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November 2016 — December 2016

Using Supercomputer to Illuminate the Renaissance (Dec 6, 2016)
Most of us have heard about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, based on the "six degrees of separation" concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Now, there's a similar game in town: Who knew whom in Renaissance Britain? This is the question that the project Six Degrees of Francis Bacon" seeks to uncover. "We're leveraging 21st century computational methods in order to illuminate the past," said Christopher Warren, associate professor of English a...
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Weather the Storm: Improving Great Lakes Modeling (Dec 6, 2016)
Up until now, atmospheric models and hydrodynamic models have remained separate to a large extent in the Great Lakes region, with only a few attempts to loosely couple them. In a new study, published online this week in the Journal of Climate, an integrated model brings together climate and water models. The collaborative work is the product of researchers from Michigan Technological University, Loyola Marymount University, LimnoTech and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Grea...
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Changing the Face of Computer Science (Nov 30, 2016)
The online documentary series Lab Daze highlights an aspect of computer science not historically associated with the field: Cool. Created in 2014 by computer science professor Juan Gilbert and his graduate students at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the 10-episode series follows the lab’s activities in an effort to get younger students interested in the discipline. It shows that computer science can be glamorous, such as when it’s used in broadcasting sporting events, and that it c...
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How Rural America is Missing Out on the Modern American Dream (Nov 30, 2016)
The most direct road to the modern American Dream doesn't pass through rural America. Median U.S. wages have been flat for decades, and blue collar workers are increasingly frustrated with the dwindling job opportunities -- a fact that was highlighted with the election of Donald Trump. Opportunities exist -- there are more than half a million open computing jobs nationwide, according to Code.org. But students growing up in the countryside aren't prepared for them. Rural students are far less lik...
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How to Outsmart Fake News (Nov 29, 2016)
Just because it's on the internet doesn't make it true. It seems so simple, but if everyone knew that, Facebook and Google wouldn't have to pull bogus news sites from their advertising algorithms and people wouldn't breathlessly share stories that claim Donald Trump is a secret lizard person or Hillary Clinton is an android in a pantsuit. It doesn't have to be this way. Fake news is actually really easy to spot -- if you know how.



Welcome to the Future of Work (Nov 29, 2016)
With advances in information technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence developing at a rapid rate, workforce dislocations are happening now and are here to stay. As existing trends accelerate and irreversibly change the workforce as we know it, the question to be answered is–what will we do to broadly share the gains and alleviate the challenges?



Paralyzed ALS Patient Operates Speech Computer with Her Mind (Nov 28, 2016)
At UMC Utrecht, a brain implant has been placed in a patient enabling her to operate a speech computer with her mind. The researchers and the patient worked intensively to get the settings right. She can now communicate at home with her family and caregivers via the implant. That a patient can use this technique at home is unique in the world. This research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.



Designer Materials Create Miniature Computer Circuits (Nov 28, 2016)
Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered a new method of creating optoelectronic circuits using graphene and other 2D materials that are much smaller than their current counterparts. Optoelectronics, the technology that uses pulses of light rather than traditional electrical signals, is vital for telecommunication networks. Modulators are important in optoelectronic circuits as they control the signals passed through optoelectronic devices. Previous attempts to create hybrid mo...
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Breaking the Code: Examining Female Representation in Computer Science (Nov 12, 2016)
Given the popularity of the computer science major, it's likely that you've heard some of your friends complain about a coding assignment. But what percentage of those friends are female? Competition for tech talent is intense, with new computer science graduates commanding one of the highest starting salaries. However, men still hold a disproportionate number of jobs in computer science fields. A National Science Foundation study in 2013 found that women's participation in engineering and compu...
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The Deadly Ancient Math Problem Computer Scientists Love (Nov 12, 2016)
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish-Roman historian from the first century, tells the story like this: A company of 40 soldiers, along with Josephus himself, were trapped in a cave by Roman soldiers during the Siege of Yodfat in 67 A.D. The Jewish soldiers chose to die rather than surrender, so they devised a system to kill off each other until only one person remained. (That last person would be the only one required to die by their own hand.) All 41 people stood in a circle. The first soldier killed th...
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What do Kids Really Need to Know About Computer Science? (Nov 11, 2016)
K-12 educators in the U.S. are struggling. Like everyone else, they know that computer technology is a well-paying, in-demand field that’s desperate for a more diverse workforce. But many have had a hard time figuring out exactly how to prepare kids for tech careers and provide them with a basic understanding of computer science. Until now, that is. A coalition of computer science organizations — led in part by the Seattle-based nonprofit Code.org — recently released the K–12 Computer Sc...
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Artificial Intelligence 'Judge' Developed by UCL Computer Scientists (Nov 11, 2016)
Artificial intelligence software that can find patterns in highly complex decisions is being used to predict our taste in films, TV shows and music with ever-increasing accuracy. And now, after a breakthrough study by a group of British scientists, it could be used to predict the outcome of trials. Software that is able to weigh up legal evidence and moral questions of right and wrong has been devised by computer scientists at University College London, and used to accurately predict the result ...
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Star Trek Jokes and Geek Culture Make Women Feel Unwelcome (Nov 10, 2016)
As a high school sophomore in the 1990s, I took a mandatory computer science class that had a reputation for being difficult. The word among girls was that the only students who did well in the course were the “Dungeons & Dragons boys.” A very nice teacher taught the class. But he often reinforced this male-oriented image of who could be successful with nerdy Star Trek jokes and other pop-culture references more likely to resonate with boys than girls. Unsurprisingly, boys dominated classroo...
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Restoring the Sense of Touch in Amputees Using Natural Signals of Nervous System (Nov 10, 2016)
Scientists at the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University have found a way to produce realistic sensations of touch in two human amputees by directly stimulating the nervous system. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, confirms earlier research on how the nervous system encodes the intensity, or magnitude, of sensations. It is the second of two groundbreaking publications this month by University of Chicago neuroscientist Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, using neuropros...
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NSF CyberTraining Webinar - Nov. 10th (Nov 9, 2016)
The overarching goal of this program is to prepare, nurture and grow the national scientific workforce for creating, utilizing, and supporting advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) that enables cutting-edge science and engineering and contributes to the Nation's overall economic competiveness and security. This solicitation calls for developing innovative, scalable training programs to address the emerging needs and unresolved bottlenecks in scientific and engineering workforce development of target...
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New 'Digital Life' Initiative Aims to Create 3-D Models of All Living Creatures (Nov 9, 2016)
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by biologist Duncan Irschick who created the Beastcam Array, a rapid-capture, field portable tabletop system for making high-resolution, full-color 3D models of living organisms, now plan to use it in an ambitious effort to create 3D models of all living organisms. The Beastcam Array consists of 10 fixed arms, each of which can mount three G-16 Canon cameras for a 30-camera array. Small animals placed in the array's center can be quickly ...
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3-D-printed Magnets: How Can You Produce a Magnet with Exactly the Right Magnetic Field? (Nov 8, 2016)
Today, manufacturing strong magnets is no problem from a technical perspective. It is, however, difficult to produce a permanent magnet with a magnetic field of a specific pre-determined shape. That is, until now, thanks to the new solution devised at TU Wien: for the first time ever, permanent magnets can be produced using a 3D printer. This allows magnets to be produced in complex forms and precisely customised magnetic fields, required, for example, in magnetic sensors.



Outsmarting the Art of Camouflage (Nov 8, 2016)
When the American painter Abbott H. Thayer published his book Concealing-Coloration in the Animal Kingdom in 1909, he put forth the hypothesis that animals’ colors served one function and one function only: to camouflage. While that theory has since been disproven (animal colors also play a role in threatening predators and attracting mates), his work made a significant impact on our understanding of camouflage and how it could be used in war. During World War I, both the French and the German...
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NSF CyberTraining Webinar - Nov. 10th (Nov 7, 2016)
The overarching goal of this program is to prepare, nurture and grow the national scientific workforce for creating, utilizing, and supporting advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) that enables cutting-edge science and engineering and contributes to the Nation's overall economic competiveness and security. This solicitation calls for developing innovative, scalable training programs to address the emerging needs and unresolved bottlenecks in scientific and engineering workforce development of target...
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Digital Rock Physics (Nov 7, 2016)
Fluids flowing underground are fundamental to water and energy security. These flows are important for a variety of applications – tracking groundwater movement, predicting oil recovery, developing carbon sequestration strategies – and they depend on multiphase porous medium systems. Such systems can consist of multiple fluids flowing in rock, sand or soil, says James McClure, a computational scientist with Advanced Research Computing at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “Many problems fall wit...
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With New Algorithms, Data Scientists Could Accomplish in Days What Once Took Months (Nov 6, 2016)
Last year, MIT researchers presented a system that automated a crucial step in big-data analysis: the selection of a "feature set," or aspects of the data that are useful for making predictions. The researchers entered the system in several data science contests, where it outperformed most of the human competitors and took only hours instead of months to perform its analyses. In a pair of papers at an IEEE Conference, the team described an approach to automating most of the rest of the process o...
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Can an MIT Computer Learn to Scare You? (Nov 6, 2016)
The threat that machines will act independently of their operators has stoked fears for longer than artificial intelligence has been a concept — but could a computer actually learn to scare us? Enter the Nightmare Machine. Three researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are seeking to answer that question, using a deep-learning algorithm to teach a computer to produce images of faces and places that scare people. Pinar Yanardag, a postdoctoral researcher on the project, cites lu...
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NSF CyberTraining Webinar - Nov. 10th (Nov 5, 2016)
The overarching goal of this program is to prepare, nurture and grow the national scientific workforce for creating, utilizing, and supporting advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) that enables cutting-edge science and engineering and contributes to the Nation's overall economic competiveness and security. This solicitation calls for developing innovative, scalable training programs to address the emerging needs and unresolved bottlenecks in scientific and engineering workforce development of target...
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Computer Science/STEM Leaders Explain How to Spark STEM Interest in Youth (Nov 5, 2016)
The future demands a large, diverse pool of innovative scientists, engineers and mathematicians who can work together to solve big problems. The working scientists who lead SC16, the premier international conference showcasing high performance computing, envision and advocate for a future talent pool that looks far larger and more diverse. “Teams are always more successful at solving problems when they include thinkers with many life experiences and perspectives,” said Trish Damkroger, Actin...
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Supercomputing the P53 Protein as a Promising Anticancer Therapy (Nov 4, 2016)
Even though it's almost impossible to see, computational biophysicist Rommie Amaro is using the Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin to model the largest atomic level system of the tumor suppression protein p53 to date — over 1.5 million atoms. The simulations identify new "pockets" to reactivate p53 which would be a tremendous boost for future anti-cancer drug discovery. Amaro is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Bioch...
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