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July 2015 — July 2015

High Performance Computing Helps Chemists Sort Through Cellular Statistics (Jul 29, 2015)
DNA is often referred to as “the blueprint of life.” But it’s more than just a blueprint—it’s also a kind of operations manual for the workings of the cell, telling it what proteins to manufacture and when. Aaron Dinner, professor in chemistry, and his graduate student Herman Gudjonson are trying to read that manual, as part of the Dinner group’s research into bioinformatics—the application of statistics to biological research. To carry out their research, Dinner and Gudjonson turn...
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Fewer British Women Studying Computer Science (Jul 28, 2015)
The gender gap among British university students has widened in courses including software engineering, information systems and combined computer science courses. It appears that fewer women are studying computer science at UK universities than five years ago, according to UCAS figures. Overall, the prevalence of new courses (like gaming and graphics) to meet the growing demand for technology skills has steadily increased over the last five years.Yet the ratio of women accepting a place on a com...
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Basic Computing Elements Created in Bacteria (Jul 28, 2015)
The "friendly" bacteria inside our digestive systems are being given an upgrade, which may one day allow them to be programmed to detect and ultimately treat diseases such as colon cancer and immune disorders. In a paper published in the journal Cell Systems, researchers at MIT unveil a series of sensors, memory switches, and circuits that can be encoded in the common human gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. These basic computing elements will allow the bacteria to sense, memorize, and ...
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UCSC Students Create New Tools to Archive and Explore Computer Game Culture (Jul 25, 2015)
In a UC-Santa Cruz research lab dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of computer games, two graduate students have combined linguistics and computational theory to create a new multidimensional library of 12,000 computer games.The web-based tools, GameNet and GameSage, offer novel ways to discover similar types of games. It is a step toward sorting decades of game culture that has yet to be successfully categorized and archived. The pair used natural language processing, the intersection bet...
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Simulations Lead to Design of Near-frictionless Material (Jul 25, 2015)
Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.



Long-Sought Discovery Fills in Missing Details of Cell "Switchboard" (Jul 24, 2015)
A biomedical breakthrough, published in the journal Nature, reveals never-before-seen details of the human body's cellular switchboard that regulates sensory and hormonal responses. The work is based on an X-ray laser experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The much-anticipated discovery, a decade in the making, could have broad impacts on development of more highly targeted and effective drugs with fewer side effects to treat conditions including high bloo...
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BubbleSort Zines Lure Teen Girls to Computer Science (Jul 24, 2015)
Amy Wibowo knew, even as a kid, that computer science was a magical intersection of math, science and pictures. “As the teacher introduced a new concept, I would make cartoons about it,” she said; the visual elements of math theory sparked inspiration for her. “Textbooks are so dry,” she mourned; why didn’t anyone create textbooks with comics? “That would be so much juicier,” she thought, and resolved to make it happen someday. That day has come. The first issue of her BubbleSort Z...
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Will Teaching New Computer Science Principles Level the Playing Field? (Jul 23, 2015)
Realizing the dearth of access to computer science offerings in high school, the National Science Foundation, together with the College Board, convened a group of teachers and academics to craft a new course called “AP Computer Science Principles.” The primary goal of this new course, to be offered in fall 2016, is to increase student access to computer science, computing and STEM through a more multidisciplinary approach than the current AP course, which is focused primarily on programming ...
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Artificial Intelligence Contests Showcase Computer-generated Creativity (Jul 23, 2015)
Can an algorithm pass for an author? Can a robot rock the house? A series of contests at Dartmouth College is about to find out. Dartmouth is seeking artificial intelligence algorithms that create "human-quality" short stories, sonnets and dance music sets that will be pitted against human-produced literature, poetry and music selections. The judges won't know which is which. The goal is to determine whether people can distinguish between the two, and whether they might even prefer the computer-...
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Supercomputers Surprisingly Link DNA Crosses to Cancer (Jul 22, 2015)
DNA naturally folds itself into cross-shaped structures called cruciforms that jut out along the sprawling length of its double helix. DNA cruciforms are abundant; scientists estimate as many as 500,000 cruciform-forming sequences may exist on average in a normal human genome. Supercomputers have now helped scientists find a surprising link between cross-shaped (or cruciform) pieces of DNA and human cancer, according to a study.



EU Funds Open-Source Software Project to Advance Computational Science (Jul 22, 2015)
An open-source software project to extend the capacity of computational mathematics and interactive computing environments has received €7.6 million in EU funding. The OpenDreamKit project, funded by the EU’s Framework 2020 program, will make all associated code, data and research available for free on the internet as open-source software that other researchers can use. The project will develop software for mathematical tools, such as GAP and SageMath, which can be used by researchers to run...
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Face It, Your Brain is a Computer (Jul 21, 2015)
Science has a poor track record when it comes to comparing our brains to the technology of the day. Many neuroscientists today would add to the list of failed comparisons the idea that the brain is a computer — just another analogy without a lot of substance. Some of them actively deny that there is much useful in the idea; most simply ignore it.



Polite Robots Show Glimmer of Self-Awareness (Jul 21, 2015)
For the first time, three humanoid robots showed a glimmer of self-consciousness by solving a classic philosophical problem. The robotic trio was composed of three old Nao models, but the experiment that was conducted on them was extremely novel — and so were the results. The robots were programmed to think that two of them had been given a “dumbing pill” that would make them unable to speak. However, they didn't know exactly which two of them had been silenced. When the robots were asked ...
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Breakthrough in the Study of Gene Regulation (Jul 20, 2015)
Inside every cell that makes up a diminutive fruit fly is a vast, dynamic network of information -- the genome whose 15,000 genes allow that cell to function. In a new study, computer scientists and molecular biologists demonstrated the utility of a novel approach to deciphering how networks of genes are regulated.



Middle School Girls Get Head Start in Computer Science (Jul 20, 2015)
Women computer science majors at Rutgers University in New Brunswick are doing their part to inspire young girls to follow them into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Rutgers students worked one-on-one with girls at Theodore Schor Middle School in Piscataway this past school year to coach them in programming, game design, robotics and fundamentals of computing such as binary numbers. The aim is to show girls computer technology can be understandable and fun. Lea...
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Computer Program Fixes Old Code Faster Than Expert Engineers (Jul 19, 2015)
MIT computer scientists and Adobe engineers came together to try to solve a major problem that many companies face: bit-rot. Enter Helium, a CSAIL system that revamps and fine-tunes code without ever needing the original source, in a matter of hours or even minutes. The team started with a simple building block of programming that’s nevertheless extremely difficult to analyze: binary code that has been stripped of debug symbols. With Helium, the researchers are able to lift these kernels from ...
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The Intelligent Enterprise (Jul 19, 2015)
According to industry experts, we're on the cusp of the "third era" of computing, one of cognitive computing. In the age of tabulating machines, vacuum systems and the first calculators, we fed data directly into computers on punch cards. Later on, in the programmable era, we learnt how to take processes and put them into the machine, controlled by the programming we inflict on the system. But in the forthcoming era of cognitive computing, computers will work directly with humans "in a synergeti...
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​What’s On the Surface of a Black Hole? (Jul 18, 2015)
Are black holes the ruthless killers we’ve made them out to be? Samir Mathur says no. According to the professor of physics at Ohio State University, the recently proposed idea that black holes have “firewalls” that destroy all they touch has a loophole. In a paper posted online to the arXiv preprint server, Mathur takes issue with the firewall theory and proves mathematically that black holes are not necessarily arbiters of doom. In fact, he says the world could be captured by a black hol...
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Super-Awesome Sylvia Talks about Arduinos (Jul 18, 2015)
The Arduino is an awesome programmable prototyping platform. It’s a little computer that acts like a brain for robots, sensors, or other machines that connect to the real world. It’s pretty inexpensive, too! For less than the cost of a tank of gas, you can get yourself this little blue open-source brain board and start creating something incredible. With just a little bit of code (that you don’t even have to write), it can do almost any crazy thing you want. Not to mention, Arduino boards ...
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Former P&G Executive Brings Savvy to OSC Industry Engagement Efforts (Jul 17, 2015)
Tom Lange, Procter & Gamble’s top expert on modeling and simulation R&D for more than a decade, now is bringing his business and technology savvy from the retail sector to help drive industrial engagement efforts at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). "I believe we are a country of makers and innovators; we make things to better our world," said Lange. "Modeling and simulation (M&S) has helped companies improve what we make and how we make it. Why should only large companies use these advance...
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UT-Related Neutrino Experiment Recognized by US Department of Energy (Jul 17, 2015)
A UT-related project exploring the role that neutrinos and dark matter particles can play in the formation of the universe has received a prestigious award from the US Department of Energy. The federal government has recognized the leadership of the NovA neutrino experiment—which includes UT physicists—for exceptional results in completing a project within budget and on schedule and gave it the DOE Secretary’s Award of Excellence. The NOvA experiment is based at the Fermilab, in Batavia, I...
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Andrew Christlieb (MSU): Taking a Large-Scale Step (Jul 16, 2015)
Large data is coming up everywhere within science these days. The problem is, the data sets are growing in size faster than our computing technology is growing. Further, the use of computational modeling as a technique to investigate the world around us has become a critical third leg of science, after experimentation and analysis. As a result, computational science has developed into a discipline in its own right. So what is computational science? I like to say, tongue-in-cheek, that it’s whe...
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Ariel Procaccia Wins Computers and Thought Award (Jul 16, 2015)
The International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) has named Ariel Procaccia, assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, as the recipient of its prestigious Computers and Thought Award for 2015. The award, presented every other year since 1971, recognizes outstanding young scientists in artificial intelligence. The judges cited Procaccia for his contributions to the fields of computational social choice and computational economics, and for efforts t...
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Federal Focus on Big Data (Jul 15, 2015)
The Office of Science and Technology Policy announced $200 million in funding for new investments in big data research and development projects with the announcement of its Big Data initiative. With support of the National Science Foundation, and to achieve their goals of leveraging data-intensive tools to aid in the country’s research, defense and economic programs, the White House and the OSTP are bringing together six federal agencies or departments. Guided by industry representatives, PACE...
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SUG Meeting Provides Opportunity to Explain Research (Jul 15, 2015)
Research projects featuring a wide range of scientific interests, such as electron microscopy, pesticides and polymers, were featured at the first-ever poster session and flash talk competition at the Ohio Supercomputer Center Statewide Users Group (SUG) Meeting. SUG is a volunteer group comprised of the scientists and engineers who provide OSC’s executive director with program and policy advice and direction "to ensure a productive environment for research."

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