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June 2015 — July 2015

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."



Caterpillar Expands Relationship with NCSA for Hosting Realistic Simulations (Jul 14, 2015)
Caterpillar Inc. announced it will collaborate with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to conduct high-performance computing (HPC) projects focused on more realistic simulations that can lead to improved product designs. Through the expanded partnership, NCSA will host Caterpillar's simulation research on iForge supercomputer over a three-year period. By conducting these simulations in NCSA's HPC environment, Caterpillar w...
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Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate (Jul 14, 2015)
When a deadly heat wave lingers for an especially long time; when a hurricane makes landfall with particular ferocity; or when droughts, winter storms or cold snaps break records, the public is increasingly interested in knowing if human-induced climate change played a role. Attributing individual extreme weather events to a warming climate is difficult work. Even so, scientists have been making an effort in recent years to determine when a connection can be detected. In a new "Perspective" piec...
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NERSC is Supernova Hunting with Supercomputers (Jul 13, 2015)
Type Ia supernovae are famous for their consistency. Ironically, new observations suggest that their origins may not be uniform at all. Using a “roadmap” of theoretical calculations and supercomputer simulations, astronomers observed for the first time a flash of light caused by a supernova slamming into a nearby star, allowing them to determine the stellar system from which the supernova was born. This finding confirms one of two competing theories about the birth of Type Ia supernovae. But...
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Engineers Break Power and Distance Barriers for Fiber Optic Communication (Jul 13, 2015)
Electrical engineers have broken key barriers that limit the distance information can travel in fiber optic cables and still be accurately deciphered by a receiver. Photonics researchers at the University of California, San Diego have increased the maximum power — and therefore distance — at which optical signals can be sent through optical fibers. This advance has the potential to increase the data transmission rates for the fiber optic cables that serve as the backbone of the internet, cab...
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Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Launches Academy of Teaching and Learning (Jul 12, 2015)
Launching a major national effort to dramatically improve teacher preparation and to help teaching and learning practices evolve for the 21st century, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation announced the establishment of a new graduate school, the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning (WW Academy). The WW Academy is designed to transform teacher education as well as school leadership policy and practice nationally by providing competency-based master’s degree programs in t...
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No More Plastic Legos? Company Searches for "Sustainable" Material (Jul 12, 2015)
Lego wants kids of the future to continue having fun with its toy building blocks, but not at the expense of the environment. To that end, the Denmark-based Lego Group has announced a plan to find "sustainable" materials to replace the plastic used in its bricks by 2030. The company says it will invest more than $150 million to establish a Lego Sustainable Materials Center and staff it with more than 100 employees. "Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that ...
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NASA to Use HoloLens on Space Station (Jul 11, 2015)
When SpaceX's resupply craft blasts off to the International Space Station on Sunday, a key part of Microsoft's future strategy will be riding along. Two pairs of HoloLens augmented reality glasses are hitching a lift to the station. NASA has opted to use the devices, which overlay holograms on top of real objects, for astronaut training and tasks in space. Called Project Sidekick, it's part of a larger partnership between HoloLens and NASA, which also said in January that it will use the device...
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Samsung's Security Failures Leave Users Vulnerable to Keyboard Hack (Jul 11, 2015)
New research from NowSecure indicates a critical flaw in Samsung handsets that’s left an estimated 600 million devices vulnerable to simple man-in-the-middle-style hacks. The problem results from nonexistent encryption practices and poor security measures. In this case, Samsung shipped its own version of SwiftKey, an Android keyboard. SwiftKey’s developers have stated that the bug is not present in their own version of the code, meaning Samsung is responsible for creating and distributing th...
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How Good is R for Data Visualization? (Jul 5, 2015)
I've been doing some research on R, Ggplot2 and visualization in general for a lecture so I want to share my thoughts about this question. I will start with my conclusions then I'll try to rationalize them. Conclusion #1: R is great for creating plots for exploratory data analysis but not very good for final product data visualization. Conclusion #2: Ggplot is a great as a set of tools you can use and not so great as a generic graphing language or a language grammar as it is supposed to be.



ACM, CSTA Announce $1M Award to Recognize Students in Computing (Jul 5, 2015)
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, and CSTA, the Computer Science Teachers Association, announced a new award, the ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing to recognize talented high school students in computer science. The program seeks to promote and encourage the field of computer science as well as to empower young and aspiring learners to pursue computing challenges outside of the traditional classroom environment.



Purdue University Researcher Invents Fake Password Technology to Confuse Hackers (Jul 4, 2015)
Purdue University Information Assurance and Security group researchers have developed ErsatzPasswords, a security system that makes it much harder for hackers to obtain usable passwords from a leaked database. Hackers "will still be able to crack that file, however the passwords they will get back are fake passwords or decoy passwords," says Purdue doctoral student Mohammed H. Almeshekah. ErsatzPasswords adds an additional step to traditional encryption methods. With the new system, a password i...
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Facebook is Planning for a Data Center in Ireland (Jul 4, 2015)
Facebook plans to open a new data center in Ireland, the social network said, becoming the latest technology giant to set up an energy efficient center in Ireland’s recovering economy. Ireland is fast becoming a cloud hub helped by its temperate climate and the presence of many of the biggest internet companies, which have been attracted by the country’s low corporate tax rate. Facebook said it had applied for planning permission to build the center, which, after Sweden, is its second in Eur...
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Coursera Co-Founder Discusses the Future of Online Education (Jul 3, 2015)
Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller, former professor of artificial intelligence at Stanford University, hopes her online education platform will expand globally as more universities see online education evolving into a necessary, and inevitable, complement to traditional learning. Although Koller, who in 2008 received the first-ever ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences, does not envision the obsolescence of traditional university education, she says online education "gives peopl...
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UC San Diego Launches edX Channel (Jul 3, 2015)
The recently-launched CSE-based Center for Visual Computing, or VisComp, at UC San Diego, confirmed that its first course on the edX learning platform will be taught by the center’s director, computer science professor Ravi Ramamoorthi. The news was part of a formal announcement by UC San Diego that it is partnering with edX, the leading nonprofit, open-source online learning destination that offers online courses to students around the world. Under the name UC San DiegoX, the campus will host...
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Three Education Technology Myths (Jul 2, 2015)
We are constantly hearing about how some piece of new tech will transform teaching and learning in the classroom. We believe that if something is shiny, new, and slick, it will inevitably be good for the classroom. In other words, we believe that technology will solve the ills of the 21st-century classroom. This can, however, lead to blind adoption or ill-planned implementation.



SDSC, UCSD Focus on Sustainable Computer Science Courses (Jul 2, 2015)
The University of California, San Diego's San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) has been awarded a three-year U.S. National Science Foundation grant to help three regional school districts create model "villages" for deploying and sustaining up-to-date computer science courses in their curriculum. "Workforce training must evolve with technology innovations to maintain a vibrant economy," says SDSC's Diane Baxter. "The slower pace of K-12 curriculum revision poses a significant systemic challenge...
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It’s Time for Every Student to Learn to Code (Jul 1, 2015)
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion around the importance of coding in the K-12 classroom. Should it be compulsory for all students? An elective? Reserved for those students considering a computer science major in college? The answer may come down to supply and demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and only 400,000 computer science students to fill those roles. This represents a gap of one million jobs that will go unfille...
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Code.org Targets High School Computer Science (Jul 1, 2015)
Code.org is collaborating with College Board to work to expand computer science in U.S. high schools and increase the number of female and minority students taking computer science courses. Under the new partnership, high schools in 35 of the U.S.'s largest districts will be encouraged to offer Code.org's computer science course this fall. Targeted school districts are in cities including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi says the nonprofit will provide the curri...
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Latest Self-Driving Google Car Heading to Public Streets (Jun 30, 2015)
Google announced plans to debut the latest version of its self-driving car on public roads this summer. The new prototypes look similar to the prototype unveiled last year, but with a more robust feature set. Dimitri Dolgov, head of software for the self-driving car project, says Google's self-driving software has improved in the last year and is much better at classifying objects and predicting the behavior of pedestrians and other cars. However, the new cars will still have limitations. The sm...
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UW Study Examines Gender Bias in Stock Images (Jun 30, 2015)
Researchers from the universities of Washington (UW) and Maryland analyzed gender bias in online image results, and their study found a systematic underrepresentation of women. In occupations that have the same number of women and men, the researchers report women only account for 45 percent of the search images. Moreover, women in the images sometimes appear highly sexualized. When study participants were asked to identify which images showed a more professional and appropriate-looking person f...
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Your Smartphone Could Have Serious Security Flaws (Jun 27, 2015)
Three separate research groups revealed app security flaws that could turn Apple and Samsung devices into cyberintruders' playthings -- allowing them to take control of your phones' cameras, microphones and GPS while stealing all your personal information and listening to your phone calls. The only good news is that the attacks would have to be aimed at specific phones, and attackers are unlikely to target everyday people. The bad news is that German researchers found flaws that could affect eve...
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Facebook's New AI Can Paint, but Google's Knows How to Party (Jun 27, 2015)
Facebook and Google are building enormous neural networks—artificial brains—that can instantly recognize faces, cars, buildings, and other objects in digital photos. But that’s not all these brains can do. They can recognize the spoken word, translate from one language to another, target ads, or teach a robot to screw a cap onto a bottle. And if you turn these brains upside down, you can teach them not just to recognize images, but create images—in rather intriguing (and sometimes distur...
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Tesla GPUs Power Winning Team in Student Supercomputing Competition (Jun 26, 2015)
The Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform has again powered the winning team in a major international student supercomputing competition. And, GPU technology helped another team set a student record in the supercomputing industry’s top performance benchmark. For the third year in a row GPU technologies have helped a team nab the top spot in the Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge, the world’s largest supercomputer competition. This year, 152 teams from around the world took part. Sixteen fro...
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Hyperloop Dreams May Become Concrete (Jun 26, 2015)
SpaceX has announced plans to construct a mile-long Hyperloop test track next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, scheduled for completion by June 2016. The company also announced an open competition for university students and independent engineering teams to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. Entrants will be able to test their pods on the track. "These tests will provide proof points at a reasonable cost, and will help build support for the project," said Jim McGregor, princip...
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