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September 2017 — October 2017

Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (Oct 5, 2017)
Theoretical physicists have dispelled the idea we are living in a Matrix-style computer simulation, calculating that not all aspects of our reality can be simulated efficiently using computers. The simulation theory has been a staple of science fiction for decades and was detailed in a 2003 paper by the philosopher Nick Bostrom. On the basis of this paper, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has stated there is a 99.99 percent chance that the universe we inhabit is a computer simulation, while physic...
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Teleoperating Robots with Virtual Reality (Oct 5, 2017)
Many manufacturing jobs require a physical presence to operate machinery. But what if such jobs could be done remotely? This week researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) presented a virtual-reality (VR) system that lets you teleoperate a robot using an Oculus Rift headset. The system embeds the user in a VR control room with multiple sensor displays, making it feel like they are inside the robot's head. By using gestures, users can match their movem...
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These Companies Pledged $300 Million to Boost Computer Science in Schools (Oct 4, 2017)
A group of major companies led by the technology industry announced plans Tuesday to commit more than $300 million over five years to boost computer science programs among younger students., Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft, and announced in Detroit they are committing $50 million for kindergarten through 12th grade educational efforts, the Internet Association, a trade group representing tech companies that helped organize the effort said. Lockheed Martin agreed to commit...
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How Relevant is a Computer Science Degree to a Career in ICT? (Oct 4, 2017)
Last year, Amina (not real name), a prospective computer programmer who participated in the Andela boot camp decided that her four-year-old son will not attend a Nigerian tertiary institution. She is grooming him to become a software developer and believes he will be better off spending four years as an Andela fellow rather than schooling in a regular university. Clara (not real name) on the other hand, recently registered her 16-year-old son to study computer science at one of the private unive...
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Filling the Pipeline for Computer Science Teachers (Oct 2, 2017)
It’s not easy to teach a subject in which you have no training. But Kristen Haubold, a computer science teacher at James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, was up for the challenge. Haubold arrived at Riley 5 years ago as a math teacher after graduating from Indiana University in Bloomington. A year later, Indiana began developing a new computer science requirement for elementary and high school students, and Haubold signed up for the course that the state was offering.

The State of Women in Computer Science: An Investigative Report (Oct 2, 2017)
In the classrooms at Georgia Tech, among the laptops and notebooks and lines of code, senior computer science major Marguerite Murrell likes to play a game she's dubbed "Count the Girls." "If I can keep it under two hands, then I win," Murrell said. "There are certainly some girls, probably more than some other computer science programs in the nation. But it's a lot of guys." Women earn only 18% of computer science bachelor's degrees in the United States. And leaders such as Apple CEO Tim Cook h...
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Video Gamers Have an Advantage in Learning (Oct 1, 2017)
Neuropsychologists of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum let video gamers compete against non-gamers in a learning competition. During the test, the video gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas that are relevant for learning. Prof Dr Boris Suchan, Sabrina Schenk and Robert Lech report their findings in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

Team Builds Flexible New Platform for High-performance Electronics (Oct 1, 2017)
A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has created the most functional flexible transistor in the world—and with it, a fast, simple and inexpensive fabrication process that's easily scalable to the commercial level. It's an advance that could open the door to an increasingly interconnected world, enabling manufacturers to add "smart," wireless capabilities to any number of large or small products or objects—like wearable sensors and computers for people and animals—that curve,...
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Trump Wants to Commit $200 Million Per Year to Computer Science Education (Sep 26, 2017)
President Donald Trump will soon direct the Department of Education to commit $200 million every year to K-12 computer science education, which is marking as a victory for its nonprofit organization. As Recode reported earlier today, Trump’s memorandum calls on the Department of Education to commit at least $200 million of its grant funds to STEM education. “Today’s $200M per year commitment to computer science education marks a victory for, and for the movement we starte...
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The Gender Gap in Tech Isn't Set in Stone (Sep 26, 2017)
It is often said that women are absent from the sciences. But this is not true. Not anymore. Although a gender gap remains in the sciences overall, the gap is closing. Women are now more likely than men to earn undergraduate degrees in biology, and they are almost as likely as men to earn undergraduate degrees in chemistry and math. There are, however, several scientific disciplines that women are still much less likely than men to choose to study: computer science, engineering and physics.

Twitter Bots for Good: Study Reveals How Information Spreads on Social Media (Sep 25, 2017)
After an election year marked by heated exchanges and the distribution of fake news, Twitter bots earned a bad reputation -- but not all bots are bad, suggests a new study co-authored by Emilio Ferrara, a USC Information Sciences Institute computer scientist and a research assistant professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Department of Computer Science. In a large-scale experiment designed to analyze the spread of information on social networks, Ferrara and a team from the Technical...
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Soft Robotics: Self-Contained Soft Actuator Stronger than Natural Muscle (Sep 25, 2017)
Researchers at Columbia Engineering have solved a long-standing issue in the creation of untethered soft robots whose actions and movements can help mimic natural biological systems. A group in the Creative Machines lab led by Hod Lipson, professor of mechanical engineering, has developed a 3D-printable synthetic soft muscle, a one-of-a-kind artificial active tissue with intrinsic expansion ability that does not require an external compressor or high voltage equipment as previous muscles require...
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Computer Science Researcher Teams with Industry to Provide Facial Recognition Technology (Sep 24, 2017)
From security to self-driving cars, computer vision is becoming an important part of society, and the information technology industry is ramping up efforts in the area to capitalize on emerging opportunities. Vassilis Athitsos, an associate professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington, is working with a $59,463 grant from Macnica Americas to evaluate existing deep learning methods for face detection and facial recognition to determine how t...
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The Race to Build a Computer Powerful Enough to Predict the Future (Sep 24, 2017)
In June, for the first time in two decades, the United States did not operate one of the top three most powerful computers in the world. Instead, China took the highest two slots, and Switzerland came in third, according to the Top500 list, a global ranking of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. The two fastest supercomputers from China clock in at 93 and 33 petaflops. A petaflop is a unit of measuring computer performance that translates to 1,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per sec...
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ALCF Simulations Aim to Reduce Jet Engine Noise (Sep 23, 2017)
Humans make a lot of noise. The riffs of heavy metal bands like Metallica and Kiss have soared to levels in the 130-decibel range, levels sure to lead to auditory damage. But try as they might, bands just can’t compete with the decibel ranges produced by jet engines. They are, said Joe Nichols, among the loudest sources of human-made noise that exist. An assistant professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota, Nichols is fascinated by sound and its ability to ...
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New HPC for Materials Program to Help American Industry (Sep 23, 2017)
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced a new high-performance computing initiative that will help U.S. industry accelerate the development of new or improved materials for use in severe environments. The HPC4Mtls initiative will initially focus on challenges facing industry as they work to develop new or improved materials that can sustain extreme conditions—including extreme pressure, radiation, and temperature, corrosion, chemical environment, vibration, fatigue, or...
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World's First 'Molecular Robot' Capable of Building Molecules (Sep 22, 2017)
Scientists at The University of Manchester have created the world's first 'molecular robot' that is capable of performing basic tasks including building other molecules. The tiny robots, which are a millionth of a millimeter in size, can be programmed to move and build molecular cargo, using a tiny robotic arm.

New Technique Accurately Digitizes Transparent Objects (Sep 22, 2017)
A new imaging technique makes it possible to precisely digitize clear objects and their surroundings, an achievement that has eluded current state-of-the-art 3D rendering methods. The ability to create detailed, 3D digital versions of real-world objects and scenes can be useful for movie production, creating virtual reality experiences, improving design or quality assurance in the production of clear products and even for preserving rare or culturally significant objects.

Computer Science Degrees Don’t Always Result in Hefty Pay Bumps, But That Doesn’t Make Them Pointless (Sep 21, 2017)
Data released by Stack Overflow earlier this morning suggests that obtaining a computer science degree only translates into a modest pay bump. Stack Overflow’s 2017 Developer Ecosystem report shows those with Computer Science degrees only earn £3,000 more per annum compared to those without. On average, developers without a university education reported earning £35,000 ($47,500) yearly. Those with a bachelors degree reported yearly average earnings of £38,000 ($51,500). For context, tuition...
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Tech Companies Woo Female Computer Science Majors at an Awkward Time (Sep 21, 2017)
Devshi Mehrotra couldn’t speak highly enough of her three-month internship with Google’s artificial intelligence project, Google Brain, this summer. “Oh, it was so great,” says Mehrotra, a 19-year-old computer-science major at the University of Chicago. “It was this program tailored to people with my background — women, people of color— and it was an environment that really pushed me to work as hard as I possibly could.”

Brain Composer: 'Thinking' Melodies onto a Musical Score (Sep 16, 2017)
Brain-computer interfaces, known as BCI, can replace bodily functions to a certain degree. Thanks to BCI, physically impaired persons can control special prostheses through the power of their minds, surf in internet and write emails.

Researchers Develop Spectroscopic 'Science Camera' System for Smartphones (Sep 16, 2017)
The latest versions of most smartphones contain at least two and sometimes three built-in cameras. Researchers at the University of Illinois would like to sell mobile device manufactures on the idea of adding yet another image sensor as a built-in capability for health diagnostic, environmental monitoring, and general-purpose color sensing applications.

The Myths and Realities of Studying Computer Science (Sep 15, 2017)
On nights that Kshetrapal Singh, 17, worked his part-time job as a night watchman, he dreamed of computer science. "Of everything taught in school, the only subject that can get me a proper job is computers," said Kshetrapal, a student in class 12 at Sangam Vihar's Government Boys Senior Secondary School, known locally as the pahadi school. "And that's the one thing they aren't teaching me."

Machine & Deep Learning: Practical Deployments and Best Practices for the Next Two Years (Sep 15, 2017)
In this video from the HPC User Forum in Milwaukee, Arno Kolster from Providentia Worldwide presents: Machine & Deep Learning: Practical Deployments and Best Practices for the Next Two Years.

Connecting Up the Quantum Internet (Sep 14, 2017)
Major leap for practical building blocks of a quantum internet: New research demonstrates how to dramatically improve the storage time of a telecom-compatible quantum memory, a vital component of a global quantum network. The technology operates in the same 1550 nanometer band as today's telecommunications infrastructure. It can also be operated as a quantum light source or used as an optical link for solid-state quantum computing devices such as superconducting qubits and silicon qubits.

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