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Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.
Apple May Throw the Healthbook at You
March 19, 2014
Apple reportedly is working on a health and fitness tracking app called "Healthbook," which could be a one-stop shop for iOS users interested in using mobile tech to better keep track of their progress toward health goals. The app reportedly would help users monitor blood pressure, hydration, weight, respiratory rate, nutrition, physical activity, heart rate, and other health information.
All Hacks on Deck: Japan Invites Hackers to Go At Government
March 18, 2014
Japan invited hackers -- nice ones, that is -- to go to town on the nation's government departments Tuesday. The move is designed to expose weaknesses in cyberdefenses and bolster national security ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Japan enlisted 50 cyberdefense specialists to gather at an emergency response center in Tokyo; an additional 100-plus were stationed offsite.
Jawbone's UP24 Makes Its Way to Android
March 11, 2014
After initially launching to an iOS-only audience late last year, Jawbone's UP24 wireless fitness tracker on Tuesday finally arrived for Android. With the UP24 wristband and accompanying app, users can wirelessly sync sleep, movement and diet data to the app via Bluetooth Smart. "Our entire community can enjoy the benefits in real time," said Jawbone VP Travis Bogard.
Lenovo: IBM Strike's Not Our Problem
March 11, 2014
Chinese PC maker Lenovo is washing its hands of a wildcat strike at an IBM factory in Shenzhen, China. In January, Lenovo purchased one of IBM's server businesses, and the striking workers -- more than 1,000 of them -- are among those who will be absorbed by Lenovo. The $2.3 billion deal is not yet final, and Lenovo doesn't want to get stuck with any of IBM's headaches until the ink is dry.
China to Test Drone's Smog-Clearing Powers
March 07, 2014
China is taking its chemical war with smog to another level. Government agencies in China hope a newly designed drone can help mitigate air pollution. The airborne vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze pollutants, thereby knocking them to the ground. This tack begs whether it is advisable to have pollution snowing on people from above -- but hey, at least the sky won't be so unsightly.
The Road to Immersive Smell Tech Could Be Paved With Bacon
March 07, 2014
Kraft wants you to wake up and smell the Oscar Mayer bacon, and its latest marketing campaign could point to smell-related technology finally getting a whiff of success. The company has debuted a new smartphone application designed to help users wake up to the sound of crackling bacon. Oscar Mayer also is giving away thousands of iPhone attachments that produce the bacon-frying smell.
Brian Cox's Wonders of Life Brings the Universe-Tromping Physicist Back to Earth
March 05, 2014
There are three elements that bring a great nature documentary to life: first, you need great video footage; second, you need to infuse the content with a sense of time, scope, and wonder; and third, you need a cool narrator. Brian Cox's Wonders of Life app delivers all three. I stumbled upon the app after Apple highlighted it as an Editor's Choice.
Moov Brings Smarts to Fitness Tech
February 28, 2014
There is a new wearable fitness device on the horizon that may take this emerging technology niche to an entirely new level. Moov, developed by former tech specialists from Apple and Microsoft, promises not only to capture data about users' activities, but also to give them performance-improvement tips. A crowdfunding campaign launched Thursday seeks to raise $40,000 for a July release.
Cool Running: Gear and Gadgets for Runners
February 27, 2014
You don't need much to become a serious runner. There's no big investment in gear or apparel required. "Running is definitely a low-cost sport, which is why it is so attractive," said certified strength and conditioning specialist Scott Greenberg. "I think it can remain that way," he said. "However, some new tools can and will definitely have an impact on those looking to maximize performance."
Apple Gets Litigious in China
February 26, 2014
Apple is suing China's State Intellectual Property Office and domestic company Zhizhen Network Technology over patent issues related to Siri, Apple's voice recognition software. The State Intellectual Property Office is responsible for patents rights protection in China, while Zhizhen developed software similar to Siri. Zhizhen patented its own voice recognition software, "Xiao i Robot," in 2004.
Spanish Woman's Twitter Musings Lead to Terror-Related Conviction
February 24, 2014
Twenty-one-year-old Spaniard Alba González Camacho was convicted of inciting terrorism thanks to some ill-conceived tweets about a far-left terrorist organization. She became the first person in Spain to be convicted of such charges for Twitter posts. González Camacho implored the terror group "Grapo" to murder politicians. Grapo was responsible for 80-some killings, mostly in the 1970s and 80s.
Europe's PLATO to Hunt for Earth Look-Alikes
February 21, 2014
A new space observatory expected to launch by 2024 will seek out Earth-sized planets and super-Earths orbiting distant stars, the European Space Agency announced Wednesday. Dubbed "PLATO," for "PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars," it will use 34 small telescopes and cameras to search for planets around as many as a million stars spread over half the sky.
Google's Project Tango Struts Into the Spotlight
February 21, 2014
Google is making an increased push into the 3D imaging sphere with the announcement of its Project Tango technology. The project is aimed at helping mobile devices fully map a 3D space to give them the same type of understanding of space and motion that humans have, through a blend of robotics and computer vision tools. The prototype smartphone Google unveiled has myriad sensors.
Google Data Powers Real-Time Deforestation Alarm System
February 20, 2014
The World Resources Institute has launched Global Forest Watch, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system to help fight the massive deforestation of the planet. GFW will let governments monitor where forest clearing is occurring in near-real-time and track illegal forest logging almost immediately. Farmers can upload calls to action from mobile phones if their communities are endangered.
WhatsApp Gives BlackBerry a Bounce
February 20, 2014
Facebook's $19 billion purchase of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp appears to have buoyed the value of BlackBerry Messenger -- and by extension, BlackBerry. BlackBerry shares went up nearly 10 percent in after-hours trading because, in the words of Reuters, Facebook's purchase "put a rough valuation metric around the smartphone maker's own BlackBerry Messaging service," also known as "BBM."
Distro Astro Is a Stunning Star Voyager
February 13, 2014
The Linux desktop offers distributions for many diverse interests and specialties. Distro Astro is for astronomy enthusiasts. The latest version, Distro Astro 2.0, is dubbed "Pallas." It was released Nov. 20, 2013, at the South East Asian Young Astronomers Collaboration conference in Bandung, Indonesia. It is a major upgrade focusing on refinements for professional astronomers.
Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover Sputters Back to Life
February 13, 2014
Despite having been declared dead, China's moon rover is showing signs of life. After two weeks of gloomy silence, the Jade Rabbit appears to be up and running again. The country's first lunar rover had lost communication with mission control following technical malfunctions, according to state media, but the rover reportedly is now "fully awake" and receiving signals as normal.
New Technique Hikes Printed-Cell Survival Rate
February 12, 2014
Researchers have developed a new technique for printing live cells by drawing inspiration from ancient Chinese woodblock printing. Scientists have been experimenting with different methods of printing cells, including using inkjet printers to build 3D cell layers. The method has been successful in several instances, including a recent study in which researchers printed adult eye cells.
US, France Team Up for Mars Mission
February 12, 2014
While the U.S. and France haven't exactly been chums when it comes to tech, the two countries are teaming up for a new mission to Mars. The plan is to send an unmanned lander to Mars to study the interior of the planet. The mission will launch in 2016, with the lander touching down six months later. At least that's the plan. France and the U.S. have had plenty of digital disagreements of late.

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