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September 2015 — September 2015

Researchers Find Security Flaws in Developing-World Money Apps (Sep 29, 2015)
A study of seven mobile-money applications in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines by University of Florida researchers found all but one had severely inadequate security measures. "It was worse than we expected," says University of Florida professor Patrick Traynor. One of the apps, India-based MoneyOnMobile, appeared to use encryption to shield data, but did so by transmitting sensitive data to a server unprotected before encrypting it, thus enabling the theft of the data. A...
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Summon the Comfy Chairs! Robotic Furniture Coming Soon! (Sep 28, 2015)
Researchers in Europe and the U.S. are developing a bevy of roboticized furniture they think will fill the gap in the market between simpler domestic robots such as iRobot's Roomba and the humanoid Pepper servant robot recently launched by Softbank. For example, an expressive robot trash can developed by Stanford University's Wendy Ju and David Sirkin is designed to patrol fast-food restaurants for trash, approaching tables and wiggling to get patron's attention. A mobile robot named toybox, dev...
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Coding: The Ultimate Equalizer (Sep 28, 2015)
Coding is how technology, including software, apps and websites, is created. There are thousands of coding languages, such as JavaScript, Python and SQL, and early exposure helps young people understand and interact with the devices that provide the means to shape our technology-driven culture. Coding is valuable in that it teaches problem solving, design and innovation. It is practical in that it creates solutions to immediate challenges. It is creative in that it allows people to imagine and i...
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Girls Who Code Camp Aims to Combat Stereotypes (Sep 27, 2015)
About 60 high school girls spent seven weeks this summer learning about coding and computer science at the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program held at Georgetown University. The camp was sponsored by the Business Software Alliance, Lockheed Martin, and Georgetown University. It was organized by Girls Who Code, a nonprofit group that is seeking to increase the number of women who pursue careers in technology. "I think if there's a significant portion of the population that is discouraged from...
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How New York City is Preparing Girls for our STEM-Focused Future (Sep 27, 2015)
As a mother and a grandmother — and as women who’ve strived for success in the business and education worlds — we want our girls and young women to go out into the world knowing they can do anything. In today’s technology-driven economy, an important part of that is giving them the skills, support, and confidence to pursue education and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). When we look at today’s young women, we see the next generation of software developers and...
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Security Researchers Hack a Car and Apply the Brakes Via Text (Sep 26, 2015)
A serious weak point in vehicle security enabled hackers to remotely control a vehicle, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego. The team demonstrated the vulnerability on a Corvette by turning on the windshield wipers, applying the brakes or even disable them at low speed. The flaw involves the small black dongles that are connected to the onboard diagnostic ports of vehicles to enable insurance companies and fleet operators to track them and collect data such as fue...
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Tech Lady Hackathon: "A Really Open Community for Women" (Sep 26, 2015)
The third annual Tech Lady Hackathon was held last month at the Impact Hub co-working space in Washington, D.C. The event attracted more than 150 coders, mostly women in their 20s and 30s, who participated in a day-long slate of collaborative programming projects and training sessions. One project was led by Shannon Turner of Hear Me Code and involved brainstorming ideas for improving her organization's website, while another session took the form of a workshop on data visualization. Other proje...
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A Supercomputer in the Palm of Your Hand (Sep 18, 2015)
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth are examining the possibility of using smartphone processors as energy-efficient alternatives to current supercomputer components. The team led by professor Gaurav Khanna, associate director of the Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research, has a background in finding creative alternatives to standard supercomputers. Khanna and his team were among the first to see the potential of gaming consoles, in particular the Playsta...
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SDSC Awarded One-Year Extension for Gordon Supercomputer (Sep 18, 2015)
The National Science Foundation has awarded the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, a one-year extension to continue operating its Gordon supercomputer, providing continued access to the cluster for a wide range of researchers with data-intensive projects. The result of a five-year, $20 million NSF grant awarded in late 2009, Gordon entered operations in early 2012 as one of the 50 fastest supercomputers in the world at the time – and the only one to empl...
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Code "Transplant" Could Revolutionize Programming (Sep 17, 2015)
Researchers at University College London have developed MyScalpel, a software tool they say is capable of automatically isolating the code of a feature in one program and "transplanting" it into another program. Research team leader Mark Harman says that like an organ transplant, a code transplant has a chance of being "rejected" by the new "host." However, because the system is automated, it can retry the transplant, hundreds or thousands of times if necessary, until it gets it right. To demons...
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Tackling Power and Resilience at Exascale (Sep 17, 2015)
The exascale challenges of power and resiliency are the focus of two projects that recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Research Program. The funding recipients are University of Chicago professor Hank Hoffmann and Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Christian Engelmann. "We are going to build computer systems that are so complicated that very few people can optimize them, so we need to make the machines intelligent to handle some of this, or we'll have mac...
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The U.S. Receives 9 of 10 Top Honors in World Ranking of Engineering Schools (Sep 16, 2015)
Shanghai Jiao Tong University recently released their 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). Since 2003, the school has used a transparent methodology to crunch third party data into their popular list. This year, nine of the 10 top engineering schools are located within America. A lot of funding is pouring into the STEM movement which looks to ensure that America leads the world in technological professionals. As a result, it could be argued that the list is artificially inflated. ...
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India Loves MOOCs (Sep 16, 2015)
When massively open online courses (MOOCs) first became available several years ago, proponents expected them to revolutionize education and shake up the established higher-education system. Although this has not yet happened in the U.S and Europe, MOOCs have taken off in a big way in India, where they are meeting a need for education, particularly technical education, with which the rapidly developing country's network of technical schools and institutes cannot keep up. Indian students now acco...
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Would More Girls Study Computer Science if Classrooms Were "Less Geeky"? (Sep 15, 2015)
As recent Twitter campaigns like #ILookLikeAnEngineer have shown, stereotypes are powerful — perhaps especially in high school, where students are quick to pigeonhole each other into cliques like jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs and so on. High school also happens to be where people start to think seriously about what they want to do when they grow up. In practical terms, according to new research, that means many teenaged girls who might otherwise consider a career in STEM are turned off by the...
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Technology Reshapes Education, "Making Thinking Visible" (Sep 15, 2015)
Jeannette Jones, dean of education at Schaumburg-based for-profit American InterContinental University, told of a time she sat in on a middle school class and a student asked the teacher a question. She said the teacher didn't know the answer — but on the spot posed the question to her Twitter followers. The teacher in seconds received responses from several experts in the field, Jones said. That’s an example of how technology is changing education forever. Other examples include increased u...
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Ten Students Named to XSEDE Scholars Program (Sep 14, 2015)
Ten STEM students have been named to the XSEDE Scholars program, an outreach and educational effort that reveals the full reach and potential of XSEDE’s resources and services to undergraduates and graduates. This 2015-16 cohort is the fifth generation of this program, which aims to engage with underrepresented groups in computational science. As part of the XSEDE Scholars program, the scholars attended the Blue Waters Petascale Institute, participated at the XSEDE15 conference.

Code @ TACC: An Immersive Two-Week Summer Workshop for High School Students (Sep 14, 2015)
This summer, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) hosted 50 rising high school juniors and seniors for its innovative and inaugural STEM program, CODE@TACC. With support from Mellanox and the Central Texas Summer STEM Funder Collaborative, which includes the KDK-Harman Foundation, TACC’s Life Sciences and Education and Outreach (E&O) teams designed a program that introduced students to principles in high performance computing, life sciences, and robotics.

The 2015 Top 10 Programming Languages (Sep 13, 2015)
In cooperation with computational journalist Nick Diakopoulos, IEEE Spectrum has released its second annual ranking of programming languages. Forty-eight languages were included this year and are ranked based on weighting and combining 12 metrics from 10 data sources, including the IEEE Xplore digital library and Github. The rankings are weighted to broadly represent the interests of IEEE's members, but users can apply filters to tailor the rankings to their specific situation using the Top Prog...
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Raspberry Pi is Succeeding in Ways its Makers Almost Imagined (Sep 13, 2015)
When the Raspberry Pi shipped to a planet of excited geeks in the middle of 2012, it changed the way we taught IT. That had always been the intention of creator Eben Upton. Give the kids the goods and they’ll do the rest. At first, it seemed as though the grownups were more excited than the kids, creating all sorts of wacky Pi-based projects. Fortunately, those grownups - eager for the respect of their peers - shared everything they learned, posting to blogs, StackOverflow, and thousands of ot...
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Cyber-Defense and Forensic Tool Turns 20 (Sep 12, 2015)
Users and cybersecurity engineers celebrated the open source cybersecurity defense/forensic software Bro's landmark achievements as a real-world tool as part of its 20th anniversary. Bro's success owes a lot to long-term backing by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and early adoption by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), which saw its practical applications almost immediately, given that LBNL and other research centers are under near-constant cyberattack. Bro not only sup...
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Stanford Researchers Unveil Virtual Reality Headset that Reduces Eye Fatigue, Nausea (Sep 12, 2015)
New virtual reality headset technology developed at Stanford University provides a more natural viewing experience. With current "flat" stereoscopic virtual reality headsets, each eye sees only one image and the depth of field is also limited. However, Stanford professor Gordon Wetzstein says in the real world, people see slightly different perspectives of the same three-dimensional scene at different positions of their eyes' pupil. Wetzstein also notes people focus on different depths, and the ...
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Matthew Tirrell Named Deputy Laboratory Director for Science at Argonne (Sep 11, 2015)
Matthew Tirrell, the Founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) at the University of Chicago, has been appointed to an additional scientific leadership role at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, in a move that will strengthen the two institutions’ combined efforts. Tirrell, a pioneering researcher in the fields of biomolecular engineering and nanotechnology, will maintain his leadership of the IME, which is a scientific partnership b...
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Creating an Avatar from a 3D Selfie (Sep 11, 2015)
Smartphone users will be able to generate a three-dimensional duplicate of themselves by using a new process developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Alexandru Ichim from EPFL's Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory and colleagues say they have condensed an expensive and complex Hollywood studio process into an application for use on smartphone cameras. "We wanted the process to be fast and easy: all you have to do is take a video of yourself ...
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Obama Signs Executive Order to Build World's Fastest Supercomputer (Sep 10, 2015)
President Obama has signed an executive order to announce the National Strategic Computing Initiative, which will be responsible for building the world's fastest supercomputer.The Defense and Energy Departments along with the National Science Foundation will lead the research on the development of a new high-performance computer. The technology will be used for better "economic competitiveness and scientific discovery," according to Obama's order. Supercomputers are used for many purposes, some ...
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Blue Waters and Titan Help SCEC Gain Insight about Earthquakes (Sep 10, 2015)
The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and its lead scientist, Thomas Jordan, use massive computing power made possible by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve our understanding of earthquakes. In doing so, SCEC is helping to provide long-term earthquake forecasts and more accurate hazard assessments. One SCEC effort in particular, the PressOn project, aims to create more physically-realistic, wave-based earthquake simulations using an earthquake model they developed called...
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