Episode 36 News: Space Rocks!

Interplanetary boulders and red-plant dust have been flying this month. The Mars Curiosity rover drilled into the target rock and collected its very first sample. SpaceRef.com has a detailed look at the drilling, the sample collection and what may come next.  Last week also saw the fly-by asteroid that came very close to Earth and the meteor that did hit, breaking up and pelting Russia last Friday. Reports of that meteor were all over the Web shortly after it hit, thanks to YouTube, Twitter and the apparent Russian love of dashboard cameras. Local people in the area are now said to be selling pieces of the space rock on eBay.

ebay

The meteor new has generated new interest in space and material science in the news, and a blog over on the British news site, the Telegraph, has an interesting essay about how heavy metals like gold and platinum may have come from meteorites hitting the Earth. And don’t forget: NASA is also hosting a live Google+ hangout with the crew on the International Space Station on February 22.

In non-space news, Canonical has officially unveiled a version of its Ubuntu Linux system for tablets. A developer preview arrived this week and will run on the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets (at least). Along with tablets, Ubuntu has also getting into smartphones lately.

The rumors are growing louder that Facebook will start embedding autoplay advertisements in user newsfeeds this spring – possibly in April. Some news sources have pointed out that Facebook costs money to operate and most things as useful as it is charge users and advertising is the life-blood that keeps the consumer Internet free.

Facebook itself was the target of hackers recently and these same hackers also managed to infect the computers of some Apple employees. Security breaches were just busting out all over. Burger King’s Twitter feed was hacked this week and was posting such announcements like the sale of the chain to archrival McDonald’s. The Twitter feed for Jeep was also compromised this week.

The New York Times and other news organizations have stories about a new 60-page report on Chinese hackers by the computer security company Mandiant. The report traces more than a hundred attacks on government departments, companies and journalists to a building about 40 minutes outside downtown Shanghai. The building is reportedly the headquarters of People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398. The Times contacted officials at the Chinese embassy in Washington, who again insisted that their government does not engage in computer hacking.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will get announced March 14, and Google’s alleged Nexus 5 smartphone may be launching this spring as well, if the rumors are true. Both the Galaxy S4 and the new Google phone are thought to have a 13-megapixel camera.  (As for Google, some Web gossips are even postulating a Triple 5 theory.) And while Samsung and Google duke it out, Samsung continues its competition with Apple and may even be doing its own smartwatch. With news of Google possibly opening its own retail stores, can Samsung stores be that far behind? Also biting the Big G: Microsoft said its Outlook.com mail service has gained 60 million users in 6 months, some of them, Gmail users.

And finally, the theory has been around for a while, but according to research published by Hungarian physicist Albert-László Barabási in in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, no two Web pages are separated by more than 19 clicks. Estimates put the total number of Web pages out there at more than 14 billion. So according to the theory all of these pages, through some link, text, image or other element, is less than 19 clicks from every other Web page out there. We are the world, yo.

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