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Stephens Weekly Tech/Science News Roundup

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As usual, here is a bit of a roundup of this weeks Tech and Science news.  I decided not to do what most news agencies have done, and shove the Apple iPhone 6 down your throats ^_^

SanDisk SD memory card 'largest ever'

Memory specialist SanDisk has created an SD card with 512 gigabytes (GB) of storage space - the highest capacity ever released.

The card, which is the size of a postage stamp, will go on sale for $800 (£490).

The launch comes a decade after the firm released a 512-megabyte (MB) SD card with one-thousandth of the space.

Read more at:

Facebook experiments with vanishing posts

Facebook is following in the footsteps of messaging app Snapchat by testing a feature that allows users to schedule the automatic deletion of their posts.

The social network said the option, which offers expiration settings ranging from one hour to seven days, was "a small pilot" for its iOS app.

Facebook often tests new capabilities.

It faced criticism in June for one experiment that "manipulated" the content of nearly 700,000 users' news feeds, to gauge emotional responses.

Read more at:

Google buys firm behind spoon for Parkinson's patients

Google has bought a biotech company that has developed a spoon designed to make life easier for people with diseases such as Parkinson's.

It is part of its ambitious foray into health technology, spurred in part by the personal interest of co-founder Sergey Brin.

Last year, Google became the main investor in Calico, a firm dedicated to developing medicines to extend life.

Latest acquisition Lift Labs will join Google's research division Google X.

The spoon developed by Lift Labs is equipped with sensors that detect tremors and cancels them out by as much as 70%, according to the firm.

The technology it uses is similar to image stabilisation features in cameras that compensate for shaky hands when taking a photo.

Read more at:

In this Chinese city, phone addicts get their own sidewalk lane

Some places have lanes for bicycles, others for motorcycles, but there's a place in mainland China that boasts a different type of lane altogether: one for phone addicts glued to their screens. According to a Chinese publication, the cellphone lane above was spotted along a place called Foreigner Street in Chongqing city, one of the five major cities in the country. The sidewalk was most likely painted on for everyone's safety, because, hey, if there's distracted driving, there's also distracted walking, as perfectly demonstrated by the woman in this video. If the idea sounds familiar, it's because the National Geographic did something similar back in July as an experiment. The society stenciled "NO CELLPHONES" on one-half of a DC sidewalk and "CELLPHONES: WALK IN THIS LANE AT YOUR OWN RISK" on the other half. The result? Well, among other things, they found that the people actually glued to their phones didn't even notice the markings at all. Typical.

Read more at:

The Big Picture: NASA gets ready to build the 'next great rocket'

See the gargantuan structure above that dwarfs that line of puny humans at the bottom (bet you didn't even notice them at first glance, huh)? It's a welding tool -- the biggest one built for spacecraft, in fact, that's slated to help Boeing build the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The structure's officially called the Vertical Assembly Center, and it stands 170 feet tall with a width that measures 78 feet: not exactly surprising, considering the SLS is a 200-foot-tall behemoth. It's but one of the many tools Boeing intends to use to build the core stage of NASA's "most powerful rocket ever" after the two organizations finalized their $2.8 billion deal in July. The core stage will house cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen used to power the rocket's four engines, and building it brings the SLS much closer to the launch pad for deep space exploration.

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eBay DROPS DEAD AGAIN - tat bazaar says sorry, scrambles to resurrect site

eBay went titsup earlier today, and the company is now attempting to bring its site back to life.

The online tat bazaar coughed to an unexplained technical blunder preventing an unknown number of its subscribers from accessing the site, which many buyers and sellers of used goods enjoy using in their spare time on the weekends.

eBay posted this miserable statement on its service page about 90 minutes ago:

We are aware that some users may experience problems when using the eBay Site. We are actively working on restoring the issue and apologize for any inconvenience caused.
--- End quote ---

But plenty of folk were still complaining that they were unable to access the site, at time of writing.

Read more at:

Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK

Fanbois in Britain who rushed to buy Apple's iPhone 6 Plus on Friday apparently triggered a delay in shipments.

It comes after Cupertino's now well-trodden marketing spiel that demand for its large pocket stroker hit a record number of pre-orders in the US.

In Britain, Apple is telling customers shopping via its online store to expect the iPhone 6 Plus to be delivered between three and four weeks after its 19 September release date.

And the shipment date for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has also slipped by seven to 10 business days for Brit customers placing their pre-orders online now through Apple's store.

Read more at:

Graphene gets a cousin in the shape of germanene

A team of European researchers has become one of the first groups to successfully synthesize the 2D material germanene.

Dubbed a “cousin of graphene”, the material, which is made up of just a single layer of germanium atoms, is expected to exhibit impressive electrical and optical properties and could be widely integrated across the electronics industry in the future.

Read more at:

Tipping the Balance of Behavior: Neurons Found That Control Social Behavior May Have Implications for Autism

Antagonistic neuron populations in the mouse amygdala that control whether the animal engages in social behaviors or asocial repetitive self-grooming have been recently discovered by researchers

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Decision due on comet landing site

The European Space Agency is about to announce the site on Comet 67P where the Rosetta mission will try to make a historic landing.

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Ban on shark trade comes into force

In a significant step forward for shark conservation, all trade in five named species is to be regulated from today.

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Woman of 24 found to have no cerebellum in her brain

DON'T mind the gap. A woman has reached the age of 24 without anyone realising she was missing a large part of her brain. The case highlights just how adaptable the organ is.

The discovery was made when the woman was admitted to the Chinese PLA General Hospital of Jinan Military Area Command in Shandong Province complaining of dizziness and nausea. She told doctors she'd had problems walking steadily for most of her life, and her mother reported that she hadn't walked until she was 7 and that her speech only became intelligible at the age of 6.

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Man with tiny brain shocks doctors

A man with an unusually tiny brain manages to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, which was caused by a fluid build-up in his skull.

Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue (see image, right).

"It is hard for me [to say] exactly the percentage of reduction of the brain, since we did not use software to measure its volume. But visually, it is more than a 50% to 75% reduction," says Lionel Feuillet, a neurologist at the Mediterranean University in Marseille, France.

Feuillet and his colleagues describe the case of this patient in The Lancet. He is a married father of two children, and works as a civil servant.

Read more at:

Stonehenge surrounded by mysterious buried monuments

The landscape around Stonehenge has yielded hidden treasure: 17 previously unknown ritual monuments, a "house of the dead" predating the stone circle, and what appears to be a ceremonial route around Stonehenge itself.

Instead of today's solitary monument, Stonehenge was the focus of "a completely theatrical arrangement," says archaeologist Vincent Gaffney of the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Gaffney and his colleagues have produced a detailed map covering 12 square kilometres around Stonehenge. No excavation was involved. Instead, Gaffney's team spent four years surveying the landscape with magnetometers, radar, electrical resistance measurements and lasers, creating a detailed picture of what lies below the visible landscape. They unveiled the map this week at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.

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"We are aware that some users may experience problems when using the eBay Site. We are actively working on restoring the issue and apologize for any inconvenience caused."
--- End quote ---

They're actively working to restore the fault that caused them to go tits up?

 :Thmbsup: Stephen

The result? Well, among other things, they found that the people actually glued to their phones didn't even notice the markings at all.
--- End quote ---

I was going to say, for the thing to be of any use it would have to send out a signal to a phone app with a big arrow on screen to get the phoners to correct their direction while walking.

Talking of lots of memory, some chappy who fiddles with DNA reported tests that have achieved...

2 petabytes per gram of DNA which, they calculate, would allow at least 100 million hours of high-definition video to be stored in a teacup. It is only stable in the lab at the moment.

Couch potatoes rejoice!


^^ Some people (not me, you understand) might say that is just a storm in a teacup, but I couldn't possibly comment.


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