This week in Tech Reads, record-breaking mystery spacecraft, tricks to finding life on other planets, tweaking real-life toys to win kids' attention away from apps, and more!

  • Kyle Mizokami brings us the story of the U.S. Air Force's X-37B, an experimental unmanned space shuttle that's been orbiting earth for a record-breaking span of nearly 500 days. Nobody knows the craft's mission, or how much longer it will be in orbit. [The Daily Beast]
  • Mark Wilson looks at how Mattel painstakingly perfected toy blasters and dart guns to vie for kids' attention in an app- and videogame-saturated world. [Co.Design]
  • Steve Nadis examines why plate tectonics might help us refine the search for life on other planets. [Nautilus]
  • Kyle Vanhemert reviews Manuel Lima's The Book of Trees, examining the 900-year history of data visualization. [Wired]
  • Jeanine Poggi examines TiVo, the original DVR technology, and how the once-groundbreaking company must fight today's flood of recording devices to remain relevant in the living room. [Ad Age]
  • Claire Cain Miller takes a deep look at the gender gaps affecting the tech world. [The New York Times]

Image: Spacesuits on display at Bonhams New York City. This week, the auction house hosted a phenomenal space history auction featuring U.S. and Soviet artifacts from the heyday of the space race, and Gizmodo was there. Photo by Robert Sorokanich.