NASA has been testing out a new spacecraft that will eventually be used on missions to Mars called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator or LDSD. This spacecraft looks like a flying saucer and inflates something NASA calls a Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator that looks like a large doughnut, but is a pressure vessel that is designed to slow the spacecraft during the first stages of entry into the atmosphere of Mars.
During the test, the spacecraft was lifted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai using a giant helium filled balloon. Once to an altitude of 36,500 meters, the spacecraft was release and pushed to 55,000 meters at a speed of Mach 4 using a solid fuel thruster.
The inflatable air bags were then deployed to slow the vehicle during decent to Mach 2.5. NASA says that the test went mostly well, but the Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute didn't deploy properly. The spacecraft was recovered along with all the data recorders and vehicle hardware from the waters off the Hawaiian coast.
Rumors continue to swirl that Apple is getting set to launch a new version of the iPhone in the coming months. One of the things that often happens ahead of the launch of a new Apple product is the existing version of that product getting cheaper. That has now happened with price cuts on the iPhone 5S.
If you want a new iPhone 5S, you can hop into Apple's own store and pay $199 for the device with a new contract. If you want to save some big money, you can instead go to Walmart where you can get the iPhone 5S for $99 right now. Walmart says that the new $99 price will be permanent and is good for the 5S on AT&T Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular.
If you want the cheaper and more colorful iPhone 5C, you can get that device for $29 with a new 2-year agreement. If you have an older iPhone to trade, you might want to try out The Shack, known as Radio Shack before. At that store, with the trade in of an older iPhone, you can get the iPhone 5S at no cost.
GM has been in some very hot water in the last several months with massive numbers of recalls on some of its most popular vehicles. One of the bestselling vehicles in the US is the Chevrolet Silverado truck and GM has now announced a massive recall on the vehicle.
GM has issued a recall on 475,000 2014 to 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. The reason for the recall on the trucks is a fault in the control module software that controls the four-wheel drive system on 4x4 vehicles. The fault in the software could cause the four-wheel drive system to switch into neutral automatically.
The result is that the trucks could simply roll away if the driver hasn't set the parking brake. Many drivers of vehicles with automatic transmissions don't use the parking brake. GM also announced recalls having to do with Caprice police cars and Chevrolet SS sedans due to an issue with windshield wipers.
Facebook is the biggest social network out there and as such, it has the ability to reach a huge amount of people each day around the world. Facebook has reportedly run an experiment that saw it mess with the newsfeeds of hundreds of thousands of users on its network in an attempt to see if it could alter the emotional state of the users.
The experiment reportedly used 689,003 Facebook users without their knowledge. In the experiment, Facebook allegedly tweaked the newsfeed algorithms of the users in the experiment so that they saw an abnormally low number of positive or negative posts.
According to the team who ran the experiment, the people who saw more negative posts produced more negative posts themselves. The experiment also found that when the people saw more positive posts, made more positive posts themselves. Facebook says that this experiment was conducted for a single week in 2012 and none of the data use was associated with a specific person's Facebook account.
Just days after launching three short-range missiles, North Korea followed up with an additional missile test. South Korean military officials believe two short-range Scud ballistic missiles were fired, and the country didn't designate no-sail zones during the launch.
It's not uncommon for North Korea to launch missiles while snubbing Washington and Seoul, as political tensions in Asia continue to mount. The Scud-type missiles launched from Wonsan and flew more than 300 miles, where they landed harmlessly into the ocean, military specialists in South Korea said. It's difficult to determine the true capabilities of the North Korean military, as the country sometimes greatly exaggerates its successes.
The country also plans to indict two Americans currently held in North Korea for "hostile acts," pressuring Washington and Seoul even further. It's a delicate time in the Korean Peninsula - earlier in the year it looked like both sides were willing to openly discuss political tensions - but talks have cooled with Pyongyang and Seoul slinging mud at one another.
According to a post on National Geographic, a rare blue Spix Macaw named Presley, who's story allegedly served as the inspiration for the 2011 animated film 'Rio' has died at the age of 40.
Presley was smuggled out of Brazil in the early 1970's, later finding a home in Denver, Colorado. In 2002, it's owner sought a local pet shop for assistance, with a skeptical staff astonished to prove the validity of the callers story. He was in bad shape, but efforts to recuperate him were successful, leading him to being returned to his native Brazil. With under 100 Spix Macaw's alive today, it was hoped that Presley could widen the genetic pool for the rare and endangered species, but sadly he died before this could be accomplished.
'Rio' and 'Rio 2' director Carlos Saldanha, who grew up in Rio de Janerio told BirdChannel in 2011 "I wanted the rarest bird, the blue macaw. I knew about the Lear's macaws, and how they've been having conservation successes in the wild. The same with the hyacinth macaws. But the Spix's macaw truly is the rarest".
In a sad coincidence, Twentieth Century Fox's 'Rio 2' hits Australian cinemas this week.
Google executives recently visited Havana, Cuba, in an effort to discuss open Internet in the still restrictive nation. A team that included Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt headed to Havana to meet with officials and dissidents, "to promote the virtues of a free and open Internet."
A report published by Freedom House in 2012 said just five percent of the citizens in Cuba have true access to the Internet, with one-fourth of the population using the state-sponsored "Intranet." The country remains one of the least connected nations in the world, with home connections still virtually non-existent - government officials, doctors, engineers, professors, and approved journalists tend to be the only ones with Internet access while in their offices.
Google has become more proactive approach to getting citizens around the world real access to the Internet. Trying to work with Cuba to open up Internet access will be a difficult process, but it's good to see the company at least trying to make strides.
The United States is the latest country to put an end to purchasing and using anti-personnel landmines, with President Barack Obama pressured by other countries to join the international ban treaty. The global treaty includes the production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines, which reportedly kills 15,000 people each year - and most casualties are civilians.
"Today at a review conference in Maputo, Mozambique, the United States took a step of declaring it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines (APL) in the future," said Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman.
However, the U.S. won't immediately get rid of all mines, but administration officials said the arsenal will be scaled down. The U.S. invests the most funds, $2.3 billion since 1993, to aid in global de-mining programs, and has shifted focus towards "smart" mines that will disable after a pre-programmed amount of time.
To celebrate this week's release of 'The Lego Movie' on home video formats, our friends at Roadshow Home Entertainment Australia have supplied us with copies of the film on Blu-ray to give away to five lucky readers.
'The Lego Movie' stormed the worldwide box office earlier this year, earning stellar reviews and nearly half a billion internationally. We took a look at the film theatrically back in April.
To go into the running to take one Blu-ray copy home, simply answer the following question in 25 words or less:
What was your favourite childhood Lego creation?
To enter, simply 'like' this post and share via Facebook or Twitter and send your answers, along with your postal address to ben at TweakTown.com before the competition closes on June 4th. The total prize pool is approximately $199.75.
'The Lego Movie' is available on Blu-ray + digital combo pack, DVD and Digital from Australian retailers on June 3rd.
Cheap mobile phones are available for sale in small shops popping up along the border between China and North Korea, as citizens begin to access cell phones for the first time. However, many North Koreans struggle to purchase the devices China, as it is expensive to register the phones and smuggle them into the country.
All phone calls and text messages are monitored by the Communications Interception Bureau of the Ministry for State Security - and the government is able to look up call and text message records whenever necessary.
Mobile phone use in North Korea is increasing in popularity, with the launch of the North Korean AS1201 Arirang smartphone. The product is state-manufactured and supports the Korean language, but phone calls can only be made using the country's Koryolink provider, so no international calls or mobile Web access is supported.