PBS NewsHour


Can you be hacked by the world around you?

PBS NewsHour

A man takes part in a hacking contest during the Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on July 29, 2017. You've probably been told it's dangerous to open unexpected attachment files in your email – just like you shouldn't open suspicious packages in your mailbox. But have you been warned against scanning unknown QR codes or just taking a picture with your phone? New research suggests that cyberattackers could exploit cameras and sensors in phones and other devices. As someone who researches 3-D modeling, including assessing 3-D printed objects to be sure they meet quality standards, I'm aware of being vulnerable to methods of storing malicious computer code in the physical world.


A mother uses a similar tone with babies, no matter the language

PBS NewsHour

As part of the study, a mother plays with her child at the Princeton Baby Lab. Mothers across languages change the timbre of their voice in similar ways when they speak to babies, Princeton University neuroscientists report today in the journal Current Biology. Timbre is the flavor of music and speech. Timbre is what makes sound distinct: It's why you can tell a violin from a guitar even if they are playing the same note, or Bob Dylan from Jimi Hendrix even if they are both singing "All Along the Watchtower." Timbre is tied to the physical structure of the object producing the sound.


Why some doctors are questioning Trump's new birth control rules

PBS NewsHour

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration's new birth control rule is raising questions among some doctors and researchers, who say it overlooks known benefits of contraception while selectively citing data that raise doubts about effectiveness and safety. "This rule is listing things that are not scientifically validated, and in some cases things that are wrong, to try to justify a decision that is not in the best interests of women and society," said Dr. Hal Lawrence, CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a professional society representing women's health specialists. Two recently issued rules -- one addressing religious objections and the other, moral objections -- allow more employers to opt out of covering birth control as a preventive benefit for women under the Obama health care law. Although the regulations ultimately address matters of individual conscience and religious teaching, they also dive into medical research and scholarly studies on birth control. It's on the science that researchers are questioning the Trump administration.


Trump: If Tillerson called me a moron, we should 'compare IQ tests'

PBS NewsHour

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump suggested he's smarter than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying in an interview published Tuesday that if Tillerson did call him a moron, as reported, the two should "compare IQ tests." "And I can tell you who is going to win," Trump said to Forbes magazine. An NBC News story claimed Vice President Mike Pence had to talk Tillerson out of resigning this summer, and that Tillerson had called Trump a "moron." Tillerson said he never considered resigning, though he didn't directly address the reported insult. His spokeswoman later said he never used such language.


The odd swimming style of plesiosaurs decoded by a robot

PBS NewsHour

The plesiosaur is long extinct, but thanks to a biomechanical engineer, it has been reincarnated -- as a robot. This new so-called "robosaur" reveals the secret behind the animal's odd but powerful swimming style, which could inspire alternatives to boat and submarine propellers. Scientists have speculated over the swimming ability of plesiosaurs for decades. Long-necked and round-bodied, the plesiosaur lived 203 million years ago during the age of dinosaurs, but it was a marine reptile, more closely related to lizards and snakes. "There has been no other animal that swims like this, ever," Luke Muscutt, a biomechanical engineer at the University of Southampton in the U.K., told NewsHour.


Are big tech companies trying to control our lives?

PBS NewsHour

HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: Tech giants are increasingly under scrutiny from politicians, regulators and experts on the left and the right. Some are concerned about their growing power, even calling them monopolies. And the tension keeps building, whether over privacy, politics or the displacement of workers by automation. We, too, at the NewsHour have worked and collaborated with Facebook, Google and many other new media businesses. Economics correspondent Paul Solman has a conversation for his weekly series, Making Sense.


How Pittsburgh is test driving tech to make your commute smarter

PBS NewsHour

HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: Can robotics and artificial intelligence help improve that rush hour commute you're facing? Experts at Carnegie Mellon University think they can by monitoring traffic flow in real time. Jeffrey Brown has the story from Pittsburgh, part of our weekly series on the Leading Edge of science and technology. JEFFREY BROWN: You know the frustration. You're late for work or to pick up your child.


How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings

PBS NewsHour

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we continue our special series on Rethinking College with a look at graduate students who pay little or even nothing for a top 10 master's degree program. HARI SREENIVASAN: It's graduation day, and these two students are earning their computer science master's degree from a top 10 program in the country. But it's the first time they have ever visited campus. VANESSA ANDERSON, Graduate: This whole experience was very surreal. This is my first time on campus, being here.


Are we on the brink of a jobless future?

PBS NewsHour

MILES O'BRIEN: We're going to get a better picture tomorrow of how strong job creation is when the monthly employment report comes out. But whatever that snapshot looks like, there are concerns about the rise of robotics and automation, and what that means for the future of the work force. Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has been exploring that subject. PAUL SOLMAN: In Silicon Valley, author Vivek Wadhwa says he already lives in the future. OK, so, your car can open the garage door and greet you in the driveway?


In the Persian Gulf, Iran's drones pose rising threat to U.S.

PBS NewsHour

ABOARD THE USS NIMITZ -- High above the Persian Gulf, an Iranian drone crosses the path of American fighter jets lining up to land on the USS Nimitz. The drone buzzes across the sky more than a mile above the massive aircraft carrier and is spotted by the fighters. But for the senior Navy commanders on the ship, the presence of the enemy drone so close is worrying. Their biggest fear is the surveillance aircraft will start carrying weapons, posing a more direct threat to U.S. vessels transiting one of the world's most significant strategic and economic international waterways. "It's just a matter of time before we see that," said Navy Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of the carrier strike group that includes the Nimitz.