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The German military made some impressive technological strides during the Second World War. Foremost among them was the development of the V-2 missile that paved the way for the rockets that carried the first Americans into space. Another impressive technology developed during the War was the antipodal bomber conceived by Eugen Sänger. This manned precision bomber that could have destroyed American cities after launching from Europe never got off the ground, though it did enjoy a brief life as an American spin-off called Dyna-Soar, which, like its German predecessor, never flew.

During the 1930s, engineer Eugen Sänger and his mathematician wife Irene Bredt designed a boost-glide vehicle. This airplane-inspired vehicle was designed to launch from a ramp up into the stratosphere. From its apex, the glider would use its flat bottom to bounce off the atmosphere as it lost altitude, covering a greater distance than it would on a ballistic flight before landing on a runway.

Walter Dornberger

Sänger’s design failed to gain favour with his native Austria’s military, but the German Luftwaffe saw the potential in the boost-glide system. Not only did it mean developing a reliable liquid propulsion system that could have other applications, the weapon sized glider would be a fantastic precision bomber. Sänger was recruited by the Herman Göring Institute, the research branch of the Luftwaffe three years before the Second World War began; the German air force was keen to develop a rocket system separate from the Army’s that was based at Peenemünde under the direction of Walter Dornberger and Wernher von Braun.

The Luftwaffe set Sänger up in a well-funded laboratory in Trauen on Lüneburg Heath, close to the German military airport at Fassberg and less than 250 miles from Peenemünde. But Sänger’s program never reached the level of von Braun’s, and not long before the latter’s V-2 rocket program was granted high priority by Hitler the former’s lab was shut down. Sänger pressed on, writing a complete report on his skip-glide bomber system in 1944 titled “A Rocket Drive for Long Range Bombers.” A copy of this report made its way into Dornberger’s hands.

A wind tunnel model of Dyna-Soar

The first iteration of the American boost-glide system in early 1957 was aimed at developing a ‘piloted very high altitude weapons system.’ After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik that October, the boost-glide vehicle suddenly took on a secondary application: it could be a way for America to get a man in space.

In the post-Sputnik frenzy, the USAF formally invited the NACA to join what was then called the ‘multipurpose manned bomber’ program. This partnership led to a division of labour with each organization doing what it did best. The NACA would design and develop the most aerodynamically sound vehicle and the Air Force would add the weapons. The partnership survived the NACA’s transition into NASA making the skip-glide vehicle one of the space agency’s first research vehicles.

An artist’s concept of Dyna-Soar in orbit

The multipurpose manned hypersonic bomber program lived on but was affected by ongoing revisions. In February of 1959, developing the bombardment system became the primary goal over non-military applications. In April, developing a suborbital hypersonic flight system with an eye towards future orbital flights took precedence. In May, objectives were reversed back and developing the military potential of the boost-glide system once again took centre stage. These changes all happened before contracts to build the vehicle were finally awarded that November. Boeing won the bid to build the hypersonic glider and the Martin Company won the contract to build its launch vehicle. Boeing also named the vehicle Dyna-Soar to reflect its dynamic soaring flight profile.

Research progressed in 1960 to the point that the Dyna-Soar was okayed as an eventual orbital spacecraft. The Department of Defence also jumped into the program around this time, officially offering its financial support for Dyna-Soar’s development, prompting the USAF to accelerate the glider’s development timeline. DOD interest increased after Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in April of 1961; it awarded the USAF $100 million (which is a little more than $720 million in 2010 dollars) for the Dyna-Soar’s development for fiscal year 1962.

An artist’s concept of Dyna-Soar’s launch

Dyna-Soar began taking shape in the second half of 1961 with a mockup built at Boeing’s plant in Seattle. But another program redefinition posed a threast. Air Force General Bernard A. Schriever directed a study into Dyna-Soar’s military capabilities and concluded that the program’s two goals should be separated, that the military version be developed separately from the spaceflight version. More trouble came early in 1962 when the Air Force cancelled the long-term Dyna-Soar aim of multi-orbital manned missions as well as all future military Dyna-Soar flights. This meant that by March, Dyna-Soar was little more than a research program, data from which may or may not inform future spacecraft programs. It joined the growing line of experimental X-planes, taking on the second moniker of X-20.

Unfortunately for Dyna-Soar, NASA’s success with blunt-bodied capsules during the Mercury program and the commitment to take the same basic spacecraft to the Moon meant there wasn’t a place for for the boost-glide type of vehicle in the spaceflight landscape. As 1963 wore on, Dyna-Soar lost what little momentum it had left. The program was officially cancelled on December 10, 1963.

_Sources: Dyna-Soar Hypersonic Strategic Weapons System compiled by Robert Goodwin; “Man in Space: U.S. Air Force Manned Space Projects” from Spacecraft Films; “Sänger: Germany’s Orbital Rocket Bomber in World War II” by David Myhra; “A Rocket Drive for Long Range Bombers” by E. Sanger and I. Bredt, trans my M. Hamermesh. Want the even more detailed version of the Dyna-Soar story? Check out this old blog post for lots more! _

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Eng’s Xue Han Named Pew Scholar

ENG’s Xue Han Named Pew Scholar Brain researcher builds tools with pulses of light

ENG assistant professor, Xue Han was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts for her research into developing tools to study cognitive functions. Photo by Cydney Scott

A notoriously shrinking nationwide research funding market is making it increasingly difficult to secure grants for innovative research. But for the third time in two years, the efforts of a College of Engineering assistant professor of biomedical engineering to make better tools to study the brain have been rewarded.

In March 2011, Xue Han won a 2011 Sloan Research Fellowship, which provides $50,000 in research support over two years. Last August, she was chosen for one of three Peter Paul Fellowships, which give promising BU junior faculty members $40,000 annually for three years to pursue their research.

And today, Han, who uses pulses of light to control brain cells and discern their influence on attention, memory, and decision-making, was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The award brings $240,000 over four years and will help Han expand her work.

Han’s research uses light to activate or silence individual brain cells for a matter of milliseconds, enabling her and her team to identify connections between those cells and specific behaviors. The researchers hope to learn, for example, which cells in the prefrontal cortex trigger successful actions and which spark dysfunctional behavior. Understanding disorders at the neural circuits level could yield new drugs and other therapeutic approaches to a wide spectrum of ailments, including attention deficit disorders, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. At this stage, however, Han’s goal is developing tools to study cognitive functions.

The latest award will help her “develop better technology to interpret the brain with more precision,” she says. “The brain is very complicated. There are many angles to studying it. At this point, our research is basic, and treatments that might use it are far away.”

Solomon R. Eisenberg, an ENG professor and chair of the biomedical engineering department, says Han’s work “represents an exciting new frontier” that “helps add to the cache of neuroscience and neuroengineering within the biomedical engineering department and among the interdisciplinary neuro-based initiatives at BU.”

In fact, both the early stage and the potential payoff of Han’s research worked in her favor during Pew’s selection process. “We encourage high-risk, high-reward projects,” says Anita Pepper, manager of the Pew Scholars program. “To us, it’s not about seeing results tomorrow. It’s about what she’s done for the field and where that might lead 15 years down the line.”

The Pew prize recognizes promising young scientists who have served no more than three years at the assistant professor level and are involved in cutting-edge research. Han is one of 22 recipients of the award this year, selected from 134 nominations. Winners had to go through three rounds of reviews conducted by 16 top scientists, among them two Nobel laureates.

Han is BU’s second Pew Biomedical Scholar, joining Mark Grinstaff, an ENG professor of biomedical engineering and a College of Arts & Sciences professor of chemistry, who was honored in 1999.

Born in China, Han earned a BS in biophysics from Beijing University and a PhD in physiology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She’s been a member of ENG’s biomedical engineering faculty since July 2010.

Explore Related Topics:

Top 10 Accounts Hackers Target The Most

Online privacy experts say Facebook, Instagram and Spotify are the most commonly hacked account types in the United States. 

Hackers use leaked credentials to break into accounts or steal login details via phishing emails. 

Businesses can secure their accounts with strong passwords, multifactor authentication, password managers and VPNs. 

This article is for business owners and IT administrators who want to secure their accounts and increase overall cybersecurity. 

Few things are scarier for a business than learning an account has been hacked. A compromised account can quickly balloon into a massive problem involving data breaches or even business closures. 

Hackers have clear favorites when targeting accounts – and employ various techniques to breach them. Fortunately, businesses can take measures to boost account security and protect their vital data, including customer information. We’ll discuss the 10 most commonly targeted account types and share best practices for securing all your business accounts. 

Top 10 accounts hackers target

Like most theft, cybercrime is heavily focused on opportunity versus payoff. While hacking a bank account may be highly profitable, it is typically much better protected than other accounts. Instead, hackers will target a range of accounts that may not be immediately profitable but still have significant worth if exploited correctly. 

According to a VPN Central study, here are the most commonly attacked account types: 

Facebook accounts: Facebook accounts were the most commonly hacked account type in the United States by a wide margin. The study found that Google hacking-related searches for Facebook accounts numbered 67,940 on average per month.

Instagram accounts: The second most-hacked account was Instagram, with 36,220 searchers on average per month.

Spotify accounts: Spotify rounded out the top three, with 25,920 hacking-related searches conducted per month.

Twitch accounts: Twitch was in fourth place, with 10,800 average monthly searches.

Amazon accounts: Amazon took fifth place, with 6,170 average monthly searches.

Snapchat accounts: Snapchat landed in sixth place, with 6,100 average monthly searches.

Coinbase accounts: Coinbase followed Snapchat closely to reach seventh place, with 5,900 average monthly searches.

Twitter accounts: Twitter took eighth place, with 5,190 average monthly searches.

Gmail accounts: Gmail accounts were in ninth place, with 4,920 average monthly searches.

Microsoft accounts: Microsoft rounded out the top 10, with 4,000 average monthly searches.

Facebook’s preeminence as the most targeted account type isn’t surprising. Facebook is extremely popular in the U.S., with 239 million users in 2023. Such popularity significantly increases the gross number of accounts vulnerable to malicious compromise. Facebook’s integrations with Facebook Pay and general business Facebook uses mean hackers can find considerable value in taking over accounts. 

This rationale largely holds true across all the most targeted accounts. Instagram’s business uses are powerful, while Twitter for business and Snapchat for business are growing in popularity, making them attractive hacker targets. Additionally, if your Amazon store or Amazon Business account is compromised, hackers can use your credentials to purchase high-ticket items. And Gmail and Microsoft accounts can provide access to broader company networks, leading to additional compromises. 

Tip

To recover from a data breach, hire a forensic expert to analyze the damage, talk to a lawyer specializing in data security breaches, inform the affected parties and implement robust security measures to prevent future attacks.

Everyday actions that lead to compromised accounts

Hackers compromise accounts in myriad ways. While some tactics may be as simple as getting lucky and guessing a weak password, other actions can be more involved. 

Cybersecurity studies have pinpointed the most common causes of compromised accounts: 

Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report: According to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, stolen credentials were the top cause of data breaches, as attackers compromise accounts using leaked login information. Login information is often compromised when account holders use the same email and password combinations across numerous accounts. Once login details for one account are leaked, hackers can often use this information in their other accounts. 

IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report: IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report also found compromised or stolen credentials to be the primary initial vector through which hackers can breach accounts, cited in 19 percent of all cases. Phishing (16 percent) and cloud misconfiguration (15 percent) were the second and third most common initial attack vectors. While an average user can’t do much to secure their accounts against a business’s cloud misconfiguration, everyone should learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails designed to steal credentials.   

Other typical sources of account compromise include the following: 

Weak passwords: Using common or weak passwords, such as “password” or “123456,” can compromise accounts. These passwords are easily guessable by humans, and hacking software can break into accounts using these passwords in a matter of seconds.

Unsecured Wi-Fi networks: Logging in to accounts on unsecured or public Wi-Fi networks is also dangerous. Hackers can set up malicious, lookalike public Wi-Fi networks that record user data, including login credentials.

Malware: Specific types of malware can record a user’s activity and send it to a hacker, including any typed passwords or websites visited.

Unsafe password storage: Storing passwords in an unencrypted file or cloud storage account can be dangerous. If a hacker can access this file, they will have complete knowledge of every account login. 

Did You Know?

Signs your computer is infected by malware include poor performance, unexpected pop-up windows, strange sounds, and unexplained file and folder changes.

How compromised accounts can impact a small business

Account compromise can cause more than an inconvenience for a small business. While some accounts are quickly recovered, the compromise can last for a significant amount of time on other occasions – often without the account owner’s awareness. 

Depending on the compromise’s length and severity, a business could face a range of consequences, including the following: 

Compromised accounts reduce productivity. One compromised account can lead to business productivity losses, depending on the account’s importance and how long it takes to recover control of the account.

Compromised accounts may be lost entirely. Hackers may compromise a trusted business account, particularly on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, to distribute spam or malware. In such cases, the platform may permanently suspend the account. This can be particularly painful for businesses that have invested significant time to earn followers or rely on high social media engagement levels.

Compromised accounts can cause lost sales. Compromised accounts related to sales or payments can cause financial distress. The business may struggle to reclaim the account or find new workaround methods to conduct operations. Business or system downtime could also cause customers to go to a competitor.

Compromised accounts can damage a business’s reputation. A significant or highly public account compromise can cause long-lasting reputational damage. For instance, losing a high-profile Twitter or Facebook account to hackers could make a brand seem untrustworthy.

Compromised accounts can lead to more account compromises. Sophisticated hackers who compromised one business account may use that as a stepping stone to compromise additional accounts in a business.

Compromised accounts leave the network vulnerable. If a hacker manages to compromise an internal account, such as a Microsoft account, they could use this intrusion to try to compromise a business’s entire network.

Compromised accounts can lead to lost money. Hackers could use compromised accounts to access financial accounts or payment systems. This could lead to significant financial losses, along with the costs associated with system repair and potential downtime.

Compromised accounts can cause prolonged business disruption. Hackers may also deploy ransomware on a target’s network, encrypting all business data and causing significant downtime, losses and system recovery costs. According to Statista, ransomware attacks led to an average of 20 days of system downtime in the fourth quarter of 2023. 

Compromised accounts can lead to sensitive information theft. In severe cases, hackers could use a compromised account to conduct a data breach. Hackers may steal sensitive intellectual property, customer information or other valuable data. For businesses with fewer than 500 employees, a joint study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute found the average cost of a data breach was $2.98 million.

Compromised accounts can create regulatory or legal consequences. Depending on the type of information breached, businesses may have to pay regulatory fines. For instance, the breach of any personal information belonging to EU citizens could lead to fines through the GDPR. Likewise, a breach of payment card data could lead to fines due to noncompliance with PCI. 

Compromised accounts can cause business closure. In a worst-case scenario, account compromise could lead to business closure due to significant reputational damage and loss of sales, financial theft, or high costs due to regulatory and legal fines, ransoms, or data recovery costs.

Did You Know?

Account compromises and data breaches can happen to businesses of any size, not just big players. According to the Verizon data breach report, at least 14 percent of recorded data breaches affected SMBs. That number is likely even higher because 81 percent of data breaches affected companies of unknown size.

How to protect your accounts from hackers

While account compromise can lead to significant business disruptions, a small business can take numerous concrete steps to increase its overall security. Consider the following best practices: 

Use strong passwords. Mandate the use of unique, strong passwords throughout your organization.

Store passwords with password managers. Instead of storing passwords in text files or using easy-to-remember passwords, use password managers to generate and store unique passwords for each account.

Use multifactor authentication. Use multifactor authentication (MFA) on all accounts whenever possible. MFA requires a second level of authentication to log in to an account, such as a code sent to your phone or a biometric element like a fingerprint.

Use a VPN. Have your team use a VPN (virtual private network) when using public Wi-Fi or accessing work accounts outside the office.

Stay updated. Regularly update your apps and operating system. Regular updates can help prevent attackers from using discovered vulnerabilities to hack into an account.

Train your employees in cybersecurity. Host regular cybersecurity training sessions for all employees. In particular, educate employees about how to spot and avoid phishing emails.

Change passwords regularly. Change passwords across accounts on a regular schedule. If you learn that an account that shares a password with other accounts has been compromised, immediately change passwords on all accounts.

Monitor accounts for suspicious activity. If you notice anything suspicious, immediately contact the platform, use its security features to log out of the account in all locations, and immediately change the account’s password. 

Tip

Poor access management can lead to data breaches. Create a robust access management policy by taking a zero-trust approach, auditing employee accounts and staying on top of compliance regulations.

Business security through account security

Accounts – particularly public-facing accounts like social media or email – can be a cybersecurity weak spot for businesses. These accounts are easy for hackers to spot and target. 

While most account compromise attempts don’t lead to catastrophic scenarios, sophisticated hackers can exploit account access and cause tremendous damage to a business. Fortunately, by following the outlined cybersecurity steps, businesses can go a long way toward protecting their accounts and overall business security. 

Which Are The Most Important Retail E

Real-world data shows the most crucial sources of traffic for e-commerce websites

E-commerce/online retail is a booming sector. But because the latest marketing techniques change so rapidly, it can be tricky to keep up with the latest trends whilst also keeping your feet on the ground.

Datareportal’s 2023 global overview shows that search engines and social networks are the 2 biggest sources for self-reported online brand research. But how are users navigating to e-commerce websites?

B2C top traffic sources

Hubspot’s 2023 user survey, compiled by 400+ users, primarily of B2C audiences, demonstrates a mixed bag in terms of traffic attribution.

The biggest question mark is a sizable chunk of 22% direct traffic, which could include:

‘Dark’ social (untrackable social shares)

Bookmarked traffic

Direct links from pdfs, shared documents, or other non-trackable sources

But interestingly, after direct, we see the next top 2 website traffic sources, organic and social, mirroring the report above.

One benefit of our RACE Growth System is that you can use data to monitor your customers’ experiences of your brand during each stage of your marketing funnel. So you can quickly identify which channels or experiences you want to optimize to achieve your goals.

We have dedicated modules focusing on improving reach, interaction, conversion, and engagement for search traffic, social, email, and more, as part of your 90-day marketing strategy action plan.

Create your 90-day plan with the RACE Growth System

Download your free RACE Growth System guide today and unlock our three-step plan of Opportunity, Strategy and Action to grow your business.

Download guide Traffic sources for different types of e-commerce website

If you’re looking for traffic breakdown data segmented by type of website, you might want to take a look at Wolfgang Digital’s E-commerce 2023 KPI report, based on data from their European and US-based international clients. This giant KPI report took over 2 years to complete and is yet to be rivaled as a global source for e-commerce traffic statistics.

It’s based on an analysis of over 250 million website sessions and over €500 million in online revenue over the 12 months from July 2023 to June 2023.

The data clearly shown the importance of paid and organic search marketing which account for over 50% of retail visits. Interestingly, retailers without a physical presence seem to struggle more with generating organic search, relying on paid search more heavily than any other type of retailer.

Email marketing and social media are surprisingly low in comparison – they may be under-represented depending on how well tracking of these channels has been set up in their retail clients.

Paid and organic search are also important for retail sales, but referrals from other sites i.e. including affiliate marketing are lower here.

B2C social media growth

The growth of social commerce, highlighted in our 2023 social commerce trends, demonstrates a new way for customers to interact with brands. Marketers investing in in-app experiences may see a decline in actual website traffic, but if done right social commerce UX will help increase sales from other pipelines.

Create your 90-day plan with the RACE Growth System

Download your free RACE Growth System guide today and unlock our three-step plan of Opportunity, Strategy and Action to grow your business.

Download guide 2024  data overview

Yotpo collated data from 65 million ecommerce orders representing $2 billion dollars in transactions over 120,000 ecommerce stores and established what the industry average is for digital media.

The results make for slightly surprising reading. On the face of things, Social makes up a healthy 6%, but this is still a relatively small slice of the overall pie. Paid makes up 5%, which leaves considerable room for growth, whilst email makes up a rather small 3%. The email figure is down to the data source – if you take a look at the Custora data on what influences sales it gives a different picture showing the importance of email to Ecommerce. It would be interesting to see the conversion rates by traffic, as it may be that referrals from emails are on the site because they’ve decided to purchase, whilst those from other sources may be more likely to be there to browse or research. I was slightly surprised that search didn’t make up a larger share since it is how most customers generally start their buying journey. Investing in better content marketing efforts could be more than worth it for many ecommerce stores, if done well it will attract quality links and boost SEO.

Relying too much on one source of traffic leaves you exposed to risks, just because a channel is fantastic for generating traffic today doesn’t mean it will continue to be. Some sites lost out when Panda put penalties on certain SEO linking practices. Others lost out when Facebook decided to massively restrict organic reach. If your site had relied exclusively on one of these sources of traffic then the changes will have put you in some serious trouble.

The best way to avoid these risks is by hedging your bets by acquiring your traffic from a considerable variety of sources. But what is a good variety? That’s where the data comes in.

Direct

The big surprise in many ways is how large a proportion of traffic comes from direct. 40% of traffic came from direct, which accounts for more ecommerce traffic than any other single source. Direct in theory is the people who have typed in the URL directly to their browser, but in reality, it means anyone who arrives at the site from a source that cannot be tracked. The source of this traffic is generally links that have been sent to friends/colleagues and then copied and pasted into web browsers. Traffic of this kind is generally referred to as ‘dark social’, as it is comprised of links that are shared socially, but cannot be tracked. This means ‘dark social’ actually accounts for a considerable percentage of direct traffic.

Dark Social

By its very nature, it is difficult to accurately account for what percentage of your direct traffic is actually ‘dark social’. However with direct accounting for 40% of ecommerce traffic, it seems likely dark social is making up a large proportion of the total. A general rule of thumb is that for every three people reaching your site via social, a further 7 will be arriving from ‘dark social’, which will appear as direct. If this is true for ecommerce traffic then dark social accounts for half of all the direct traffic, which is 20% of the total traffic. This makes dark social the 3rd largest source of ecommerce traffic by a considerable margin. Bear that mind when designing your landing pages and crafting the copy for your social shares. Social is probably more important to your bottom line than you think.

Other statistics on the most popular traffic sources and media channels for retailers?

If you’re not aware of it the excellent Custora Ecommerce Pulse shows orders by channel and is also of interest for retailers to benchmark against. This is the latest data in 2024 compared to 2024.

It’s a compilation showing traffic or media sources from some of the top US retail sites which drive sales.

What channels draw the most engaged traffic?

How important is mobile?

Mobile has been a buzz word in digital for several years now, to the point where it seems almost outdated to talk about how important it is as everyone should know by now. Mobile now makes up the majority of visits across the web, but this is not the case for ecommerce. Because of the fiddly nature of payment forms, mobile accounts for slightly over 1/3rd of all ecommerce visits. If your rate of mobile traffic is lower than this it might be worth seeing if your site needs further optimisation for mobile. Responsive design should be your first priority, and if this is already in place then it may be worth a bit of user testing to see if the customer journey is as smooth on mobile as it is on desktop.

The 9 Most Important Security Innovations Of The Year

Knightscope K3: Autonomous Robot Mall Cop

Robotic guards already patrol empty lots at night, but navigating constantly changing indoor environments is trickier. The 4.3-foot-tall K3 robot uses multiple lidars (the laser range-finders on self-driving cars) and other sensors to build live maps and find its way around shopping malls, offices, and server farms. Soon this R2D2 of building security will get facial-recognition to compare suspects to a database of people it knows. For hire from $7/hour

Metasensor’s Sensor-1: Motion Sensors for Your Stuff

Most object trackers can help you find something you’ve already lost. The Sensor-1 lets you know when you’re about to lose it. Armed with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, the quarter-size device alerts you to your gadget’s slightest movement. Connected to a phone or other device via Bluetooth, the trackers can catch snooping houseguests or stop laptop thieves while you’re getting a latte. $79

Scott Safety’s Scott Sight: Firefighter Super Vision

Hand-held thermal cameras have guided firefighters through smoke-filled buildings since the ’90s. Scott Sight moves the camera and display into a face mask, freeing first responders’ hands for more important things, like saving lives. $1,875

Roost Smart Battery: Not Just a Battery

Downed smoke detectors lead to almost 900 fire-related deaths a year. Roost’s Wi-Fi-enabled 9-volt battery will alert you when it’s about to die—no more annoying chirps. Plugged into any old smoke detector, Roost sends alerts to a companion smartphone app if the alarm goes off while you’re away. It can also talk to other smart-home gadgets, so it can carry out tasks like automatically unlocking the front door for firefighters. $35

Broadband Discovery’s Ronin, An Eagle-Eyed Checkpoint

Last December, New Orleans Saints fans passed between pylons embedded with security scanners that work faster and are more thorough than ordinary metal detectors. Adapted from military checkpoints, Ronin uses magnetic and pulse-induction sensors, which record minute changes in a magnetic field, to spot contraband and weapons. By reducing the need for pat-downs, Ronin could make lines at public venues move up to five times faster.

Red Balloon Symbiote Defense, Universal Anti-Virus

The more gadgets we put online, the more backdoors we give hackers into our data. The Symbiote Defense software protects anything—from printers to cars—regardless of their operating system. The program can spot malicious activity and remove threats continually. Developed with support from DARPA and Homeland Security, Symbiote debuted on HP printers this past fall, and more devices will roll out next year.

DARPA and Office of Naval Research: Sea Hunter, The Military’s First Drone Ship

The Sea Hunter warship is probably big enough for a human crew, but it doesn’t need one. It’s the armed force’s first ship designed to autonomously patrol the sea in search of submarines—a task too vast and tedious for even a ship full of trained human sailors. Sea Hunter‘s custom navigation algorithms ensure the 132-foot-long craft obeys maritime right-of-way rules to avoid collisions with other vessels. If a two-year trial is successful, the Navy might consider developing drone ships for other tasks, such as deactivating unexploded mines.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID, Unhackable Print Scanner

Hackers have shown they can trick common biometric scanners with faked fingerprints. The SenseID sensor makes that nearly impossible. It ultrasonically scans a fingerprint’s depth, reading a detailed 3D map of every nook, cranny, and pore.

Read about the other Best of What’s New winners from the November/December 2024 issue of Popular Science.

The Most Amazing Images Of The Week, January 9

A Japanese robot called the Babyloid (a name so close to making sense in English but still falling a touch short) is designed to be cute. That cuteness, which manifests in its appearance, its reactions to stimuli, and its giant button face that’s so cute you just want to eat it all up, is supposed to be helpful to depressed elderly folk. Read more at FastCoDesign

This week, in the midst of the Consumer Electronics Show, the Detroit Auto Show, and the 219th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, we were inundated with pictures. The most exciting gadgets, the hottest cars, and the most humbling, beautiful space pics all showed up this week. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also take time and look at adorable Japanese robot…things. Or frogs so tiny they can comfortably hang out on the surface of a dime.

Pope, Cuban Crocodile. Cuban Crocodile, Pope

This is a picture of the Pope meeting a rare baby Cuban crocodile. If you need more context, you can find it here, but really, the picture kind of says it all.

Therapeutically Cute

A Japanese robot called the Babyloid (a name so close to making sense in English but still falling a touch short) is designed to be cute. That cuteness, which manifests in its appearance, its reactions to stimuli, and its giant button face that’s so cute you just want to eat it all up, is supposed to be helpful to depressed elderly folk. Read more at FastCoDesign.

Carnival Photography

Photographer Pep Ventosa was honored in the Prix de la Photographie – Paris competition for this image of a carnival swing, shot dozens of times and rendered as a composite. [via Gizmodo]

Quick Chill

One of our favorite products at the gadget-centric Consumer Electronics Show this past week wasn’t a phone, tablet, TV, or camera. It was a fridge. But no ordinary fridge: LG’s crazy new top-of-the-line fridge has a blast chiller to cool a can of beer down from room temperature in only five minutes with a mesmerizing rocking motion. Read more here, and check out the rest of our CES coverage here.

Bugster?

Our own Seth Fletcher, who attended the Detroit Auto Show at which this Volkswagen E Bugster concept car was shown, says there’s “no reason to believe” VW will ever actually build the all-electric two-seater convertible, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want one, like, right now. See more from the best of Detroit here.

Sit on a Dime

A native of New Guinea, the newly-discovered Paedophryne amauensis frog has been crowned the smallest known vertebrate in the world. It’s sitting on a dime there. A dime. Read more about the frog (and listen to its adorable tiny squeaks) here.

Space Station, Moon

We’ve never seen an image quite like this: the International Space Station flying in the skies over Houston, in the same shot as the moon. See it bigger here.

A Better Russian Spy

Russian civilian Lana Sator has got to be one of the ballsiest people on the planet. She snuck into the Energomash factories outside of Moscow, in which is built not just high-priority equipment like the Soyuz rocket but also Russian military gear, and just wandered around taking pictures. Apparently it took little more than a couple of hopped fences to get in. Read more here.

Photography Guts

We love taking things apart, or even just seeing things taken apart, and we love seeing how they work. So we’re really into the gallery our friends at Popular Photography put together, showing the insides of all kinds of camera gear from the floor of CES this year. Check it out here.

Revitalizing Pool

Czech designers/engineers Ondrej Lipensky and Andrea Kubna proposed a pretty amazing idea for the Vltava, the Czech Republic’s longest river. The Vltava is highly polluted, but rapidly becoming a valuable area for real estate. This design proposes a giant floating pool structure, equipped with a 9,000-foot pool, saunas, steam rooms, and other water-related niceties. But the structure itself is actually outfitted with membranes to clean the river itself. Read more at Treehugger.

Milky Way, Enlarged

At the 219th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, which also happened this week, some of the world’s prettiest space pics were shown off and oohed and aahed over. (We have thoughtfully collected many of them for your enjoyment.) This particular one is a view of a huge swath of the Milky Way, cobbled together from several other images.

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