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Matt’s Favorites: Mars Probe Poised For Launch And Much More

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Technology that will be utilized in NASA's mission to Mars. (File photo)

Technology that will be utilized in NASA’s mission to Mars. (File photo)

So what’s up on the Monday after the big storms that ended what’s probably our last decently warm weather until, oh, Aprilish? Well, check out these lightning bolts of wisdom from the wonderful world of tech and science…

* First of all, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two, where you will find much worthwhile news, and links to our most recent report on tech and science event notices and tech and science related awards and certifications.

NASA’s next Mars probe is poised for launch Monday afternoon, weather permitting, to kick off a $671 million mission to find out why a good portion of the red planet’s atmosphere leaked away ages ago in an extreme case of climate change that turned a once wet and hospitable world into the dry, frigid wasteland it is today.

* And here’s a sci-fi concept: A hotel magnate who’s designing off-Earth habitats wants to set up a system of property rights on the moon.

* Speaking of Google Glass, as we have been since last week, here’s a company that makes a “sunshade” so nobody else can tell when your Google Glass is on. And possibly taking pictures of them. 

* You know what’s cooler than buying a PlayStation 4 on launch day? Having Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant buy you one just for being in line. That’s what reportedly happened to lucky fans on Thursday night at a Walmart in the Dallas area.

* And if early sales figures are a reliable barometer, Sony appears to have scored a hit with its new PlayStation 4. The next-generation game console, which went on sale in North America on Friday, sold more than 1 million units in its first 24 hours on the market, Sony announced Sunday. The company did not say how many pre-orders contributed to that figure.

* But beware the PS4’s Blue Light of Death. There better be a fix soon.

* Here’s something you don’t see very often: a photograph of a cougar, in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, beneath the Hollywood sign — an image that will appear in next month’s National Geographic. Cougars are nocturnal and seldom seen. So how did they get that picture?

* Apple has reported closed a deal to acquire PrimeSense, the 3D-sensor company behind Microsoft’s Kinect. Apple paid $345 million for the Israel-based company, according to a Calcalist financial newspaper report on Sunday that didn’t cite sources. Perhaps best known for powering the gesture control used by Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console, the company’s technology is also used in 3D scanners, iRobot’s Ava, and the Asus Xtion.

*Glenn Greenwald — the journalist who got the scoop on the NSA’s mass surveillance programs courtesy of whistle-blower Edward Snowden — has been busily assembling the team for the new online publication he’s co-creating with $250 million in backing from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

* This may have been suggested before, but if not it’s a great idea that’s been sitting on our noses all this time. Designer Sayalee Kaluskar has turned a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses into an iPhone charging device by adding solar panels to them.

* Hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday for hacking into global intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting in December 2011. The self-described “hacktivist” was handed down the maximum sentence in Manhattan federal court by Chief US District Judge Loretta A. Preska for his role in the massive Stratfor hack and other hacks.

* But anonymous is still at it, according to Reuters, hacking into a bunch of government systems.

* Comet ISON will have its closest approach to the sun Nov. 28. After that, if it doesn’t break up, it should be visible in the evening sky. Could be great, could be (like Halley in 1984 or Hale-Bopp in 1997) a little fuzzball in the sky. More at http://isoncampaign.org/.

* And here’s more on the government’s quest for a battery that’s five times better in all ways than anything on the market today.

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