So what else is new and cool from the fabulous worlds of science and technology for our chilly Wednesday? Check out these winners…
* Here’s WWJ Newsradio 950 of our staff trying to read part of University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman’s speech from last Saturday’s football game with a two-second delay in sound. Your humble narrator does pretty well, but then I’ve done a fair amount of public address work on systems with a delay.
* Wonderful and terrifying images from space: Hurricane Haiyan from the International Space Station, so big it more than fills the camera frame; and NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sends back a stunning image of Saturn.
* Authorities are investigating what may have caused an Apple iPad demo model to burst into flames at a store in Australia last week. It happened Nov. 8 at a Vodafone store in the city of Canberra. Some reports say the device was a new iPad Air, but Apple has not confirmed which type of tablet was involved. A Vodafone spokesperson told the Australian website news.com.au that the spark and flames appeared to come from the device’s charging port.
* And here’s an early hands-on review of the new iPad Mini with Retina Display.
* And chalk up some more real-life Star Trek technology: synthehol. A doctor in England is seeking a patent on molecules he says will produce the fun sensation of being tipsy on alcohol — without the alcohol, and its damaging effects.
* Verizon has admitted that its network faces traffic pressure in big cities. The wireless carrier is pouring money into the problem, and a top executive says the issues will dissipate by the end of the year.
* The latest round in Apple (AAPL) and Samsung’s bitter global battle for supremacy in the more than $300 billion smartphone market began Tuesday in a courtroom a few miles from Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters. In courts, government tribunals and regulatory agencies around the world, Apple Inc. has argued that Samsung’s Android-based phones copy vital iPhone features. Samsung Electronics Co. is fighting back with its own complaints that some key Apple patents are invalid and Apple has also copied Samsung’s technology.
* NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity rebooted its software after an unexpected glitch late last week, but the six-wheeled robot is now doing fine on the surface of the Red Planet, NASA officials say.
* A type of abnormal heart rhythm caused by what is called long QT syndrome — which is present in roughly one in every 2,500 newborns — is also linked to stillbirths and sudden infant death syndrome. Now, researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison say they have been able to both diagnose and treat the condition while the baby is still in the womb.
* Here’s another nail in the coffin of climate change denial: Deniers have long argued that greenhouse gases are not the culprit in rising global temperatures. They say the Earth is getting warmer because of natural fluctuations in solar activity. Now, a new study shows that it’s time to put that argument to rest. Changes in the sun’s solar activity do not significantly impact global temperatures, according to physicists Terry Sloan, of the University of Lancaster, and Arnold Wolfendale, of the University of Durham.
* For the first time ever, Android has hit more than 80 percent market share for smartphone shipments worldwide. The new Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker was released on Tuesday by IDC, which detailed third-quarter numbers for all smartphone shipments worldwide. A total of 261.1 million smartphones were shipped during this quarter, 81 percent of which run Google’s operating system. A study by Strategy Analytics last month revealed nearly the same numbers, showing that Android gobbled 81.3 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter.
* Susan Lyne knows a lot about reinvention. As the chief executive officer at AOL Brand Group, she is helping the internet pioneer reinvent itself as a media company. She’s held leadership positions everywhere from Martha Stewart Living to Disney. During an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Lyne told the co-hosts that she doesn’t think a brand is ever really reinvented, but rather, sometimes, you give “new shape” to it.
* So why does the moon have a “face” on its Earth-facing side, and a featureless wilderness of craters on its far side? Because it has a thinner crust on the near side, meaning impacts forced pools of molten rock to the surface, which formed the flat “seas” that create what we interpret as the man in the moon.
* An iPhone app backed by the king of self-promotion, Justin Bieber, is all about — you guessed it — self-promotion. Tuesday, Shots of Me launched on the iPhone as a simple way to let youngsters share smartphone self-portraits — aka selfies — sans comments. In other words, it’s Frontback without the back or Daily Booth for a mobile generation. Other than share selfies, users can browse a feed of friends’ selfies, find and follow their Twitter friends, “like” photos with a double tap (just like on Instagram), and send private messages.