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Google Buys Skybox in Move to Democratize Space
June 11, 2014
Google's acquisition of Skybox may be a small step for the search giant, but it could be a giant leap for the Internet. Google on Tuesday announced its intention to buy the satellite imaging startup for $500 million. The move not only would enhance Google's satellite imaging resources, but also provide it with some top talent for its blue-sky plans for space.
The 5 Things That Made This Year's WWDC Radical
June 06, 2014
While there were two hours jam-packed with announcements at the keynote presentation kicking off Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference this week, you can count the really important announcements that will create lasting change on one hand. The new programming language, Swift, isn't one of them. Wait, what? Not Swift? Why? There are five bigger deals.
Apple Teases Consumers, Doubles Down With Devs
June 03, 2014
Apple managed to pull off a mean feat on Monday at its WorldWide Developers Conference. Without announcing a single hardware device, it teased consumers with dozens of updated features in iOS 8 and the next version of Mac OS X -- dubbed "Yosemite" -- then doubled-down with app developers by offering tons of new APIs, along with elements of deep integration between apps and devices.
Google to Spread the Web With $1B Worth of Satellites
June 02, 2014
Google's eye on the sky seems wider than ever. The company reportedly is planning to spend at least $1 billion on a project to bring Internet access to remote areas through satellites. It is not yet clear whether the plan would augment or replace Project Loon -- Google's proposal to connect remote regions to the Internet through high-altitude balloons.
Google Puts Cute Little Rides on the Road
May 30, 2014
Google this week unveiled a prototype that it will test on California roads to learn more about how to make safe and efficient autonomous cars a mainstream reality. For about four years, Google has been developing self-driving technology that could make the roads safer, and its newly revealed prototype is the latest step in the project. The tiny vehicle is reminiscent of a Smart car.
Google Sadly Owns Up to White Maleness
May 29, 2014
Google on Wednesday revealed statistics about the makeup of its workforce and admitted that it's pretty homogenous. "We're not where we want to be when it comes to diversity," said Laszlo Bock, senior vice president for people operations. "It is hard to address these kinds of challenges if you're not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts," he remarked.
NASA Gives Space Archeologists OK to Put Old Craft Back to Work
May 23, 2014
A group of scientists and engineers have their sights set on re-establishing communication with a long-abandoned satellite, and NASA has given them the thumbs up to pursue the mission. The agreement is the first of its kind. The group is attempting to reboot the International Sun-Earth Explorer, or ISEE-3, a satellite originally launched in 1978 to collect information on solar wind.
Russian Rocket, Satellite Don't Quite Make It
May 19, 2014
A space-bound satellite designed to provide Internet access to remote regions in Russia and neighboring states was destroyed when its ride blew apart mid-flight. The Proton-M rocket, affixed with a European-built Express AM4R satellite, seemed to be doing just fine until nine minutes into the flight, when it exploded some 93 miles above Earth. The exact cause of the crash apparently was not known.
LG Enters Fitness Tech Race
May 14, 2014
LG Electronics is dipping its toes into the burgeoning market of wearable fitness devices. The LG Lifeband Touch and the LG Heart Rate Earphones will be available to the public starting May 18. The devices are compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. The Lifeband Touch includes a 0.9-inch OLED touch display that offers a range of fitness data.
FDA Gives Thumbs-Up to 'Luke' Prosthetic Arm
May 12, 2014
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the marketing of a prosthetic arm nicknamed "Luke" in a nod to the bionic hand grafted onto Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker after his was cut off by Darth Vader's light saber. The arm, eight years in the making, was funded by the military. It was developed by Deka Research, founded by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway.
Samsung Invests $2B in Biopharmaceuticals
May 12, 2014
Samsung is investing at least $2 billion in... biopharmaceuticals? With this foray into the drug industry, Samsung hopes to become a major player in biotechnology, which is expected to be a booming industry in coming years. A key component of this play is so-called biosimilars -- cheap versions of brand-name biotechnology drugs that no longer are protected by patents.
Computer Sim Shows Cosmic Evolution Over Billions and Billions of Years
May 08, 2014
Scientists have created a computer simulation that not only models the evolution of the universe down to the formation of individual galaxies, but also matches astronomical observations. Unlike earlier efforts, the simulation depicts ordinary matter in the form of hydrogen gas from the start. The Illustris project models a cubic section of the universe measuring 106.5 megaparsecs on each side.
White House Report: Climate Change Threat Is Dire
May 06, 2014
The White House has demanded urgent action on climate change amid the release of a report that spells out the looming threats to America and the global population. More than 300 experts worked for several years to create the latest National Climate Assessment. The report highlights tangible climate change seen by members of various industries in recent years.
Nokia Launches Fund to Invest in Smart Vehicles
May 05, 2014
Nokia has created a $100 million fund earmarked for investing in firms that specialize in connected and smart vehicles. The move comes days after the Finnish firm forked over its handset unit to Microsoft. Nokia already has a mapping-and-location company called "Here." The new fund will be designed to support the growth of the ecosystem around Here's mapping and location products and services.
Microsoft vs. Google: Chasing Butts While Running From Risks
May 05, 2014
Google and Microsoft are positioned against each other as primary competitors, and that could mean trouble. I remember past dynamics similar to theirs that didn't end well for either company. Apple focused on IBM (the 1984 ad) and didn't see Microsoft coming. Microsoft focused on AOL and didn't see the Internet coming. Intel focused on AMD so much it missed both Transmeta and ARM.
Praying Mantises Sport the World's Smallest 3D Glasses
April 29, 2014
What might be the world's smallest 3D glasses have been developed for praying mantises. People, horses, falcons, cats, monkeys and even toads have 3D vision -- but until 1983, everyone thought that invertebrates didn't, because their brains were so small and simple. That year, Samuel Rossel of the University of Zurich in essence said that mantises had 3D vision.
littleBits Goes a Long Way
April 25, 2014
Space fans the world over long have dreamed of exploring the universe for themselves, but a new, 12-module kit from NASA and littleBits aims to give enthusiasts a way to bring the thrill of space exploration closer to home. The new littleBits Space Kit, launched on Thursday, includes an assortment of electronic modules and NASA-designed projects and activities.
NASA and Google Do the Tango
April 18, 2014
Google's Project Tango smartphone, which is jam-packed with sensors, soon will be used in the International Space Station. NASA will swap out the smartphones it has used on two volleyball-sized free-flying satellites since 2011 with the Tango devices. NASA has flown modified Tango phones several times on an aircraft that can simulate microgravity by taking a parabolic flight path.
Americans Find Future Tech Both Fascinating and Frightening
April 17, 2014
The pace of technological change is getting faster, and many Americans are optimistic about the results, although a sizable minority are concerned, Pew Research has found. Nearly 60 percent think technological and scientific advances will make life in the future better, but 30 percent fear they will make life worse than it is today. Designer babies and robot caregivers sparked major anxiety.
Total Eclipse Paints the Moon Red
April 15, 2014
A total lunar eclipse in the early hours of Tuesday gave viewers a rare glimpse of what's sometimes called a "blood moon," due to the reddish hue it takes on as a result of dust in the atmosphere. Beginning at about 1:55 AM EDT on April 15, the eclipse lasted roughly three and a half hours -- peaking at 3:45 a.m. EDT. -- and was visible in North America, South America and Australia.
CAELinux Is the Ideal Distro for Designing Scientists
April 10, 2014
CAELinux is a perfect example of the power of open source to tailor the Linux OS to users' specialized needs. This computer-assisted engineering distro clearly is not for the vast majority of Linux users, but it certainly has all the features you would expect in any mature Linux OS -- and then some. The extra ingredients make CAELinux a unique Linux distro for engineers and scientists.
Stanford Controller Could Get Video Gamers' Blood Racing
April 09, 2014
Stanford researchers have created a new game controller that can measure a player's emotions. Eventually, developers may be able to use this information to adjust video gameplay, depending on a player's level of engagement. The prototype consists of an Xbox 360 controller with the back panel removed. Researchers replaced it with a 3-D printed plastic module that is packed with sensors.

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