So what’s the latest in the fascinatin’ domains of science and technology as we head for Halloween? Grab that mask and enjoy that sugar, here we go…
* 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 reports on tech-related meetings and events in Michigan and new hires and promotions at Michigan’s tech companies and institutions.
* Also, the deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. for the Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest business plan competition, so if you’ve got a business idea, check out http://www.gleq.org or contact Miche Suboski at Miche@GLEQ.org.
* And speaking of deadlines: Only three days are left for middle schools in Michigan to enroll in the 2014 Michigan Regional Future City Competition. In its 19th year, this competition engages students’ interest in math, science, engineering and technology by challenging them to imagine a city 150 years into the future. Then the students build it using SimCity software, build a scale model on a limited budget, write an essay — and finally, make a presentation during a statewide competition set for Jan. 27. The winning team goes to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national Future City event. In addition to schools, ESD is still looking for volunteer engineer mentors to serve in the classrooms, as well as judges. For more information about Future City, please contact Allison Marrs, Membership and Future City Program Manager at (248) 353-0735, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.esd.org.
* When Superstorm Sandy struck the New York and New Jersey area on Oct. 29, 2012, it caused more than $50 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Most of that damage was due to coastal flooding — and scientists now say that with sea levels rising due to climate change, flooding events like Sandy are going to get worse.
* A new species of frog discovered recently in Australia lives in a boulder field devoid of the usual bodies of water that frogs use as breeding grounds. But that doesn’t stop this fertile species from making babies. Instead, the Blotched Boulder Frog emerges from the rocks to “feed and breed” when it’s raining, according to researchers at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. The Blotched Boulder Frog (Cophixalus pertophilus) is one of three new vertebrates discovered during a joint expedition of researchers from Harvard University, James Cook University and National Geographic.
* Doctors are urging parent to keep smartphones and laptops out of their kids’ bedrooms, and limit the time they text and tweet. The recommendations are bound to prompt eye-rolling and LOLs from many teens but an influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences. It’s been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems.
* A mysterious barge floating on the San Francisco bay has people wondering who owns it and what it’s doing there. The barge, which is just off of Treasure Island, is stacked four-stories high with shipping containers. Reports suggest that the Google is behind the mysterious boat.
* Meteorologists may have found a way to predict some killer heat waves up to three weeks in advance. Now, the best they can do is about 10 days. An earlier warning would help cities prepare for the heat wave, arrange to open up cooling centers and check on the elderly, said Gerald Meehl, co-author of a study that describes the forecasting clue.
* NASA’s Cassini probe is getting an exceptional look at the vast liquid lakes of Titan’s north pole, where dense winter clouds are retreating thanks to a change in seasons on Saturn’s largest moon. A clearer view of Titan’s wet northern region could provide clues about the moon’s hydrologic cycle and the evolution of its seas. New images released by NASA this week even revealed the Titan equivalent of salt flats surrounding its northern lakes, some of which are as big as the Caspian Sea and Lake Superior combined. Titan more closely resembles Earth than any other planet or moon in our solar system, with a dense atmosphere and stable liquids on its surface. But Titan’s clouds, lakes and rain are made up of hydrocarbons, such as ethane and methane, rather than water.
* Starting next fall, Nielsen will begin counting television programs watched on mobile phones and tablets within its traditional TV ratings. The company responsible for measuring TV viewership said Monday it will use codes embedded by networks within the programs to collect this information.
* Surrounded by a gooey graveyard of prehistoric beasts, a small crew diligently wades through a backlog of fossil finds from a century of excavation at the La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles. Digs over the years have unearthed bones of mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and other unsuspecting Ice Age creatures that became trapped in ponds of sticky asphalt. But it’s the smaller discoveries – plants, insects and rodents – in recent years that are shaping scientists’ views of life in the region 11,000 to 50,000 years ago.
* Google is looking to increase manufacturing volumes of Google Glass, its augmented reality glasses, in the coming months leading up to Christmas, according to a report Monday from the Financial Times.
* Here’s a CNet News.com reviewer’s report on Samsung’s 80-inch, $40,000 4K HDTV.
* Launched on June 2, 2003, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express arrived at Mars six and a half months later. In the past 10 years, it has orbited the planet nearly 12,500 times, returning unprecedented images and massive amounts of data. This information has been woven together to create a topographic model of the surface, providing a stunning visualization of the terrain, from the highest volcano to the deepest canyon, flying over impact craters, ancient river beds, and lava flows.
* The world portrayed by Tom Cruise and his slick, glove-manipulated holographic operating system in “Minority Report” has been inching closer to reality for some time now, and as this video shows, it could come way ahead of schedule and be even cooler than Hollywood’s original vision of the future.
* President Barack Obama’s social media updates were temporarily hijacked Monday due to an apparent exploit in the URL shortener his team uses to promote Organizing for Action, an organization that promotes Obamacare.
* Buyers of a rare LaserDisc used to demonstrate an ’80s-vintage film editing system have found it full of raw footage from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, graciously posting clips to a Facebook account over the course of the past several days. Most of the clips are from Luke Skywalker’s last visit to Yoda on Dagobah, but another gem features a full minute (without audio, unfortunately) of R2-D2 repairing Skywalker’s damaged X-wing.
* A private spaceflight company’s mini-Shuttle prototype made a crash landing over the weekend. Bummer.