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March 2016 — April 2016

Obstacles to 'Coding While Black' (Apr 3, 2016)
Rodney Sampson helps run Codestart, a 13-month program designed to teach young people from low-income backgrounds or communities about coding, finance and finding jobs. He was partly inspired by the lack of African Americans working in the tech industry - 1% of tech employees at Google, Facebook and other leading Silicon Valley companies are black. But when the program began last month, it wasn't difficulty with Java or finessing career strategies that threatened one student's progress. As part ...
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It Isn't All Horror Stories for Women in Tech (Apr 3, 2016)
It's not all horror stories for women working in tech. The problem is, the positive stories often aren't as visible. Two Facebook engineers -- Zainab Ghadiyali and Erin Summers -- set out to solve that problem. They launched a site called wogrammer to spotlight female engineers and change the conversation surrounding women in tech. "I'm tired of being asked, 'What are the unfortunate things that have happened to me as a woman in tech?'" said 31-year-old Summers, who works on Oculus. "We'd much r...
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Growth in Computer Science Driven by Student Interest, Societal Need (Apr 2, 2016)
Reflecting a growing enrollment and a burgeoning interest in computer science from disciplines across the campus, Princeton University is expanding its computer science faculty by more than 30 percent. The expansion, outlined in an essay this month by University President Christopher L. Eisgruber, will add 10 tenure-track positions to the department's current roster of 28 such positions. The department plans to begin hiring the new faculty members immediately, and the University will raise funds...
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Morphing Metal Shapes Future of Soft Robotics (Apr 2, 2016)
Imagine an aircraft that could alter its wing shape in midflight and, like a pelican, dive into the water before morphing into a submarine. Cornell University engineering professor Rob Shepherd and his group might help make that futuristic-sounding vehicle a reality. The key is a hybrid material featuring stiff metal and soft, porous rubber foam that combines the best properties of both -- stiffness when it's called for, and elasticity when a change of shape is required. The material also has th...
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Clubs Shift Girls' Perception of Computer Science (Apr 1, 2016)
Eighth-grader Quincy Houghton said she knows exactly what she wants to study in college: English and computer science. Quincy's goal is to translate her learning into writing storylines for video games that she expects to create someday. Quincy is among the 30 girls participating in the Girls Who Code club that started in January at Fischer Middle School in Aurora. Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering fields by help...
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Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego Lifts Off with Innovative Summer Program (Apr 1, 2016)
Delivering on the late astronaut Sally Ride’s pioneering spirit, UC San Diego today announced the official launch of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego with a slate of summer workshops in science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, aimed at young women in middle school and high school. The program is the result of a partnership agreement between UC San Diego and Sally Ride Science, an education company that Ride and her longtime partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy co-founded with three fr...
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Recovering Lost History (Mar 31, 2016)
The story in this podcast revolves around a collaboration of social scientists, humanities scholars, and digital researchers directed at using advanced computing to find and understand the historical experiences of Black women by searching two massive databases (HathiTrust and JSTOR) for written works from the 18th through the 20th centuries. The team also is developing a common toolbox that can help other digital humanities projects.

Microsoft Teams with Rhode Island to Bring Computer Science to Every High School in the State (Mar 31, 2016)
A unique partnership between Microsoft and Rhode Island aims to bring computer science classes to every high school in the state by the end of next year — a new step in an effort to put computer science in the same league as math and science in schools across the country. The partnership was announced by Microsoft and Rhode Island along with the University of Rhode Island, Brown University and the Rhode Island teachers’ union. It will leverage an existing program, sponsored by Microsoft, cal...
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Tiny Chip that Powers Itself from Radio Waves (Mar 30, 2016)
Dutch scientists have developed a tiny sensor powered by the radio waves it uses to communicate information. Such sensors could help advance the nascent Internet of Things industry, researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology said. Increasingly tiny chips that measure temperature, light, and air pollution are being deployed around cities and in smart homes and offices. One the biggest hurdles is to make these sensors battery-free. "We don't want hundreds of these sensors around our homes i...
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JavaScript Most Popular Language (Mar 30, 2016)
According to the latest Stack Overflow developer survey, JavaScript is the most popular programming language and Rust is most loved. Stack Overflow, the popular question-and-answer community site for developers, today released the results of its annual developer survey, which indicates, among other things, that JavaScript is the most popular programming language among respondents.

Solving Silicon Valley’s Gender Problem (Mar 29, 2016)
A year ago, in March 2015, many of us were transfixed by the spectacle of Ellen Pao’s discrimination lawsuit against the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. While the jury rejected Pao’s claims, Kleiner Perkins didn’t come out unscathed: Testimony revealed a startling lack of diversity and pervasive sexism, not just in venture capital but throughout Silicon Valley. This wasn’t what we expected from an industry that claimed to be inventing the future. When women started talking, it ...
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The Path to a STEM Job Starts in Elementary School (Mar 29, 2016)
When you think of STEM, it’s likely you think of science, technology, engineering, and math, all rolled into one. At Kankakee Schools in Illinois, the STEM program aims to do a lot more than teach four topics: We want our students to apply what they learn in real-life settings. According to projections by, by 2018, the U.S. will need 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs. As a district, we have to ensure that our graduates are prepared for life after formal education and ...
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IU Co-leads Project to Help Researchers Explore Big Data in HathiTrust Digitized Library (Mar 28, 2016)
Illinois English professor Ted Underwood wants to know how the language describing male and female characters in works of fiction has changed since the late 18th century. He’s using data-mining tools to gather information from thousands of books to answer that question. The problem, though, is that books published after 1922 are still under copyright protection and their content can’t be shared freely online. "There are hundreds of thousands of books out there, and we don’t talk about them...
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New Technique Wipes Out Unwanted Data (Mar 28, 2016)
Machine learning systems are everywhere. They predict the weather, forecast earthquakes, provide recommendations based on the books and movies we like, and even apply the brakes on our cars when we’re not paying attention. To do this, software programs in these systems calculate predictive relationships from massive amounts of data. The systems identify these predictive relationships using advanced algorithms—a set of rules for solving math problems—and “training data.” This data is th...
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SXSW Highlights Bright and Dark Tech Futures (Mar 27, 2016)
Visions of the future clashed during South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, as some experts saw an uncertain future, some saw an unbounded future and some were frustrated by the present. As for uncertainty, the worlds of big data, artificial intelligence and government are just beginning to collide, and public policy decisions made now will cast shadows far into the future, panelists agreed at a session titled, Data Ethics in the Age of the Quantified Society.

XSEDE Resources Help Confirm LIGO Discovery (Mar 27, 2016)
Scientists have for the first time detected gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time hypothesized by Albert Einstein a century ago, in a landmark discovery announced in February 2016 that touts a new era in astrophysics. Einstein in 1916 proposed the existence of gravitational waves as an outgrowth of his groundbreaking general theory of relativity, which depicted gravity as a distortion of space and time triggered by the presence of matter. But until now scientists had found onl...
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FBI Warns on Risks of Car Hacking (Mar 26, 2016)
The FBI and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have added their voices to growing concerns about the risk of cars being hacked. In an advisory note it warns the public to be aware of "cybersecurity threats" related to connected vehicles. The public service announcement laid out the issues and dangers of car hacking. "Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy and great...
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Robot Learning Companion Offers Custom-Tailored Tutoring (Mar 26, 2016)
Parents want the best for their children's education and often complain about large class sizes and the lack of individual attention. Goren Gordon, an artificial intelligence researcher from Tel Aviv University who runs the Curiosity Lab there, is no different. He and his wife spend as much time as they can with their children, but there are still times when their kids are alone or unsupervised. At those times, they'd like their children to have a companion to learn and play with, Gordon says. T...
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A Google Computer Victorious Over the World's 'Go' Champion (Mar 25, 2016)
A Google computer clocked its third consecutive victory over Lee Se-dol, the long-reigning global champion of the world's most complex board game. That win makes the machine the clear winner in a best-of-five series. The achievements of the Google DeepMind computer, AlphaGo, are considered a significant advancement in artificial intelligence. "To be honest, we are a bit stunned," said Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, after AlphaGo's third win. "We came here to challenge Lee Se-dol, as we want...
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Your Optimized Brain: Exploring the Frontier of Neurostimulation (Mar 25, 2016)
From Hercules to Superman, humankind has always been fascinated by characters who defy the natural limits of the human body. Scientists haven’t yet figured out how to give us flight, but we know that increased cognition, strength and motor function are all possible using neurostimulation. This technology, which carefully applies magnetic or electrical energy to the brain, can make us stronger, faster, smarter and more agile — if not quite superheroes. Neurostimulation products are finally re...
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There's a Flexible Material That Can Make You Invisible to Radar (Mar 24, 2016)
When most people think of invisibility cloaks, they think of something from Harry Potter, donning a fabric that makes you blend right into the background. That might help you sneak into the restricted section of your school library, but that won’t fool radars. A team of engineers at Iowa State University published a research paper detailing the use of flexible metamaterials — man-made materials that have properties not found in nature — to cloak objects from microwave radar detection.The t...
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Thomas Sterling: ‘Why We Want to be Part of OpenHPC’ (Mar 24, 2016)
The Indiana University Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies has been part of the OpenHPC community effort since it was launched in November 2015. In a recent Q&A with OpenHPC, Professor Thomas Sterling, associate director and chief scientist of CREST, explains the basis for the partnership. As the father of Beowulf clusters, developed in collaboration with Don Becker, Professor Sterling has experienced first-hand the singular power of community-wide involvement. He sees a similar po...
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Emails and Tweets Help Drive Climate Change (Mar 23, 2016)
Even email and social network campaigns used to promote Earth Hour, the annual symbolic dimming of lights to fight global warming, are inevitably contributing to climate change. In the 10th edition of the World Wild Fund for Nature, an NGO-backed event that raises awareness on climate change effects, the world’s landmark monuments and participating establishments will go dark at 8:30 p.m. their local time for a whole hour. Along with the activity comes the call to adjust lifestyles to slash pe...
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What Will a Driverless Future Actually Look Like? (Mar 23, 2016)
There is a growing consensus that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will soon be a reality. The debate today centers not on whether, but how soon, AVs will be commonplace on our roads. But for all the buzz surrounding AVs, many details about what a driverless future will look like remain unclear. Which business models will work best for the commercialization of AVs? Which AV usage models will be most appealing for consumers? Which companies are best positioned to win in this new market? These are big qu...
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This New Discovery Could Put Quantum Computers Within Closer Reach (Mar 22, 2016)
One of the obstacles that has kept quantum computers on the distant horizon is the fact that quantum bits -- the building blocks with which they're made -- are prone to magnetic disturbances. Such "noise" can interfere with the work qubits do, but scientists announced a new discovery that could help solve the problem. Specifically, by tapping the same principle that allows atomic clocks to stay accurate, researchers at Florida State University’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have fou...
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