iFive: HP’s CEO, India Rejects BlackBerry, Safe Stem Cells, Cell Phone Radiation Climb-down, China’s Moon Mission

Friday’s child may be loving and giving, but while you’ve been snoozing and snoring some news has been going on. Read on for a digested version.

Hopefully not too many miscreants used the night-time hours to break out of jail, but one jailbreak has just been completed that many folk will be pleased by: Industrious hackers, no doubt propelled through the wee small hours of coding on a diet of Red Bull and pizza, have jailbroken the new Apple TV. Should you care? Yes! Apple Apps on your TV! While you ponder how Doodle Jump will work on the big screen, here’s some real news:


1. HP cheated yesterday, when the interim CEO Cathie Lesjak gave the impression a CEO was far from chosen–he actually had been, and he’s just been announced: Léo Apotheker. He’s the former CEO of SAP–the huge German business software outfit–and he beat out internal candidate Todd Bradley in the board’s minds. The thing is, Apotheker is a unknown quantity at the helm of a big manufacturer like HP. He’s also a mystery quantity to Wall Street types. And this is significant, so much so that HP’s stock has taken a nasty downward turn on the NYSE in the hours after the news hit. Are HP’s leadership woes solved?

2. Is anyone going to knock on the Indian government’s door and give them a quick educational primer on technology and science? They need it: The authorities seem to have contradicted themselves and rejected data access plans smartphone maker RIM had proposed that should’ve met earlier security-driven requests for access to RIM’s highly secure BlackBerry email and messaging systems, prized by business folk the world over. Basically the government is frightened bad types could use BlackBerrys to organize terrorist acts (ever since Pakistani millitants used amazing new high-tech “cell phones” to coordinate terror attacks in Mumbai) and wants to snoop on the feeds at will. Despite this denuding of RIM’s main meal ticket, and the human rights concerns, RIM proposed a solution. Which the Department of Telecoms has now rejected. It’s an impasse. And in the meantime, really evil people, the type you really want to worry about, will simply use satphones or one of a thousand other Net-based and un-interceptable ways to communicate.

3. Stem cells may be the wonder drug of our generation (and change the course of medicine forever), but the science has been bogged down by knee-jerk moral concerns, especially in the U.S., and hence finding cells to experiment with is not easy. Now U.S. scientists have come up with a solution that doesn’t use embryonic cells, and doesn’t require the genetic modification trick that earlier attempts needed (which carry the risk of cell damage, and rogue mutations). The method uses modified RNA molecules (the sister molecule to DNA) to “reprogram” adult cells into pluripotent–able to transform into any other type–stem cells. It’s got huge promise for research and ultimately disease treatments, and neatly side-steps a thousand moral/religious/fearmongered objections. Still, the countdown to objections against reprogramming adult cells is bound to begin in 3…2…

4. The FCC has quietly updated its regulations about informing the public about cell phone safety risks–the quietness of the subtle changes to its policy alone have caused accusations of collusion with the cell phone industry, but the scientifically minded among you will immediately see the sense in the FCC’s change. The change is simple: The FCC cites that data on cell phone radiations (the infamous “SAR” number) does not necessarily correlate to any measure of “risk” to health associated wit particular devices, a fact backed up by an increasing number of experiments and basic logic (i.e. how you use a particular phone may, or may not be more important than its SAR number in terms of risk–assuming the science supports any risk at all). So the FCC doesn’t now recommend that concerned citizens buy lower-SAR phones. Do you feel still more foolish, San Francisco lawmakers?

5. China’s new big mission to the Moon may launch in the wee small hours this morning EST–the Chang’e 2 satellite. That’s if thunderstorms permit the rocket to fly. It’s a coincidence that today is China’s National Day, according to the powers that be, since there are only three days in the whole year “according to scientific calculations” that the launch is possible to get the spacecraft onto the right Moon-intersecting vector. And that, friends, may be a little nugget of info science spies will leap on: It’ll help work out exactly how powerful the Long March rocket variant the Chinese have is–something we’re not at all sure about. 007 eat your heart out–this spying is Q all the way.

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