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Twitter Has Been Secretly Verifying Thousands of Accounts, Even Though It Insists Its Verification Program is on Hold
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 02:04 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's backchannel department:
Twitter has verified more than 10,000 accounts in recent months, despite putting its verification program on hold. From a report: The company has said little publicly about verification, which it suspended in 2017 following backlash over its verification of a white supremacist. But data viewed by Mashable suggests the company is verifying a flurry of accounts each month despite the supposed break. Celebrities, and others with backchannel connections to the company, are able to become verified as Twitter ignores everyday users and those without insider access. In many ways, this secretive process is now more opaque and unfair than it was when anyone could apply on Twitter's website. At a time when Twitter says it's trying to be more transparent about its rules, the lack of an official verification policy is hurting groups already susceptible to abuse, critics say. Further reading: 'Verified' Is Now a Derogatory Term on Twitter.

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Google Pulls TikTok From Play Store in India Following Court Order
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 12:43 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-India department:
Google has pulled popular video app TikTok from the Play Store in India following a local court's direction, stoking fear among some activists that this could set a dangerous precedent. From a report: TikTok, which has amassed over 120 million monthly active users in India, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. TikTok, operated by Chinese conglomerate Bytedance, has come under hot water in India in recent weeks after some users complained about inappropriate content, including pornography, on the video service. A high court in Southern state of Tamil Nadu urged the central government to ban the download of TikTok in India earlier this month, alleging that TikTok "encouraged pornography" and risked spoiling the "future of the youngsters and mindset of the children."

Bytedance challenged the state court's order in India's apex Supreme Court last week, asserting that such a move would undermine freedom of speech in the nation. The Supreme Court referred the case back to the state court on Tuesday, thereby rejecting Bytedance's appeal to call off the ban. The government sent a notice to Google and Apple earlier today to pull the app from their respective app stores, preventing any more downloads, as first reported by The Economic Times. Google's Android mobile operating system runs on more than 95% of smartphones in India, according to estimates from research firm Counterpoint. Notably, users who already have TikTok app installed on their Android smartphone can continue to use the service.

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Apple, Qualcomm Settle Royalty Dispute
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 12:43 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's all-well-that-ends-well department:
Apple and Qualcomm have settled their royalty dispute, the companies said on Tuesday. From a report: The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm as well as a chipset supply agreement, suggesting that future iPhone may use Qualcomm chips. The two companies started proceedings in a trial in federal court in San Diego on Monday, which was expected to last until May. Both sides were asking for billions in damages. In November, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said that he believed that the two companies were on the "doorstep" to settling. Apple CEO Tim Cook contradicted him shortly after, saying that Apple hasn't been in settlement discussions since the third calendar quarter of 2018.

The complicated legal battle centered around modem chips and had been raging in courts around the world since 2016. For years, Apple bought modem chips from Qualcomm, but chafed under Qualcomm's prices and requirement that any company using its chips would also pay licensing fees for its patents. New iPhone models released in 2018 used Intel modem chips, and Apple said in a previous FTC trial that Qualcomm.

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HP's EliteBook 800 G6 Notebook Series Adds Convenience, Privacy Features
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
HP today announced its latest Elitebook 800 G6 line of business notebooks, boasting additional privacy options and a security software agent that HP says will make them more capable against zero-day attacks. From a report: HP's new models -- the EliteBook 830 G6, HP EliteBook 840 G6, and HP EliteBook 850 G6, plus the HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 -- offer up to 18 hours of battery life, a behind-the-glass privacy shutter, and options for a 1,000-nit screen that can be used outdoors. HP said it will ship most of the models in May, while the x360 model is expected to ship in June. Prices have not been announced. According to specifications provided to PCWorld, all four notebooks will share common Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565 Whiskey Lake processors from Intel, while the Elitebook 830 G6 and EliteBook x360 830 G6 will offer a Core i3-8145U option as well. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 also appear for the first time in this generation, HP said.

The members of the EliteBook lineup differ by screen size. The EliteBook 830 G6 and x360 830 G6 offer 13.3-inch displays. The 840 G6 is a 14-inch laptop, and the 850 G6 is a 15-inch machine. As many business notebooks do, HP has innovated on two axes: improving the hardware, as well as building in additional software and services. The company seems especially proud of the latter, specifically what it calls Sure Sense. The technology will be included on all of the newly announced EliteBook PCs. With Sure Sense, the company believes the lightweight software agent can react in real time to unknown threats, intelligently deciding whether they represent a risk to the system. The idea, HP said, is to provide an additional layer of security against so-called "zero-day" attacks that may come out of the blue and install ransomware or worse on corporate machines.

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Samsung Chips Will Get Faster and Easier on Your Battery in 2020
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Processor progress is harder to come by these days, but Samsung says it'll build chips next year that will give you a bit more battery life or a little more speed. From a report: Through improvements charted by Moore's Law, chip electronic components called transistors get steadily smaller. On Monday, Samsung said it's taken the next step along the Moore's Law path, shrinking a transistor measurement to 5 billionths of a meter -- 5nm -- from 7nm. To get some idea of just how teensy that is, about 2,000 would fit end to end across the width of a human hair. The new petite size means the Korean company will be able to add more electronic abilities to its chips. It also means the chips will get either a 10% speed boost or a 20% savings in power. The development could help not only Samsung, which builds the Exynos processor for its own phones, but also Qualcomm and other companies that rely on Samsung's foundry business to build their chips.

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New York City Has a Y2K-Like Problem, and It Doesn't Want You To Know About It
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 10:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
On April 6, something known as the GPS rollover, a cousin to the dreaded Y2K bug, mostly came and went, as businesses and government agencies around the world heeded warnings and made software or hardware updates in advance. But in New York, something went wrong -- and city officials seem to not want anyone to know. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] New submitter RAYinNYC shares a report: At 7:59 p.m. E.D.T. on Saturday, the New York City Wireless Network, or NYCWiN, went dark, waylaying numerous city tasks and functions, including the collection and transmission of information from some Police Department license plate readers. The shutdown also interrupted the ability of the Department of Transportation to program traffic lights, and prevented agencies such as the sanitation and parks departments from staying connected with far-flung offices and work sites. The culprit was a long-anticipated calendar reset of the centralized Global Positioning System, which connects to devices and computer networks around the world. There has been no public disclosure that NYCWiN, a $500 million network built for the city by Northrop Grumman, was offline and remains so, even as workers are trying to restore it.

< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department >

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What To Expect From Sony's Next-Gen PlayStation
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 10:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Daetrin writes: Sony is unwilling to confirm "Playstation 5" as the name, but their next console is "no mere upgrade" according to a report from Wired, which cites Sony executives -- who spoke on the record: "PlayStation's next-generation console ticks all those boxes, starting with an AMD chip at the heart of the device. (Warning: some alphabet soup follows.) The CPU is based on the third generation of AMD's Ryzen line and contains eight cores of the company's new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. The GPU, a custom variant of Radeon's Navi family, will support ray tracing, a technique that models the travel of light to simulate complex interactions in 3D environments. While ray tracing is a staple of Hollywood visual effects and is beginning to worm its way into $10,000 high-end processors, no game console has been able to manage it. Yet." The console will also have a solid-state drive and is currently planned to be backward-compatible with both PS4 games and PSVR.

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Mark Zuckerberg Leveraged Facebook User Data To Fight Rivals and Help Friends, Leaked Documents Show
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 08:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's show-me-the-money department:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once considered making deals with third-party developers just to help him find out how much users' data is worth, NBC News reported on Tuesday. The report, which cites 4,000 leaked pages of internal documents, shines a light on the way senior company executives viewed attaching a dollar sign to sensitive user data, despite Facebook's public commitment to protect such information.

From the report: In the same week, Zuckerberg floated the idea of pursuing 100 deals with developers "as a path to figuring out the real market value" of Facebook user data and then "setting a public rate" for developers. "The goal here wouldn't be the deals themselves, but that through the process of negotiating with them we'd learn what developers would actually pay (which might be different from what they'd say if we just asked them about the value), and then we'd be better informed on our path to set a public rate," Zuckerberg wrote in a chat. Facebook told NBC News that it was exploring ways to build a sustainable business, but ultimately decided not to go forward with these plans.

< article continued at Slashdot's show-me-the-money department >

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'Avengers: Endgame' Footage Leaks on Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 08:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's spreading-like-wildfire department:
Despite Disney's efforts to keep as much of Avengers: Endgame under wraps as possible before the latest Marvel blockbuster hits theaters next week, several minutes of blurry Avengers: Endgame footage have leaked. From a report: The footage reveals some significant plot details, and GIFs, screenshots and descriptions -- none of which we're sharing here -- are spreading across the likes of Twitter and Reddit. Given the level of anticipation and hype surrounding Avengers: Endgame, Disney has trodden very carefully when it comes to revealing information about the movie. Press and critics have yet to see the film and you can bet everyone involved with the production has had to sign iron-clad non-disclosure agreements. However, Disney has shown critics 10 minutes of footage in the US and around 20 minutes in South Korea.

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Scranos Rootkit Expands Operations From China To the Rest of the World
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 07:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department:
A malware operation previously limited to China's borders has expanded over the past few months to infect users from all over the world, antivirus firm Bitdefender said in a report published today. From a report: Users who have the bad habit of downloading and installing cracked software applications are at the highest risk. According to Bitdefender experts, these apps are laced with a relatively new malware strain named Scranos. The most important piece of this malware is a rootkit driver that's hidden inside the tainted apps and which allows the malware to gain boot persistence and take full control over users' systems in the early stages of an infection. Although Bitdefender describes Scranos as "a work in progress, with many components in the early stage of development," the malware is still very dangerous as it is. That's because Scranos is a modular threat that once it infects a host computer, it can ping its command and control (C&C) server for additional instructions, and then download small modules to execute a fine set of operations.

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Mozilla Wants Apple To Change Users' iPhone Advertiser ID Every Month
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 07:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Mozilla has launched a petition today to get Apple to rotate the IDFA unique identifier of iOS users every month. From a report: The purpose of this request is to prevent online advertisers from creating profiles that contain too much information about iOS users. IDFA stands for "IDentifier For Advertisers" and is a per-device unique ID. Apps running on a device can request access to this ID and relay the number to advertising SDKs/partners they use to show ads to their users. As experts from Singular, a mobile marketing firm explain, "IDFAs take the place of cookies in mobile advertising delivered to iOS devices because cookies are problematic in the mobile world." IDFAs are different from UDIDs, which stand for "unique device identifiers," which are permanent and unchangeable device identifiers. Apple added support for IDFAs specifically to replace UDIDs, which many apps were collecting for all sorts of shady reasons, enabling pervasive tracking of iOS users.

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US Government Admits It Doesn't Know If Assange Cracked Password For Manning
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 06:03 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's password-cracking department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The U.S. government does not have any evidence that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange succeeded in cracking a password for whistleblower Chelsea Manning, according to a newly unsealed affidavit written by an FBI agent. Last week, Assange was escorted out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and arrested for breaching bail in connection to allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. The day of Assange's arrest, the U.S. government unsealed an indictment against Assange with a hacking conspiracy charge. The Department of Justice accused WikiLeaks' founder of agreeing to help Manning crack a password that would have helped the former military analyst get into a classified computer system under a username that did not belong to her, making it harder for investigators to trace the eventual leak.

On Monday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia unsealed the affidavit, which is dated December 21, 2017. The document contains more details on the interactions between Assange and Manning. And, most significantly, contains the admission that the U.S. government -- as of December of 2017 -- had no idea whether Assange actually cracked the password. Until now, we knew that the U.S. was aware that Assange attempted to crack a password for Manning once, but didn't know if it had more evidence of further attempts or whether it thought Assange was successful. "Investigators have not recovered a response by Manning to Assange's question, and there is no other evidence as to what Assange did, if anything, with respect to the password," FBI agent Megan Brown said in the affidavit. According to lawyers, the simple offer to help can be considered part of a conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

< article continued at Slashdot's password-cracking department >

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Researchers 3D-Print Heart From Human Patient's Cells
Posted by News Fetcher on April 16 '19 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
Researchers have 3D-printed a heart using a patient's cells, providing hope that the technique could be used to heal hearts or engineer new ones for transplants. "This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers," Professor Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University's School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology said in a statement. Dvir is senior author of the research, published Monday in the journal Advanced Science. CNN reports: The process of printing the heart involved a biopsy of the fatty tissue that surrounds abdominal organs. Researchers separated the cells in the tissue from the rest of the contents, namely the extracellular matrix linking the cells. The cells were reprogrammed to become stem cells with the ability to differentiate into heart cells; the matrix was processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing "ink."

The cells and hydrogel were first used to create heart patches with blood vessels and, from there, an entire heart. Next, the researchers plan to train the hearts to behave like hearts, Dvir explained. "The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can currently contract, but we need them to work together." If researchers are successful, they plan to transplant the 3D-printed heart in animal models and, after that, humans.

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Traversable Wormholes Can Exist, But They're Not Very Useful For Space Travel, Physicists Say
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's theoretically-possible department:
A new study from physicists at Harvard and Stanford says that wormholes can exist but they're not very useful for humans to travel through. "It takes longer to get through these wormholes than to go directly, so they are not very useful for space travel," said the author of the study, Daniel Jafferis. From the report: Despite his pessimism for pan-galactic travel, he said that finding a way to construct a wormhole through which light could travel was a boost in the quest to develop a theory of quantum gravity. The new theory was inspired when Jafferis began thinking about two black holes that were entangled on a quantum level, as formulated in the ER=EPR correspondence by Juan Maldacena from the Institute for Advanced Study and Lenny Susskind from Stanford. Although this means the direct connection between the black holes is shorter than the wormhole connection -- and therefore the wormhole travel is not a shortcut -- the theory gives new insights into quantum mechanics.

"From the outside perspective, travel through the wormhole is equivalent to quantum teleportation using entangled black holes," Jafferis said. Jafferis based his theory on a setup first devised by Einstein and Rosen in 1935, consisting of a connection between two black holes (the term wormhole was coined in 1957). Because the wormhole is traversable, Jafferis said, it was a special case in which information could be extracted from a black hole. "It gives a causal probe of regions that would otherwise have been behind a horizon, a window to the experience of an observer inside a spacetime, that is accessible from the outside," said Jafferis. The physicists presented their results at the 2019 American Physical Society April Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

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Fukushima: the Removal of Nuclear Fuel Rods From Damaged Reactor Building Begins
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 08:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's long-time-coming department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Workers at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have begun removing fuel rods from a storage pool near one of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns eight years ago. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said on Monday that work had begun to remove the first of 566 used and unused fuel assemblies in reactor building No 3. The fuel rods stored in unit No 3's cooling pool were not damaged in the 2011 disaster, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami knocked out Fukushima Daiichi's backup power supply and triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, 25 years earlier.

Tepco said the operation to remove the fuel rods, which are in uncovered pools, would take two years, adding that transferring them to safer ground would better protect them in the event of another catastrophic earthquake. Workers are remotely operating a crane to raise the fuel from a storage rack in the pool and place it into a protective cask. The whole process occurs underwater to prevent radiation leaks. The utility plans to repeat the procedure in the two other reactors that suffered meltdowns.

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iOS 13 To Feature Dark Mode and Interface Updates, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 06:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-to-expect department:
9to5Mac has learned of several new features expected to be included in iOS 13. From the report: Dark Mode: There will be a system-wide Dark Mode that can be enabled in Settings, including a high contrast version, similar to what's already available on macOS. Speaking of macOS, iPad apps that run on the Mac using Marzipan will finally take advantage of the Dark Mode support on both systems.

Multitasking: There are many changes coming to iPad with iOS 13, including the ability for apps to have multiple windows. Each window will also be able to contain sheets that are initially attached to a portion of the screen, but can be detached with a drag gesture, becoming a card that can be moved around freely, similar to what an open-source project called "PanelKit" could do. These cards can also be stacked on top of each other, and use a depth effect to indicate which cards are on top and which are on the bottom. Cards can be flung away to dismiss them.

Undo gesture: With iOS 13, Apple is introducing a new standard undo gesture for text input on the iPad. The gesture starts as a three-finger tap on the keyboard area, sliding left and right allows the user to undo and redo actions interactively.

Safari improvements: Safari on iOS 13 for the iPad will automatically ask for a desktop version of websites when necessary, preventing a common issue where websites will render their iPhone version even when running on an iPad with a big screen. YouTube is notorious for this behavior, forcing users to rely on a 'Request Desktop Site' button.

Font management: Font management is getting a major upgrade on iOS 13. It will not be necessary to install a profile to get new fonts into the system anymore. Instead there will be a new font management panel in Settings. A new standard font picker component will be available for developers and the system will notify the user when they open a document that has missing fonts.

< article continued at Slashdot's what-to-expect department >

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Immune Cells May Play a Role In Causing Cavities
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 04:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-complicated-than-you-think department:
Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that cavities may be collateral damage from an overzealous immune system. New Atlas reports: Traditionally, bacteria have taken most of the blame for cavities and tooth decay. The bugs cling to your teeth as plaque and produce acid as waste, which dissolves tooth enamel, dentin and even filling material. But the new study suggests the story is more complicated than that. Oral immune cells called neutrophils are dispatched by the body in response to invading bacteria -- but the researchers found that they might be a little careless in the battle.

On their own, neutrophils can't damage teeth but the problems arise after acids from bacteria demineralize them. Once weakened, enzymes released by the neutrophils could wreak havoc on other tooth substances. Damage was found to appear in a matter of hours, and worse still, it also seems to apply to tooth-colored fillings, which may explain why they tend to fail within five to seven years. The silver lining of the discovery is that it could lead to new types of treatment, or new standards for testing materials that are to be used in fillings. The research was published in the journal Acta Biomateralia.

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TicTocTrack Smartwatch Flaws Can Be Abused To Track Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 04:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-alert department:
secwatcher shares a report from Threatpost: A popular smartwatch that allows parents to track their children's whereabouts, TicTocTrack, has been discovered to be riddled with security issues that could allow hackers to track and call children. Researchers at Pen Test Partners revealed vulnerabilities in the watch (sold in Australia) on Monday, which could enable hackers to track children's location, spoof the child's location or view personal data on the victims' accounts. The parent company of the TicTocTrack watch, iStaySafe Pty Ltd., has temporarily restricted access to the watch's service and app while it investigates further. Researchers found that the service's back end does not make any authorization attempt on any request -- besides the user having a valid username and password combination. That means that an attacker who is logged into the service could remotely compromise the app and track other accounts that are based in Australia.

The smartwatch, available in Australia for $149 (USD), is designed for children and uses GPS to track the movement of the wearer every six minutes, and offers voice calling and SMS features. The smartwatch's API can be attacked by changing the FamilyIdentifier number (which identifies the family that the user belongs to), which then could give a bad actor complete access to the user's data -- including the children's location, parent's full names, phone numbers and other personal identifiable information. Researchers with Pen Test Partners collaborated with security researcher Troy Hunt to test the attack. Hunt uploaded a video showing how the smartwatch vulnerability could be exploited to call his daughter -- and how her smartwatch would answer automatically without any interaction needed from her end.

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Science and Bicycling Meet In a New Helmet Design
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 03:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
John Timmer from Ars Technica got a chance to take a look at Trek's new bicycle helmet that they claim offers "the first major change in helmet technology in years," and is backed up with peer-reviewed science. Here's an excerpt from Timmer's report: WaveCel is the product of orthopedic surgeon Steve Madey and a biomedical engineer named Michael Bottlang. The two had been working on a variety of ideas related to medical issues and protective gear, funded in part by federal grant money. When considering the idea of a lightweight material that could evenly distribute forces, Bottlang told Ars that they first focused on a honeycomb pattern. But they found that it was actually too robust -- the honeycomb wouldn't collapse until a lot of force had been applied, and then it would fail suddenly.

The design they eventually developed has a shape that allows flexing almost immediately when force is applied. "It starts to glide right away," Bottlang said. The manufacturing technique creates a clear point of failure that allows more extensive flexing once a certain level of force is exceeded -- part of the structure will fold over rather than experiencing a complete failure. Then, once folded, the polymer it's made of will allow neighboring cells to glide over each other. This provides some resistance even after the structure has collapsed. For the helmet, a patch of this material is attached to the inside of a more traditional EPS helmet, which provides impact resistance. But the WaveCel mesh is allowed to float within the helmet and can absorb much of the force of off-axis impacts. The thin strips of soft material that cushion the helmet where it rests on the head (also found in more traditional helmets) are attached directly to the WaveCel mesh.

< article continued at Slashdot's new-and-improved department >

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SpaceX Loses the Center Core of Its Falcon Heavy Rocket Due To Choppy Seas
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '19 at 03:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's upsetting-updates department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: SpaceX successfully landed the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket on a drone ship last week, but the vehicle accidentally fell into the ocean while in transit to the Florida coast. The company blamed the loss on choppy seas. "Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral," SpaceX said in a statement to The Verge. "As conditions worsened with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted."

SpaceX does have ways to secure the rockets it lands in the ocean, including a robot known as the "octagrabber" that latches on to the base of the boosters. But because the center core connects to two side boosters, it has a different design than a normal Falcon 9 booster. So the octagrabber cannot hold on to it in the same way. The center core is a modified Falcon 9 booster -- one of three that make up the Falcon Heavy rocket -- which flew last week during the second flight of the Falcon Heavy. "Following takeoff, all three cores of the rocket successfully landed back on Earth: the two outer cores touched down on dual concrete landing pads at the Cape while the center core touched down on the company's drone ship named Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic," reports The Verge.

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