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Strange Business: Google Faces Competition for Affordable Self-Driving Cars

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Plus: Here's the retirement package you can expect if you aim to become pope.

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Google's Competition for a Self-Driving Car
Source: Autoblog

In the UK, scientists at Oxford University have developed a self-driving car system and installed it in Nissan's (TYO:7201) Leaf electric car. The car navigates through snow, rain, and other weather conditions, halts for pedestrians, and guides drivers through traffic jams and regular commutes.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has also made headlines in recent months for attempting to build a self-driving car. The Internet company has gained legal approval to test its cars in California and Nevada, but it has not tested cars in the UK. The Oxford University system has been used on public roads, and according to Professor Paul Newman at Oxford, the leader of the team, "There's no legal barrier to using it on the roads now."


What's the Retirement Package for a Pope?

Pope Benedict XVI won't have to worry about a running out of retirement funds like many older individuals in the US currently do. Since the last pope resigned almost 600 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church has not had to devise a pension plan for one its leaders. So, what will the Pontiff receive? Pope Benedict XVI's retirement package will consist of 2,500 euros or $3,340 per month, the same as a retired bishop, according to the Vatican correspondent of the Italian Newspaper La Stampa. For comparison, the highest payment that a US citizen can receive from Social Security is $3,350 per month.

The Catholic Church will cover his basic living expenses (reports say he will live at the Vatican), and his pension could double if he receives the title of emeritus cardinal.


Listings for Meteorites

Meteorites from the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk last week have hit Internet auction and listing Websites. Avito.ru, the Russian equivalent of Craigslist, has seen tons of ads for pieces of the extraterrestrial rock; one listing asks for $3,300 for a supposed meteorite found near a zinc factory. eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has begun to receive listings as well: One poster wants $200 for "samples from the scene of a Chelyabinsk meteorite" with the caveat, "We aren't sure for 100% that it is a meteorite."

Mark Ford, Chairman of the British and Irish Meteorite Society, tells amateur collectors to wait until after the initial hype to buy meteorites at a more reasonable price.


The Business of Fixing People's Insecurities

Plastic surgeons carried out 14.6 million surgeries in 2012 in the US, an increase of 5% from 2011, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The number of minimally invasive surgeries has increased to 13 million while the number of surgical procedures, such as breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and nose shaping, has remained relatively steady, dropping 2% to 1.6 million. Botox treatments, one of the more popular minimally invasive operations, rose 8% to 6.1 million. For surgeries, breast augmentations remained the most common surgical cosmetic treatment with 286,000 procedures, but this number represents a decline of 7% year-over-year.


Will They Ever Claim This Money?

While they probably don't care, some big-name executives from California and Silicon Valley have money they forgot to collect. "Corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies" must report unclaimed property annually to California's comptroller's office, and the state now holds $6 billion worth of unclaimed property. If he wanted to claim his money, Google cofounder Sergey Brin, for example, could ask for the $1,000 Stanford University owes him. Also, the California Automobile Association has a $269 check waiting for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) cofounder Steve Wozniak, and PayPal owes Mark Zuckerberg $308.62 from when he lived at 1743 Westbrook Ave. in Los Altos, Calif., and worked on building Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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