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October 2017 — October 2017

Expanding Computer Science in Schools is a Bipartisan Opportunity (Oct 24, 2017)
A bipartisan idea is a rare creature in Washington these days, but there is one issue that brings the parties together: the need to expand computer science education in America’s schools. President Obama proposed spending an additional $4 billion, and President Trump released a more modest proposal. But despite these efforts, schools are still waiting for additional funding. That’s a shame because computer science skills hold the keys to economic opportunity for students.

Researchers Developing Autonomous Snake-Like Robots to Support Search-and-Rescue Teams (Oct 24, 2017)
A team of researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received a three-year, $400,000 award from the National Science Foundation to create autonomous snake-like robots that can navigate more naturally and easily through the rubble, confined spaces, and rough terrain left in the aftermath of a disaster and send images and information to search-and-rescue teams.

Survey: Tech Workers Are Terrified They Will Be Sacked For Being Too Old (Oct 23, 2017)
Almost half of tech workers in the US, like Hollywood stars, live in constant fear that age will end their careers, according to a new poll. Job website surveyed more than 1,000 employed tech workers and found that 43 per cent of respondents expressed concern about losing their job due to age. And 18 per cent said they worried about this "all the time." The survey falls short of a revelation. Rather, it's a reaffirmation of an issue that has troubled tech employees for years and has p...
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CSforAll Announces Computer Science Pledges from Over 170 Organizations (Oct 23, 2017)
The CSforAll Consortium announced commitments from over 170 organizations this week to develop and support computer science programming and train teachers, the latest in a series of recent efforts to promote STEM education and computing.

Scientists Use CSCS Supercomputer to Search for “Memory Molecules” (Oct 22, 2017)
Until now, searching for genes related to memory capacity has been comparable to seeking out the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. Scientists at the University of Basel made use of the CSCS supercomputer “Piz Daint” to discover interrelationships in the human genome that might simplify the search for “memory molecules” and eventually lead to more effective medical treatment for people with diseases that are accompanied by memory disturbance.

HPC Connects: Mapping Global Ocean Currents (Oct 22, 2017)
In this video from the SC17 HPC Connects series, Dimitris Menemenlis from NASA JPL/Caltech describes how scientists are working hand in hand with visualization experts to bring exquisitely detailed views of Earth’s oceans into sharper focus than ever before.

Dubai Police Will Soon Zoom Around the Sky on Hoverbikes (Oct 21, 2017)
Dubai is aggressively turning itself into a "Future City," putting self-flying taxis in the skies and a facial recognition system in its airport. The Dubai police department's latest ride is now adding another sci-fi transportation staple: the hoverbike. The Dubai police, which already has luxury patrol cars, self-driving pursuit drones, and a robot officer, just announced it will soon have officers buzzing around on hoverbikes, which look like an early version of the speeder bikes used by the s...
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DISTRO: Researchers Create Digital Objects from Incomplete 3D Data (Oct 21, 2017)
"Although the 3D scanning technology has made significant progress in recent years, it is still a challenge to capture the geometry and shape of a real object digitally and automatically," explains Mario Fritz, who leads the group "Scalable Learning and Perception" at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. According to Fritz, depth sensors, such as those of the Microsoft Kinect, are very powerful, but unfortunately they do not work equally well on all materials, which leads to noisy data or e...
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Technology Training for Rural Entrepreneurs (Oct 20, 2017)
Tag International Development partners with Microsoft Philanthropies in trainings aimed at unlocking employability prospects for underserved youthsan State, Myanmar. Twenty-Two youths selected to become Microsoft Ambassadors participated in two computer literacy and skills training sessions hosted by Tag International Development in partnership with Microsoft Philanthropies as part of Project E3: Education, Employment, and Entrepreneurship. The project is aimed at unlocking employability prospec...
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Self-Taught, 'Superhuman' AI Now Even Smarter: Makers (Oct 20, 2017)
The computer that stunned humanity by beating the best mortal players at a strategy board game requiring "intuition" has become even smarter, its makers said Wednesday. Even more startling, the updated version of AlphaGo is entirely self-taught—a major step towards the rise of machines that achieve superhuman abilities "with no human input", they reported in the science journal Nature. Dubbed AlphaGo Zero, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) system learnt by itself, within days, to master the anc...
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The Top 12 Schools For Computer Science In 2017 (Oct 19, 2017)
Ever wonder which of the world's colleges are best at teaching computer science? Thanks to a recent report from Times Higher Education (THE)—a UK-based publication focused on universities the world over—we may have an answer to that question, in an analysis based on performance in the categories of Citations (research influence), Industry Income (knowledge transfer), International Outlook (staff, students and research), Research (volume, income and reputation), and Teaching (the learning env...
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World First for Reading Digitally Encoded Synthetic Molecules (Oct 19, 2017)
For the first time ever, using mass spectrometry, researchers have successfully read several bytes of data recorded on a molecular scale using synthetic polymers. Their work sets a new benchmark for the amount of data -- stored as a sequence of molecular units (monomers) -- that may be read using this routine method. It also sets the stage for data storage on a scale 100 times smaller than that of current hard drives.

Los Alamos Researchers and Supercomputers Help Interpret Latest LIGO Findings (Oct 18, 2017)
Astrophysicist Chris Fryer was enjoying an evening with friends on August 25, 2017, when he got the news of a gravitational-wave detection by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. The event appeared to be a merger of two neutron stars -- a specialty for the Los Alamos National Laboratory team of astrophysicists that Fryer leads.

Science's Newest Skin Job: A Robot that Can Change Its Texture on the Fly (Oct 18, 2017)
Most robots stick out in nature like a sore thumbdrive. Now, scientists have found a new way to help them blend in—by changing not only the color, but also the texture of their skin. Inspired by cephalopods—squid, octopus, and cuttlefish—which use ring-shaped muscles to squeeze small bumps on their skin into large bulges that mimic rocks and algae, researchers created similar reversible protrusions with sheets of stretchy silicone.

Bulgaria Signs European Declaration on High-Performance Computing (Oct 17, 2017)
The European declaration on high-performance computing (HPC) has been signed in Sofia by Bulgarian Minister of Education and Science, Krasimir Valchev, in the presence of Commissioner Gabriel. Bulgaria is the tenth Member State who is joining the European effort to build the next generation of computing and data infrastructures.

The Most Profound Technologies Are Those That Disappear (Oct 17, 2017)
JetBlue passengers flying from Boston to Aruba can now present a new kind of boarding pass, one impossible to misplace: their faces. In lieu of handing over a paper ticket or summoning up a smartphone version, beach-bound commuters simply walk up to the gate and pause in front of a camera. After snapping a head shot, the camera relays the image to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Girls 'Just as Good as Boys' at Computer Science Work (Oct 16, 2017)
A new Irish study exposes as a myth the long-held notion that boys are better at computer science than girls. They are just as good as the males, and can be even better, according to research from Maynooth University. And girls are also less likely than boys to drop out of their course although, at the early stages, they suffer from a lack of self-belief about their abilities. On the other hand, boys tend to be more confident from the beginning about their abilities and their future exam perform...
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Pro-grammar: A Copy Editor on Computer Science (Oct 16, 2017)
“The Infamous Paul Hilfinger” frequently receives UCBMFET recognition for the overwhelming difficulty of his computer science projects. This last week, as a CS 61B student at UC Berkeley, I have had the privilege of being “Hil-fingered” by a project requiring students to build their own SQL database.

Seeing the Next Dimension of Computer Chips (Oct 15, 2017)
A research collaboration between Osaka University and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology for the first time used scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to create images of atomically flat side-surfaces of 3D silicon crystals. This work helps semiconductor manufacturers continue to innovate while producing smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient computer chips for computers and smartphones.

'Air-Breathing' Battery Could Cut Costs of Renewable Energy Storage (Oct 15, 2017)
Wind and solar power are increasingly popular sources for renewable energy. But intermittency issues keep them from connecting widely to the U.S. grid: They require energy-storage systems that, at the cheapest, run about $100 per kilowatt hour and function only in certain locations. Now MIT researchers have developed an "air-breathing" battery that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emiss...
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​The ISS Just Got Its Own Linux Supercomputer (Oct 14, 2017)
A year-long project to determine how high-performance computers can perform in space has just cleared a major hurdle -- successfully booting up on the International Space Station (ISS). This experiment conducted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NASA aims to run a commercial off-the-shelf high-performance computer in the harsh conditions of space for one year -- roughly the amount of time it will take to travel to Mars.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Have Taken Centre Stage - Here's Why (Oct 14, 2017)
We’ve reached a significant point in time where the interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning have gained huge amounts of traction - why? We are moving into an era where science fiction is now becoming fact and reality. AI and machine learning are not new concepts; Greek mythology is littered with references of giant automata such as Talos of Crete and the bronze robot of Hephaestus. However, the ‘modern AI’ idea of thinking machines that we all have come...
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Network Computing Moves Closer to the Edge (Oct 13, 2017)
In the two decades since Sun Microsystems declared “the network is the computer,” cloud computing has established itself as the de-facto model. The economic benefits of a near infinite, elastic infrastructure that customers don’t need to manage themselves have assured that. Storing information centrally has made it possible to deliver information wherever it’s needed, to any device, supporting the explosion in remote work, smartphone apps, social networks and more.

Ada Lovelace Day Honors "the First Computer Programmer" (Oct 12, 2017)
Someone encountering an “Analytical Engine” today would probably think it was part of a mechanical system for some bizarre car—or perhaps an obscure telegraph machine or some kind of eccentric musical instrument. We probably would not recognize this jumble of pins and cogwheels as the world’s first computer. Although a working model was never completed, English mathematician Charles Babbage’s design, first described in 1837, was extraordinary. And it had parallels with the modern compu...
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Regina Barzilay Wins MacArthur “Genius Grant” (Oct 12, 2017)
Regina Barzilay, a professor in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) who does research in natural language processing and machine learning, is a recipient of a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes referred to as a “genius grant.” The fellowships carry a five-year, $625,000 prize, which recipients are free to use as they see fit. Twenty-one current MIT faculty members and three staff members have won MacArthur Fellowships, which were established in 1981 and ...
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