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May 2015 — June 2015

The Bionic Man: Coming Soon? (Jun 12, 2015)
Hani Naguib, a professor of mechanical and materials engineering, is attempting to make an artificial muscle using his interest in smart and adaptive materials. “A smart material senses and responds to the environment,” he explains. “For example, if it senses heat, it could respond by cooling the environment. Or by sensing something in its environment, it might change its own shape.” Take the muscle. While previous generations of artificial muscles were made with motors, Naguib’s uses ...
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LLNL Breaks Ground on Supercomputing Facility (Jun 11, 2015)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory broke ground on a modular and sustainable supercomputing facility that will provide a flexible infrastructure able to accommodate the Laboratory’s growing demand for high performance computing (HPC). The $9.875 million building, located on the Laboratory’s east side, will ensure computer room space to support the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program’s unclassified HPC systems. ASC is the high-performance simulation effort of the National Nu...
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Woodside to Deploy IBM Watson to Improve Oil & Gas Operations (Jun 11, 2015)
IBM and Woodside announced they will use IBM Watson as part of the oil and gas company’s next steps in data science. The cognitive computing system will be trained by Woodside engineers, enabling users to surface evidence-weighted insights from large volumes of unstructured and historical data contained in project reports in seconds. Watson is part of Woodside’s strategy to use predictive data science to leverage more than 30 years of collective knowledge and experience as a leading liquefie...
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The Complex Process of Developing Intelligence in Robots (Jun 10, 2015)
Though language learning comes naturally to a child, encoding this complex process into a computer system is difficult; it lacks the physical and emotional connections to sounds and objects that are vital to the process of interpreting, conceptualizing, and understanding language. Today’s computer systems lack neurons and empathy, two ingredients vital for human language learning. But Onyeama Osuagwu, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, is working to build a system that can...
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UT Physicists to Work on Next Generation of ORNL Super Computer (Jun 10, 2015)
When the next generation of high performance computing comes to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UT’s physicists will be working on the first projects that put its power to work. Summit, the third in the evolution of ORNL’s supercomputers, is set to come online in 2017. Descended from Jaguar and most recently Titan, it will ramp up the current performance level by at least a factor of five. Late in 2014 the Center for Acceleration Application Readiness (CAAR) program at the national lab invite...
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Mapping App Turns Art Into a Sharable Walking Route (Jun 9, 2015)
University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed Trace, an app that turns a digital sketch the user draws on a smartphone screen, such as a boat or a leaf, into a walking route that can be sent to another user. The recipient tells the app how far they want to walk and the app produces step-by-step directions that eventually reveal the hidden shape on a map. The sender also can include audio recordings, images, or other messages that appear at specified locations along the route. The app ...
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Researchers Prove Magnetism Can Control Heat, Sound (Jun 9, 2015)
Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center and recently published by a researcher group from Ohio State University. In a recent issue of the journal Nature Materials, the researchers describe how a magnetic field, roughly the size of a medical MRI, reduced the amount of heat flowing through a semiconductor by 12 percent. Simulations performed at OSC then identified the reason...
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Wearable Technology Finds Its Place on Campus (Jun 8, 2015)
Several universities are experimenting with wearable technologies as a way to improve classroom instruction. Last year, University of California - Berkeley researchers and Intel launched the Make It Wearable Challenge, a competition to encourage entrepreneurs to develop wearable devices. The challenge involved instructors from Berkeley's Lester Center guiding the startup teams through an accelerator program. The competition's winning project was a wrist-mounted camera drone called Nixie. A low-c...
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Summer Camps Across the Country Seek to Build the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Experts (Jun 8, 2015)
Summer camps across the U.S. will focus on technology and computing this year as part of an expanding program called GenCyber funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Security Agency (NSA). The agencies want to teach children about threats that can be found online, defense basics and not misusing the information they collect. "In order to be really cyber-aware . . . a student, high school, college or new grad entering the workforce really needs to be fundamentally s...
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Girls Just Want to Code. The Trick is Making Sure The Don't Stop (Jun 7, 2015)
Getting women interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects in their early years and sustaining that interest through college is key to addressing an endemic gender imbalance in the technology sector. Programs such as Qualcomm's Qcamp coding camp, which offers instruction in coding, app design and robotics, seek to nurture STEM interest in young girls. Girls Who Code reports 74 percent of middle school girls say they are interested in STEM, yet only 0.3 percent of high ...
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Google Embeds Engineers as Professors (Jun 7, 2015)
In an effort to diversify Silicon Valley's technology sector, Google is placing engineers at a handful of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), where they teach, mentor and advise on curriculum. Although 35 percent of African Americans receiving computer science degrees currently come from those schools, they do not end up at Silicon Valley's top technology companies, as only about 1 percent of those firms' technical staffers are black. In response to this shortage, Google sent a...
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Big Data Must Haves: Capacity, Compute, Collaboration (Jun 6, 2015)
Big data researchers, network engineers, CIOs, and technology leaders are set to discuss ways to collaborate to advance research capabilities in IT infrastructure and applications this week at the Internet2 Global Summit, which takes place in Washington, DC. Clemson University professor Alex Feltus will showcase how his research team is leveraging the Internet2 infrastructure, including its Advanced Layer 2 Service high-speed connections and perfSONAR network monitoring, to accelerate genomic bi...
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The Revolution Will Be Digitized (Jun 6, 2015)
The essence of Larry Smarr is captured by a series of numbers. For nearly 15 years, the University of California at San Diego professor has been obsessed with what he describes as the most complicated subject he has ever experimented on: his own body. Smarr keeps track of more than 150 parameters. Smarr is the unlikely hero of a global movement among ordinary people to “quantify” themselves using wearable fitness gadgets, medical equipment, headcams, traditional lab tests and homemade cont...
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Using Smartphones to Avoid Spatial Disorientation of Elderly (Jun 5, 2015)
Researchers at the Technical University of Madrid have turned to network operating technologies to locate and send alerts to elderly people with mild cognitive impairment during episodes of disorientation. The researchers developed a location-awareness service using smartphones that examines such information as seniors' proximity to their homes or places of interest, whether that person is with a relative or using public transport and certain time intervals. When a disorientation episode occur...
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Kids Learn Arduino-based Code with Tinker the Robot (Jun 5, 2015)
Meet Tinker the Robot. UC San Diego mechanical engineering alumnus Kay Yang created him to teach and inspire children (ages 8-14) to play with robots. As a little girl, Kay loved taking things apart and learning how they worked – except electronics. She couldn’t understand how an electronic circuit could bring an object to life. It wasn’t until she came to UC San Diego and enrolled in mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Nate Delson’s Introduction to Engineering Graphics and De...
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AI Points to Better Decision-Making Despite Poker Match Loss (Jun 4, 2015)
We often approach life as if it were a chess match, assuming every piece is visible. But that’s seldom true. As Tuomas Sandholm of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science sees it, life is more like a hand of poker. Other players have cards we can’t see, and they often try to trick us. Could our decisions be better if we leveraged artificial intelligence? That’s the question Sandholm and graduate students Noam Brown and Sam Ganzfried set out to answer. Using the Blacklight...
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Connect4Learning Jumpstarts Science and Math for Preschoolers (Jun 4, 2015)
Preschoolers engaged, teachers enthusiastic about moving math and science to the head of the class The 4-year-olds at All Souls School in Englewood, Colo., are learning their shapes and numbers within a science lesson about sea creatures. It's a new approach to early childhood education that focuses more attention on science and math while incorporating important literacy connections along the way. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), University of Denver education professors...
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Little Particles, Big Effect (Jun 3, 2015)
Since the time the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) first swept into America’s social consciousness in 1982, HIV has been misunderstood. But research conducted with the support of supercomputer allocations from the eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) reveals a potential breakthrough in the way scientists pursue treatment—it’s all about the nanoparticles. A nanoparticle is microscopic and so small it exhibits ...
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Supernova Hunting with Supercomputers (Jun 3, 2015)
Type Ia supernovae are famous for their consistency. Ironically, new observations suggest that their origins may not be uniform at all. Using a “roadmap” of theoretical calculations and supercomputer simulations, astronomers observed for the first time a flash of light caused by a supernova slamming into a nearby star, allowing them to determine the stellar system from which the supernova was born. This finding confirms one of two competing theories about the birth of Type Ia supernovae. But...
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Nepal Disaster Relief Efforts to Be Aided By Glacier Researchers (Jun 2, 2015)
Researchers who normally use high-resolution satellite imagery to study glaciers are using their technology to help with disaster relief and longer-term stabilization planning efforts related to the recent earthquake in Nepal. Two research teams – one at Ohio State University and another at the University of Minnesota – are working quickly to employ Surface Extraction for TIN-based Searchspace Minimization (SETSM) software to produce high-resolution, 3-D digital surface maps for use in the N...
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ORNL Demonstrates First Large-Scale Graphene Fabrication (Jun 2, 2015)
One of the barriers to using graphene at a commercial scale could be overcome using a method demonstrated by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Graphene, a material stronger and stiffer than carbon fiber, has enormous commercial potential but has been impractical to employ on a large scale, with researchers limited to using small flakes of the material. Now, using chemical vapor deposition, a team led by ORNL’s Ivan Vlassiouk has fabricated polymer compo...
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No-Tech Board Games that Teach Coding Skills to Young Children (Jun 1, 2015)
Thanks in part to STEM education initiatives and the tech boom, coding in the classroom has become more ubiquitous. Computer programming tasks students to persistently work to solve problems by thinking logically. What’s more, learning how to code is a desired 21st century career skill. There are several digital games designed for kids as young as 5 that turn coding into a fun activity, such as Kodable and Scratch Jr. But some game designers are going further back to programming’s fundamenta...
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Smartphone Video Microscope Automates Detection of Parasites in Blood (Jun 1, 2015)
A research team led by UC Berkeley engineers has developed a new smartphone microscope that uses video to automatically detect and quantify infection by parasitic worms in a drop of blood. This next generation of UC Berkeley’s CellScope technology could help revive efforts to eradicate debilitating filarial diseases in Africa by providing critical information to health providers in the field. The UC Berkeley engineers teamed up with Dr. Thomas Nutman from the National Institute of Allergy and ...
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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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