TIME Innovation

This Material Can Heal Itself in Less Than One Second

An extra precaution for astronauts

Researchers have developed a new material that can heal itself when punctured, according to an American Chemical Society news release.

The material is made by inserting a liquid with a “key ingredient” in between two layers of a solid polymer. When the solid layers are penetrated and the liquid is released, the key ingredient reacts with oxygen to quickly form a solid plug. A video of the researchers testing the material by shooting a bullet through it shows that it fixes itself in under a second.

This research, funded by NASA, could help prevent damage to spacecraft, and perhaps even save lives. The International Space Station is the most highly protected spacecraft to ever exist, equipped with bumpers that destroy debris before it has a chance to hit its walls. However, in those conditions, it’s extremely reassuring to have a backup plan just in case the bumpers fail.

The researchers made sure to mention that this technology could be applied to other structures as well, such as automobiles.

Watch the self-healing material in action:

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Courts

Federal Court Ruling Supports NSA’s Phone Data Collection

NSA headquarters Fort Meade maryland
NSA/Getty Images The NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

The court reversed a ruling that found the NSA program unconstitutional

(WASHINGTON) — A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the bulk collection of phone data on millions of Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.

But the impact of the ruling is uncertain, now that Congress has passed legislation designed to replace the program over the next few months.

The court sent the case back for a judge to determine what further details about the program the government must provide.

The uproar over the surveillance program began in 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details to news organizations.

TIME technology

4 Ways to Take Advantage of Instagram’s New Photo Options

Instagram

The app's latest feature makes it easier to take landscape and portrait photos. How can you make the most of this new change?

Instagram has rolled out its biggest change yet: users can now post landscape and portrait photos and videos. While the updated app offers obvious advantages to amateur photographers, these four simple tips might help you take better pictures:

1. Use the extra space to create drama
When your subject is running, flying or falling from one side of the frame to the other, a portrait or landscape photo can amplify the image’s sense of motion by creating visual space where the subject will continue moving. Subjects looking to the side, too, can continue to gaze farther across the image.

2. Play with composition and perspective
While Instagram’s prior square crop called for images to be centered, more space means more leverage for composition and positioning. Now, those shots can convey a sense of space that suggests the grandeur of a landscape or tension between subjects. Both vertical and horizontal photos can include more background without feeling cramped, providing greater context and breathing space:

Instagram

3. Get up close
Those beautiful rolling hills in the distance don’t have to be the only thing in the photo any more. The added height or width allows you to further dramatize your images through a low close-up shot that blurs the background and accentuates the foreground.

4. Emphasize leading lines
The classic sunset pic, with the horizon parallel to the ground, leaves a lot outside the frame when constrained to the 1:1 ratio. With the horizontal option, you have more room for “leading lines” — paths that reach towards the main subject of a photo, such as a road leading off toward a sunset — to make your beach at dusk or moonlit mountains that much more spectacular.

TIME SmartHalo

This Gadget Brings GPS Navigation to Your Bike

Courtesy of SmartHalo

No need to check your smartphone for directions

SmartHalo is a new bicycle GPS system that eliminates the need to check your smartphone for directions and makes biking a much safer mode of transportation.

The accessory is compatible with any regular bicycle’s set of handlebars. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and acts as a visually simplistic navigation guide. Insert your destination into the SmartHalo’s corresponding app and it will provide you with turn-by-turn directions using light signals.

The signals adapt to different levels of natural light to ensure that the directions are always visible, no matter the conditions. This weather-resistant device also detects when it’s nighttime, prompting it to activate a front-mounted bike light, which automatically turns off once you dismount.

The app allows you to track the bike’s location if you forget where you parked it, or if someone manages to steal it. The latter scenario is unlikely since the SmartHalo has an internal motion sensor that sounds an alarm if it senses “persistent meddling.” The device itself is attached to the handlebars with “tamper-proof” screws that only the owner can detach with a custom key fob.

The motion sensor is deactivated when you approach your bike because the SmartHalo is able to detect your phone. If you lost it or it ran out of battery, you can insert your own unique “tapcode” to deactivate the alarm.

It also functions as a fitness tool, measuring distance traveled, average speed, and calories burned. You can set specific goals regarding those measurements, and the SmartHalo will display your progress.

The SmartHalo Kickstarter page has surpassed its goal of $50,000. You can sign up for the “Kickstarter Special,” which is priced at $99 for one SmartHalo. The developers expect the device to be ready to ship to early adopters by May 2016. Its retail price is expected to be $149.

MONEY Autos

1 in 5 Drivers Don’t Care About Fancy New Car Tech

Infotainment Apathetic Drivers Automakers
Cunningham, Harold—Getty Images A Mercedes-Benz in-vehicle infotainment screen is seen during the 85th International Motor Show on March 3, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The most common reason cited for abandoning a tech feature? "Did not find it useful."

Today’s new cars come with all sorts of high-tech systems “infotainment”, parking assistance and heads-up displays, but a recent report from J.D. Power says a significant portion of consumers don’t use them.

On Tuesday, the marketing research firm released its Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report, detailing the habits of drivers in the first 90 days of new car ownership. The study found at least 20% of drivers never used 16 of the 33 features in question. Vehicle concierge, mobile routers, automatic parking, heads-up displays, and built-in apps led the list of superfluous automotive tech bogging down the driving experience. Considering the effort automakers put into these technologies, that’s significant money left on the table, especially since unused features may be outdated if and when they arrive at their second owner.

According to Kristin Kolodge, a J.D. Power executive director of driver interaction & HMI research, many drivers would rather use their phones and tech they already know. The most common reason cited for abandoning a tech feature? “Did not find it useful.”

Since many of these consumers told J.D. Power the technology “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it,” it’s not just the carmakers that are losing out—a fifth of consumers are paying for these things they just don’t use. It’s costing everybody millions.

TIME technology

The Next Revolution in Photography Is Coming

Stephen Wilkes

In the future, there will be no such thing as a "straight photograph"

It’s time to stop talking about photography. It’s not that photography is dead as many have claimed, but it’s gone.

Just as there’s a time to stop talking about girls and boys and to talk instead about women and men so it is with photography; something has changed so radically that we need to talk about it differently, think of it differently and use it differently. Failure to recognize the huge changes underway is to risk isolating ourselves in an historical backwater of communication, using an interesting but quaint visual language removed from the cultural mainstream.

The moment of photography’s “puberty” was around the time when the technology moved from analog to digital although it wasn’t until the arrival of the Internet-enabled smartphone that we really noticed a different behavior. That’s when adolescence truly set in. It was surprising but it all seemed somewhat natural and although we experienced a few tantrums along the way with arguments about promiscuity, manipulation and some inexplicable new behaviors, the photographic community largely accommodated the changes with some adjustments in workflow.

But these visible changes were merely the advance indicators of deeper transformations and it was only a matter of time before people’s imagination reached beyond the constraints of two dimensions to explore previously unimagined possibilities. And so it is that we find ourselves in a world where the digital image is almost infinitely flexible, a vessel for immeasurable volumes of information, operating in multiple dimensions and integrated into apps and technologies with purposes yet to be imagined.

Digital capture quietly but definitively severed the optical connection with reality, that physical relationship between the object photographed and the image that differentiated lens-made imagery and defined our understanding of photography for 160 years. The digital sensor replaced to optical record of light with a computational process that substitutes a calculated reconstruction using only one third of the available photons. That’s right, two thirds of the digital image is interpolated by the processor in the conversion from RAW to JPG or TIF. It’s reality but not as we know it.

For obvious commercial reasons camera manufacturers are careful to reconstruct the digital image in a form that mimics the familiar old photograph and consumers barely noticed a difference in the resulting image, but there are very few limitations on how the RAW data could be handled and reality could be reconstructed in any number of ways. For as long as there’s an approximate consensus on what reality should look like we retain a fingernail grip on the belief in the image as an objective record. But forces beyond photography and traditional publishing are already onto this new data resource, and culture will move with it whether photographers choose to follow or not.

As David Campbell has pointed out in his report on image integrity for the World Press Photo, this requires a profound reassessment of words like “manipulation” that assume the existence of a virginal image file that hasn’t already been touched by computational process. Veteran digital commentator Kevin Connor says, “The definition of computational photography is still evolving, but I like to think of it as a shift from using a camera as a picture-making device to using it as a data-collecting device.”

The differences contained in the structure and processing of a digital file are not the end of the story of photography’s transition from innocent childhood to knowing adulthood. There is so much more to grasp that very few people have yet grappled with the inevitable but as yet unimaginable impact on the photographic image. Taylor Davidson has described the camera of the future as an app, a software rather than a device that compiles data from multiple sensors. The smartphone’s microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer and other sensors all contribute data as needed by whatever app calls on it and combines it with the visual data. And still that’s not the limit on what is already bundled with our digital imagery.

Our instruments are connected to satellites that contribute GPS data while connecting us to the Internet that links our data to all the publicly available information of Wikipedia, Google and countless other resources that know where we are, who was there before us and the associated economic, social and political activity. Layer on top of that the integration of LIDAR data (currently only in some specialist apps) then apply facial and object recognition software and consider the implication of emerging technologies such as virtual reality, semantic reality and artificial intelligence and one begins to realize the mind-boggling potential of computational imagery.

Things will go even further with the development of curved sensors that will allow completely different ways to interpret light, but that for the moment remains an idea rather than a reality. Everything else is already happening and will become increasingly evident as new technologies roll out, ushering us into a very different visual culture with expectations far beyond simple documentation.

The world through an app #15: 3D weather overlay. #augmentedreality #machinevision #appeyeview #theworldthroughanapp

A photo posted by Tomas van Houtryve (@tomasvh) on

Computational photography draws on all these resources and allows the visual image to create a picture of reality that is infinitely richer than a simple visual record, and with this comes the opportunity to incorporate deeper levels of knowledge. It won’t be long before photographers are making images of what they know, rather than only what they see. Mark Levoy, formerly of Stanford and now of Google puts it this way, “Except in photojournalism, there will be no such thing as a ‘straight photograph’; everything will be an amalgam, an interpretation, an enhancement or a variation – either by the photographer as auteur or by the camera itself.”

As we tumble forwards into these unknown territories there’s a curious throwback to a moment in art history when 100 years ago the Cubists revolutionized ways of seeing using a very similar (albeit analog) approach to what they saw. Picasso, Braque and others deconstructed the world and reassembled it not in terms of what they saw, but rather in terms of what they knew using multiple perspectives to depict a deeper understanding.

While the photographic world wrestles with even such basic tools as Photoshop there is no doubt that we’re moving into a space more aligned with Cubism than Modernism. It will not be long before our audiences demand more sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change, connected to reality by more than a static two-dimensional rectangle of crude visual data isolated in space and time. We’ll look back at the black-and-white photograph that was the voice of truth for nearly a century, as a simplistic and incomplete source of information about what was happening in the world.

Some will consider this a threat, seeing only the danger of distortion and undetectable fakery and it’s certainly true that we’ll need to develop new measures by which to read imagery. We’re already highly skilled in distinguishing probable and improbable information and we know how to read written journalism (which is driven entirely by the writer’s imaginative ability to interpret reality in symbolic form) and we don’t confuse advertising imagery with documentary, nor the photo illustration on a magazine’s cover with the reportage inside. Fraud will always be a risk but with over a century of experience we’ve learned that we can’t rely on the mechanical process to protect us. New conventions will emerge and all the artistry that’s been developed since the invention of photography will find richer and deeper opportunities to express information, ideas and emotions with no greater risk to truth than we currently experience. The enriched opportunities for storytelling will allow greater complexity that’s closer to reality than the thinned-down simplification of 20th Century journalism and will open unprecedented connection between the subject and the viewer.

The twist is that new forces will be driving the process. The clue is in what already occurred with the smartphone. The revolutionary change in photography’s cultural presence wasn’t led by photographers, nor publishers or camera manufacturers but by telephone engineers, and this process will repeat as business grasps the opportunities offered by new technology to use visual imagery in extraordinary new ways, throwing us into new and wild territory. It’s happening already and we’ll see the impact again and again as new apps, products and services hit the market.

We owe it to the medium that we’ve nurtured into adolescence to stand by it and support it in adulthood even though it might seem unrecognizable in its new form. We know the alternative: it will be out the door and hanging with the wrong crowd while we sit forlornly in the empty nest wondering what we did wrong. The first step is to stop talking about the child it once was and to put away the sentimental memories of photography as we knew it for all these years.

It’s very far from dead but it’s definitely left the building.

Stephen Mayes is the Executive Director of the Tim Hetherington Trust.

Read next: Instagram Photographers to Follow in All 50 States

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TIME Books

See a Page From a Gutenberg Bible in Close-Up

The bibles were first printed in 1456

It’s hard to pin down the exact day the book was born, but August 24 is as fine a day to celebrate as any: it was on this day in 1456 that at least one copy of the original Gutenberg Bible was completed. You can zoom in on a page from that milestone text by rolling over it with your cursor (on your phone? Just click). This is Jerome’s epistle to Paulinus, which serves as the prologue to the Bible:

Print Collector-Getty Images

Because the colorful decorations were done by hand, each of the copies—about four dozen of which have survived intact, out of nearly 200—is slightly different, even though the actual text was printed with the same type.

As TIME explained in 1999, when it named Johann Gutenberg the most important person of the 15th century, non-European printers had figured out the idea of moveable type first—but dealing with more than 26 or so letter characters made it less efficient. Printing in Europe, meanwhile, was usually done by carving into a block of wood, which meant that once the printing form was made, you were stuck with it permanently. Having the idea of casting each letter separately and just moving them around wasn’t the only stumbling block for Gutenberg—he needed to find the metal that melted at the right temperature, he needed to find ink that wouldn’t smudge, he needed to design the press part of the machine—but it was a start.

Exactly what happened between his grand idea and the emergence of the first full Gutenberg Bible—like, for example, whether Gutenberg himself actually printed it—remains something of a mystery. But it was enough to get his name printed, as it were, in history:

By the time he was back in Mainz in 1448, Gutenberg had ironed out enough of these problems to persuade Johann Fust, a goldsmith and lawyer, to invest heavily in his new printing shop. Exactly what happened behind Gutenberg’s closed doors during the next few years remains unknown. But in 1455 visitors to the Frankfurt Trade Fair reported having seen sections of a Latin Bible with two columns of 42 lines each printed–printed–on each page. The completed book appeared about a year later; it did not bear its printer’s name, but it eventually became known as the Gutenberg Bible.

Read more about Gutenberg and others, here in the TIME Vault: The Most Important People of the Millennium

TIME privacy

Ashley Madison Users Included White House and Congress Staffers

Hackers Release Confidential Member Information From The Ashley Madison Infidelity Website
Carl Court—Getty Images A detail of the Ashley Madison website on Aug. 19, 2015.

The AP investigation finds hundreds of U.S. government employees as registered users on the controversial website

(WASHINGTON) — Hundreds of U.S. government employees — including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies — used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP traced many of the accounts exposed by hackers back to federal workers. They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.

Few actually paid for their services with their government email accounts. But AP traced their government Internet connections — logged by the website over five years — and reviewed their credit-card transactions to identify them. They included workers at more than two dozen Obama administration agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks.

The AP is not naming the government subscribers it found because they are not elected officials or accused of a crime.

Hackers this week released detailed records on millions of people registered with the website one month after the break-in at Ashley Madison’s parent company, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. The website — whose slogan is, “Life is short. Have an affair” — is marketed to facilitate extra-marital affairs.

Many federal customers appeared to use non-government email addresses with handles such as “sexlessmarriage,” ”soontobesingle” or “latinlovers.” Some Justice Department employees appeared to use pre-paid credit cards to help preserve their anonymity but connected to the service from their office computers.

“I was doing some things I shouldn’t have been doing,” a Justice Department investigator told the AP. Asked about the threat of blackmail, the investigator said if prompted he would reveal his actions to his family and employer to prevent it. “I’ve worked too hard all my life to be a victim of blackmail. That wouldn’t happen,” he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was deeply embarrassed and not authorized by the government to speak to reporters using his name.

The AP’s analysis also found hundreds of transactions associated with Department of Defense networks, either at the Pentagon or from armed services connections elsewhere.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed the Pentagon was looking into the list of people who used military email addresses. Adultery can be a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“I’m aware it,” Carter said. “Of course it’s an issue because conduct is very important. And we expect good conduct on the part of our people. … The services are looking into it and as well they should be. Absolutely.”

The AP’s review was the first to reveal that federal workers used their office systems to access the site, based on their Internet Protocol addresses associated with credit card transactions. It focused on searching for government employees in especially sensitive positions who could perhaps become blackmail targets. The government hacker at the Homeland Security Department, who did not respond to phone or email messages, included photographs of his wife and infant son on his Facebook page.

One assistant U.S. attorney declined through a spokesman to speak to the AP, and another did not return phone or email messages.

A White House spokesman said Thursday he could not immediately comment on the matter. The IT administrator in the White House did not return email messages.

Federal policies vary for employees by agency as to whether they would be permitted during work hours to use websites like Ashley Madison, which could fall under the same category as dating websites. But it raises questions about what personal business is acceptable — and what websites are OK to visit — for government workers on taxpayer time, especially employees who could face blackmail.

The Homeland Security Department rules for use of work computers say the devices should be used for only for official purposes, though “limited personal use is authorized as long as this use does not interfere with official duties or cause degradation of network services.” Employees are barred from using government computers to access “inappropriate sites” including those that are “obscene, hateful, harmful, malicious, hostile, threatening, abusive, vulgar, defamatory, profane, or racially, sexually, or ethnically objectionable.”

The hackers who took credit for the break-in had accused the website’s owners of deceit and incompetence, and said the company refused to bow to their demands to close the site. Avid Life released a statement calling the hackers criminals. It added that law enforcement in both the U.S. and Canada is investigating and declined comment beyond its statement Tuesday that it was investigating the hackers’ claims.

___

Associated Press writers Alicia Caldwell and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

TIME public health

This Technology Tracks Antibiotic Resistance In Food

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, spinach, greens, vegetables, salad
Danny Kim for TIME

Federal officials have created a new public database that tracks superbugs

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled out a new interactive tool that allows users to follow the spread of antibiotic resistant bugs nationwide, called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System) Now: Human Data. According to the CDC, every year there are two million reported illnesses and 23,000 deaths associated with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Bacteria in our food accounts for 440,000 of those illnesses.

The CDC has long tracked the travel routes of four of the common types of bacteria transmitted through food: Campylobacter, E. coli O157, Salmonella, and Shigella. The data has already helped researchers investigate the distribution of multi drug resistant strains of salmonella and track down trends in resistance. For instance, the FDA withdrew approval for Enrofloxacin (a fluoroquinolone) in chickens after NARMS data revealed growing fluoroquinolone-resistant bacterial infections among Americans. Now the interactive database is free to the public to examine how these bugs have changed through the past 18 years.

“This is an educational tool for people who want to learn more about foodborne pathogens,” says Regan Rickert-Hartman, senior epidemiologist and program coordinator for NARMS. “This is [also] a good tool for health departments that are looking to compare their data to other states.”

Interactive maps, some of the most consumer-friendly aspects of the database, allow users to watch the spread and growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter over time through the United States.

The database was launched partly in response to calls from academics, Congress and consumer groups for more transparency and better access to data on antibiotic resistance, the CDC says. Rickert-Hartman says the database is part of the agency’s response to President Obama’s Open Government Initiative to establish more participation and open collaboration.

Though the current data only goes through 2013, Rickert-Hartman says the CDC hopes to add 2014 and 2015 data by the end of the year.

TIME legal

Prosecutors: Uber Hired Drivers With Criminal Records

An Uber ride in Washington on April 8, 2015.
Andrew Harrer—2015 Bloomberg Finance LP An Uber ride in Washington on April 8, 2015.

Prosecutors say Uber has knowingly continued to mislead consumers about the thoroughness of its screening methods

Uber hired 25 drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco with criminal records ranging from property crimes, sex offenses and murder, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

“We are learning increasingly that a lot of the information that Uber has been presenting the consumer has been false and misleading,” George Gascon, district attorney of San Francisco, where Uber is based, said at a news conference, the New York Times reports.

The comments came after the attorneys announced they were filing a 62-page amended complaint to the original civil suit, filed in December, that claims the ride-hailing app has knowingly continued to mislead consumers about the thoroughness of its screening methods.

Gascon, who has led investigations, noted that the records Uber uses to check applicants for sex offenses are missing 30,000 individuals whose convictions occurred more than seven years ago, allowing them to escape the company’s notice.

Uber has said in the past that the limited scope of its background-check providers is required by some state laws, and is in fact a way for the company to help rehabilitate offenders. “We understand that there are strongly held views about the rehabilitation of offenders,” Uber said in a blog post dated July 15. “But the California state legislature decided — after a healthy debate — that seven years strikes the right balance between protecting the public while also giving ex-offenders the chance to work and rehabilitate themselves.”

Uber has noted that Live Scan, another method of vetting drivers favored by many of the company’s critics, is not subject to seven-year limits. The prosecutors’ complaint asserts that a Live Scan system would have been more effective.

Uber said it disagreed that the screening process used by taxi drivers was better than its own checks. “The reality is that neither is 100% foolproof—as we discovered last year when putting hundreds of people through our checks who identified themselves as taxi drivers,” Uber told TIME in a statement. “That process uncovered convictions for DUI, rape, attempted murder, child abuse and violence.” Uber also noted that its rival Lyft had settled a similar case last year for $250,000.

While traditional cabs are required to use Live Scan, Uber is not, but prosecutors believe that the company has oversold the effectiveness of its own checking methods.

[New York Times]

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