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April 2015 — May 2015

NERSC Invites Haswell-Based Cray XC40 Into Cori Fold (May 8, 2015)
Nearly one year after the Department of Energy inked a $70 million contract for the exascale-relevant Cori system, news of a second, smaller system has come to light. In an interesting turn of events, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) revealed that it will be acquiring a “Cori Phase 1” system, a 10-cabinet Cray XC40 machine outfitted with Intel “Haswell” parts to be installed this summer. Named after American biochemist Gerty Cori, the next-gen Cray XC syst...
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Video Games Can Power Up From Merely Fun to Meaningful Experiences (May 7, 2015)
Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have found many video games can have meaningful entertainment experiences for players. They studied 512 participants' experiences with video games, and learned players not only enjoyed playing games, but also frequently appreciated them at a deeper, more meaningful level. Participants suggested story details in the game were critical to feelings of appreciation, indicating more meaningful games were associated with heightened feelings of insight or...
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Supercomputer Faces Four Poker Pros in Texas Hold’Em Competition (May 7, 2015)
In a contest that echoes Deep Blue’s chess victory over Garry Kasparov and Watson beating two Jeopardy! Champions, computer poker software developed at Carnegie Mellon University will challenge four of the world’s best professional poker players in a “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” competition that began on April 24 at Rivers Casino. Over the course of two weeks, the CMU computer program, Claudico, will play 20,000 hands of Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold’em with each of the four pok...
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Which Groups Are Favored? (May 6, 2015)
A new study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Wisconsin Center for Education Research found men, and in particular white men, do not have the advantage many presume they have in science, technology, engineering and math, at least in academia. The study examined data from the national Survey of Doctorate Recipients gathered from 1993 through 2010, focusing on the amount of time it took academics to obtain a tenure-track position and then earn tenure. The study found bla...
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A-MAN Brings STEM into the Inner Cities (May 6, 2015)
The nonprofit African-American Male Achievers Network (A-MAN) was founded in 1991 to provide year-round science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related programs to students in K-12 using computer labs as well as hands-on activities with laser beams and robotics. The goal is to encourage underserved African-American and Latino students to enter STEM careers. A-MAN's STEM education currently comprises students who are 50 percent African-American, 49 percent Latino, and 1 percent Asian-Am...
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Materials Scientists Putting New Spin on Computing Memory (May 5, 2015)
Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data. Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting from the beginning, and dropping the device could wipe out the memory altogether. As computers continue to shri...
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Senate Education Committee Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill (May 5, 2015)
On a unanimous vote of 22-0, the Senate HELP Committee approved a bipartisan bill that rewrites the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). This means the bill will go to the Senate floor for final consideration, although floor time has not yet been scheduled. During Senate markup of the bill, known as the Every Child Achieves Act, 60 amendments were debated, 21 amendments offered and withdrawn, 29 amendments were passed and 8 amendments failed. Most of the amendments were...
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Europe Faces 800,000 Shortfall in Skilled ICT Workers by 2020 (May 4, 2015)
A shortfall in workers with information and communication technology skills could keep Europe from enjoying the economic and social benefits of trends, such as big data and cloud computing. The European Commission's Andrus Ansip described Europe's current state of affairs as alarming in a recent speech in Belgium. He said the rapid growth of the technology sector has led to the creation of 120,000 new jobs a year. However, Ansip noted Europe could face a shortfall of more than 800,000 skilled te...
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The Hubble Space Telescope, Our Window to the Universe, Turns 25 (May 4, 2015)
The Hubble Space Telescope launched 25 years ago. It’s easy to forget how revolutionary the project was, given that an entire generation of Americans has grown up accustomed to it beaming down stunning images of the cosmos on a regular basis. The first space telescope was proposed in 1923 by Hermann Oberth. Even then, it was clear that Earth-based telescopes operated at significant disadvantage. Not only are they impacted by light from cities, the atmosphere itself attenuates and blocks stars ...
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The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM (May 3, 2015)
Gender bias appears to be a key contributor to the scarcity of U.S. women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), according to new studies. Recent research in conjunction with the Association for Women in Science suggests bias drives women from STEM--and the mechanism of this prejudice can vary according to a woman's race or ethnicity. For example, interviews with and polls of female scientists found 66 percent of respondents had to prove their competence repeatedly, with black wome...
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India Green Lights $730 Million Supercomputing Grid (May 3, 2015)
The Indian government has approved a seven-year supercomputing program worth $730 million (Rs. 4,500-crore) intended to restore the nation’s status as a world-class computing power. The prime mandate of the National Supercomputing Mission, first revealed last October, is the construction of a vast supercomputing grid connecting academic and R&D institutions and select departments and ministries. The National Supercomputing grid will be comprised of more than 70 geographically-distributed high-...
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SpaceX Will Try Landing its Falcon 9 Rocket on Drone Ship Again (May 2, 2015)
SpaceX is on a quest to get things into orbit and be less wasteful doing it. After a less than successful test a few months ago, SpaceX is set to test its reusable Falcon 9 first stage again as it launches a new International Space Station resupply mission. SpaceX will attempt to land that first stage vertically on its “spaceport drone ship” in the Atlantic Ocean after seeing the Dragon capsule safely to orbit. Most of the launch platforms developed thus far have relied upon at least one or ...
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IBM's Watson Has Published a Cookbook (May 2, 2015)
Together with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), the Jeopardy! winning computer has created perhaps the world's first-ever cookbook co-created by computer algorithms. "Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson" is a collaboration that began three years ago when IBM began building an "idea-generating tool" using Watson's artificial intelligence. The teams settled on trying to innovate food because it's something everyone appreciates, according to the book's introduction.



CASC Announces New Director (May 1, 2015)
The Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC) is pleased to announce that Ms. Lisa Arafune will be joining the organization as Director. Ms. Arafune comes to the position with a wealth of experience in government relations, including more than a decade representing higher education and university-based research interests on Capitol Hill. She has advocated for the research community and major federal science agencies, including NSF, DOD, USDA, NIH, DOE, and NASA. Ms. Arafune holds a Ma...
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Hoax-Detecting Software Spots Fake Papers (May 1, 2015)
This month, Springer announced the creation a new tool meant to combat nonsense paper submissions. Called SciDetect, the tool was developed in partnership with Cyril Labbe, a computer scientist at Grenoble's Joseph Fourier University. The tool uses a statistical technique similar to those used by email spam filters to automatically detect papers created with SCIgen and similar programs.



Moore's Law at 50: The Past and Future (Apr 30, 2015)
When you're strapping on the latest smart watch or ogling an iPhone, you probably aren't thinking of Moore's Law, which for 50 years has been used as a blueprint to make computers smaller, cheaper and faster. Without Moore's Law it's quite possible that new types of computers like Microsoft's HoloLens, a holographic wearable with which users can interact with floating images, would not have been developed. For decades, Moore's Law has been a guiding star for the development of modern electronic...
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The Path Toward Tomorrow's Internet (Apr 30, 2015)
A conference last week convened participants in the U.S. National Science Foundation's Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) and US Ignite projects to highlight initiatives for accelerating the proliferation of next-generation Internet technology to spur scientific discoveries, economic development, education and public health. Among the themes of the conference was the role of government and public funding in technological advancement, which tends to be downplayed with private money...
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Mapping the Cosmos (Apr 29, 2015)
Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey have released the first in a series of dark matter maps of the cosmos. These maps, created with one of the world's most powerful digital cameras, are the largest contiguous maps created at this level of detail and will improve our understanding of dark matter's role in the formation of galaxies. Analysis of the clumpiness of the dark matter in the maps will also allow scientists to probe the nature of the mysterious dark energy, believed to be causing the exp...
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Sun Experience Seasonal Changes, NCAR Research Finds (Apr 29, 2015)
The Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability, with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years, according to a new study by a team of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This behavior affects the peaks and valleys in the approximately 11-year solar cycle, sometimes amplifying and sometimes weakening the solar storms that can buffet Earth’s atmosphere.



Bounds on the Quantum Information "Speed Limit" Tightened (Apr 28, 2015)
Just how fast is possible is an open question when it comes to quantum computers, but physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have narrowed the theoretical limits for where that "speed limit" is. The research implies that quantum processors will work more slowly than some research has suggested. The work offers a better description of how quickly information can travel within a system built of quantum particles such as a group of individual atoms.



UCSD Engineers Develop Methods to Speed Up Simulations (Apr 28, 2015)
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers have developed implicit/explicit (IMEX) time-marching schemes that can speed up time-resolved numerical simulations in computational grand challenge problems. Computational grand challenge problems often arise from the high-resolution approximation of the partial differential equations governing complex flows of fluids or plasmas. The researchers say their breakthrough will enable numerical problems of a given size to run much faster on a gi...
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Fighting the Next Generation of Cyberattacks (Apr 27, 2015)
The next generation of cyberattacks will be more sophisticated, more difficult to detect and more capable of wreaking untold damage on the nation's computer systems. So the U.S. Department of Defense has given a $3 million grant to a team of computer scientists from the University of Utah and University of California, Irvine, to develop software that can hunt down a new kind of vulnerability that is nearly impossible to find with today's technology. The team is tasked with creating an analyzer t...
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U.S. DOE Awards $200M for Supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory (Apr 27, 2015)
U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science and Energy Lynn Orr announced two new High Performance Computing (HPC) awards that continue to advance U.S. leadership in developing exascale computing. The announcement was made alongside leaders from Argonne National Laboratory and industry partners at Chicago’s tech start-up hub, 1871. Under the joint Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Lawrence Livermore (CORAL) initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $200 millio...
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Blue Waters to Help Researchers Tackle Ebola (Apr 26, 2015)
NCSA’s Blue Waters supercomputer will be used by three research teams to gain new understanding of the deadly Ebola virus, thanks to allocations provided through the National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research program. Klaus Schulten, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will perform molecular dynamics simulations on Blue Waters in an effort to find new antibody-like agents that will signal the presence of Ebola in an infected person. If identified, these agents could then b...
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Compilers and More: The Past, Present and Future of Parallel Loops (Apr 26, 2015)
In parallel computing, we have been designing, describing, implementing and using parallel loops almost since the beginning. The advantage of parallel loops is that the parallelism scales up with the data set size or loop trip count. So, what exactly is a parallel loop? A sequential loop has a loop body and some kind of loop control: the program typically executes the loop body once, then the control code will determine whether to loop back to the top of the loop body and execute it again. Simil...
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