How Cutting-Edge Technology & Science Are Powering The Future TPM Idealab

NEW YORK (AP) — The spotting of ocean debris by satellites during the search for the lost Malaysian airliner has drawn attention to those orbiting platforms. A primer on what's in orbit, with help from Nicholas Johnson, who retired Thursday as NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris:

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STEVENAGE, England (AP) — It looks like a giant sandbox — except the sand has a reddish tint and the "toys" on display are very expensive prototypes designed to withstand the rigors of landing on Mars.

The European Mars rover unveiled Thursday at a "Mars Yard" testing ground in Britain is designed to drill beneath the surface of the Red Planet searching for signs of life. It's been dubbed 'Bryan' by its creators — earlier versions were named Bridget (clad in gold material that makes it look like a garish dune buggy) and Bruno.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Arriving fashionably late, a Russian spacecraft carrying three astronauts docked with the International Space Station Thursday evening 250 miles over Brazil.

The crew aboard the orbiting outpost congratulated the latest members — Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA's Steve Swanson.

"A flawless approach, a flawless docking," said mission control commentator Rob Navias.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is buying virtual reality company Oculus, betting $2 billion that its technology will become a new way for people to communicate, learn or be entertained.

"This is a long-term bet on the future of computing," said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday on a call with analysts. "I believe Oculus can be one of the platforms of the future."

Irvine, Calif.-based Oculus VR Inc. makes the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that's received a lot of attention from video game developers, though it has yet to be released for consumers. The headsets cover a user's eyes and create an immersive world that reacts to turning one's head or moving back and forth.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett has established his credentials as a savvy money manager, but Internet trailblazer Marc Andreessen doubts the stock market sage knows much about financial innovations such as the virtual currency bitcoin.

The wild swings in bitcoin's value during recent months prompted Buffett, 83, to dismiss the currency as a "mirage" during an interview on the financial news channel CNBC earlier this month.

The putdown irked Andreessen, who is now running a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested about $50 million in startups betting that bitcoin will continue to catch on as an alternative payment system around the world.

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