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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Nov. 15, 2012 at 6:35 PM   |   Comments

Microsoft sued over Surface tablet memory

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles man who bought a Microsoft Surface says he's suing the tech giant because the tablet doesn't provide the claimed amount of storage space.

Attorney Andrew Sokolowski said he discovered the Surface does not have the 32 gigabytes of storage Microsoft advertises because the operating system and pre-installed apps take up almost half of the tablet's memory.

Although Microsoft has acknowledged the tablet's limited free storage capacity in both the 32 gigabyte and 64 gigabyte versions, and lists the free-space capacity on its website, Sokolowski has filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court in Los Angeles seeking class-action status.

Sokolowski isn't seeking damages but wants Microsoft to stop what the lawsuit terms a misrepresentation of the Surface's features and offer refunds to buyers of the tablet, his lawyer said.

"Mr. Sokolowski's lawsuit is about protecting consumers as we head into the holiday shopping season," Rhett Francisco, an attorney representing Sokolowski, told the Los Angeles Times. "Microsoft is misrepresenting the storage capacity and capabilities of the Surface tablet, and consumers should know about it."

Francisco acknowledged Microsoft admits the Surface has less than the advertised free space but said, "If you go through the Microsoft site, you're not going to find it."

"You have to know about these issues and know about this lawsuit in order to find information," he said.

Microsoft said it believes the lawsuit is without merit.

"Customers understand the operating system and pre-installed applications reside on the device's internal storage thereby reducing the total free space," a Microsoft spokeswoman told the Times.


Most distant galaxy yet observed

GREENBELT, Md., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Astronomers using two NASA space telescopes say they have set a record for finding the most distant galaxy seen in the universe.

Combining the power of the space agency's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes they have created an image in which the farthest galaxy appears as a diminutive blob that is only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way galaxy.

However, it offers a peek back into a time when the universe was only 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years, NASA said.

The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, was observed as it appeared 420 million years after the big bang, and its light has spent 13.3 billion years traveling to reach Earth.

MACS0647-JD is so small -- just 600 light-years across -- it may be in the first steps of forming a larger galaxy, astronomers said.

"This object may be one of many building blocks of a galaxy," study lead author Dan Coe of the Space Telescope Science Institute said. "Over the next 13 billion years, it may have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of merging events with other galaxies and galaxy fragments."

The researchers say they hope to use Hubble to search for more dwarf galaxies at these early epochs, which if numerous could have provided the energy to burn off the fog of hydrogen that blanketed the early universe, a process called re-ionization that ultimately made the universe transparent to light.


Ancient Celtic war horn found in Italy

TRENTO, Italy, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- An ancient Celtic artifact found some 60 years ago in the Italian Alps has finally been identified as a Celtic war horn, archaeologists say.

While it was long understood to be of Celtic origin, the use of the instrument, made of what appeared to be tubes and a bronze leaf, had remained a mystery.

A similar but much better preserved relic recently found in France allowed archaeologists to realize that the Italian artifact was, in fact, a horn, Italy's ANSA news agency reported Wednesday.

The horns, called carnyxes, were part of a psychological warfare technique, archaeologists said; mixed with the cries of attacking Celtic warriors and the rumbling sounds of their war carts, they helped create a sense of panic in their enemies.

Carnyxes were a type of bronze trumpet, held vertically, with a bell styled in the shape of an animal's head.

Other similar instruments have been discovered in France, Switzerland, Germany and Romania.

Calif. rejects seismic test at nuke plant

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The California Coastal Commission has rejected Pacific Gas & Electric's proposal for offshore seismic testing near the state's only operating nuclear facility.

The commission that oversees the California's 1,100-mile coastline decided the proposal to use of air guns to send acoustic pulses across the ocean floor near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant didn't meet stringent coastal protection rules.

"It's a high bar, and we don't feel like the questions of alternatives and analysis to minimize and perhaps avoid the impacts here have been [answered]," executive director Charles Lester told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The testing had been intended to uncover information about known fault lines in the offshore area near the plant to provide scientists with a better idea of the seismic risks.

The proposed testing had been opposed by environmental groups and by commercial fishermen worried it would would impact their industry.

The project could have had considerable environmental impact, wildlife experts said, because marine life relies primarily on sound rather than sight and the acoustic onslaught could silence whales, disrupt foraging and force mammals from the testing area.

"It is sound that marine mammals and many species of fish use to communicate, to mate, to find food, to do many things that they need to do in the wild," Michael Jasny of the Natural Resources Defense Council said. "It is difficult to imagine a worse location environmentally [for the test] than this particular area."

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