Matt’s Favorites: Flexing Michigan Mussels, Twitter IPO, And More

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Endangered native Michigan mussels. Note the radio tag on the large one. Central Michigan University photo.

Endangered native Michigan mussels. Note the radio tag on the large one. Central Michigan University photo.

So what’s the latest and greatest as a chilly, wet Tech Tour Week comes to a close? Here comes the sun… and some great science and technology tales…

*First of all, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two, as well as a link to our latest report on personnel changes at tech-focused employers and tech-related events and meetings in Michigan. All those links are worth a quick click to stay informed on the tech happenin’s in Michigan.

* With my newfound appreciation for native Michigan mussels, courtesy of Central Michigan University research professor Daelyn Woolnough earlier on the Tech Tour, I offer you this update on the colony of snuffbox and lilliput mussels found in the Grand River near the town of Lyons. The mussels are moving.

* Twitter has set a price range of $17 to $20 per share for its much-anticipated initial public offering and says it could raise as much as $1.6 billion. Twitter Inc. said in a regulatory filing Thursday that it is putting forth 70 million shares in the offering. If those are sold, the underwriters can buy another 10.5 million shares.

* Yikes. Instead of the expected reduction, NASA has instead increased the likelihood that a 1,300-foot-wide asteroid might slam into the Earth in August 2032 from 1 in 62,000 to 1 in 9,090. In the unlikely event that 2013 TV135 does collide with Earth, it will strike with the force of 2,500 megatons of TNT, making it 50 times more powerful that the largest nuclear bomb that has ever been set off. That’s enough to ruin your whole day for hundreds of miles around — farther if the thing hits the ocean and creates the mother of all tsunamis.

* Automakers are applauding a pledge Thursday by the governors of eight states, to work together to help make the highways more friendly for zero-emission vehicles. The goal is to create charging stations and other fueling infrastructure that would get 3.3 million of the vehicles on the roads by 2025, to curb greenhouse gas pollution. Representatives from the eight states gathered in Sacramento, Calif., to sign an agreement creating a task force that would help bring about those changes.

* The Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) — a technology test flying on NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft, or LADEE — has set a record for the fastest download rate between the moon and Earth. LADEE recently began a month-long checkout period at the moon that included testing the communications demonstration, a system that employs laser technology instead of radio wave transmissions. Using a pulsed laser beam, the instrument sent data 239,000 miles (384,633 kilometers) home to Earth at the relatively speedy download rate of 622 megabits per second.

* Twitter-owned Vine is giving its more than 40 million users the power to perfect their 6-second clips with two new camera tools. The handy features, added Thursday to Vine for iPhone and Android, have funky names to denote their playful appeal.

* Samsung Electronics posted record quarter earnings Thursday that was largely powered by a rebound in its semiconductor business that offset softening demand in the smartphone market. The South Korean electronics giant posted an operating profit of 10.2 trillion won ($9.6 billion) for the three-month period ended September, a 26 percent increase over the year-ago period and a 7 percent rice from the previous quarter. The company recorded overall sales of 59.1 trillion won ($55.5 billion) for the quarter.

* Microsoft’s profits and sales handily beat Wall Street expectations. Net income rose 17 percent to $5.24 billion, or 62 cents per share, compared with $4.5 million, or 53 cents a share during the year-earlier quarter. And in a conference call late Thursday afternoon, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, Amy Hood, said the company had registered “meaningful progress” in its consumer business. Now the surprise: In the quarter, unit sales of the troubled Surface tablet more than doubled from the prior quarter with revenue from the tablet climbing to $400 million.

* If you think Apple’s proposed new “spaceship” headquarters in Cupertino is amazing, wait until you see what Amazon has planned for Seattle.

* Memo to workers: The boss is always watching. Now you know.

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