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July 2016 — August 2016

Scientists Program Cells to Remember and Respond to Series of Stimuli (Aug 2, 2016)
Synthetic biology allows researchers to program cells to perform novel functions such as fluorescing in response to a particular chemical or producing drugs in response to disease markers. In a step toward devising much more complex cellular circuits, MIT engineers have now programmed cells to remember and respond to a series of events. These cells can remember, in the correct order, up to three different inputs, but this approach should be scalable to incorporate many more stimuli, the research...
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Tech Trends that Will Impact Your Home (Aug 2, 2016)
Imagine walking through the bathroom door at 7am and the shower starts itself at optimal water heat and pressure. The thermostat adjusts when you enter the room. Want a new bathroom tub? What if you could 3D print it? High-tech homes are about to revolutionize the way we live. While interior design once relied on color schemes and playful accents, new tech trends are completely revamping how we design, build and live in our spaces. Even more, they’re having a social impact, enabling users to r...
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An Accelerated Pipeline to Open Materials Research (Aug 1, 2016)
Using today's advanced microscopes, scientists are able to capture exponentially more information about the materials they study compared to a decade ago—in greater detail and in less time. While these new capabilities are a boon for researchers, helping to answer key questions that could lead to next-generation technologies, they also present a new problem: How to make effective use of all this data? At the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers are engineering a so...
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SDSC/UCSD Team Uncovers Signaling Links to Glioblastoma Factor (Aug 1, 2016)
Glioblastoma is a highly aggressive form of brain cancer with a survival rate generally less than 16 months. With no effective treatments available, a team including researchers from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center sought to uncover several underlying molecular networks that may yield attractive therapeutic targets for this deadly disease. The results, published in the July 16 online issue of Onc...
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Robots Shoot, Score, Advance AI then Fall Over at the Robot World Cup 2016 (Jul 31, 2016)
This is RoboCup! This annual gathering sees robotics experts from all over the planet fielding teams of battling soccerbots in a bid for robot football supremacy. This year's tournament took place in Leipzig, Germany, where robots across both humanoid and non-humanoid leagues went head-to-head. Meet the Australian team out to defend their title, see why a change to the regulation ball has scores of robots baffled, and enjoy the sight of extremely adorable robots falling over -- then hopping righ...
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Superior Performance Commits Kyoto University to CPUs Over GPUs (Jul 31, 2016)
The Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine determined that a dual-socket Intel Xeon E5-2699v3 (Haswell architecture) chipset delivers better performance than an NVIDIA K40 GPU using 16-bit arithmetic (which doubles GPU performance) when training deep learning neural networks for computational drug discovery using the Theano framework. Theano is a Python library that lets researchers transparently run deep learning models on CPUs and GPUs. It does so by generating C++ code from the Python s...
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Can a 3D Fingerprint unlock a smartphone? (Jul 30, 2016)
A computer science and engineering professor at Michigan State University is trying to help police unlock the cellphone of a murdered man in hopes it can provide clues about the perpetrator. Police in Michigan are asking the professor, Anil Jain, to unlock the iPhone with a 3D replica of the victim’s fingerprints, report Fusion, the Guardian and the Chicago Tribune. Jain is using a scan of the fingerprints taken from a previous arrest. Jain and his assistant, PhD student Sunpreet Arora, are st...
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One in Ten UK Computer Science Graduates Don't Have a Job (Jul 30, 2016)
According to the latest figures compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), computer science graduates are still at the top of the UK’s higher education unemployment rankings. During the academic year of 2014/2015, 10 percent of computer science graduates were unable to find a job six months after graduation. This figure is even higher than the 7.7 percent for students, who studied Mass Communications and documentation, Physical sciences, or Engineering and technology, that had ...
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How Art and Dance Are Making Computer Science Culturally Relevant (Jul 29, 2016)
This fall, my computer science class will follow the new AP Computer Science curriculum framework while also including culturally responsive instruction that makes use of students’ interests, community settings, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the students enjoy freestyle rap and dance, so they will learn how to simulate or enhance their performances using code. Other students study drawing and painting, so they will learn how to use code to create their artwork. This approach is ...
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How To Launch Your Career In Computer Science While You're Still In High School (Jul 29, 2016)
When in high school and preparing for a career in computer science, a few things come to mind that might be helpful. First, you need to make sure that you can get into the major. That is an increasingly nontrivial challenge. If you get into elite schools like the Ivies or Stanford/Duke/MIT, you shouldn’t have a problem choosing your own major. But at many public universities, it is increasingly hard to get into CS because of the sheer demand by incoming undergrads. You need to make sure that y...
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New File System from PSC Tackles Image Processing on the Fly (Jul 28, 2016)
Processing the high-volume datasets, particularly image data, generated by modern scientific instruments is a huge challenge. Last week, a team of researchers from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center reported a novel approach to coping with the data flood – the Virtual Volume File System (VVFS) – which they say significantly reduces storage capacity requirements and facilitates on-the-fly processing to minimize I/O traffic and latency limitations. Although the researchers developed VVFS cap...
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Decoding the Lack of Diversity in Tech Through Female Computer Science Programs (Jul 28, 2016)
The nonprofit organization Girls Who Code states that in middle schools, 74 percent of girls express an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but when choosing a college major, only 0.4 percent select computer science. Growing up, I had always shown an interest in the sciences, but had never considered a career in computer science specifically because I had no prior exposure to the field. I thought that it would be too difficult to jump into, and it was dishearteni...
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Hey Robot, Shimmy Like a Centipede (Jul 27, 2016)
Centipedes move quickly. And when one is coming directly at you, you might not care to spend a moment pondering its agility. So perhaps our lack of understanding about just why centipedes move with such dexterity, even over obstacles, has been related to fear. But undeterred, researchers at Kyoto University have asked precisely this question, and have turned to computer simulations and ultimately robotics to find an answer. What they have uncovered is a surprising insight into the mechanics of l...
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How President Obama Shaped the Future of Digital Health (Jul 27, 2016)
A new leader of the free world will soon be voted into office. Shortly thereafter, he or she will begin a minimum four-year journey to steer the country toward prosperity, safety and global leadership. With many changes undoubtedly coming, let’s take a look at the technological impact of one of the biggest initiatives that President Obama has championed: healthcare reform. Whatever your stance on the Affordable Care Act, there’s little doubt that it has been responsible for ushering into the...
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Atom-sized Storage Could Change the Face of Data and Memory (Jul 26, 2016)
The secret to our data storage woes could be an atom or, more precisely, a grid of them. Atoms, the smallest building blocks in nature, have their appeal as a storage medium. We certainly need a new storage paradigm. Something that takes up considerably less space than the current large-scale solution: data centers. Dotted throughout the world, data centers are like highly organized versions of our basements, crammed full of stuff we only occasionally access, but still consuming vast amounts of ...
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New Remote-controlled Microrobots for Medical Operations (Jul 26, 2016)
For the past few years, scientists around the world have been studying ways to use miniature robots to better treat a variety of diseases. The robots are designed to enter the human body, where they can deliver drugs at specificlocations or perform precise operations like clearing clogged-up arteries. By replacing invasive, often complicated surgery, they could optimize medicine. Selman Sakar teamed up with Hen-Wei Huang and Bradley Nelson to develop a simple and versatile method for building su...
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Keeping Big Data Cool at SDSC (Jul 23, 2016)
When most people think of a supercomputer center, they may think of one massive computer performing a single task. Inside the data center at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego, however, there are several large supercomputer systems, each performing multiple tasks simultaneously across a wide range of science domains. Keeping SDSC’s main data center cool enough so that its Comet and Gordon supercomputers, among smaller clusters, don’t overheat ...
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Big Data and Its Developer Fallout (Jul 23, 2016)
As the internet social turf wars continue to mature, the land grab is becoming much better understood. With a few companies controlling 95 percent of the social data, the internet is more closed and much more controlled than ever before. The term (and concept behind) big data has been thrown around a lot over the past 15 months. What I’m referring to here is user data, primarily from social businesses that can be leveraged to build other apps and businesses if done within the confines of a com...
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Hanging Out with Anki's Cozmo, the Toy Robot Putting AI at Our Fingertips (Jul 22, 2016)
When playing with Cozmo, Anki’s palm-sized artificial intelligence robot, it’s easy to forgot all of the engineering and software running behind the scenes. Every action, from Cozmo’s audible chirps of victory when it wins a game to its childlike mannerisms when it recognizes your face, conceals tens of thousands of lines of code. When the product launches this October, Anki hopes consumers won’t think of its AI robot as undecipherable technology. Instead, the company wants people to won...
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ASC15 Rewrote the World Record (Jul 22, 2016)
A new world record was set by the Huazhong University team at the Student Cluster Competition at ISC 2016. Using Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs, the team recorded 12.56 teraflops on the LINPACK benchmark, while staying within a 3-Kw power consumption limit. This is the third straight time the Tesla K80 has been used to break this record since the GPU was launched a year and a half ago. A team from Zhejiang University, of China, set the previous mark, at the Asia Supercomputer Community 2016 challenge in ...
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3-D Simulations and NASA Supercomputer Advance Research of the Origin of Stars (Jul 21, 2016)
What processes are involved in the formation of individual stars and stellar clusters in our own galaxy and other galaxies? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are using NASA's most powerful supercomputer, Pleiades, to create unique star-formation simulations to answer this fundamental scientific question. Like something from a video game, the simulations zoom through the entire evolution of young star clusters. A giant cloud of inter...
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Genomic Sequencing at Children’s Mercy: Saving Time to Save Lives (Jul 21, 2016)
Genomic sequencing – that is, rapid sequencing – is instrumental to diagnosing and treating critically ill patients, and managing the high data volumes involved in genomics is essential to the process. Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, operates what it says is the world’s first whole genome sequencing center in a pediatric setting, where physicians, clinical laboratory scientists, molecular geneticists, bioinformaticians and software engineers work to sequence and analyze rar...
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Black Hole Jet Discovery (Jul 20, 2016)
Using supercomputing resources provided by the National Science Foundation’s eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and the Savio computer at UC Berkeley, Alexander “Sasha” Tchekhovskoy and co-researcher Omer Bromberg — formerly a Lyman Spitzer Jr. postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, and currently at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel — resolved the 40-year puzzle of the astrophysical jet dichotomy. Altogether the simulation effort took about 5...
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Huge Home-built Computer Used for Tetris (Jul 20, 2016)
A man has finished building an enormous computer in the sitting room of his bungalow in Cambridge. James Newman started work on the "Mega processor", which is 33ft wide and 6ft high, in 2012. It does the job of a chip-sized microprocessor and Mr. Newman has spent $53,000 creating it. It contains 40,000 transistors, 10,000 LED lights and it weighs around half a tonne (500kg). So far, he has used it to play the classic video game Tetris. In a video demonstration he admits the game isn't easy to pl...
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NCAR Awards 42 Million Core Hours on Yellowstone Supercomputer (Jul 19, 2016)
Nine science projects were recently chosen to receive computational time and storage space on the Yellowstone supercomputer in Cheyenne. The most recent recommended allocations total 42.6 million core hours, 270 terabytes of archival storage, and 47,000 hours on data analysis and visualization systems, Shader says. To provide some perspective on what these numbers mean, here are some useful comparisons. In simplest terms, Yellowstone can be thought of as 72,576 personal computers that are clever...
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