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December 2015 — January 2016

The Brain-Computer Duel: Do We Have Free Will? (Jan 28, 2016)
Our choices seem to be freer than previously thought. Using computer-based brain experiments, researchers from Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin studied the decision-making processes involved in voluntary movements. The question was: Is it possible for people to cancel a movement once the brain has started preparing it? The conclusion the researchers reached was: Yes, up to a certain point -- the 'point of no return'. The results of this study have been published in the Proceedings of the ...
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Bug eyes: Tiny 3D Glasses Confirm Insect 3D Vision (Jan 27, 2016)
Miniature glasses have proved that mantises use 3D vision -- providing a new model to improve visual perception in robots. Most knowledge about 3D vision has come from vertebrates, however, a team from Newcastle University, UK publishing in Scientific Reports, confirm that the praying mantis, an invertebrate, does indeed use stereopsis or 3D perception for hunting. In a specially-designed insect cinema, they have shown that it needs to be 'old school' 3D glasses for tests to work on mantises. Wh...
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China is Catching Up to the US on Science and Engineering Spending, Report Finds (Jan 27, 2016)
Many Asian countries, especially China, have been increasing their investment in scientific research and development at a much faster rate than the United States. That's according to the new Science and Engineering Indicators 2016 report out today from the National Science Board — a group appointed by the president that sets policies for the National Science Foundation. The report details how Southeast, South, and East Asia now account for 40 percent of the world's expenditures in R&D. Asia's ...
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Gordon Supercomputer Used to Test Compounds for Uncoupler Activities (Jan 26, 2016)
Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing health problems, with some studies suggesting that, absent major improvements in drug discovery, by 2050 more individuals will die from drug-resistant bacterial infections than cancer. To help stem this nightmare scenario, a team of researchers – with the aid of the Gordon supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center based at UC San Diego – has identified a class of possible antibiotics with the potential to disa...
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This Smartphone Technology 3-D Maps Your Meal and Counts its Calories (Jan 26, 2016)
You could eyeball it, but science says you'd probably underestimate. You could painstakingly weigh each ingredient in that salad or burger or look up items in a smartphone app, but that requires time and attention to detail. A new laser mapping technology and smartphone app developed by University of Washington electrical engineers called NutriRay3D allows you to point your phone at a plate of food and get an accurate count of the total calories and nutrition. The team launched an Indiegogo camp...
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SDSC’s ‘Comet’ Supercomputer Blazing Trails via Science Gateways (Jan 25, 2016)
Just a few months after coming online as part of the XSEDE network of resources, Comet is making an impact. During the quarter that ended September 30, there were 3,310 gateway users across all XSEDE systems. There were 64,377 research jobs run by all gateways across all systems during the quarter, and 86 percent of them were run on either Comet or SDSC’s data-intensive Gordon supercomputer. “That’s a notable level of usage for a new machine,” said SDSC Deputy Director Shawn Strande.



U of W Research Could Revolutionize the Way We Drive (Jan 25, 2016)
University of Windsor (UWindsor) researchers are programming technology designed to reduce roadway collisions. The technology connects to a vehicle's navigational system and collects data about acceleration, speed, steering angle, velocity, and spatial location, according to UWindsor professor Arunita Jaekel. The researchers are developing algorithms that turn this information into safety warnings and give drivers alerts about hazards. "Hopefully, we can build the research group up and position ...
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10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2015: Where Are They Now? (Jan 24, 2016)
In February, the MIT Technology Review published their list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2015. Recently they released their follow up list, detailing how those technologies have advanced since then.



The Power of Open Source Software Tools (Jan 24, 2016)
Today, the landscape of high performance computing is much different than that of 15 years ago. In addition to scientists who use advanced computing systems, there has been a recent influx of researchers, including students from previously under-represented disciplines as varied as the humanities, economics, and social sciences, who are learning to take advantage of HPC for their varying research needs. Those engaged in computational research often reach the point where they outgrow their person...
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A Cure for ORNL Medical Researchers' Big Data Headache (Jan 23, 2016)
Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory say they have developed an advanced tool for literature-based discovery that has the potential to accelerate medical research. Oak Ridge Graph Analytics for Medical Innovation (ORiGAMI) is designed to reason with the knowledge of every published medical paper every time clinical researchers use the tool, which will help them find unexplored connections in medical literature. The researchers note ORiGAMI unites big data, graph computing, and the Se...
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Wikipedia-Mining Algorithm Reveals World's Most Influential Universities (Jan 23, 2016)
Researchers from the University of Franche-Comte in France say they have developed a method of ranking the influence of the world's universities by applying an algorithm used by Google to rank search results in Wikipedia. The Pagerank algorithm works by examining the links between nodes on a network to determine which of the nodes is most important. The researchers applied the algorithm to 24 different language editions of Wikipedia, a database containing 68 percent of all Wikipedia articles. Th...
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Teach Your Kids to Code: 6 Beginner's Resources for Parents (Jan 22, 2016)
Introducing computer programming to your kids can be a challenge, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of code. Fortunately, in the last few years, a number of apps, software, and guides have been produced that make the often-complex subject of computer coding easy to grasp for young learners. So where to begin? These are a few resources that parents can share with their kids to help them start learning about programming.



New PBS KIDS ScratchJr App Launces (Jan 22, 2016)
Based on the ScratchJr programming language co-developed by the MIT Media Lab and Tufts University, PBS has released PBS KIDS ScratchJr, a free app to help children ages 5-8 learn coding concepts as they create their own stories and games using over 150 PBS KIDS characters. With the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app, kids can snap together colorful programming blocks to make their favorite characters move, jump, dance, and sing. In the process, they learn to solve problems, design projects, and express the...
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Code School Study Shows How to Spot a Future Programmer (Jan 21, 2016)
A recent Code School survey offers information on traits in youth that may indicate a future in computer science. Most programmers find their interest in computer science before age 16 and carry this passion into their professional life, according to a recent survey. A Code School survey of 2,200 coders and developers reveals some specific traits and tendencies that may predict that a youth has a future career in computer science. The survey polled current coders and software developers and aske...
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SDSC, Sweetwater Schools Catch Eye of NSF, White House (Jan 21, 2016)
Five years ago, there were no computer science classes offered by schools within San Diego’s Sweetwater Union High School District, and Arthur Lopez, a teacher at Sweetwater High School in National City, decided to do something about it. Through a joint effort between the school district, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and UC San Diego CREATE, the school today has a number of courses on computer science principles, several of which are Advanced Placement classes that encourage students to...
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First Indian Student Supercomputing Challenge Coming this June (Jan 20, 2016)
Next June, the inaugural distributed and embedded-High Performance Computing Symposium will host the first Indian Student Supercomputing Challenge to introduce the next generation of students to the HPC community and its technology. As part of the competition, 8 to 10 student teams will build a small cluster computer of their own design and will use it to run a series of HPC benchmarks and applications. The teams also will be required to present their findings to a panel of judges to show how fu...
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Do We Still Need Computer Science Teachers? (Jan 20, 2016)
These days it seems like “how to learn coding yourself” opportunities are everywhere. There are MOOCs from major universities, code.org has great online tutorials, Facebook just opened a web site called TechPrep to help parents and students alike find resources and tools, and there seems to be a new edtech company starting up every week with online CS resources. The question for many becomes “do we still need computer science teachers?” For those of us who make our living teaching com...
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Growth in Computer Science Driven by Student Interest, Societal Need (Jan 19, 2016)
In response to growing enrollment and increasing interest in computer science from other disciplines, Princeton University is expanding its computer science faculty by more than 30 percent. The expansion will add 10 tenure-track positions to the current 28, making the computer science department one of the three largest concentrations at Princeton. The department plans to bring in the new faculty members as soon as possible, and the university will support the expansion with funds in the long te...
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New Education Bill to Get More Coding in Classrooms (Jan 19, 2016)
The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama recognizes computer science (CS) as important an academic subject as math and English, potentially introducing it into more classrooms across the country. The new law includes CS in the definition of well-rounded education subjects, putting it on the same level as other subjects when state and local policy makers decide how to distribute federal funds. "This week marks a watershed moment for computer science in U.S. s...
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Tiny Chip that Powers Itself from Radio Waves (Jan 18, 2016)
Eindhoven University of Technology researchers have developed a tiny sensor powered by the radio waves it uses to communicate information, a development the researchers say could help advance the Internet of Things industry. The sensor is designed to measure temperature, but Eindhoven professor Peter Baltus says similar sensors could be developed to measure light, movement, and humidity. The sensor is two square millimeters in size and weighs 1.6 milligrams. The device has an antenna that captur...
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In Belgium, an Encryption Powerhouse Rises (Jan 18, 2016)
Belgium's University of Leuven has become a stage where privacy and surveillance advocates are fighting over digital encryption, which is researched at the school's prestigious Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography group (COSIC). The center is led by professor and privacy proponent Bart Preneel, who has drawn criticism from those who think his work at Leuven complicates law enforcement and government efforts to foil or trace criminals and terrorists. "Academics have to be aware of the ne...
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HPC Facility in London Named after Dr. Rosalind Franklin (Jan 1, 2016)
A new high performance computing and cloud facility has been unveiled by scientists in London, named after Dr Rosalind Franklin, the unsung heroine of elucidating the double-helix structure of DNA. The new cloud HPC facility will allow the large-scale analysis of research data on an unprecedented scale – from sources as diverse as DNA samples to fitbits and health apps. The infrastructure will also allow researchers to analyze data more quickly, efficiently than was previously possible.



NASA, Google Unveil a Quantum Computing Leap (Jan 1, 2016)
The black box sitting at the heart of NASA's Advanced Supercomputing facility in Silicon Valley isn't much to look at. The size of a garden shed, it's smaller than a conventional supercomputer, but inside something quite impressive is happening. The box is a D-Wave 2X quantum computer, one of the most advanced examples yet of a new type of computer based on quantum mechanics, which can theoretically be used to solve complex problems in seconds rather than years.



Scientists Propose a Metasurface for the Anomalous Scattering of Visible Light (Dec 31, 2015)
A team of scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Russian Academy of Sciences has proposed a two-dimensional metamaterial composed of silver elements that refracts light in an unusual way. The research has been published on November 18 in Optical Material Express. In the future, these structures may be used to develop compact optical devices, as well as to create an "invisibility cloak." The results of computer...
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Women in HPC: Revelations and Reckoning (Dec 31, 2015)
Most who work in the high performance computing (HPC) industry agree; people problems are far more complicated than technical challenges. Diversity, or the lack thereof, is the HPC industry’s current grand challenge, and how best to encourage the participation of women in HPC was the theme for several SC15 sessions. While it’s well known that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are less diverse than humanities, business, social science, and other research arenas, ...
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