There’s a terrifying trend on the internet that could be used to ruin your reputation, and no one knows how to stop it

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  • The rise of deepfakes, or videos created using AI that can make it look like someone said or did something they have never done, has raised concerns over how such technology could be used to spread misinformation and damage reputations.
  • High-profile figures such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former President Barack Obama, and "Wonder Woman" actress Gal Godot have all appeared in deepfake videos in recent years.
  • Congress has been discussing legal measures that could be taken to mitigate the potential damage inflicted by deepfake video content, but doing so without impacting free speech could prove challenging. 
  • Using algorithms to identify deepfakes could also be difficult considering those who are creating such videos will likely find ways to circumvent such detection methods, experts say.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. 

In a video that surfaced about a month ago, Mark Zuckerberg blankly stared into the camera from what appeared to be an office. He made a simple request of his viewers. "Imagine this for a second," he said. "One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data. All their secrets, their lives, their futures." 

Except it wasn’t really the Facebook CEO. It was a digital replica of him known as a deepfake: a phony video created using AI that can make it look like a person said or did something they have never actually done.  

Recognizable faces ranging from actor Kit Harrington as Jon Snow from "Game of Thrones" to former President Barack Obama have been the subject of such videos over the past year. And while these videos can be harmless, such as the clip of Jon Snow apologizing for the way the beloved HBO series ended, the technology has raised serious concerns about how manipulating videos and photos through artificial intelligence could potentially be used to spread misinformation or damage one’s reputation. 

And according to experts, the deepfake movement isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.

"Technologically speaking, there is nothing we can do," said Ali Farhadi, senior research manager for the computer vision group at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. "The technology is out there, [and] people can start using it in whatever way they can."

‘We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make anyone say anything at any point in time’

It’s unclear precisely when deepfakes were invented, but the trend began to gain widespread attention in late 2017 when a fake porn video purporting to feature "Wonder Woman" actress Gal Gadot was published on Reddit by a user who went by the pseudonym "deepfakes," as Vice reported at the time. 

Since then, a range of doctored videos featuring high-profile celebrities and politicians have appeared online — some of which are meant to be satirical, others which have portrayed public figures in a negative light, and others which were created to prove a point. Videos of famous movie scenes that had been digitally altered to feature actor Nicholas Cage’s face went viral in early 2018, representing the lighter side of the spectrum showing how such tools could be used to foster entertainment.

Then last April, BuzzFeed posted an eerily realistic fake video showing former president Barack Obama saying words he had never spoken as part of an effort to spread awareness about the potential risks that come with using such technology in devious ways. "We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make anyone say anything at any point in time," the Obama deepfake says in the video. 

Read more: Facebook, Google, and Apple are going on the defense as the battle cry to break up ‘big tech’ gets louder than ever

Facebook also recently found itself in hot water after it refused to take down a slowed down video of  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it look as if she had been intoxicated. While that video wasn’t technically a deepfake, it still raised questions about how easily video can be doctored and distributed. At the end of June, a controversial web app called DeepNude allowed users to create realistic naked images of women just by uploading photos to the app, demonstrating how such AI technologies could be used nefariously. The app has since been shut down.  

The manipulation of digital video and images is not new. But advancements in artificial intelligence, easier access to tools for altering video, and the scale at which doctored videos can be distributed are. Those latter two points are largely the reason why deepfakes may be prompting more concern than the rise of other photo and video editing tools in the past, says John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor of electrical engineering, public policy, law, and management at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"Everyone’s a global broadcaster now," said Villasenor. "So I think it’s those two things together that create a fundamentally different landscape than we had when Photoshop came out."

Deepfakes are created by using training data — i.e. images or videos of a subject — to construct a three-dimensional model of a person, according to Villasenor. The amount of data required could vary depending on the system being used and the quality of the deepfake you’re trying to create. Developing a convincing deepfake could require thousands of samples, says Farhadi, while Samsung developed an AI system that was able to generate a fabricated video clip with just one photo

Even though the technology has become more accessible and sophisticated that it once was, it still requires some level of expertise such as an understanding of deep learning algorithms, says Farhadi. 

"It’s not like with a click of a button you start generating deepfakes," he says. "It’s a lot of work." 

‘An arms race’

It’s likely impossible to prevent deepfakes from being created or to prohibit them from spreading on social media and elsewhere. But even if it was possible to do so, outright banning deepfakes likely isn’t the solution. That’s because it’s not the technology itself, but how it’s being used, that can be problematic, says Maneesh Agrawala, the Forest Baskett Professor of Computer Science and director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Stanford University. So eliminating deepfakes may not address the root of the issue. 

"Misinformation can still be presented even if the video is 100% real," said Agrawala. "So the concern that we have is with misinformation, not so much with the technologies that are creating these videos."

That begs the question as to what can be done to prevent deepfakes from being used in dangerous ways that potentially could cause harm. Experts seem to agree that there are two potential approaches: technological solutions that can detect when a video has been doctored and legal frameworks that penalize those who use the technology to smear others. Neither avenue is fool-proof, and it’s still unclear how such fixes would work.

Although a clear solution doesn’t exist yet, the question over how to address deepfakes has been a topic of discussion within Congress in recent months. Last December, Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska proposed a bill known as the "Malicious Deep Fake Prohibition Act of 2018," which seeks to prohibit "fraudulent audiovisual records."  The "DEEP FAKES Accountability Act" proposed by New York Democratic Representative Yvette Clarke in June requires that altered media is clearly labeled as such with a watermark. The proposed bill would also impose civil and criminal penalties for violations.

But imposing legislation to crack down on deepfakes in a way that doesn’t infringe on free speech or impact public discourse could be challenging, even if such rules do provide exceptions for entertainment content, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes.

The Zuckerberg deepfake, for example, was created as part of an exhibit for a documentary festival. "I think it’s important to be careful and nuanced in how we talk about the potential for damage," says Agrawala, who along with other researchers from Stanford, Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Princeton University, and Adobe Research created an algorithm that can edit talking-head videos through text. "I think there are a number of really important use cases for that kind of technology."

Plus, taking legal action is often time-consuming, which could make it difficult to use legal measures to mitigate potential harm stemming from deepfakes.

"Election cycles are influenced over the course of sometimes days or even hours with social media, so if someone wants to take legal action that could take weeks or even months," says Villasenor. "And in many cases, the damage may have already been done."

Read more: Apple CEO Tim Cook called out companies like Facebook, Theranos, and YouTube in a speech pushing for responsibility in Silicon Valley

According to Farhadi, one of the most efficient ways to address the issue is to build systems that can distinguish a deepfake from a genuine video. This can be done by using algorithms that are similar to those that have been developed to create deepfakes in the first place, since that data can be used to train the detectors. 

But that may not be very helpful for detecting more sophisticated deepfakes as they continue to evolve, says Sean Gourley, the founder and CEO of Primer AI, a machine intelligence firm that builds products for analyzing large data sets. 

"You can kind of think of this like zero-day attacks in the cybersecurity space," says Gourley. "The zero-day attack is one that no one’s seen before, and thus has no defenses against."     

As is often the case with cybersecurity, it can be difficult for those trying to solve issues and patch bugs to remain one step ahead of malicious actors. The same goes for deepfakes, says Villasenor.

"It’s sort of an arms race," he says. "You’re always going to be a few steps behind on the detection."

SEE ALSO: 9 must-have tools that will change the way you browse the internet through Google Chrome

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Google finally revealed Stadia pricing, games, and release date

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The American flags astronauts planted on the moon are disintegrating

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  • NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this month.
  • Astronauts on each of NASA’s six Apollo missions planted an American flag on the moon.
  • Brilliant sunlight and a lack of atmosphere to filter it have likely bleached all of the Apollo flags bone-white. It’s possible some of the flags are also disintegrating.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The photos have stood the test of time: A spacesuit-clad Apollo astronaut stands proudly next to a red-white-and-blue American flag on the moon, his national trophy saying: "The United States was here."

Unfortunately, the six flags planted on the lunar surface from 1969 through 1972 haven’t fared so well.

Images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2012 showed that at least five out six flags were still standing. However, scientists think decades’ worth of brilliant sunlight have bleached away their emblematic colors.

The result? The flags are probably completely bone-white by now, as we first learned from Gizmodo.

Their condition may now be even worse: On the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing (July 20), some of the flags are likely starting to disintegrate.

A company called Annin Flagmakers wove the flags out of rayon, and each one cost NASA a paltry $5.50 (more than $33.00 today when adjusted for inflation). On the surface of Earth, such flags fade in sunlight. That’s because ultraviolet light — the same wavelength that causes sunburn — excels at breaking down fibers and colors.

On Earth, some UV light gets absorbed by our planet’s atmosphere, though not all of it. But the moon has no atmosphere at all to absorb sunlight, and outside of craters, there is no shade. This means the flags planted by the Apollo astronauts are exposed to constant, glaring sunlight and solar radiation for two-week stretches at a time, since one "day" on the moon lasts about 27 Earth days.

Read more: There is a ‘dark side’ of the moon, but you are probably using the term incorrectly

In a July 2011 article for Smithsonian Air & Space magazine, lunar scientist Paul Spudis explains:

"Over the course of the Apollo program, our astronauts deployed six American flags on the moon. For 40-odd years, the flags have been exposed to the full fury of the moon’s environment – alternating 14 days of searing sunlight and 100° C heat with 14 days of numbing-cold -150° C darkness. But even more damaging is the intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the pure unfiltered sunlight on the cloth (modal) from which the Apollo flags were made. Even on Earth, the colors of a cloth flag flown in bright sunlight for many years will eventually fade and need to be replaced. So it is likely that these symbols of American achievement have been rendered blank, bleached white by the UV radiation of unfiltered sunlight on the lunar surface. Some of them may even have begun to physically disintegrate under the intense flux.

"America is left with no discernible space program while the moon above us no longer flies a visible US flag. How ironic."

Will we return to the moon?

big falcon rocket bfr spaceship bfs earth moon mission spacex 43895099105_6d7013a5df_o

Much has changed since Spudis’ lament, but a lot hasn’t: As of yet, no human being has returned to the moon.

However, NASA is working hard to fly astronauts into deep space by developing ultra-powerful Space Launch System rockets. The goal is to build a "gateway" space station at the moon that would reach lunar orbit in the early 2020s. A five-year plan that the Trump administration recently announced, called Artemis, endeavors to land astronauts on the lunar surface in 2024.

The lunar space station would be crewed with astronauts, who’d at first fly landers and robots to the moon’s surface (perhaps to scout for water deposits that could be mined and turned into rocket fuel). They’d use the facility as a way point to send people to and from the lunar surface on regular missions. However, some Apollo astronauts — while excited — are skeptical about whether NASA can stick to its timeline.

In any case, the commercial sector is increasingly looking like an integral part of NASA’s plans to reach the moon.

Tech mogul Elon Musk and his aerospace company, SpaceX, are developing a giant steel rocket called Starship that should be capable of reaching the moon or Mars. By 2023, Musk hopes to launch the company’s first space tourist — a Japanese billionaire named Yusaku Maezawa — in one of the spaceships, along with a small crew of hand-picked artists. The plan is to fly them around the moon, but not land on it.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns the rocket company Blue Origin, is also eager to move industry into space and colonize the moon. The billionaire recently unveiled Blue Moon, a spacecraft he hopes will help return astronauts to the lunar surface.

Read more: Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have profound visions for humanity’s future in space. Here’s how the billionaires’ goals compare.

sparrow israeli moon lander robot illustration spaceilSmaller companies are trying to reach the moon, too. The non-profit SpaceIL, for instance, recently tried to deposit a small lander there, yet tragically failed.

NASA has also launched a competition to select small commercial moon landers that would carry government-sanctioned experiments to the moon (alongside private payloads). Some of these companies might even try to land near the sites of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, or 17 and record live views of what the historic areas of the moon look like today.

If that comes to pass, there may be a flag in the frame — and we might settle the question of what happened to them after spending more than 46 years under the sun.

Jennifer Welsh contributed reporting to a previous version of this article.

This story has been updated with new information. It was originally published on April 9, 2017.

SEE ALSO: 25 of the most iconic images of Earth ever taken from space

DON’T MISS: Apollo astronaut: ‘You go to heaven when you are born’

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: SpaceX will use this capsule to slingshot two civilians around the moon

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Camera Hunting? This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Pick One

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So, you’ve decided to take photography more seriously and finally get yourself a new camera. What you haven’t decided on, however, is the exact camera to get for the kind of photography you want to do. Well, we think this nifty cheat sheet we found will be able to help you pick at least the kind of camera to get. Hopefully, from there, you’ll be able to narrow down your search.

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How to Stand Up to Your Boss

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There aren’t too many places in society where clear hierarchies continue to exist — at least explicitly. But the workplace is one. Bosses are in charge, and they get to tell their employees what to do.

Ideally, and the majority of the time, there isn’t too much friction in this power dynamic. Managers and supervisors often don’t have to do too much “telling” in the first place; their subordinates know what’s expected of them, know their job, and simply do it. When bosses do have to give “orders,” they make sense given the employees’ roles and responsibilities.

Sometimes, however, bosses overstep the line, “asking” their employees to do things that seem unfair or unreasonable, or to carry out ideas for which they have serious reservations.

Maybe your manager asks you to work late or on weekends too often, gives you assignments outside your understood role, hasn’t followed through on a promise, or charges you with implementing a project you think will flop.

What should you do in these types of situations?

Try standing up to your boss.

That idea will fill many with dread, as they worry that engaging in this kind of pushback might get them canned. But it’s possible to stand up to your boss’ requests in a way that not only won’t get you fired, but has a good chance of actually enhancing the respect and communication between you.

Here’s how. 

Decide if a request is truly unreasonable or not. Before you decide to push back on something you’ve been asked to do, figure out if it’s justified and/or worth it to do so. Here are a few factors to consider in thinking that through:

  • Does the request deviate significantly from your job description, the norm for the company’s employees, standard practices, or actual workplace regulations and laws? Are you being unfairly taken advantage of? Or, is the issue more of a pet peeve, a personality conflict, or just part of the job? In order to set accurate expectations for what’s reasonable in your line of work, you should get the lay of the land before you take the job. When a prospective employer offers you a position, find out how often you’ll be expected to work weekends/nights, and get a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will entail.
  • Do you plan on staying in this job long? If you think you’ll be in and out fairly quickly, it may be better to just put your head down and bide your time. If, however, you really like the job in general, and want to stay at the company for a long time, it’s likely worth addressing the issue.
  • Do you have cred? The more time you’ve spent on the job, the more value you bring to it, and the more influence you have, the more your opinion will be considered. There’s a greater likelihood your boss will listen to you, if you’re the kind of indispensable employee they don’t want to lose.

If your boss asks you to do something unreasonable, in a job you’d ideally like to keep for the duration, and you have some stroke, move forward with pushing back against the request.

Set expectations early on. For reasons just mentioned, if you’re asked to do something less-than-desirable early on in a job, you generally don’t want to raise a stink since you haven’t yet earned the cred to do so; people will just wonder, “Who does this uppity noob think he is?”

Even so, it’s a good idea to hedge your response and introduce the prospect of boundaries right off the bat. So if your boss asks you to work over the weekend, you can say, “There are weekends I won’t be able to work because of family obligations, but I can work this weekend.” Or, “Even though I don’t think my skill set is best suited to this kind of project, I can definitely take care of it this time.”

Then do the kind of quality, committed work that will increase your profile and value, and allow you to later erect the boundaries to which you’ve already alluded.

Schedule a meeting to talk about your issue. Let’s say your boss didn’t get the hint, and he keeps on making unreasonable requests of you. Once you’ve reached your personal “breaking point,” it’s time to talk to him or her. But don’t try to corner them in the hallway, and definitely don’t raise the issue during a team meeting; if there’s one thing bosses hate, it’s someone questioning their authority in front of other people. In a time of increasing social anxiety, you might also be tempted to broach the subject via email; if at all possible, don’t. It takes up more time, shows a lack of confidence, and compounds misunderstandings.

Instead, ask your supervisor if you can schedule a face-to-face meeting to talk to them. A one-on-one meeting will be less threatening, and allow your boss to give you their full attention. Simply say something like, “I was wondering if you had time today/this week for a quick meeting; I just had a few questions about your recent request/the new project.”

Go in calm. Having an angry demeanor, even one you’re doing your darndest to hide, will set off your boss’s flight-or-fight feelings and create defensiveness. Act completely calm and level-headed; aim for assertiveness — the mean between aggressiveness and passivity.

Ask for more information. At the heart of many conflicts between bosses and employees (and everyone else too!), is the assumption each person makes that they know everything about the other person’s side of things (and that their own side is objectively right). But there are always pieces missing in one’s understanding of another. So instead of going into your boss’ office to argue or prove a point, decide that you’re going to, as the authors of Difficult Conversations put it, explore each other’s stories. Make it a two-way discussion where you both get to share what you’re worried about and where you’re coming from.

Figure out possible gaps in your understanding of your manager’s perspective. You might say, “I’ve been wondering why I’ve been asked to work so much overtime lately, which hasn’t typically been the case,” and hear back, “Well, the truth is that a hiring freeze has been put in place until the new budget is worked out, which has left us short staffed. I’m sorry about that, but hope you can bear with it just a bit longer.” Or you may say, “I’ve been surprised by the number of drafts you’ve wanted on this document; it feels like you don’t trust my work on it,” and hear back, “I can understand that. But my own manager felt blindsided by the final proposal given to this client last time, and wants to know where we are in every phase of the project. If we don’t secure this account, we won’t make a profit in Q4.”

If there’s some idea you’re tasked with implementing that you’re unsure about, Difficult Conversations suggests saying something like:

I would very much like this initiative to succeed but don’t yet feel confident in my ability to pull it off. Specifically, it would help to spell out how we might answer a couple of the objections I can imagine coming our way. For example . . .

If you begin a line of dialogue like this, three things may happen:

  • In trying to explain the idea to you, your boss may discover some holes in it himself.
  • You’ll get an opportunity to gently raise follow-up questions like, “I understand X. But the part I’m having trouble understanding is Y. Can you tell me more about why you’ve decided to . . . ?”
  • You yourself may change your mind about the viability of the idea.

Share more information. Just as you may not be aware of parts of your boss’s side of things, he may not be aware of pieces of what’s happening on your end. Share those pieces.

“My wife has been working the night shift lately, so when I have to work nights too, we have to find a sitter for the kids.” “When I took this job, my understanding was that I’d be working on X kind of projects rather than Y.” “After the Z department got cut in half, I started getting the reports on Fridays instead of Tuesdays, which makes it hard for me to get my analysis to you by Monday morning.”

It’s easy to assume that your boss knows why something is important to you, but he may not; your problem looms extremely large because it’s your one big issue, but he may be juggling a dozen employees’ problems, as well as his own.

Frame your remarks in a way that affirms your boss’s status. Work with human psychology rather than against it. Humans are viscerally very, very protective of their status. So broach your issue with your boss in a way that acknowledges, rather than seems to override, his authority. The authors of Difficult Conversations give this example:

I know there are lots of factors you have to take into consideration, and at the end of the day, I’m onboard with whatever you decide. I just want to make sure that as you think about it, you are aware that . . .

Connect your concern to the boss’s benefit. To really change your boss’s mind about something, don’t center your concern on how their policy or request is affecting you personally, but instead connect it primarily to how it’s affecting their immediate or long-term bottom line. “When you check up on my work frequently, it’s harder for me to get into a productive flow, and the final product becomes less cohesive than it could be.” “I would really like to stay in this job for a long time, but the long hours are starting to make me feel burnt out.” “The current deadlines require me to rush to get the graphics done, making it harder to catch errors before they’re posted online.”

Offer concrete solutions — as a request. Go into your discussion with your boss with specific solutions to your concern. Make sure these solutions are apt to be mutually agreeable, and offer them in the form of a request. “I understand that extra hours need to be worked to get this project done on time. But would it be possible for me to work those overtime hours from home instead of the office?” “It would be more manageable for me to get you the reports on Tuesday instead of Monday. Would pushing the deadline back be possible on your end?” “Tim says he’s willing to work for me on Saturday. Is it okay if we swap shifts?”

Decide what to do if you can’t agree on a solution. If you and your boss can’t find a mutually agreeable option, you have to decide on what action to take next, based on your choices and alternatives: You can talk to HR. If the problem is affecting other employees, you can band together and address your boss as a group. If you need to keep the job at any cost, you can simply soldier on.

If you’re aren’t worried about keeping the job, then you can refuse to stand down and accept the consequences. Even if you go this route, the authors of Difficult Conversations argue that you should “explain why you are walking away. What interests and concerns are not met by the solutions you’ve been discussing?” They give a hypothetical scenario where an employee, Henry, has been asked by his boss, Rosario, to work the weekend, even though he made plans with friends, and gave her advance notice that he wouldn’t be available. After a discussion where Rosario rejected Henry’s proposed solutions to the dilemma, Henry still decides to take the weekend off. Nonetheless:

Rather than just storming out, Henry should be clear about his feelings, interests, and choices. He might say, ‘Rosario, I really am sorry. I want very much to be a good employee, and to help out when I can. Normally, I’m happy to work weekends and nights – I hope you’ve seen that in the past. It’s simply a matter of notice. I feel badly about leaving you in the lurch; at the same time, these plans are really important to me, and I gave you plenty of notice and worked hard all week so that I could go away. So I don’t like the choice, but given the choice, I’m going to go.

There’s no need to burn bridges if you don’t have to. Henry might get fired, but “as often as not, he may return to find Rosario is both unhappy and more respecting of him and his time.”

Bosses often already know when they’ve pushed past a line, and may apologize and change their approach once you’ve respectfully stood up to them.

If they don’t, you may need to be thinking about how long you want to work under them, and start making plans to find a new job.

Related Articles: 

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This futuristic airport-escalator can perform your security check as you stand on it

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We’ve all gone through that arduous, annoying process of passing through security check at the airport. It’s honestly a race against the clock, and against cluelessness. Do you take your belt off? Shoes? Okay, how do I time it perfectly so my suitcase gets scanned at the same time I get my body-scan done? Is that man trying to pick up my bag? The process, as streamlined as airports have tried to make it, is stressful, and the longer the line, the more the impatience. Charles Bombardier and Ashish Thulkar, however, believe they may have an answer to this problem.

Meet the Aerochk. It’s practically a security-checking kiosk and an escalator rolled into one. Getting yourself checked is simple. The escalator has two conveyor belts on each side. One for your passport, another for your bags. Keep your stuff ready and board the escalator. Your passport and luggage travels alongside you, and right at the end, you (and your stuff) pass through a security-booth that performs a scan on you. Multiple sensors scan your weight, your body, and your face to offset the manual scanning process done by humans. Simultaneously, the passport conveyor does a scan of your passport to match your details with you as a person, while also performing a background check to make sure your document is valid, and that you’re eligible for travel. The luggage conveyor also simultaneously scans your bags for any prohibited items, using a wide variety of sensors and cameras, spanning X-Ray, thermal imaging, spetrometric scanning, and even electronic noses like the Cumulus sensor. All these sensors tag your luggage as well as your passport to you as the individual, streamlining the entire process so that you don’t have to wait in line, moving inch by inch. Just stand on the Aerochk and it guides you through the entire security check procedure without you having to move a muscle. Once you’re out, you’re free to collect your luggage, validated passport, and your flight ticket. Easy peasy!

Designers: Charles Bombardier & Ashish Thulkar (Imaginactive)

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Ohio lawmaker tweets absolutely gorgeous PSA about teen vaping

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Ohio congresswoman Joyce Beatty made a really good point on Tuesday: You don’t need fat clouds to be radical.

This week, the state of Ohio launched an initiative called My Life, My Quit, which seeks to help teens quit using e-cigarettes and tobacco. Rep. Beatty (or a member of her staff) announced the new program via tweet — and her phrasing was truly some wild stuff. 

Here is what happened to me when I read this tweet: First, I felt my soul leave my body. My soul then rose to a false astral plane where a hazy Steve Buscemi stood before me, waving a skateboard in my face like a weapon. “How do you do, fellow kids?” he screamed. 

I also felt a strong and undeniable urge to vape — something I have never done before.

We can praise Rep. Beatty for one thing here: her use of the triple emoji. This is an underrated stylistic choice, one we can always get behind. Radical!

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One of Antarctica’s biggest glaciers will soon reach a point of irreversible melting. That would cause sea levels to rise at least 1.6 feet.

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  • Antarctica’s glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates. This rapid ice loss contributes to rising sea-levels.
  • In a new study, scientists found that the Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica will likely hit a point of irreversible melting, after which it will lose all of its ice over a period of 150 years.
  • If the entire Thwaites Glacier were to melt, it would raise sea levels by at least 1.5 feet.
  • Some experts warn that the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could trigger a chain reaction of melting that would raise sea levels by another 8 feet.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In western Antarctica, a glacier the size of Florida is losing ice faster than ever before.

Sections of the Thwaites Glacier are retreating by up to 2,625 feet per year, contributing to 4% of sea-level rise worldwide. That ice loss is part of a broader trend: The entire Antarctic ice sheet is melting nearly six times as fast as it did 40 years ago. In the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually. In the last decade, that number jumped to an average of 252 billion tons per year.

Now, authors of a new study report that over the last six years, the rate at which five Antarctic glaciers slough off ice has doubled. That makes the Thwaites Glacier a melting time bomb. 

The scientists reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the glacier poses the greatest risk to future sea-level rise and is likely marching towards an irreversible melting point.

"After reaching the tipping point, Thwaites Glacier could lose all of its ice in a period of 150 years," Hélène Seroussi, an author of the study and a NASA scientist, said in a press release. "That would make for a sea-level rise of about half a meter (1.64 feet)."

Alex Robel, another study author, added that if the glacier were to cross that Rubicon, nothing could stop the ice melt — even if Earth’s temperatures stopped rising.

"It will keep going by itself and that’s the worry," he said.

Why the Thwaites glacier may reach a tipping point

Thwaites Glacier cavity antarctica

The Thwaites Glacier is a large mass of ice born from snow that’s been compressed over time. It’s part of the Antarctic ice sheet — a large continental glacier that covers at least 20,000 square miles of land (about the surface area of the United States and Mexico combined).

Antarctica is ringed by a skirt of ice sheets and floating ice shelves that create a physical barrier between the ocean and the landlocked ice on the continent. These floating sheets "act like a dam," as Ross Virginia, director of Dartmouth College’s Institute of Arctic Studies, previously told Business Insider. The barrier prevents continental ice from flowing into the ocean, where it would melt and cause global sea levels to rise.

But as ocean temperatures increase, warmer water at the base of these ice sheets is leading them to melt from underneath. That melting gives rise to cavities: A nearly Manhattan-sized gap was discovered under the Thwaites Glacier in February. That cavity was large enough to have held 14 billion tons of ice.

Read More: There’s a cavity underneath Antarctica that’s two thirds the size of Manhattan — a sign ice sheets are melting faster than we thought

Every year, the portion of the Thwaites Glacier’s floating ice shelf that extends into the sea gets bigger as ocean water erodes its base. So scientists like Seroussi and Robel track Thwaites’ grounding line: the spot where the continental ice lifts off the ground and starts to float on the water. (Think of a spit of land that extends past a cliff’s edge into the air — it’s the same concept with glaciers, except instead of air, the ice is over water.)

That grounding line moved almost 9 miles between 1992 and 2011, according to a 2014 study; the farther inland the spot moves, the more likely it is that the glacier will melt.

What a melting Thwaites glacier means for sea levels

Together with Greenland’s ice sheet, Antarctica’s ice sheet contains more than 99% of the world’s fresh water.

Most of that water is frozen in masses of ice and snow that can be up to 10,000 feet thick. But as human activity sends more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the oceans absorb 93% of the excess heat those gases trap. The warm air and water is what’s causing ice sheets and glaciers to melt at unprecedented rates.

Seroussi said that Thwaites could reach its tipping point "in the next 200 to 600 years," after which it could lose all its ice. If the entire Thwaites Glacier melted, that would result in a worldwide sea-level rise of 1.64 feet, according to the recent study (though another study estimated the rise to be closer to 2 feet).

Thwaites Ice Shelf edge

But Thwaites prevents its neighbor glaciers from flowing into the ocean, too. So some other scientists think that if the entire Thwaites glacier were to collapse, it could destabilize surrounding glaciers on the Antarctic ice sheet as well.

If one goes, they could all go — and that chain-reaction would raise sea levels by an additional 8 feet.

SEE ALSO: Greenland is approaching the threshold of an irreversible melt, and the consequences for coastal cities could be dire

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NOW WATCH: A 1.1-trillion-ton iceberg broke off Antarctica, and scientists say it’s one of the largest ever recorded

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Just rotate this unbelievably simple world-clock and it shifts time zones!

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This Lexus Design Award winning clock goes to show that sometimes the solution to a problem can be just oh-so-simple. Ditching the idea that you need to have multiple clocks to tell the time in different time zones, Masafumi Ishikawa’s World Clock is just ridiculously simple. The clock comes with a dodecagonal (12-sided) form, and just an hour hand. Each face of the dodecagon has the name of a famous city, corresponding to a time zone, on it. Just face the city’s name up and the hour hand tells you what time it is there (you’d probably have to use your common sense to tell if it’s am or pm). The only catch is that the World Clock doesn’t work with daylight-saving time, given that not all countries follow the practice of turning their clocks back and forth.

As the hour hand rotates on an axis, the world clock’s form was designed to be rotated and placed on a surface. Change what face it rests on, and the hour hand points somewhere else. Ishikawa uses this rather simple fact to turn a regular clock into a world clock! Give it a try, you can turn your table clocks into world clocks too!

Designer: Masafumi Ishikawa

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Players have created over 2 million levels on ‘Super Mario Maker 2’

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Super Mario Maker 2 players are having a busy summer. Nintendo announced today that players have uploaded 2 million courses on the level creator since its worldwide release on June 28th. The highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch sequel to Super Mario Maker also lets users create courses that anyone can play, but with a world of assets and features not seen in the original. Players can choose between 100 Nintendo-designed levels or any of the levels created by other Mario fans.

Creating a course on Super Mario Maker 2 lets players experience what it’s like to be a game designer and is one of the game’s most unique features — so it’s no surprise that it’s taken off. One Canadian super fan has already rolled out a full 32-course game. Really, anyone can create a level — and if the number of uploads is any indication — everyone has tried. User-created levels can range from brilliant creations by world-class gamers to something your five-year-old cousin could beat in under 20 minutes. There’s a level inspired by the ‘Steamed Hams’ meme from The Simpsons and even one made by Arby’s.

Luckily, Super Mario Maker 2 has a way for players to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you go to the ‘Popular’ tab in the game’s online Course World, you can easily find the courses that are resonating the most with other players.

Source: Nintendo (Twitter)

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Mars crew could 3D-print skin and bones for injuries

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A journey to Mars will take several years, and humans won’t be able to turn back if an astronaut suffers a burn or a bone fracture. Which is why scientists at the University Hospital of Dresden Technical University have now produced the first bioprinted skin and bone samples for use in space. Even though treating patients with 3D-printed skin or bones is still in its early stages back on Earth, the technique is particularly vital in space, where the human body doesn’t heal as quickly.

"In the case of burns, for instance, brand new skin could be bioprinted instead of being grafted from elsewhere on the astronaut’s body, doing secondary damage that may not heal easily in the orbital environment," said Tommaso Ghidini, head of the division at the European Space Agency that oversees the project, in a statement.

Scientists were faced with the unique challenges of creating a technique that would still work in zero gravity. So, the team invented a method of 3D printing that would work while upside down. They thickened human blood plasma, which is used to bioprint skin cells, with plant material so it could work in altered gravity. To 3D print bones, they added calcium phosphate bone cement to printed human stem cells. The calcium phosphate works as a structure-supporting material, and is absorbed by the body as the bone grows.

The samples are just the first steps in a long journey to make this type of 3D printing ready for space. A self-contained spacecraft can only hold so much. The project is looking into what kind of onboard facilities would be needed, such as surgical rooms and equipment, for astronauts to perform the 3D bioprinting on their own. For a look at how the team at ESA were able to create the bioprinted skin and bone, take a look at the videos below.

Source: ESA

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