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Dispatches

How the TSA Makes Flying More Expensive

If your wallet feels a little lighter after paying for a slew of plane flights, don't blame the TSA agents who gave you pat-downs; their parent organization is responsible. The Transportation Security Administration fee increase approved in December takes effect today, affecting all passengers with flights originating in the United States.

The TSA used to charge $2.50 for nonstop flights and $5 for connecting flights, but all flights now come with a $5.60 fee. The fees go toward a general treasury fund that, in part, supports the TSA's effort to keep air passengers safe. The increase might help the TSA raise $16.9 billion more than current collections to offset $12.6 billion of the federal deficit. 

When you're prepared to drop $500 on a round-trip ticket, single-digit increases might seem annoying but negligible. However, the document outlining the change redefined the idea of a single flight: Any time connecting flights are separated by four or more hours (or 12 or more hours if you're flying intrastate in, or starting in, noncontinental states such as Alaska and Hawaii), each leg is classified as a one-way flight and charged individually. Flights originating internationally cannot be charged the fee. 

So, if you're heading round-trip from Cleveland to Seattle with a stopover in Chicago both coming and going, that's four individual flights. The fees start to add up for frequent fliers, and those connecting flights might not be significantly better deals anymore.

The fee is a sure thing, but feel free to tell the TSA how you feel about it through August 19 by sending comments through the department's contact page.

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Molly Huddle Shatters U.S. 5K Record

At the Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday, Molly Huddle broke her own American record in the 5,000 meters, running 14:42.64 to finish sixth overall. The time is more than two seconds quicker than her previous mark, set last summer in Belgium.

"I am happy I was able to chip away at the record and take advantage of the famously fast Monaco track," Huddle told the Star-Gazette, the major newspaper in her hometown of Elmira, New York.

The 29-year-old, who was a 10-time All American when she ran for Notre Dame, told Flotrack.org that race conditions were ideal for her to run a PR.

"Fortunately for me, it was the the perfect race for me," Huddle said. "I just tried to get into a comfortable spot and pay attention to my splits. I knew it would be a gut check with five laps to go and then again with two laps to go and then again with one lap to go. I just pushed until I went past it."

The American also benefited from very fast company. The winner of the race was Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, who ran 14:28.88, the fastest time in the world this year.

If you're into breaking records but think a 14:42 5K might be a little brisk, two-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farrah just set the world record in the 100-meter sack race last Monday; 39.91 is the time to beat, should you feel up to the challenge.

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James Bond Will Revolutionize Diving

Despite decades of scuba sessions and submersible trips, about 95 percent of the world's oceans are still waiting to be examined. A new technology called the Exosuit will have us swimming in undersea exploration possibilities as soon as the end of this month.

One of the biggest hindrances to research has been the isolation of submersibles. When you're in a submarine, it's difficult to interact with and examine your environment. Most no-decompression scuba suits—those that enable divers to avoid the hurdle of acclimating to pressure differences as they descend and ascend—can be used only within 100 feet of the surface and for short periods of time. The $1.3 million, 530-pound Exosuit, which can descend to 1,000 feet and remain underwater for 50 hours, removes most of that hurdle. 

"In a normal submersible, you're kind of just sitting inside a sphere, and you can’t really reach out into the environment other than being some kind of robotic arm or something," said John Sparks, curator in charge at the American Museum of Natural History's department of ichthyology, in an interview with the Guardian. "This is much more tactile and much more maneuverable than that would be." Sparks tested the suit at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts earlier this month. 

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The result of 35 years of research by Canadian firm Nuytco Research, Exosuits greatly extend researchers' range of motion and ability to get close to their subjects. Reminiscient of JIM suits (of James Bond fame), the suit's 18 rotary joints enable motor movements fine enough to pick up dimes from the ocean floor—and, more important, sea creatures. 

Sparks hopes to pilot use of the suit in research on the Stephen J. Barlow Bluewater Expedition at the end of July, when he will look for new medically relevant bioluminescent molecules, as well as fish, off the coast of New England.

"[The suit will be great for collecting] on real deep reefs, getting the face of the suit right up against the reef, almost lying down in the rubble and kind of picking through it for fish," Sparks said.

The dive will be the first with an atmospheric suit working in tandem with a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). The Exosuit pilot will be able to trap the specimen in a chamber, and then enable high-resolution images via a camera on the $600,000 DeepReef-ROV operated by researchers at sea level.

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The Sexiest Bike Rack Ever

When you are a Tour de France Team Sky cyclist, you ride in style thanks to sponsors such as Rapha and Oakley. Your custom-made Pinarello Dogma F8 bike also gets the VIP treatment, in the form of the sexiest transportation a bike could probably receive—a Jaguar F-Type with a bike rack.

Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations designed a version of the 5-liter V8 supercharge engine coupe specifically for the Tour's Stage 20 time trial. The coupe comes complete with a unique Team Sky paint job, a built-in rear bike rack, and a separate electric supply in the trunk to power the team director's radios and televisions. With 550 horses, if this car can't keep up with time-trial riders, no car will.

"This F-Type concept is a world-class vehicle that will help get the best out of the team on the TT stages," said Team Sky general manager Sir David Brailsford in a Team Sky press release. "The development of this F-Type Coupé is the latest example of our shared belief to push the boundaries and provide technologically innovative solutions, both on and off the bike. The visual impact of the F-Type Coupé during Stage 20 will also of course bring added attention to Team Sky."

With only seven remaining riders still in the Tour after Chris Froome's withdrawal, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke's termination, and Richie Porte's illness, Team Sky needs every opportunity to "get the best" out of the rest of the race.

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Live Chat: Everest's Deadliest Season

Outside senior editor Grayson Schaffer will be hosting a discussion today on the true story of Everest's most horrific day, the Sherpas who paid the price, and the aftershocks that will change the mountain forever. Schaffer's recent feature, Black Year, can be read online or in Outside's August 2014 issue. 

Please join us between 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. MT. Grayson will be responding to your questions in the comment section below.

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