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August 2016 — August 2016

Argonne Discovery Yields Self-Healing Diamond-Like Carbon (Aug 25, 2016)
Fans of Superman surely recall how the Man of Steel used immense heat and pressure generated by his bare hands to form a diamond out of a lump of coal. The tribologists -- scientists who study friction, wear, and lubrication -- and computational materials scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory will probably never be mistaken for superheroes. However, they recently applied the same principles and discovered a revolutionary diamond-like film of their own that is ...
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How Government Can Unlock Three Trillion Dollars of Value in the Digital Economy (Aug 24, 2016)
The traditional Silicon Valley view is that innovation happens in spite rather than because of government. But according to Accenture Senior Director of Strategy, Anand Shah, government does have an important role to play in stimulating growth. But it’s not the old top-down New Deal kind of government focused on massive investment in infrastructure and the creation of “shovel ready” jobs. Instead, Shah – one of the authors of the recent World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation of...
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French Security Blogger Tricks Cyberscammers (Aug 24, 2016)
Raise your hand: who hasn't fallen victim to cyberscams or at least come pretty close. Among the most lucrative con games are technical support scams that scare people into buying expensive software to fix non-existent problems. But a French security researcher now claims to have avenged us all. In a blog post, Ivan Kwiatkowski recounts how he played along with the tricksters and duped them into downloading an attachment containing ransomware when they asked for his credit card details.

Natural Scale Caterpillar Soft Robot is Powered and Controlled with Light (Aug 23, 2016)
Researchers at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, using the liquid crystal elastomer technology, originally developed in the LENS Institute in Florence, demonstrated a bioinspired micro-robot capable of mimicking caterpillar gaits in natural scale. The 15-millimeter long soft robot harvests energy from green light and is controlled by spatially modulated laser beam. Apart from travelling on flat surfaces, it can also climb slopes, squeeze through narrow slits and transport loads...
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People Ignore Software Security Warnings Up to 90 Percent of the Time (Aug 23, 2016)
Software developers listen up: if you want people to pay attention to your security warnings on their computers or mobile devices, you need to make them pop up at better times. A new study from BYU, in collaboration with Google Chrome engineers, finds the status quo of warning messages appearing haphazardly—while people are typing, watching a video, uploading files, etc.—results in up to 90 percent of users disregarding them. Researchers found these times are less effective because of "dual ...
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Can Robots Really Make Customers and Call Centers Happy? (Aug 22, 2016)
You’ve heard of Siri. You’ve probably even heard of Alexa. Now meet Amelia. “She” is an avatar dressed in a business suit, a virtual customer service representative powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Amelia was developed by managed IT services firm IPSoft, and she can analyze and learn from vast amounts of data, making independent decisions without programmers (also known as machine learning). Amelia communicates with customers through chat, but she is more highly evolved than most...
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Computing Teachers Down by One Quarter in Past Decade (Aug 22, 2016)
The number of computing teachers in Scotland has dropped by 25 per cent in the past decade amid fears that many specialists are moving south of the Border. New figures show there are now just 598 active computer science teachers in Scotland compared with 802 in 2005. Seventeen local authorities had schools with no computing teachers, with two thirds of Highland schools having no specialists. There were only 26 new registrations of computing teachers in Scotland last year compared with 85 in 2005...
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Powerful New Metric Quickly Reveals Network Structure at Multiple Scales (Aug 21, 2016)
What does a network look like? It typically depends on what scale you're analyzing. Researchers often want to know what hidden structures lie within data representing real-world networks, from power grids to the internet. To do this, they employ a variety of methods and metrics, but these methods are limited. Approaches that identify microscopic features miss the big structural picture. Methods that reveal macroscopic organization don't reliably show how the network is constructed – and also t...
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New MIT-Developed System Can Make Webpages Load 34 Percent Faster in Any Browser (Aug 21, 2016)
Computer scientists at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a system that can reliably make websites load 34 per cent faster. As internet speeds have increased, websites have got more complex, leaving some pages sluggish and unresponsive. This is a problem for companies like Amazon, who say that for every one-second delay in loading time, their profits are cut by one per cent. But a team of researchers, working at the university's Computer Science and Artif...
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Fujitsu Develops Technology to Process Deep Learning (Aug 20, 2016)
Fujitsu Laboratories has announced the development of software technology that uses multiple GPUs to enable high-speed deep learning powered by the application of supercomputer software parellelisation technology. A conventional method to accelerate deep learning is to use multiple computers equipped with GPUs, networked and arranged in parallel. According to the company however, the issue with this method is that the effects of parallelisation become progressively harder to obtain as the time r...
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Cognitive Offloading: How the Internet is Increasingly Taking Over Human Memory (Aug 20, 2016)
Our increasing reliance on the Internet and the ease of access to the vast resource available online is affecting our thought processes for problem solving, recall and learning. In a new article published in the journal Memory, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign have found that 'cognitive offloading', or the tendency to rely on things like the Internet as an aide-mémoire, increases after each use. We might think that memory is so...
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Researchers Debut Programmable Quantum Computer (Aug 17, 2016)
A team of researchers from the University of Maryland say they have developed a software-programmable quantum computer. UMD’s Joint Quantum Institute describes it as the first re-programmable quantum computer ever, and a major advance over previous demonstrations of quantum computing, which have generally been static devices designed to run only one type of operation. The details of the science are not for the faint-hearted. The device uses five quantum bits, or “qubits,” the equivalent of...
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New Computer Programme Replicates Handwriting (Aug 17, 2016)
In a world increasingly dominated by the QWERTY keyboard, UCL computer scientists have developed software which may spark the comeback of the handwritten word by analysing the handwriting of any individual and accurately replicating it. The scientists have created 'My Text in Your Handwriting', a programme which semi-automatically examines a sample of a person's handwriting, which can be as little as one paragraph, and generates new text saying whatever the user wishes, as if the author had hand...
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Toyota Teaches Cars to Drive by Studying Human Drivers (Aug 16, 2016)
In the world of driverless vehicle research, automakers are scrambling to find the best navigation formulas. Toyota believes human drivers can provide the answers. In January 2016, Toyota announced the creation of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), a $1 billion investment in AI to develop autonomous driving capabilities as well as home-care robots. Jim Adler, the first head of data at TRI, has been on the job for just two months. Before that, he was an executive at Metanautix, a data analytic...
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A Supercomputer is Taking on Humans in a Hacking Contest at DEF CON (Aug 16, 2016)
Can a supercomputer beat humans in a hacking contest? We're about to find out. For the first time, a fully automated supercomputer is trying to compete with humans in a major hacking contest, and so far the machine is hanging in there. The supercomputer, known as Mayhem, is among the teams taking part in this year’s Capture the Flag contest at the DEF CON security conference in Las Vegas. The game involves detecting vulnerabilities in software and patching them, and humans have been playing it...
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Riken’s Shoubu Supercomputer Captures Top Spot on Green500 List (Aug 15, 2016)
Japan’s research institution RIKEN once again captured the top spot on the Green500 list with its Shoubu supercomputer, the most energy-efficient system in the world. With rating of 6673.84 MFLOPS/Watt, Shoubu edged out another RIKEN system, Satsuki, the number 2 system that delivered 6195.22 MFLOPS/Watt. Both are “ZettaScaler”supercomputers, employing Intel Xeon processors and PEZY-SCnp manycore accelerators. The 3rd most energy-efficient system is China’s Sunway TaihuLight, which curre...
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Autism Genes Identified using New Approach (Aug 15, 2016)
Princeton University and Simons Foundation researchers have developed a machine-learning approach that for the first time analyzes the entire human genome to predict which genes may cause autism spectrum disorder, raising the number of genes that could be linked to the disorder from 65 to 2,500. The findings will appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience. ASD is a complex neurodevelopment disorder with a strong genetic basis, but only about 65 autism genes out of an estimated 400 to 1,000 have b...
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Tower of Power (Aug 14, 2016)
In the Nevada desert near Las Vegas, more than 10,000 mirrors focus the sun’s energy on a 640-foot tower. This concentrating solar power, or CSP, plant can generate 110 megawatts of electricity (enough for roughly 18,000 homes) by using the sun’s energy to heat a salt solution. That solution boils water, producing steam that turns a turbine generator. But to run at night or on a cloudy day, the heat-transfer medium – molten salt in this example – must stay hot as long as possible, and th...
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International HPC Summer School Prepares Next Generation (Aug 14, 2016)
XSEDE reports that this year’s International Summer School on HPC Challenges in Computational Sciences was a rousing success. A total of 79 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from 18 countries from institutions in Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States gathered in the European Green Capital 2016, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in the last week of June 2016. These students were selected from among the best in theirs fields through a rigorous review process from several hundred applicatio...
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Shape-changing Metamaterial Developed Using Kirigami Technique (Aug 13, 2016)
Engineers from the University of Bristol have developed a new shape-changing metamaterial using Kirigami, which is the ancient Japanese art of cutting and folding paper to obtain 3D shapes. Metamaterials are a class of material engineered to produce properties that don't occur naturally. Currently metamaterials are used to make artificial electromagnetic and vibration absorbers and high-performance sensors. Kirigami can be applied to transform two-dimensional sheet materials into complex three-d...
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How Computer Science Has Revolutionized Tech (Aug 13, 2016)
The one’s and zero’s are all around us. Computer science and code have completely changed the world and how we interact with it. Just for a quick rundown, source code (often simply referred to as code) is at the core of how computers operate. Code is essentially a set of human written instructions that govern how computers of all types operate.

Are Coding Bootcamps Only For the Rich? (Aug 12, 2016)
Paul Fain, in Inside Higher Ed, says one of the biggest criticisms levelled against bootcamps is they “don’t attract many low-income students.” The evidence certainly seems to support this. According to bootcamp industry-watcher Course Report, 79 percent of bootcamp students have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher before enrolling. Additionally, Course Report found the average pre-bootcamp salary to be $46,600, putting bootcamp students squarely in the middle class.

New Diamond-coated Screen Tech Could Be Stronger Than Gorilla Glass (Aug 12, 2016)
If you’d like to save your phone screen, put some bling on it. More than a decade ago, scientists figured out how to grow synthetic diamond as a potential replacement for the silicon MEMs or microelectromechanical systems. Now AKHAN Semiconductor says it’s figured out how to build on that original breakthrough, further refining the production process to create what may be the first-ever diamond-reinforced glass. Diamond is attractive as a potential smartphone display cover not only because i...
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Flexible Wearable Electronic Skin Patch Offers New Way to Monitor Alcohol Levels (Aug 11, 2016)
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a flexible wearable sensor that can accurately measure a person's blood alcohol level from sweat and transmit the data wirelessly to a laptop, smartphone or other mobile device. The device can be worn on the skin and could be used by doctors and police officers for continuous, non-invasive and real-time monitoring of blood alcohol content. The device consists of a temporary tattoo—which sticks to the skin, induces sweat and ele...
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Phase-change Device Imitates the Functionality of Neurons (Aug 11, 2016)
IBM scientists have created randomly spiking neurons using phase-change materials to store and process data. This demonstration marks a significant step forward in the development of energy-efficient, ultra-dense integrated neuromorphic technologies for applications in cognitive computing. Inspired by the way the biological brain functions, scientists have theorized for decades that it should be possible to imitate the versatile computational capabilities of large populations of neurons.

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