STLR Link Roundup – Feb. 21, 2016

Apple CEO Opposes Court Order to Help FBI Unlock San Berndaino Shooter’s iPhone

On Tuesday, February 16, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to investigators seeking to read the data on an iPhone 5C used by Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the San Bernadino shootings. Such assistance would include disabling the phone’s auto-erase function, which automatically erases all of the phone’s data after 10 consecutive unsuccessful password guesses. Apple is opposing the order. “The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement on Tuesday. “But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” which Cook fears could set “a troubling precedent.” However, Apple has unlocked iPhones for law enforcement authorities at least 70 times since 2008, so some are claiming that the opposition is more of a public relations move than an actual stance on privacy.

Should Parents Let Their Kids Play Football?

In his recent New York Times op-ed article, Doctor Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, CA, urged parents to not to allow their children to play high-impact contact sports. Dr. Omalu’s advice his based on his extensive studies of young athletes who have suffered repeated blows to the head while playing high-impact sports such as hockey, football, and martial arts. In 2002, Dr. Omalu first discovered a disease now known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is irreversible brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning. CTE is linked to major depression, memory loss, suicidal thought and actions, and loss of intelligence. CTE has also been linked to drug and alcohol abuse and dementia later in life. The risk of permanent brain damage is heightened by the fact that the brain, unlike most other organs, does is unable to cure itself. Humans are born with a born with a certain number of neurons and only lose them; they do not create new neurons to replenish old or dying ones. The question remains whether parents should stop their children from playing high-impact sports altogether, or whether innovations in concussion-related technology can reduce the risk.

Zebra Stripes Aren’t for Camouflage, According to Science

The theory that zebra’s stripes are for camouflage never really made sense. How exactly were these distinct black-and-white stripes supposed to make zebras “harder to see” on the savannah, where there is ankle-high grass, not a lot of cover, and lots of sharp-sighted hungry lions? Finally, scientists have debunked this long-held theory and proven that zebras’ stripes don’t actually make zebras harder for predators to see. But new studies suggest that zebras’ stripes serve a different purpose: warding off disease-carrying insects. These studies show that insects prefer to land on all-black or all-white surfaces over black-and-white-striped surfaces. Although these results still need to be tested with zebras in their natural habitat, it may finally explain why zebras are striped (because we’ve all been wondering).



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