and Macs. A colorful invitation depicting Apple’s logo and multi-colored leaves falling features a tagline that says: “We still have a lot to cover.”
* The European Space Agency says it has developed a technology that allows metal parts for spacecraft and nuclear reactors to be “printed” as a single piece. In recent years three-dimensional printing has become commonplace in manufacturing. But so far this method has largely been limited to making plastic objects. The ESA says its metal-printing technology can be used to create more complex shapes than with traditional techniques and leaves almost no waste material.
* Speaking of space, for the first time, astronomers have discovered a sun-like star playing host to a “habitable zone” exoplanet located inside the Milky Way’s galactic bulge — some 25,000 light-years distant — using a quirk of Einstein’s general relativity. But don’t go having dreams of exotic getaways to the glistening lights of the center of our galaxy, this exoplanet is a huge gas giant world, about five times the mass of Jupiter. However, there is something (potentially) very exciting about this new discovery. Like Jupiter, this newly discovered giant exoplanet may possess small satellites; exomoons that could have life-giving potential. Just like on Star Wars and Avatar….
* Airbnb just got a few thousand more supporters in its ongoing dispute with New York state. The rent-out-your-home service has thrown its weight behind a petition authored by a New York City host named Mishelle. In the petition, she asks the state’s senate to fix what she calls a “poorly written law,” which could curb Airbnb’s reach in the region.
* Just down the street from the Apple store in London, England is Burberry, which itself is fitted with luxurious finishings. But instead of polished, aluminum gadgets on wooden tablets there are handbags and clothes, wrapped in an air of elegance and warmth. Those London stores could give us some insight into the mind of Angela Ahrendts, Burberry’s chief executive who was just named by Apple to run its retail empire. Ahrendts, who’s been Burberry’s CEO since 2006, brings the understanding of an emotive shopping experience — something that Burberry exudes, and Apple is hell bent on preserving.
* Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the initial stories based on top secret NSA documents provided by former agency contractor Edward Snowden, is moving on to a “once-in-a-career journalistic opportunity.” Greenwald said in a statement Tuesday that he couldn’t provide details yet because — surprise — the news of his departure had itself been leaked, before he and the Guardian were prepared to make an announcement. But he said the parting was on friendly terms, and he did provide some info to BuzzFeed, which got the scoop on Greenwald’s departure.
* T-Mobile has decided to ax grandfathered plans and fit its current customers into its existing plans. The company confirmed to Engadget on Tuesday that starting November 1, existing customers on its older plans will be moved into another option that has “similar or better features at a comparable price.” T-Mobile didn’t say exactly how it goes about determining what’s best for individual customers.
* Wi-Fi can now be found in Africa’s grasslands, around the glaciers of the North Pole, and in airplanes flying high above the Earth’s surface, but underwater is one place the Internet still can’t go… until now. Researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York are developing a “deep-sea computing network” that can beam data from submerged sensors in oceans, seas, and lakes to users’ wireless devices in real time. The goal of creating underwater Internet is to help people get a better gauge of what’s going on in the oceans’ depths.
* A new method of recording brain activity affords Stanford scientists unprecedented monitoring — and yes, it involves temporarily removing a portion of a patient’s skull to insert packets of electrodes. The research could one day lead to mind-reading devices, the scientists say.
* Intel CEO Brian Krzanich touted the merits of Intel’s manufacturing process compared with that of Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip today after the company’s earnings report.
* A Google smartwatch is just about finished, 9to5Google said Monday, citing information from an anonymous source. Assuming 9to5Google’s source is accurate, Google Now may be at the forefront of the new watch and tie in with your Android smartphone. Google Now acts as your virtual personal assistant, offering answers to your questions and displaying information relevant to you. The same e-mails, appointments, directions, and other data that appear on your smartphone would then be directed to your smartwatch. Google is also trying to equip the watch with a longer battery charge and Bluetooth 4.0 support, 9to5Google added.