SciTech Now Episode 210

In this episode of SciTech Now, scientists use algae to trace the origins of sex; the decommissioned space shuttle Atlantis has a new home in Orlando, Florida; the company deCervo explores the neuroscience involved in athletics; and mobile security research that tries to protect us from hackers.

TRANSCRIPT

COMING UP... 50 SHADES OF GREEN.

AND THAT ONE GENE WHICH DETERMINES MATING TYPE IN THE SINGLE-CELL ALGA, THAT SAME GENE CONTROLS BEING MALE OR FEMALE IN THE MULTICELLULAR ALGA -- THE ORIGINS OF SEX.

THE SECOND LIFE OF THE SPACESHIP.

THIS WAS A CHALLENGING, CHALLENGING PROJECT, WHEN YOU LOOK AT TRYING TO DISPLAY AN ORBITER AS IF IT'S FLYING IN SPACE.

WE'RE TRYING TO RE-CREATE THAT EXPERIENCE HERE ON EARTH.

THE SCIENCE OF WHEN TO SWING A BASEBALL BAT.

WHAT WE AIM TO DO WITH THIS KIND OF MEASUREMENT TOOL IS TO SUBTLY KIND OF TRAIN THE NERVOUS SYSTEM TO WAIT JUST A LITTLE BIT LONGER ON A PITCH.

AND, FINALLY, STOPPING CRIMES AGAINST OUR SMARTPHONES.

WHAT BUSINESSES ARE SPENDING IS CLOSE TO $10 BILLION IN FIGHTING THIS PHONE-FRAUD PROBLEM.

IT'S ALL AHEAD.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING, LEWIS B. AND LOUISE HIRSCHFELD CULLMAN, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PARTICIPATING STATIONS.

HELLO.

I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

WELCOME TO OUR WEEKLY PROGRAM, BRINGING YOU THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION.

LET'S GET STARTED.

ALGAE IS ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSE, ADAPTABLE, AND UBIQUITOUS LIFE-FORMS ON THE PLANET.

MORE THAN JUST POND SCUM, IT'S A SOURCE OF FOOD AND INCREASINGLY FUEL.

AND AT ONE ALGAE FARM, RESEARCHERS ARE EMPLOYING THESE TINY GREEN PLANTS TO TRACE THE ORIGINS OF SEX.

WE MIGHT CALL THIS STORY '50 SHADES OF GREEN.'

REPORTER JIM KIRCHERR TAKES A LOOK.

WHEN YOU COME TO SEE JIM UMEN'S FARM, YOU WILL NOT FIND HIM TENDING ACRES OF CROPS.

INSTEAD HE BRINGS YOU TO A SET OF CABINETS, ALBEIT HIGH-TECH, EXPENSIVE CABINETS, WITH COMPUTERS CONTROLLING THE VARIABLES OF LIGHT, HEAT, AND ATMOSPHERE.

THIS IS ONE OF OUR 12 GROWTH CHAMBERS.

THIS IS DR. JIM UMEN'S EXPERIMENTAL ALGAE FARM AT THE DANFORTH PLANT SCIENCE CENTER IN ST. LOUIS.

IT'S A PRETTY UNEXPLORED AREA.

IT WAS EARLY IN HIS CAREER THAT HE WAS DRAWN TO UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF THESE TINY PLANTS.

BUT I SAW THAT THERE'S SOME INTERESTING PROBLEMS IN BIOLOGY THAT YOU COULD ONLY APPROACH USING GREEN ALGAE.

AND I FELT THAT GREEN ALGAE WERE REALLY UNDERSTUDIED AND UNDEREXPLOITED.

THESE GUYS ARE SO BEAUTIFUL.

WHILE MOST OF US KNOW ALGAE FROM BODIES OF WATER FROM PUDDLES TO OCEANS, IT'S REALLY LONG, LONG-DEAD ALGAE, NOT DINOSAURS, THAT'S BEEN FUELING OUR CARS.

ALGAE CONTAIN LIPIDS -- OIL.

AND THAT'S WHY SOME SAY IT IS THE BIOFUEL OF THE FUTURE, ALTHOUGH THEY'VE BEEN SAYING THAT FOR QUITE SOME TIME.

STILL, THERE ARE PRACTICAL AND POTENTIALLY PROFITABLE REASONS FOR WORKING WITH ALGAE.

WE CAN HAVE AT LEAST 12 DIFFERENT EXPERIMENTS GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME.

BUT IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO DETERMINE WHICH ALGAE WORK BEST UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS, UMEN'S RESEARCH TEAM FOUND SOMETHING THAT'S CREATED QUITE A BUZZ AROUND ONE OF THE MOST INTRIGUING QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE ON EARTH.

HOW SEX HAS EVOLVED.

THIS IS A VERY BROAD, EVOLUTIONARY QUESTION.

IT'S THE BIRDS AND THE BEES, PLANTS AND ANIMALS AND PEOPLE.

IT'S ALL AROUND US -- THE WORKINGS OF MALES AND FEMALES -- AND IT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR MAYBE A BILLION YEARS.

SO, YOU DON'T FIND THE ANSWER TO THIS EVOLUTION QUESTION BY DIGGING UP BONES.

BECAUSE WE BECAME MULTICELLULAR, AND PLANTS BECAME MULTICELLULAR SO VERY, VERY LONG AGO.

IT HAPPENS TO BE THAT THE GROUP OF ALGAE THAT WE'RE WORKING WITH EVOLVED MULTICELLULARITY VERY RECENTLY IN EVOLUTIONARY TIME.

YOU CAN SEE THE EVOLUTIONARY STEPS IN DIFFERENT KINDS OF LIVING, RELATED ALGAE -- SINGLE CELLS THAT JUST SPLIT INTO TWO... A STEP UP THE LADDER, ALGAE WITH PLUS AND MINUS MATING TYPES THAT MERGE AND SHARE GENETIC MATERIAL... AND MULTICELLULAR ALGAE WITH FULLY DEVELOPED SEXES -- FEMALES PRODUCING EGGS, MALES PRODUCING SPERM.

THAT LOOKS LIKE A FEMALE STRAIN.

THAT'S A MALE STRAIN.

UMEN SAYS IT WAS ASSUMED THAT KEY EVOLUTIONARY STEP MUST HAVE INVOLVED A LOT OF GENES WORKING IN A LOT OF COMPLEX WAYS.

BUT WHEN THEY FOLLOWED THE SEX TRAIL, IT LED THEM TO JUST ONE SINGLE GENE.

AND THAT ONE GENE, WHICH DETERMINES MATING TYPE IN THE SINGLE-CELL ALGA, WHERE YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN -- WE CALL THEM PLUS AND MINUS.

THAT SAME GENE CONTROLS BEING MALE OR FEMALE IN THE MULTICELLULAR ALGA.

SO, YOU CAN LITERALLY TRACE A GENETIC LINEAGE THROUGH THIS ONE GENE.

THIS IS SORT OF THE ORIGINS OF SEX.

RIGHT, EXACTLY -- THE ORIGINS OF SEX.

AND YOU CAN DO A SEX-CHANGE OPERATION ON ALGAE.

IS THAT CORRECT?

WE CAN, ACTUALLY.

WE CAN TAKE A GENETICALLY FEMALE ALGA, PUT A SINGLE GENE IN FROM THE MALE, AND NOW WE HAVE A MODIFIED ALGA THAT MAKES SPERM THAT ARE ACTUALLY FUNCTIONAL.

AND WE CAN TAKE THAT SAME GENE AWAY FROM THE MALE, AND NOW HE'LL START MAKING EGGS.

I THINK THESE ARE GIRLS.

NOW, THIS IS GREAT SCIENCE ON ITS OWN, BUT IT DOES CONTRIBUTE TO THE WORK HE'S DOING AT THE DANFORTH CENTER'S ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE FOR RENEWABLE FUELS.

ALGAE IS STILL A POTENTIAL FUEL OF THE FUTURE.

THERE ARE CHALLENGES IN MOVING FROM DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS TO LARGE-SCALE FARMS, PERFECTING THE TECHNOLOGY AND MAKING IT ECONOMICALLY VIABLE IN THE MARKETPLACE.

JIM UMEN'S WORK WILL CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON THE INTERWORKINGS OF THE ALGAE ITSELF.

HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE EVOLUTION OF SEX TAKES US BACK HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS.

HIS REAL JOB IS FIGURING OUT HOW HE CAN PUT THAT KNOWLEDGE TO WORK.

HOW CAN WE TURN THEM INTO A CROP?

BY DEVELOPING BREEDING SYSTEMS FOR THEM.

HOW CAN WE FIGURE OUT WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT GENES THAT WE MIGHT WANT TO MODIFY IN ALGAE IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THEM AS A BIOFUEL FEEDSTOCK?

IT TOOK 9,000 YEARS TO DOMESTICATE MAIZE, AND WE WANT TO DO THE SAME THING FOR ALGAE IN A DOZEN YEARS OR LESS.

WHAT DO YOU WITH A $2 BILLION SPACESHIP WHEN IT CAN NO LONGER FERRY ASTRONAUTS TO AND FROM SPACE?

IN 2011, THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA, FOUND ITSELF WITH JUST THAT PROBLEM -- CREATING A NEW HOME FOR THE DECOMMISSIONED SPACE SHUTTLE HERE'S THE STORY.

IGNITION AND LIFTOFF -- LIFTOFF OF A NEW ORBITER JOINS THE SHUTTLE FLEET, AND IT HAS CLEARED THE TOWER.

THE SPACE SHUTTLE IS PROBABLY THE MOST MARVELOUS FLYING MACHINE THAT MAN HAS EVER BUILT.

NOT ONLY COULD IT CARRY ASTRONAUTS TO AND FROM SPACE, BUT IT COULD CARRY A VERY LARGE AMOUNT OF CARGO, AS WELL.

JOHN CREIGHTON FLEW THREE SHUTTLE MISSIONS, BUT ONE HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE FOR HIM.

IS NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART BECAUSE THAT WAS THE VEHICLE THAT I FLEW THE FIRST TIME AS THE COMMANDER ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE.

135 MISSIONS, 2,000 TONS, 2 1/2 MILLION MOVING PARTS.

THE ORBITER VEHICLES, AS THEY WERE OFFICIALLY KNOWN, WERE THE LARGEST, MOST EXPENSIVE, AND MOST COMPLEX SPACECRAFT EVER BUILT.

BUT LIKE EVERYTHING, THEY HAD A FINITE LIFE SPAN.

WHEN THE SHUTTLE PROGRAM WAS GOING TO CONCLUDE, NASA TOOK A LOOK AT WHAT TO DO WITH THE REMAINING THREE ORBITERS FROM THE PROGRAM AND MADE THE DECISION THAT EACH WOULD BE DISPLAYED IN MUSEUMS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.

ON THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST SHUTTLE FLIGHT, NASA ANNOUNCED WHICH FACILITIES WOULD RECEIVE THE ORBITERS.

WE WERE THRILLED TO FIND OUT THAT SPACE SHUTTLE WAS GOING TO BE HERE AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX.

THEN, THE REAL WORK BEGAN.

WE LOOKED AT THIS SPACE SHUTTLE EXHIBIT AS THE CORNERSTONE AND WANTED TO DO SOMETHING DRAMATIC AND SHOWCASE THE ORBITER AS NO OTHER PLACE ON THE PLANET.

THIS WAS A CHALLENGING, CHALLENGING PROJECT.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT TRYING TO DISPLAY AN ORBITER AS IF IT'S FLYING IN SPACE, WE'RE TRYING TO RE-CREATE THAT EXPERIENCE HERE ON EARTH.

CONSTRUCTION ON THE NEW EXHIBIT BUILDING BEGAN IN JANUARY 2012.

MEANWHILE, WAS BEING PREPPED FOR HER NEW ROLE.

TO FUEL THE SPACE SHUTTLE, YOU HAVE LIQUID HYDROGEN, LIQUID OXYGEN, AND RESIDUES FROM THOSE FUELS CAN BE LEFT IN THE ENGINES.

SO, A LOT OF TIME AND A LOT OF CARE WENT INTO MAKING SURE THAT THOSE CHEMICALS WERE REMOVED SO THAT WE CAN PROVIDE A SAFE VIEWING ENVIRONMENT FOR THE GUESTS.

NEXT, HAD TO BE TRANSPORTED TO THE VISITOR COMPLEX.

WE MOVED 123 LIGHT POLES, 23 TRAFFIC SIGNS, 56 TRAFFIC SIGNALS.

IT WAS A 10-MILE JOURNEY IN ALL, SOMETHING THAT TOOK NEARLY A DAY.

WE CONSTRUCTED THE BUILDING BUT LEFT THE NORTH WALL OPEN SO THAT COULD SLIDE RIGHT IN.

HOW DO YOU CAREFULLY LIFT THIS ORBITER?

YOU HAVE ONE SHOT AT THAT.

YOU DON'T WANT ANYTHING TO GO AWRY BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT A $2 BILLION ARTIFACT THAT CAN'T BE RE-CREATED.

WE HAD TO INSTALL STEEL BEAMS, 60 FEET LONG.

CAREFULLY LIFTED THE SHUTTLE, BEGINNING AT 2-INCH INCREMENTS FOR SEVERAL DAYS.

WHILE THAT WAS HAPPENING, WAS BEING SHRINK-WRAPPED TO SURROUND AND PROTECT HER.

SEVERAL MONTHS LATER, WHEN WE UNWRAPPED AND NEEDED TO OPEN THE PAYLOAD-BAY DOORS, WE BROUGHT IN A SPECIAL BRACE THAT WE PUT ON THE EDGES OF THE PAYLOAD-BAY DOORS, CAREFULLY OPENED THEM, AND THEN, USING SIX LONG CABLES OF STEEL, WERE ABLE TO SECURE THE PAYLOAD-BAY DOORS IN AN OPEN POSITION.

FOR MANY OF THOSE VISITING THE EXHIBIT, IS AS INSPIRING IN REPOSE AS SHE WAS IN FLIGHT.

I THINK IT TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY.

FROM TV, ALL YOU SEE IS THIS SMOOTH, WHITE, WHAT YOU THINK IS THIS PERFECTLY CLEAN, UNUSED VEHICLE.

BUT IT'S GOT SO MUCH MORE HISTORY TO IT.

YOU'LL SEE EVERYTHING.

YOU'LL JUST THINK, 'WHOA, THAT'S AMAZING.'

A BREATHTAKING EXPERIENCE, MAGNIFICENT, OUTSTANDING.

I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD SEE A REAL SPACESHIP UP CLOSE, LIKE STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT RIGHT THERE.

I THINK WE'RE SO USED TO SEEING THINGS ON TELEVISION, AND IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY FEEL REAL.

BUT WHEN YOU COME AND SEE IT IN PERSON, IT'S HUGE, IT'S IMPRESSIVE, AND YOU REALLY GET A BETTER FEEL WHAT IT WAS LIKE.

THE VISITOR CENTER HERE HAS DONE AN AMAZING JOB OF DISPLAYING FAR AND AWAY THE BEST OF THE OTHER ORBITERS THAT ARE NOW ON DISPLAY AT MUSEUMS AROUND THE UNITED STATES.

THE SPACE SHUTTLE ATTRACTION HAS EXCEEDED OUR EXPECTATIONS.

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE SEEN THIS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.

MADE HISTORY AS A FLYING MACHINE AND NOW MAKES A UNIQUE MUSEUM PIECE.

BUT HER MOST IMPORTANT ROLE MAY LIE IN THE FUTURE.

WE NEED TO GET MORE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN THE TECHNICAL AREAS.

YOU SEE KIDS COME AROUND HERE, AND I HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK TO THEM, AND THEY'RE ALL EXCITED ABOUT THAT.

WE NEED THAT KIND OF TECHNICAL TALENT.

PUBLIC HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO AROUND AND LEARN NOT ONLY ABOUT WHAT WE DID WITH THE SPACE SHUTTLE BUT WHY WE GO INTO SPACE AND WHAT'S COMING IN THE FUTURE.

IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF, THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA, IS OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR.

THERE ARE ALREADY MISSIONS OUT THERE THAT CAN SCULPT FIGURES, THAT CAN BUILD TOOLS.

AND YOU PROBABLY HEARD THAT THERE IS A COMPANY OUT THERE THAT HAS SENT OUT A PRINTER TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, A 3-D PRINTER.

IT'S CALLED 'MADE IN SPACE,' AND THE COMPANY IS NOW BUILDING NEW GENERATIONS OF THESE THINGS SO THAT WHEN YOU'RE IN A SPACECRAFT AND ON A LONG MISSION TO SOMEPLACE -- TO AN ASTEROID OR TO MARS OR THE MOON OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT -- YOU CAN BUILD PARTS THAT HAVE BROKEN OR BEEN DESTROYED FOR SOME REASON OR AN OTHER, BECAUSE OF AN ACCIDENT.

YOU CAN REBUILD THEM IN THE CABIN.

OUT OF A 3-D PRINTER WOULD COME A NEW PART THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY BROKEN OR DAMAGED.

AND I THINK THAT IS WHERE THE TECHNOLOGY IS GOING TO BE SO USEFUL.

AS YOGI BERRA ONCE SAID, 'BASEBALL IS 90% MENTAL.

THE OTHER HALF IS PHYSICAL.'

NEW TECHNOLOGY MAY MAKE THIS TRUER THAN EVER.

NEW YORK-BASED STARTUP deCERVO USES NEUROIMAGING TO UNDERSTAND THE SCIENCE BEHIND DECISION MAKING IN SPORTS.

THEIR TECHNOLOGY IS CURRENTLY BEING USED TO EVALUATE BASEBALL PLAYERS BASED ON HOW QUICKLY THEIR BRAINS IDENTIFY AND REACT TO PITCHES WHILE AT BAT.

HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE USE OF NEUROIMAGING IN SPORTS IS JASON SHERWIN, CO-FOUNDER AND C.E.O. OF deCERVO.

WELL, HOW DOES deCERVO WORK?

WELL, WHAT WE DO IS, YOU SEE, WE SIMULATE THE EXPERIENCE OF HITTING A BASEBALL FOR BASEBALL PLAYERS, AND THAT ALLOWS YOU TO STIMULATE THE NERVOUS SYSTEM OF THAT PLAYER IN A WAY THAT'S TUNED TO THEIR VERSION OF THEIR EXPERTISE.

SO, IT'S A VIDEO GAME.

AND SO, WHAT THAT ALLOWS US TO DO IS WE TELL THE PLAYER, 'MAKE A DECISION ON THIS PITCH.

IS IT A STRIKE? IS IT A BALL?'

SO, THAT MEANS THAT AS THE BALL'S COMING TO THE PLATE, WE CAN TELL WHEN THEY DECIDE THIS PITCH IS A STRIKE, OR THIS PITCH IS A BALL.

AND HOW ARE YOU MEASURING THEIR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS?

JUST A CAP THAT'S WORN OVER THE TOP OF THE HEAD, AND THERE ARE SENSORS THAT ARE PRESSED AGAINST THE SCALP.

EEG, ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHY, IS SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS.

RIGHT.

RIGHT?

BUT THE TRICKY PART HAS BEEN DECODING THAT DATA, AND THAT'S REALLY WHERE WE'RE COMING IN WITH OUR ALGORITHMS THAT ALLOW US TO TRACK WHEN THAT DECISION IS MADE AS THE BALL'S COMING TO THE PLATE IN THE CASE OF BASEBALL.

SO, WHAT DOES THAT TEACH YOU ABOUT THE PLAYER?

SOME THINGS THAT WE'VE SEEN WITH THE MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYERS WE'VE WORKED WITH IS THAT SOME GUYS JUST GUESS ON PITCHES, ALL RIGHT?

THEY KNOW THAT THEY'RE GONNA SWING REALLY EARLY ON A GIVEN PITCH.

SOME GUYS JUST GUESS THAT THEY'RE GONNA TAKE A PITCH, RIGHT?

THERE ARE OTHER PLAYERS, THOUGH, WITH MORE FINE RESOLUTION IN TERMS OF WHEN THEY MAKE THEIR DECISION AS THE BALL'S COMING TO THE PLATE.

AND THOSE ARE, IN GENERAL, THE PLAYERS WHO DO BETTER ON OUR PROFILES BECAUSE THEY'RE WATCHING JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE OF THE PITCH IN ORDER TO TUNE THEIR DECISION AS THE BALL'S COMING TO THEM.

NOW, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE FINER RESOLUTION, BUT THIS IS A BALL THAT'S COMING AT YOU AT 90, MAYBE 100 MILES AN HOUR.

YEP.

AND THAT IS LITERALLY A SPLIT SECOND.

YEP.

WHERE YOU HAVE TO DECIDE ON WHETHER IT'S A BALL OR A STRIKE, WHETHER YOU'RE GONNA TAKE THE PITCH OR NOT.

RIGHT.

AND THEN, SOMEHOW, MOVE YOUR WHOLE BODY, GET THE BAT IN THE PERFECT POSITION TO MAKE CONTACT.

RIGHT.

WELL, IF YOU BREAK IT DOWN IN TERMS OF THE TIME -- SO, YOU SAID 90 TO 100 MILES AN HOUR.

SO, THAT'S ABOUT 450 TO 400 MILLISECONDS OF TIME FROM RELEASE OF THE PITCH UNTIL IT GETS TO THE PLATE, OKAY?

LESS THAN HALF A SECOND.

LESS THAN A HALF A SECOND, YEAH.

AND IN THAT TIME, THE PLAYER HAS TO DECIDE, FIRST, IS THIS THING GONNA KILL ME OR NOT, RIGHT?

[ Laughing ] RIGHT.

THEN, WHERE IS IT GOING AND WHETHER I CAN HIT IT.

WHAT WE'RE ABLE TO DO BY TRACKING WHEN THAT DECISION IS MADE AS A FUNCTION OF TIME IS BREAK DOWN THAT PROCESS IN THAT 400 TO 450 MILLISECONDS.

AND THAT'S WHERE EEG IS SO IMPORTANT, AS OPPOSED TO ANOTHER KIND OF NEUROIMAGING TECHNIQUE, LIKE MRI, RIGHT?

EEG HAS WHAT'S CALLED VERY HIGH TEMPORAL RESOLUTION.

WE'RE MEASURING ON THE ORDER OF 250 TIMES A SECOND WHAT THE ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY IS.

OKAY, SO, SAY NOW I HAVE THE IDEA.

I AM A HITTER.

I'VE LEARNED THIS ABOUT MYSELF.

THIS IS HOW I'M MAKING THESE DECISIONS.

CAN I IMPROVE THAT DECISION-MAKING PROCESS?

CAN I TAKE LESS TIME AND MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, WHICH MIGHT INCREASE MY ACCURACY?

RIGHT.

WELL, IT MAY BE ACTUALLY THAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE MORE TIME, AND MAYBE IN SOME CASES YOU COULD HAVE A PLAYER WHO'S SUFFERING.

YOU LOOK AT WHAT WE CALL THEIR BEHAVIORAL RESPONSE, WHICH IS JUST THEIR ACCURACY AND THEIR RESPONSE TIME.

AND YOU SEE THAT THEY HAVE VERY QUICK RESPONSES BUT ALSO HAVE VERY LOW ACCURACY, RIGHT?

SURE.

AND SO WHAT WE MAYBE WANT THEM TO DO IS JUST WAIT A LITTLE WHILE LONGER.

BUT THAT'S LIKE YOU QUOTED YOGI BERRA AT THE BEGINNING.

YOU CAN'T THINK AND HIT AT THE SAME TIME, RIGHT?

SO, THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS TELL A PLAYER TO THINK WHEN THEY'RE UP AT THE PLATE.

BUT WHAT WE AIM TO DO WITH THIS KIND OF MEASUREMENT TOOL IS TO SUBTLY KIND OF TRAIN THE NERVOUS SYSTEM TO WAIT JUST A LITTLE BIT LONGER ON A PITCH.

TAKE ANOTHER, THE FLIP VERSION, WHERE YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR DECISION SOONER IF YOU HAVE VERY HIGH ACCURACY, RIGHT?

YOU COULD HAVE VERY HIGH ACCURACY, BUT YOUR RESPONSE TIMES COULD ALSO BE VERY LONG, RIGHT?

BUT THERE COULD BE SOMEONE ELSE OUT THERE WHO HAS THE SAME ACCURACY, BUT THEIR RESPONSE TIMES ARE SHORTER ON THE SAME PITCH, RIGHT?

SO, THAT MEANS THAT THIS OTHER GUY, WHO'S MAKING HIS DECISIONS WITH THE SAME ACCURACY BUT QUICKER, HE'S SEEING SOMETHING THAT THIS FIRST GUY ISN'T, RIGHT?

SO, THE QUESTION IS, THEN, HOW DO YOU TRAIN HIS NERVOUS SYSTEM TO LOOK SOONER IN THE PITCH TRAJECTORY TO MAKE THAT DECISION?

AND THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF WAYS THAT YOU CAN MANIPULATE, WE THINK, THE SIMULATION IN ORDER TO DO THAT.

ALL THIS IN UNDER HALF A SECOND.

YEP.

IS THIS SOMETHING THAT A SCOUT IS GONNA KNOW ABOUT AND SAY, 'LISTEN.

HEY, KID, I THINK YOU GOT SOME POTENTIAL, BUT I NEED YOU TO PUT THIS CAP ON AND PLAY THIS VIDEO GAME FOR A WHILE TO HELP ME SEE HOW EFFICIENT YOU ARE.'

SPORTS IN GENERAL IS A VERY SELF-SELECTIVE PROCESS.

KIDS THAT ARE OLDER AND KIND OF THE OLDER END OF THEIR CLASS, THEY MAY BE A LITTLE STRONGER THAN THE KIDS ON THE LOWER END, RIGHT?

SO, THEY MAY HAVE MORE SUCCESS EARLY ON.

SO, YOU START GETTING THIS KIND OF LIKE SELF-SELECTIVE PROCESS WHERE THE KIDS WHO ARE BETTER EARLIER CONTINUE ON IN THE SPORT.

BUT WHAT I SEE AS A HUGE POTENTIAL HERE IS THE ABILITY TO SCOUT PLAYERS WHO ARE NOT EVEN REALLY PLAYING BASEBALL OR MAY FALL OFF SOONER, RIGHT?

AND SO, YOU COULD FIND A PLAYER THAT YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO FIND BEFORE THEN, RIGHT?

SO, YOU WOULDN'T KNOW THAT THAT KID IS A GREAT HITTER.

ALL RIGHT, JASON SHERWIN FROM deCERVO, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

DEFINITELY. THANK YOU.

FOR MANY OF US, OUR SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS HAVE ALREADY REPLACED OUR DESKTOP AND LAPTOP COMPUTERS.

AND NOW THEY'RE BECOMING A FILING CABINET OF OUR PERSONAL DATA, FROM BANK-ACCOUNT DETAILS TO PRIVATE HEALTH RECORDS, WHICH MAKES THESE POCKET-SIZED COMPUTERS TEMPTING TARGETS FOR HACKERS.

SO, HOW MUCH SECURITY CAN TECHNOLOGY PROVIDE AS WE CONDUCT MORE BUSINESS ON THE GO?

YOU'LL FIND A LOT UP-TO-DATE TECHNOLOGY AT PINDROP SECURITY, A RAPIDLY GROWING STARTUP LOCATED NEXT TO GEORGIA TECH IN DOWNTOWN ATLANTA -- EVERYTHING FROM THE SOFTWARE THAT EMPLOYEES USE TO THE COMPUTER SCREENS BROADCASTING REALTIME DATA TO THE WAY FOUNDER AND C.E.O.

VIJAY BALASUBRAMANIYAN GETS AROUND THE OFFICE.

BUT IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THIS 21st-CENTURY TECH IS A RELIC FROM LAST CENTURY -- A BRITISH-STYLE PHONE BOOTH THAT WOULD MAKE DR. WHO PROUD.

IT'S A REMINDER OF PINDROP SECURITY'S MISSION.

WHAT BUSINESSES ARE SPENDING IS CLOSE TO $10 BILLION IN FIGHTING THIS PHONE-FRAUD PROBLEM LARGELY BECAUSE AS FRAUDSTERS HAVE REALIZED THAT THE PHONE CHANNEL IS THE WEAKEST LINK.

CRIMES AGAINST YOUR SMARTPHONE DON'T JUST INVOLVE HACKERS SNEAKING MALWARE ON IT OR CRIMINALS STEALING IT.

FRAUDSTERS USE MOBILE PHONES, ALONG WITH LANDLINES AND VOICE-OVER-INTERNET SERVICES LIKE SKYPE, TO TARGET BUSINESSES AND CONSUMERS, PRETENDING THEY'RE SOMEONE ELSE SO THEY CAN STEAL MONEY, MERCHANDISE, AND IDENTITIES.

PINDROP SECURITY'S TECHNOLOGY IS TRYING TO HANG UP ON PHONE FRAUD BY ALLOWING ITS BUSINESS CUSTOMERS TO KNOW IF THE PERSON ON THE OTHER END OF THE LINE IS NOT JUST WHO THEY SAY THE ARE BUT THEY SAY THEY ARE.

I INVENTED THIS TECHNOLOGY CALLED 'PHONE PRINTING,' WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY AN ABILITY FOR US JUST FROM LISTENING TO THE AUDIO OF A CALL TO BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY ANY PHONE DEVICE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

PINDROP'S CLIENTS INCLUDE SEVEN OF THE LARGEST FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN THE WORLD, ALONG WITH SEVERAL TOP ONLINE BROKERAGES, RETAILERS, AND INSURANCE COMPANIES.

THE COMPANY RECENTLY RELEASED DATA SHOWING INCIDENTS OF PHONE FRAUD RISING MORE THAN 30% SINCE 2013.

JUST OVER HALF OF THOSE FRAUD CALLS ARE DONE VIA VOICE OVER INTERNET, BUT MORE OF THEM ARE COMING FROM MOBILE DEVICES.

YOU CAN IMAGINE THE PROBLEM'S JUST PROLIFERATING, RIGHT?

YOU HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

THEY USE SO MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF DEVICES.

PINDROP'S FINDINGS HIGHLIGHT THE CHALLENGE FOR SECURITY PROFESSIONALS AS WE MOVE TO A MORE MOBILE SOCIETY.

IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2015, MORE PEOPLE SHOPPED FROM THEIR MOBILE DEVICES THAN THEIR DESKTOPS, ACCORDING TO RESEARCH FIRM COMSCORE.

JUNIPER RESEARCH PREDICTS ONE BILLION MOBILE BANKING CUSTOMERS WORLDWIDE BY 2017.

THAT'S NEARLY DOUBLE WHAT IT WAS IN 2013.

FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, IT'S THEIR PRIMARY COMPUTER.

STEPHEN FLEMING, VICE PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA TECH'S ENTERPRISE INNOVATION INSTITUTE, AGREES THAT SMARTPHONES HAVE TWO POINTS OF VULNERABILITY -- A VOICE CHANNEL AND A DATA CHANNEL.

SMARTPHONES ALSO CARRY SOME INHERENT SECURITY ADVANTAGES OVER DESKTOPS, SUCH AS GPS TRACKING, NO HARD DRIVE THAT CAN BE HACKED, AND THE WAY THEY USE APPS.

IT VARIES BY VENDOR, BUT A LOT OF WHAT'S DONE WITH MOBILE-PHONE TECHNOLOGY OR MOBILE-DEVICE TECHNOLOGY IS APPLICATIONS HAVE SANDBOXES.

SO, IT'S MORE DIFFICULT FOR ONE APPLICATION TO ACCESS THE DATA FROM ANOTHER ONE AND ANOTHER ONE.

SO, IT HELPS PARTITION THINGS MORE SECURELY THAN YOUR DESKTOP.

OKAY, YOUR TOTAL IS $23.78.

WITH APPLE PAY, SMARTPHONES OFFICIALLY ENTERED THE BIOMETRIC ERA.

OTHER MOBILE-PAYMENT SYSTEMS, SUCH AS GOOGLE WALLET, SQUARE, AND EVEN INDUSTRY PIONEER PayPal ARE ALSO IN THE MIX.

BUT APPLE PAY USES YOUR THUMBPRINT AND A RANDOM NUMBER GENERATED BY YOUR iPHONE TO CONDUCT TRANSACTIONS WITH MERCHANTS USING NEAR FIELD COMMUNICATIONS.

THAT IS A DIFFERENT LEVEL OF SECURITY, WHICH IS ACTUALLY BETTER THAN WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE ON YOUR DESKTOP.

SO, I WOULD FEEL MUCH SAFER BUYING SOMETHING OVER APPLE PAY THAN I WOULD FEEL JUST TYPING MY CREDIT-CARD NUMBER INTO MY BROWSER.

THERE ARE FEWER WAYS TO HACK INTO THAT.

WE'RE GONNA BE ABLE TO WAVE OUR HAND OVER THE SCANNER BECAUSE WE'RE GONNA HAVE A CHIP IN OUR HAND, AND WE'RE GONNA BE ABLE TO HAVE SOMETHING IN OUR EYE THAT'LL BE READING THE RETINA BECAUSE THEY'RE AS DIFFERENT AS THE THUMBPRINTS ON EVERYBODY.

LONGTIME TELECOMMUNICATIONS-INDUSTRY ANALYST JEFF KAGAN MAINTAINS THAT MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS LIKE ANDROID CAN STILL FALL VICTIM TO MALICIOUS SOFTWARE.

ALSO, SMALLER, THIRD-PARTY COMPANIES WORKING WITH LARGER FIRMS ON THEIR MOBILE STRATEGIES MAY NOT HAVE THE SAME COMMITMENT TO SECURITY, MUCH LESS THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES.

I THINK THIS SPACE IS GOING TO BECOME MUCH MORE PROACTIVE, BUT YOU'RE STILL GONNA ALWAYS HAVE THE SMALLER COMPANIES THAT ARE THE WEAK LINKS.

WE HAVE MAXIMUM CHANCES OF SUCCESS THERE.

IN THE MEANTIME, BOTH BALASUBRAMANIYAN AND FLEMING SAY IT'S INCUMBENT UPON MOBILE-PHONE USERS TO TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR SECURING THEIR DEVICES, ESPECIALLY IF THEY'RE BRINGING THEM TO WORK.

THAT MEANS ENABLING TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION WHEN AVAILABLE.

THIS INVOLVES NOT ONLY A PASSWORD BUT SENDING AN ACCESS CODE VIA TEXT OR E-MAIL TO YOUR PHONE.

RESEARCH MOBILE-SECURITY AND ANTIVIRUS APPS.

DON'T USE THE SAME PASSWORDS FOR ALL YOUR ONLINE ACCOUNTS.

CONSIDER USING A PASSWORD GENERATOR.

AND LIKE BALASUBRAMANIYAN, KNOW THAT SECURITY IN A MOBILE WORLD WILL ALWAYS BE A MOVING TARGET.

AS LONG AS WE ARE VIGILANT AND AWARE, AND WE'RE CONSTANTLY SAYING, 'WE NEED TO KEEP DOING BETTER,' BECAUSE IT'S SOMEONE'S BANK ACCOUNT AT RISK, IT'S SOMEONE'S SCHOLARSHIP FUND AT RISK, I THINK WE'LL DO WELL.

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME.

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UNTIL NEXT TIME, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

THANKS FOR WATCHING.

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