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June 2017 — July 2017

AI is Changing How We Do Science. Get a Glimpse (Jul 5, 2017)
Particle physicists began fiddling with artificial intelligence (AI) in the late 1980s, just as the term “neural network” captured the public’s imagination. Their field lends itself to AI and machine-learning algorithms because nearly every experiment centers on finding subtle spatial patterns in the countless, similar readouts of complex particle detectors—just the sort of thing at which AI excels. “It took us several years to convince people that this is not just some magic, hocus-po...
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Flat Sheets Transform Themselves into Smooth-surfaced, Free-form Objects (Jul 5, 2017)
3D printers have been around since the 1980s, but we are still far from maximizing their potential. One active area of research and development is "self-actuating" objects: flat materials that transform themselves through material forces into the desired 3D object. Previously, however, the range of objects was limited to those with sharp edges and little, if any, curvature, and the transformation methods were based primarily on folding or processes that could not be controlled very precisely (e....
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Code.org Takes Computer Science into Middle Schools (Jul 2, 2017)
Seattle nonprofit Code.org is bringing computer science education to 800 more classrooms – and this time, it’s geared toward middle schoolers. The Seattle organization, founded in 2012 by entrepreneurs Ali and Hadi Partovi, trains teachers to teach computer science courses, and provides the lesson plans and software free of charge. Code.org is best known for its “Hour of Code” campaign, which encourages kids to spend one hour learning to code with online tutorials featuring popular chara...
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Is Water-Free Cooling the Real Future of HPC? (Jul 2, 2017)
In this video from ISC 2017, Olivier de Laet from Calyos describes the company’s innovative cooling technology for high performance computing. “The HPC industry is ever facing is facing the challenge of ever-increasing cooling requirements. While liquid cooling cooling looks to be the best solution, what if you could achieve the same efficiencies without out using water and pumps?” Enter Calytronics, cooling technology that is as simple as a heat pipe and as performant as liquid cooling.



Switchable DNA Mini-machines Store Information (Jun 30, 2017)
Biomedical engineers have built simple machines out of DNA, consisting of arrays whose units switch reversibly between two different shapes. The arrays' inventors say they could be harnessed to make nanotech sensors or amplifiers. Potentially, they could be combined to form logic gates, the parts of a molecular computer. The arrays' properties are scheduled for publication online by Science. The DNA machines can relay discrete bits of information through space or amplify a signal, says senior au...
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Generic, Situation-aware Guidelines to Help Robots Co-exist Successfully Alongside Humans (Jun 30, 2017)
Artificial intelligence experts from the University of Hertfordshire, Dr Christoph Salge and Professor Daniel Polani, have designed a concept which could lead to a new set of generic, situation-aware guidelines to help robots work and co-exist successfully alongside humans. Empowerment, which has been developed over the course of twelve years, is discussed in the latest edition of the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI today, as a potential replacement for Asimov's celebrated Three Laws of Rob...
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How Pythons Regenerate Their Organs and Other Secrets of the Snake Genome (Jun 29, 2017)
Evolution takes eons, but it leaves marks on the genomes of organisms that can be detected with DNA sequencing and analysis. As methods for studying and comparing genetic data improve, scientists are beginning to decode these marks to reconstruct the evolutionary history of species, as well as how variants of genes give rise to unique traits. A research team at the University of Texas at Arlington led by assistant professor of biology Todd Castoe has been exploring the genomes of snakes and liza...
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The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread? (Jun 29, 2017)
Every thought, every feeling, every sensation—and every behavioral illness—ultimately depends on how our brains work. Despite decades of stunning advances in imaging the brain and measuring its activity, though, we still don’t understand how even a simple vertebrate brain works. Enter the zebrafish larva. Small and transparent—yet able to swim freely and even hunt small prey—these baby fish have long been studied by researchers to understand how their tiny brains generate behaviors.



Bill Gropp Named NCSA Director (Jun 28, 2017)
Dr. William “Bill” Gropp, Interim Director and Chief Scientist of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will become the center's fifth Director on July 16, 2017, pending Board of Trustees approval. Gropp was appointed to the roles of acting and then interim director of NCSA by Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer when former NCSA director Dr. Ed Seidel stepped up to serve as Vice President for Economic Development...
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SDSC’s Comet is a Key Resource in New Global Dark Matter Experiment (Jun 28, 2017)
The petascale Comet supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) on the UC San Diego campus has emerged as a key resource in what is considered to be the most advanced dark matter research quest to-date, with a group of international researchers recently announcing promising results after only one month of operation with a new detector.



NASA’s Develops SAFEGUARD Safety Net Technology for Drones (Jun 27, 2017)
Flying drone aircraft are no longer rare sightings these day. In fact, their may be one above you somewhere taking pictures at this very moment. This begs the question: how do we keep our skies safe? Scientists at NASA Langley Research Center have developed a breakthrough technology called Safeguard that can alleviate hazards with unmanned aircrafts (UA) flying beyond their authorized perimeters and into no-fly zones. Safeguard works by continuously detecting a UAs proximity to virtual perimeter...
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How to Build Software for a Computer 50 Times Faster Than Anything in the World (Jun 27, 2017)
Imagine you were able to solve a problem 50 times faster than you can now. With this ability, you have the potential to come up with answers to even the most complex problems faster than ever before. Researchers behind the U.S. Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project want to make this capability a reality, and are doing so by creating tools and technologies for exascale supercomputers -- computing systems at least 50 times faster than those used today. These tools will advance research...
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Where Are The Women In Computer Science? (Jun 25, 2017)
Usually I scroll over the mass of school club advertisements on Facebook because none of them really interested me. However, when I saw that WiCS, the Women in Computer Science Club at school was organizing a tour at the Tumblr office in NYC, I was hooked. Attending school at Barnard College, I knew I was going to be trapped in the Morningside Heights bubble, which meant that I was going to be lazy and not take advantage of the amazing city that I was in, yet alone take the subway anywhere out o...
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Stop Shaming Computer Science Majors (Jun 25, 2017)
To many at Stanford, declaring a major in computer science represents caving in. Friends let out knowing, if judgmental, chuckles when a once-undeclared friend’s picture inevitably appears on the CS Course Advisor page. Humanities majors studying comparative literature or religion often criticize their Huang-dwelling acquaintances for being career-minded sellouts, choosing their major just for the sake of a job. Critics worry that Stanford students’ tendency to value writing proxies in C++ o...
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Shape and Size of DNA Lesions Caused by Toxic Agents Affects Repair of DNA (Jun 24, 2017)
Every day our bodies come under a barrage of toxic agents – cigarette smoke, the sun, free radicals and other carcinogenic substances – that create damaging lesions in our DNA that can initiate cancer and other human diseases. Fortunately, nature has provided living organisms with repair processes to seek out and remove such dangerous lesions; repair allows the DNA to be restored to its original base sequence so it can carry out its fundamental jobs: to be replicated and to be copied into a ...
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Computer Science Students Should Learn to Cheat, Not be Punished for It (Jun 24, 2017)
Computer Science students are constantly getting into trouble for lifting entire blocks of code from the Internet. Yesterday, the New York Times published a fascinating piece about academic dishonesty in the computer science field, which it says is rampant. Here’s some eye-catching figures. At UC Berkley, 100 out of a cohort of 700 computer science students were discovered to have used code that wasn’t entirely their own. At Brown University, almost half of all academic honor code violations...
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Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021 (Jun 23, 2017)
The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale companies and their embrace of AI and deep learning – that will drive healthy and stable, if not spectacular, expansion of the market through 2021 and beyond. Those are some of the top-line findings announced today by Addison Snell, CEO of HPC industry watcher Intersect 360 Research at the ISC conference in Frankfurt.



K Computer Takes First Place for the Second Consecutive Time on HPCG Benchmark (Jun 23, 2017)
On June 19, the K computer took first place for the second consecutive time in the HPCG benchmark, a new index developed to create a more realistic view of supercomputer performance compared to the commonly used LINPACK benchmark. This success, which surpasses the second place achieved in 2014 and 2015, was made possible by subsequent improvements of the performance of the system and applications.



Old School Meets New School: Flight Deck Ouija Boards Go Digital (Jun 22, 2017)
The flight decks of aviation-capable vessels like aircraft carriers bustle with noise and danger -- screaming jets, snapping steel cables and powerful tractors and forklifts. Planning and orchestrating this high-octane dance requires precision and accuracy from those responsible for directing deck traffic. To make the jobs of aircraft handlers easier, the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) TechSolutions program has sponsored the development of the Deployable Ship Integration Multitouch System -- D...
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Toward Optical Quantum Computing (Jun 22, 2017)
Ordinarily, light particles — photons — don’t interact. If two photons collide in a vacuum, they simply pass through each other. An efficient way to make photons interact could open new prospects for both classical optics and quantum computing, an experimental technology that promises large speedups on some types of calculations. In recent years, physicists have enabled photon-photon interactions using atoms of rare elements cooled to very low temperatures. But in the latest issue of Physi...
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You Don’t Have to Major in Computer Science to Do It as a Career (Jun 11, 2017)
Basic economics suggests that if college students see booming demand for specific skills, a stampede to major in such lucrative fields should ensue. For years, tech companies, banks, and even traditional industrial companies have been hiring programmers, software developers, and computer scientists as fast as they can find them. Since 2010, there has been a 59 percent leap in jobs for software application developers—and a 15 percent jump in pay, to an average $102,300 last year—according to ...
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Researchers Debut Battery-less Pacemaker (Jun 10, 2017)
A wireless, battery-less pacemaker that can be implanted directly into a patient's heart is being introduced by researchers from Rice University and their colleagues at the Texas Heart Institute (THI). The pacemaker designed by the Rice lab of electrical and computer engineering professor Aydin Babakhani harvests energy wirelessly from radio frequency radiation transmitted by an external battery pack. In the prototype presented at IMS, the wireless power transmitter can be up to few centimeters ...
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Is It Dangerous for Humans to Depend on Computers? (Jun 10, 2017)
In the last week, we have seen the best and worst of computer technology. In China, Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence program took on and beat the world champion of the complex game of Go, reducing him to tears. Nineteen-year-old Ke Jie described the AI computer as "perfect, flawless, without any emotions". But in airports in the UK and elsewhere last weekend tears were also being shed over computers. In this case, though, the primary emotions were frustration and rage over the chaos cau...
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More Power to Us (Jun 9, 2017)
If everyone used electricity at a constant rate, generating power would be simple. But spikes in use lead to under-utilized power and ultimately increased costs. Scientists used PSC’s Bridges and former Greenfield systems to understand the economic and engineering challenges of “behind the meter” battery storage.



World's Thinnest Hologram Paves Path to New 3-D world (Jun 9, 2017)
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday electronics like smart phones, computers and TVs. Interactive 3D holograms are a staple of science fiction -- from Star Wars to Avatar -- but the challenge for scientists trying to turn them into reality is developing holograms that are thin enough to work with modern electronics.

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