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May 2015 — May 2015

Great Innovative Idea-Machine Teaching (May 31, 2015)
Machine teaching is machine learning turned upside down: it is about finding the optimal (e.g. the smallest) training set. Solving the machine teaching problem in general can be intricate and is an open mathematical question, though for a large family of learners the resulting bi-level optimization problem can be approximated. Machine teaching can have an impact in education, where the “student” is really a human student, and the teacher certainly has a target model (i.e. the educational goa...
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How the Human Brain Separates the Ability to Talk and Write (May 31, 2015)
While the human ability to write evolved from the ability to speak, writing and speaking are supported by entirely different parts of the brain, according to new research from Rice University, Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. The research shows that it is possible for stroke victims who cannot speak a grammatically correct sentence to write it perfectly, and vice versa. “Modality and Morphology: What We Write May Not Be What We Say” is available online and will appear in a...
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Nintendo Finally Returns to Profitability (May 30, 2015)
For the first time since 2011, gaming giant Nintendo is a profitable company. In the company's financial report for the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2015, Nintendo posted net sales of 550 billion yen (around U.S. $4.61 billion), which led to a welcome operating income of 24.8 billion yen (U.S. $207.8 million). Nintendo, which saw 75.4 percent of their sales come from outside Japan, attributed some of their financial success in the past year to the depreciation of the yen against the US do...
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Alumnus Gift of Software Fosters Creativity and Learning for Students (May 30, 2015)
As part of Michigan State University’s Empower Extraordinary campaign, the College of Arts and Letters has received an in-kind gift valued at more than $100,000 from CAL alumnus Peter Stougaard, a former studio executive for DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox. The gift is in the form of 4,000 software licenses for an Apple app Stougaard developed called PopBoardz, whereby users can create, organize and present ideas in the form of video, images, websites or any file type all on one screen. Stouga...
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Taking R Training to the World (May 29, 2015)
R, the free open-source software environment for statistical computing and graphics, brings out a crowd. In fact, so much so that a recent online and in-person tutorial on the subject broke training participation records for the event's organizers—the National Institute for Computational Sciences, the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Approximately 800 people worldwide signed up for the four-hour, online ...
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Biting Back: Scientists Aim to Forecast West Nile Outbreaks (May 29, 2015)
New research has identified correlations between weather conditions and the occurrence of West Nile virus disease in the United States, raising the possibility of being able to better predict outbreaks. The study, by researchers with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, finds strong correlations across much of the country between an increased occurrence of West Nile virus disease and above average temperatures in the preceding year. The...
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Tiny Silicone Spheres Come Out of the Mist (May 28, 2015)
Technology in common household humidifiers could enable the next wave of high-tech medical imaging and targeted medicine, thanks to a new method for making tiny silicone microspheres developed by chemists at the University of Illinois. Led by chemistry professor Kenneth Suslick, the researchers published their results in the journal Advanced Science. Microspheres, tiny spheres as small as a red blood cell, have shown promise as agents for targeted drug delivery to tissues, as contrast agents for...
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Brain-injured Patients Need Therapies Based on Cognitive Neuroscience (May 28, 2015)
Patients with traumatic brain injuries are not benefiting from recent advances in cognitive neuroscience research – and they should be, scientists report in a special issue of Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. Those who treat brain-injured patients rarely make use of new scientific discoveries about the workings of the brain. Instead, doctors, nurses and emergency personnel rely on a decades-old tool, the Glasgow coma scale, to categorize brain injuries as mild, moderate or severe.

Simulating Seasons (May 27, 2015)
Changes in rainfall patterns associated with climate change can be devastating to people living in Malawi, a small landlocked country in southeast Africa, leading to food crises, famines and loss of life. Two researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, Kerry Cook and Edward (Ned) Vizy, are dedicated to understanding how climate change and climate variability will impact Malawi and other regions throughout Africa. By running regional climate models, Cook and Vizy are examining Africa's dive...
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Long-Term Study on Ticks Reveals Shifting Migration Patterns, Disease Risks (May 27, 2015)
With more than 15 years spent studying ticks, Indiana University's Keith Clay has found southern Indiana to be an oasis free from Lyme disease, the condition most associated with these arachnids that are the second most common parasitic disease vector on Earth. He has also seen signs that this low-risk environment is changing, both in Indiana and in other regions of the United States. Clay has received support for his research on ticks from over $2.7 million in grants from the National Science F...
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Earthquakes Reveal Deep Secrets Beneath East Asia (May 20, 2015)
A new work based on 3-D supercomputer simulations of earthquake data has found hidden rock structures deep under East Asia. Researchers from China, Canada and the U.S. worked together to publish their results in March 2015 in the American Geophysical Union Journal of Geophysical Research, Solid Earth. The scientists used seismic data from 227 East Asia earthquakes during 2007-2011, which they used to image depths to about 900 kilometers, or about 560 miles below ground. The researchers say their...
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SDSC’s "Comet" Supercomputer Enters Early Operations Phase (May 20, 2015)
Comet, a new petascale supercomputer designed to transform advanced scientific computing by expanding access and capacity among traditional as well as non-traditional research domains, has transitioned into an early operations phase at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego.Comet is the result of a National Science Foundation Award currently valued at $21.6 million including hardware and operating funds. The new cluster is capable of an overall peak ...
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A Computer Model Combination Could Unravel the Mysteries of Sudden Firestorms (May 16, 2015)
The thought of a wildfire evokes images of firefighting crews, airplanes, and helicopters battling the blaze. But fire analysts and managers have other weapons in their arsenal to plan the attack before sending resources out. Among those are computer-model wildfire forecasts. For many years, Smith has been involved with teams strategizing to suppress some of the biggest wildfires across Texas and the nation, and so he’s familiar with the important questions that wildfire computer model forecas...
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Technology that Overcomes Movement During Imaging (May 16, 2015)
Jefferson Lab, in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University, has been developing a system for imaging in un-anesthetized, unrestrained mice. Basic research into human disease states and pharmaceutical development depend heavily on biomedical investigations involving animal models. But studies are limited by the necessity of using anesthetic and/or physical restraint during imaging. Jefferson Lab technology has been used in an awake animal study. Unique mouse b...
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Los Angeles is Next in Battle Over All-Girls Science, Tech Schools (May 15, 2015)
One determined band of Los Angeles educators thinks it has an answer to encourage girls toward high tech careers: a girls-only public school that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math, designed to boost girls' flagging performance in those "STEM" subjects compared to their male peers. The Los Angeles Unified School District voted to approve the Girls Academic Leadership Academy. The proposal will now head to the California Board of Education, which must grant a waiver to open a si...
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IBM's Watson Enters Market for Analyzing Cancer Genetics (May 15, 2015)
The Genome Institute at Washington University is one of 14 big-name cancer centers partnering with IBM to use the computing giant’s Watson artificial intelligence system to compare patients’ genetic data with databases of cancer genes and every scientific paper published about cancer genetics. What takes a team of experts hours or days can be accomplished in minutes by Watson. “I’m not aware of another platform that allows as much power right now nor have I seen one in development,” sa...
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Blue Waters Enables Realistic 3D Simulations of Colliding Black Holes (May 14, 2015)
When astronomers try to simulate colliding giant black holes, they usually rely on simplified approximations to model the swirling disks of matter that surround and fuel these gravitational monsters. Researchers now report that, for the first time, they have simulated the collision of two supermassive black holes using a full-blown treatment of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, allowing a 3D portrayal of these disks of magnetized matter. The simulations more accurately describe the radi...
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The Most Popular Programming Languages are Rapidly Changing (May 14, 2015)
There has been a rapid shift in the programming languages developers use most, according to an annual survey of developers by Stack Overflow. The poll found JavaScript has been the most popular programming language for the past two years. SQL led in 2013 but has fallen substantially, as have many of the C languages. The biggest growth in usage involved Node.js and AngularJS, Stack Overflow found. One reason the popularity of programming languages changes so fast is so many developers are self-ta...
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Study Suggest Depleting Groundwater Increases California Quake Risk (May 13, 2015)
According to a study published online in the journal Nature, temblor frequency seems on the upswing in Central California because of groundwater depletion. As water tables drop, land subsides accordingly and the earth’s crust underlying the valley and its environs begins to rise. This pushes the surrounding coast range and Sierra Nevada skyward.This landscape-scale rebound relaxes the downward tension of the San Andreas Fault, likely increasing the risk of quakes.

UC San Diego Speeds Up Simulations (May 13, 2015)
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a new family of methods to significantly increase the speed of time-resolved numerical simulations in computational grand challenge problems. Such problems often arise from the high-resolution approximation of the partial differential equations governing complex flows of fluids or plasmas. The breakthrough could be applied to simulations that include millions or billions of variables, including turbulence simulations. The smal...
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Shifts in Computer Science Interest (May 12, 2015)
A new study presented at the American Educational Research Association's 2015 annual meeting found although interest in computer science among both men and women has fluctuated over the last four decades, women have consistently been underrepresented. The study is based on the responses of first-year, full-time students at four-year institutions drawn from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program's Freshman Survey.The study found interest in computer science among both men and women spiked...
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Teaching the Machine to See (May 12, 2015)
Machine intelligence researchers Shoou-I Yu and Lu Jiang, working with colleagues on Carnegie Mellon University’s Alexander Hauptmann’s Informedia project and at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center have developed E-Lamp, a system of “event detectors” designed to search for events in videos without human intervention. E-Lamp consists of a series of tools that start with a definition of a kind of event and then scans videos for sounds or images that are associated with those definitions. The ...
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IBM Gets Closer to Real Quantum Computing (May 11, 2015)
IBM researchers, for the first time, have figured out how to detect and measure bit-flip and phase-flip quantum errors simultaneously. They also outlined a new, square quantum bit circuit design that could scale to much larger dimensions. “Quantum computing could be potentially transformative, enabling us to solve problems that are impossible or impractical to solve today,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “While quantum computers have traditionally ...
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A Day at Code Camp (May 11, 2015)
Code Camp is the capstone event for Females Excelling More in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (FEMMES). An offshoot of a club founded at Duke in 2006, FEMMES is a student organization devoted to helping local middle school girls develop key skills in computer science. The FEMMES team hopes to help students see past the stereotypes about what kind of person can be a programmer; they want them to learn that you don’t have to be a math genius to write code.

Disney Researchers Show Soft Sides with Layered Fabric 3D Printer (May 10, 2015)
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have developed a three-dimensional (3D) printer that layers laser-cut sheets of fabric to form soft, squeezable objects. Although the fabric printer is similar in principle to laminated-object manufacturing, fabric presents cutting and handling challenges, which the researchers addressed in the design of the new printer. The printer includes an upper cutting platform and a lower bonding platform. Fabric is fed into the device, where a...
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