Take Five: Of tablet wars, fracking and three-parent babies

Blurb: Apple and Samsung go head-to-head and government calls off fracking.

The M&G‘s Faranaaz Parker rounds up five odd things you may have missed this week.

Apple, Samsung butt heads
The tablet wars are heating up with industry giants Apple and Samsung suing and counter-suing each other for copyright and patent infringement. Last week Apple accused Samsung of blatantly “copying” designs for its iPhone and iPad and filed a lawsuit against the company for violating its patents. Days later Samsung hit back, claiming its patent rights were violated.
Although Apple is the market leader in tablet technology, its stiffest competition so far has come from Samsung’s GalaxyTab. Samsung also provides Apple with the microchips used in many of its products.

Karoo fracking put on hold
The government has placed a moratorium on licenses for hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—in the Karoo. The technique, used to extract shale gas from underground rock is highly contentious because it involves using large quantities of water and can result in chemical spills into the environment. Environmental activists have welcomed the state’s decision to hold off on the issuing of licenses until a multidisciplinary team of experts can fully research the implications of prospecting for shale gas in the ecologically sensitive area of the Karoo basin.

Three-parent babies could become reality
British researchers and patient groups have approached the United Kingdom government to change the law to allow scientists to implant embryos with genetic material from three different parents. The technique would involve mixing parents’ DNA with a tiny amount of mitochondrial DNA from a donor egg. It’s hoped the technique, which has been tested on animals in lab settings, will prevent babies from being born with genetic defects such as blindness, organ failure and muscular disorders.

Amazon Web Services crashes
A massive failure at Amazon Web Services has raised questions about the reliability of cloud computing. The crash on Thursday brought down a host of popular websites including Reddit, Foursquare and Formspring. It was 12 hours before services to most regions was restored. Despite this, the market for cloud services is expected to increase to over $100-billion by 2012.

Tweetdeck takeover
Rumours of a Tweetdeck takeover bubbled to the surface this week as it emerged that the company’s founder Ian Dodsworth is in advanced talks to sell his company to Twitter for $50-million. Earlier rumours claimed that both Facebook and Google were looking to buy the company as well. The sale would be a coup for the small company behind the hugely popular application that allows users to organize and track their twitter-feeds.

Faranaaz’s interests span science, technology and development. Read her weekly wrap every weekend on the M&G and follow her on Twitter here.

Faranaaz Parker

Faranaaz Parker

Faranaaz Parker is a reporter for the Mail & Guardian. She writes on everything from pop science to public health, and believes South Africa needs carbon taxes and more raging feminists. When she isn't instagramming pictures of her toddler or obsessively checking her Twitter, she plays third-person shooters on Xbox Live. Read more from Faranaaz Parker

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