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October 2015 — November 2015

New Design Points a Path to the 'Ultimate' Battery (Nov 3, 2015)
Many of the technologies we use every day have been getting smaller, faster and cheaper each year -- with the notable exception of batteries. Apart from the possibility of a smartphone which lasts for days without needing to be charged, the challenges associated with making a better battery are holding back the widespread adoption of two major clean technologies: electric cars and grid-scale storage for solar power. Lithium-oxygen, or lithium-air, batteries have been touted as the 'ultimate' bat...
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Should I Take Calculus Before College? (Nov 3, 2015)
Years ago, calculus courses were almost exclusively the domain of college students. Yet today, most high schools have increased their mathematics course offerings to include calculus courses of various difficulties, from the standard high school-level to honors, all the way up to AP. This trend is largely a result of increased college admissions competition, especially into high-level institutions with strong math and science programs. But it also comes from the desire of many high school studen...
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A New Way of Computing (Nov 2, 2015)
Researchers from the Univ. of South Florida College of Engineering have proposed a new form of computing that uses circular nanomagnets to solve quadratic optimization problems orders of magnitude faster than that of a conventional computer. A wide range of application domains can be potentially accelerated through this research such as finding patterns in social media, error-correcting codes to big data and biosciences.

The Most Innovative Schools in America (Nov 2, 2015)
From an "off-the-grid" school that relies on solar panels to classrooms in a public library, there are countless schools reimagining education. Startup Noodle has released its first ever Innovative Schools report, which identifies 41 public, private and charter K-12 schools that rise above the rest. Launched by Princeton Review Founder John Katzman, Noodle provides educational resources to parents and teachers, and it spent the last year examining 140,000 schools to come up with this list.

Australians Invent Architecture for a Full-Scale Silicon Quantum Computer (Nov 1, 2015)
It’s looking more and more like future super powerful quantum computers will be made of the same stuff as today’s classical computers: silicon. A new study lays out the architecture for how silicon quantum computers could scale up in size and enable error correction—crucial steps toward making practical quantum computing a reality. Previously, Australian scientists demonstrated single quantum bits based on both the spin of electrons and the nuclear spin of phosphorus atoms embedded in sili...
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Inside the Programming Evolution of GPU Computing (Nov 1, 2015)
Back in 2000, Ian Buck and a small computer graphics team at Stanford University were watching the steady evolution of computer graphics processors for gaming and thinking about how such devices could be extended to fit a wider class of applications. At first, the connection was not clear, but as GPUs started to become programmable to enable more realistic game graphics, Buck and his team started tweaking the small devices, playing with the relatively small bit of programmability to test the lim...
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The Real Reason U.S. Students Lag Behind in Computer Science (Oct 31, 2015)
Interest in computer science (CS) at the university level declined after the “dot-com bust” of 2000, but then came back with a vengeance in 2007. Since then, student enrollment in computer science has been increasing. As a professor of computer science who has worked extensively to improve CS education at the K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels, I know there are many more who want to go into the field of computer science. The numbers of female students and racial minorities remain distr...
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Can Coding Bootcamps Replace a Computer Science Degree? (Oct 31, 2015)
Coding bootcamps are becoming a popular way for anyone interested in learning technical skills to dive into a rigorous course. Whether you want to become a Web developer, software programmer or learn a new coding language, you'll find a bootcamp that suits your needs. And these highly focused and fast-paced courses are changing the way we view accessible education, and giving students a resource outside of the typical four year college. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of bootcamps is t...
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Google Must Consider "Unintended Consequences" of AI (Oct 28, 2015)
Technology companies including Google must consider “unintended consequences” when investing in AI, an eminent machine learning professor and founder of multimillion startup, Dato, warns. The ethics surrounding machine learning is a hot topic. Google, which this morning announced it had invested an undisclosed sum in a top German AI research center will instate an ethics board to monitor its AI efforts. It hasn’t revealed who will sit on the board, but the move is indicative of the public ...
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NASA Crowdsources Mars Spacesuit Durability (Oct 27, 2015)
NASA is asking the public to come up with ideas on how to test prototype Mars space suit materials for durability without actually going all the way to Mars. The agency plans to give away $15,000 in prizes for the best ideas. We’re all familiar with the current space suit design, which has been used by astronauts for decades. The problem with these pieces of equipment is that they’re optimized for low-Earth orbit. They have some damage resistance, but they aren’t built to be worn while wal...
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Cloud Computing Finally Gets Some Startups (Oct 27, 2015)
For years, getting into the business of renting out extra computing power through the cloud has been a bit like getting into the business of nuclear power. First, you have to spend a few hundred million dollars on ginormous hardware and the pricey software to run it. Next, you have to hire a team of Ph.D.s to make sure the equipment always runs pretty much perfectly, because one screw-up means a customer—probably a big corporate IT department—leaves forever. That formula is changing as cloud...
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Skeptical Scientist Studies the Latest Findings on Mars (Oct 26, 2015)
While humans are still many years from reaching Mars in person, their robotic proxies have proven fit for the journey. Employing high-resolution imaging technology on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA scientists recently were able to analyze light waves returned from seasonal dark lines on Martian cliffs. The results offered strong evidence for the ebb and flow of water. But does that mean there’s life? Kenneth Nealson, an astrobiologist who worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at...
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Donations Help Create "Supercomputer" for Students (Oct 26, 2015)
The word to keep in mind is no longer “plastics.” It’s “parallel.” Parallel computing is the wave of the future in science and engineering, and thanks to donations from Intel and Dell Corporations, Cornell students will get hands-on experience with the technology. Intel is donating 15 Xeon Phi 5110P circuit boards, each of which holds 60 interconnected processors, or “cores,” along with memory. Installed in servers provided by Dell at a substantial discount to support a course, the...
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NCAR on the Forefront of Engineering for Disaster (Oct 25, 2015)
A new NCAR-facilitated group aims to develop the know-how and tools for building resilient systems that can recover smoothly when catastrophic weather and climate events strike. The group, the Engineering for Climate Extremes Partnership (ECEP), is building relationships with experts from a broad array of sectors, from engineering to business, government, academia, and American Indian tribal and community leadership. The common thread is concern for the mounting toll taken by extreme weather eve...
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DOE Selects UC Berkeley to Lead U.S. - China Energy and Water Consortium (Oct 25, 2015)
UC Berkeley, in partnership with UC Irvine and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was awarded a five-year, multi-million dollar international research consortium that tackles water-related aspects of energy production and use. Three additional UC campuses – UC Davis, UC Merced and UCLA – and Massachusetts-based Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)-US are also part of the collaboration. The consortium, announced by the U.S. Department of Energy, is one of several technical tracks under t...
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SDSC Upgrades Cloud Computing and Storage Services (Oct 24, 2015)
The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, has made significant upgrades to its cloud-based storage system to include a new range of computing services designed to support science-based researchers, especially those with large data requirements that preclude commercial cloud use, or who require collaboration with cloud engineers for building cloud-based services. The upgrades to SDSC Cloud, which debuted in late 2011 as one of the first large-scale acad...
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Virginia Tech, ORNL Computing - Mining Information (Oct 24, 2015)
Harvesting oil, mitigating subsurface contamination, and sequestering carbon emissions share a common thread—they deal with multiphase flows, or situations where materials are flowing close together in different states (solids, liquids, or gases) or when the flow is comprised of materials that have a common state with a different chemical makeup that prevents mixing (oil and water). A research team led by Virginia Tech’s James McClure is using computational resources at the Oak Ridge Leaders...
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Supercomputing Coral's Race to Beat Heat (Oct 23, 2015)
Corals can genetically adapt to warmer waters from climate change, scientists say in a study that relied on bioinformatic analysis with supercomputers. Reef-building corals can withstand a small degree of warming. This study with polyps of staghorn coral Acropora millepora across the Great Barrier Reef in Australia found the first evidence that coral pass heat-tolerant genes to their offspring, which can possibly allow a reef to beat the heat. Coral reefs around the world face a race against tim...
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MSU Nets Part of $5M Big Data Grant from NSF (Oct 23, 2015)
Michigan State University is teaming up with the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Indiana University and Van Andel Research Institute to implement a high-speed infrastructure that will allow scientists to access and share their research across the region with unprecedented ease. This new Multi-Institutional Open Storage Research InfraStructure (MI-OSiRIS) initiative was launched through a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and will enable researchers to collabor...
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First Detailed Public Map of U.S. Internet Backbone Could Make It Stronger (Oct 22, 2015)
University of Wisconsin researchers have created a map that shows the paths taken by the long-distance fiber-optic cables that carry Internet data across the continental U.S. Until now, the exact routes of those cables, which belong to major telecommunications companies, have been unavailable to the public, despite their importance to the public infrastructure. "Our intention is to help improve security by improving knowledge," says UW professor Paul Barford. The U.S. Department of Homeland Se...
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Microsoft to Invest $75 Million in Computer Science Education (Oct 22, 2015)
Microsoft is investing $75 million over a three-year period to help make computer science more mainstream in schools. Microsoft plans to give $75 million to nonprofits that can spread computer science education throughout the world, CEO Satya Nadella said on Wednesday during Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. The investment is part of the company’s YouthSpark initiative to promote computer science education it originally launched back in 2012. Microsoft will divvy ou...
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MIT Hosts Discussion on Scaling STEM Education (Oct 21, 2015)
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab last month hosted an event examining the current and future state of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The "Scaling STEM" event was hosted by MIT president L. Rafael Reif and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and focused on how the use of technology can improve access to quality STEM education, including demonstrations of new learning tools and outreach efforts, as well as presentations by leading education experts and pan...
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University of St. Andrew Gets European Funding to Push the Limits of C++ (Oct 21, 2015)
The European Union is funding a new initiative designed to develop effective software for emerging parallel computer platforms. Researchers at the University of St. Andrews will investigate how to make data-intensive applications run on highly parallel heterogeneous computing architectures. Improving the performance of data processing has the potential to significantly lower costs and energy consumption. The 3.5-million-euro initiative is part of the RePhrase project, which is tackling issues re...
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White House Announces ASU to Lead National STEM Collaborative (Oct 20, 2015)
The White House Council on Women and Girls has asked Arizona State University professor Kimberly A. Scott to lead the National Academic STEM Collaborative, an initiative that aims to create and share proven projects and highlight best practices that are happening at high schools and colleges. The collaborative will consist of nine universities and nine non-profit groups. The new consortium will serve as a "central unit" where proven ideas can be shared and made accessible with the goal of usin...
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Why Arts Educators Support Computer Science (Oct 20, 2015)
Advocates for arts education support Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to expand access to computer science in city schools. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Learning to code flexes many of the same creative and problem-solving muscles as participating in the visual and performing arts. In the arts and in computer science students often start with a blank slate and build something from nothing. The tools may be different, but the process of exploration, experimentation and critical reflection is the s...
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