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July 2017 — July 2017

Need More Computer Science Teachers? Be Proactive about Recruiting (Jul 30, 2017)
Panelists at the Microsoft Policy Innovation Center event highlight that while there is generally a lack of qualified K-12 computer science teachers that need training. But, the overwhelming sentiment pointed in the direction of schools and decision-makers in the space to start being more strategic about their course offerings and how they target funding –– not just at the K-12 level, but across the entire spectrum of education. Understanding that courses at the K-12 and even early education...
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“Code Like a Girl” Bill Will Fund Computer Science Education for Young Women (Jul 30, 2017)
As you’ve probably noticed, science is going through an extremely tough time in America right now. When researchers aren’t bracing themselves for massive and historic funding cuts, scientists are being censored, bullied, and dismissed by the federal government – an administration that is shoring up the views of anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers. There are, however, plenty of pro-science lawmakers that aim to push back the tide. Take Representative Jacky Rosen, a Congresswoman from Ne...
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Blue Waters Intern Visualizes a Career in App Development (Jul 29, 2017)
As a high school student, and even as an early undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Max Collins was not sure what he wanted to do after graduation from college. This all changed as a result of his time spent as an NCSA Blue Waters intern and the time he spent working with Dr. Alan Craig, an NCSA researcher and leading expert in augmented and virtual reality. Collins, a psychology major graduate, now has a plan of action for the next phase of his education and ...
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Nick Nystrom Appointed Interim Director of PSC (Jul 29, 2017)
Nick Nystrom, senior director of research at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has been appointed Interim Director of the center. Nystrom succeeds Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies, who have been co-directors of PSC since its founding in 1986. During the interim period, Nystrom will oversee PSC’s state-of-the-art research into high-performance computing, data analytics, science and communications, working closely with Levine and Roskies to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

The Supercomputing Slump Hits HPC (Jul 28, 2017)
Supercomputing, by definition, is an esoteric, exotic, and relatively small slice of the overall IT landscape, but it is, also by definition, a vital driver of innovation within IT and in all of the segments of the market where simulation, modeling, and now machine learning are used to provide goods and services. As we have pointed out many times, the supercomputing business is not, however, one that is easy to participate in and generate a regular stream of revenues and predictable profits and ...
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STAMPEDE Supercomputer Skyrocketed Science (Jul 28, 2017)
Change was in the air at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2010, two years into the operation of the soon-to-be retired Ranger supercomputer of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Ranger represented a new class of cutting-edge computing systems designed specifically for getting more people — U.S. researchers from all fields of science and engineering — to use them. Ranger and a few other systems of the NSF-funded Teragrid cyberinfrastructure, such as Kraken at the National Ins...
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DOE Helps Tackle Biology's Big Data (Jul 27, 2017)
Six proposals have been selected to participate in a new partnership between two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) user facilities through the “Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science” (FICUS) initiative. The expertise and capabilities available at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) – both at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) – will help researchers explore the wealth of genomic and...
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Ultracold Molecules Hold Promise for Quantum Computing (Jul 27, 2017)
Researchers have taken an important step toward the long-sought goal of a quantum computer, which in theory should be capable of vastly faster computations than conventional computers, for certain kinds of problems. The new work shows that collections of ultracold molecules can retain the information stored in them, for hundreds of times longer than researchers have previously achieved in these materials.

Intelligent Animation (Jul 26, 2017)
Modern films and TV shows are filled with spectacular computer-generated sequences computed by rendering systems that simulate the flow of light in a three-dimensional scene and convert the information into a two-dimensional image. But computing the thousands of light rays (per frame) to achieve accurate color, shadows, reflectivity and other light-based characteristics is a labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive undertaking. An alternative is to render the images using only a few light r...
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Living Computers: RNA Circuits Transform Cells into Nanodevices (Jul 26, 2017)
The interdisciplinary nexus of biology and engineering, known as synthetic biology, is growing at a rapid pace, opening new vistas that could scarcely be imagined a short time ago. In new research, Alex Green, a professor at ASU's Biodesign Institute, demonstrates how living cells can be induced to carry out computations in the manner of tiny robots or computers. The results of the new study have significant implications for intelligent drug design and smart drug delivery, green energy productio...
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PPPL Researchers Simulate Impact of Recycled Atoms on Plasma Turbulence (Jul 24, 2017)
Turbulence, the violently unruly disturbance of plasma, can prevent plasma from growing hot enough to fuel fusion reactions. Long a puzzling concern of researchers has been the impact on turbulence of atoms recycled from the walls of tokamaks that confine the plasma. These atoms are neutral, meaning that they have no charge and are thus unaffected by the tokamak’s magnetic field or plasma turbulence, unlike the electrons and ions — or atomic nuclei — in the plasma. Yet, experiments have su...
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BSC Scientists Compare Algorithms That Search for Cancer (Jul 24, 2017)
Eduard Porta-Pardo, a senior researcher in the Life Sciences Department at Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), with the collaboration of a team of international scientists, has undertaken the first ever comparative analysis of sub-gene algorithms that mine the genetic information in cancer databases. These powerful data-sifting tools are helping untangle the complexity of cancer, and find previously unidentified mutations that are important in creating cancer cells.

Beauty Spot or Landscape Blot? Computer Trained to Judge Scenery (Jul 22, 2017)
Wordsworth found it in a host of daffodils; Nan Shepherd in the nooks of the Cairngorms. For Monet it popped up all over the place, from the windmills and canals of Amsterdam, to the sailing boats of Argenteuil. What lends a scene beauty has long been left to the poets and painters to define, but that may be about to change. In a new study, researchers trained a computer to tell scenic views from blots on the landscape. One day it could help with decisions over what land to protect, and how bett...
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DARPA Developing a ‘Modem’ Linking Computer and Brain (Jul 22, 2017)
Modern medicine has brought us quite a bit of amazing things. I, for one, love not dying from infections, from polio or mumps. Not to mention not pooping myself to death when I have a glass of water. These are things that I think we can all agree are good. Even with that progress, though, many of humanity’s oldest diseases and disorders are pernicious, but DARPA (yeah, that one) has started looking into some brain-computer interfaces that might do the trick.

Computer Scientists Demonstrate the Potential for Faking Video (Jul 21, 2017)
An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence. If you've been on the Internet at any point in the last year, there's a good chance you've come across fake news articles. Soon we may see a wellspring of fake news videos. As a team out of the University of Washington explains in a new paper titled "Synthesizing Obam...
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Do You Really Need a Degree in Computer Science to Be a Software Developer? (Jul 21, 2017)
The crux of being a successful software developer is the same as in every career: hard work is what will determine your success. With the myths and misconceptions however, many people begin doubting themselves when it comes to a career in software. The claim that the software industry demands that a programmer have a degree from a prestigious college or be a math genius to be successful are not as true as you would think. A college degree will certainly help if you wish to pursue a career in sof...
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Helping Robots Learn to See in 3-D (Jul 20, 2017)
Autonomous robots can inspect nuclear power plants, clean up oil spills in the ocean, accompany fighter planes into combat and explore the surface of Mars. Yet for all their talents, robots still can't make a cup of tea. That's because tasks such as turning the stove on, fetching the kettle and finding the milk and sugar require perceptual abilities that, for most machines, are still a fantasy. Among them is the ability to make sense of 3-D objects. While it's relatively straightforward for robo...
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New Material Resembling a Metal Nanosponge Could Reduce Computer Energy Consumption (Jul 20, 2017)
In order to store information in the conventional magnetic memories of electronic devices, the materials' small magnetic domains work by pointing up or down according to the magnetic fields. To generate these fields it is necessary to produce electric currents, but these currents heat up materials and a large amount of energy is spent cooling them. Practically 40% of the electrical energy going into computers (or "Big Data" servers) dissipates as heat. In 2007, French scientists observed that wh...
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AP Computer Science Exam Takers Double; Here’s Why (Jul 19, 2017)
Female, black and Latino student participation in Advanced Placement computer science exams has more than doubled in the past year, helped by the introduction of an AP course designed to introduce principles, according to a new report. More than 19,700 female students took an AP computer science exam in 2017, a 135% increase from 2016 and a dramatic increase from the 2,600 female students that took the AP Computer Science exam 10 years ago, according to results released by non-profit Tu...
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IBM, Citizen-Scientists to Contribute Equivalent of up to $200M for Climate Research (Jul 18, 2017)
As climate change accelerates, IBM is galvanizing the global science community with a massive infusion of computing resources, weather data, and cloud services to help researchers examine the effects of climate change, and explore strategies to mitigate its effects. IBM pledges to help direct the equivalent of up to $200 million for up to five climate-related projects judged to offer the greatest potential impact, and will then broadly share the experiments’ results. IBM is inviting members of...
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UI Researchers Use Supercomputer to Develop Techniques for More Accurate Evolutionary Trees (Jul 18, 2017)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a bit of a history with genomics, to put it mildly. In 1977, microbiologist Carl Woese uprooted the tree of life, a concept dating back to the early 19th century that explored how organisms were related and evolved. Woese is credited with discovering the third domain that organisms could fall into—Archaea—consisting of single-celled organisms that are vastly different from bacteria, plants or animals. This discovery changed how researchers v...
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Sherlock Launches Secure, Compliant Cloud Services in Amazon Web Services (Jul 17, 2017)
The Health Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Division of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego, has deployed its secure and compliant Cloud solution, Sherlock Cloud, in Amazon Web Services (AWS). This solution addresses the gap that currently exists in infrastructure level compliance offered by public cloud platforms with a comprehensive, managed compliance capability offered by Sherlock Cloud, thereby giving customers the option of buying services on premise...
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Can Computer Science Education Be Fun? (Jul 17, 2017)
Retail sales and truck driving are two of the most common jobs in America. They are also jobs that may eventually be automated. That's why David Delmar, executive director and founder of Resilient Coders, said, "Coding is the new blue-collar job." Accepting that reality, though, means that a lot has to change about how we educate kids. Yet, "For most states and school districts, the notion of computer science for every student is a relatively new and unexplored topic," according to

Want to Kill Your IT Security Team? Put the Top Hacker in Charge (Jul 16, 2017)
Managing an IT department at the best of times can be a struggle, and managing a security team has its own special challenges. But whatever you do, don't put an engineer, even your best, in charge, unless their people management skills are as good as their infosec knowhow. “All my staff are basically volunteers,” Mike Murray, VP of intelligence for mobile security biz Lookout, told The Register this week. “The people are all so highly competent and completely in demand. I know any person o...
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Code @ TACC Robotics Camp Delivers on Self-Driving Cars (Jul 16, 2017)
On a hot and breezy June day in Austin, parents, friends, brothers and sisters navigated through main campus at The University of Texas at Austin and helped carry luggage for the new arrivals to their dorm rooms. Thirty-four high school students from mostly low-income Title I schools in Central Texas, some from as far away as Houston, said good-bye to their families. The students came for a different kind of summer camp, where for one week they became part of a science team that used computer pr...
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