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November 2015 — November 2015

Cybersecurity is Everywhere. Is it in your K-12 CS Program? (Nov 22, 2015)
Cybersecurity is in the news and is newsworthy. One of the more common themes in cybersecurity is the dearth of qualified cybersecurity professionals and how the United States might address that lack in the education system. Several colleges and universities have begun to add cybersecurity programs, and credentialing bodies are developing certificates and credentials for those already in the workforce but perhaps lacking the proper skills and training. The ACM Education Policy Committee and the ...
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Grant Funds Computer Simulation to Train Social Work Students, Clinicians (Nov 21, 2015)
A federal grant of more than $919,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will fund one new course at the University of Illinois and support training for clinicians at area agencies in conducting early interventions with people who abuse substances. The training will be accomplished using a computer simulation called the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment protocol, an early intervention often used in hospital emergency rooms and other public he...
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UC Sand Diego Launches Robotics Institute (Nov 21, 2015)
The Jacobs School of Engineering and Division of Social Sciences at the UC San Diego have launched the Contextual Robotics Institute to develop safe and useful robotics systems. These robotics systems will function in the real world based on the contextual information they perceive, in real time. Elder care and assisted living, disaster response, medicine, transportation and environmental sensing are just some of the helpful applications that could emerge from tomorrow’s human-friendly robots....
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Cities Take Innovative Approaches to Launch K-12 Computer Science (Nov 20, 2015)
Not too long ago, ACM and CSTA released a study that found computer science education was on the decline. Published in 2010, the report, titled "Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age," found that the number of high schools offering introductory computer science courses had declined 17% between 2005 and 2009. Universities and tech companies had begun to worry publicly about a growing gap between the number of jobs available and the number of people who mi...
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NEXRAD Archive Data Available on Amazon S3 (Nov 20, 2015)
The Big Data Project (BDP) is an initiative undertaken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to increase public availability of large volumes of environmental data collected and generated by the agency. As part of the Big Data Project, Unidata is working in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) on a demonstration project to provide access to a more than twenty years of archivedNEXRAD Level II radar data — augmented continuously with new, real-time data — stored...
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Google's Project Loon Internet Balloons Will Soon Cover Indonesian Sky (Nov 19, 2015)
Google plans to deploy hundreds of Project Loon balloons in an effort to make fast internet more accessible to the citizens of Indonesia. The company will collaborate with Indonesian network operators for transmitting LTE-speed connections to around 100 million people in the region. To that end, Google has signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesian telecom operators — Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata. The testing of Project Loon airborne base station technology across Indonesia will...
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Will Candy Crush Deal Leave Activision with a Bitter Taste? (Nov 19, 2015)
Candy Crush describes itself as the "sweetest game around" - but even so there's no guarantee that the $5.9 billion takeover of King.com won't leave both investors and players with a bitter taste. The big-budget, action-centric PC and console titles that Californian buyer Activision Blizzard is best known for are quite different to the more simple puzzle and role-playing mobile and web-based games its Stockholm and London-headquartered acquisition is skilled at making. Furthermore, the size of t...
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Mysteries of Infant Development (Nov 18, 2015)
If you wanted to design a robot that could learn and develop like a human infant, to gain the skills and abilities of a human child, you would do well to talk to IU experimental psychologist Linda Smith — as roboticists around the world have done. Among the many questions you would need to answer are two that Smith addresses every day in the lab she has directed for 38 years and counting: What are the building blocks of human cognition? How does human intelligence take shape? For children who ...
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Hypersonic Rocket Engine Could 'Revolutionize' Air Travel (Nov 18, 2015)
British aerospace giant BAE Systems is betting big on hypersonic travel -- something its potential new partner says could be a reality within two decades. BAE is planning to invest £20.6 million ($31.8 million) in a 20% stake of Reaction Engines, a UK-based engineering firm which has developed what it calls "breakthrough" aerospace engine technology, which could potentially be used for a new generation of reusable space vehicles and, as a commercial offshoot, could revolutionize air travel. Alo...
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Google's Mobile Quest May Lead to Android, Chrome Merger (Nov 17, 2015)
For Google, smartphones, tablets, laptops and more may all soon answer to Android. The Mountain View, California, company is looking to bring its Android mobile software to laptop computers, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. As part of that push, Google may annex some parts of its Chrome OS software, which mainly powers its Chromebook laptops, with Android, its operating system for smartphones and tablets, according to the report. The search giant plans to release this newly unif...
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New NAG Service Helps Supercomputer Buyers Make Smarter Decisions (Nov 17, 2015)
Numerical Algorithms Group announced plans to launch an impartial HPC technology intelligence and analysis subscription service. Developed in partnership with Red Oak Consulting, HPC Technology Intelligence Service will deliver technology insight and risk-reduction to help buyers and users make better decisions and optimize their investments. HPC promises real and significant benefits to those organizations that can exploit it effectively, but it can also be a confusing place – a plethora of t...
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Lack of ZZZZs May Zap Cell Growth, Brain Activity (Nov 16, 2015)
Lack of adequate sleep can do more than just make you tired. It could short-circuit your system and interfere with a fundamental cellular process that drives physical growth, physiological adaptation, and even brain activity, according to a new UT study. Albrecht von Arnim, a molecular biologist based in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, studied plants but said the concepts may well translate to humans. His team examined how protein synthesis—the process that d...
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New Computational Strategy Finds Brain Tumor-Shrinking Molecules (Nov 16, 2015)
Patients with glioblastoma, a type of malignant brain tumor, usually survive less than 15 months following diagnosis. Since there are no effective treatments for the deadly disease, University of California, San Diego researchers developed a new computational strategy to search for molecules that could be developed into glioblastoma drugs. In mouse models of human glioblastoma, one molecule they found shrank the average tumor size by half. The study was published by Oncotarget. The newly discove...
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Firefly Space System Designs Rocket with TACC's Stampede Supercomputer (Nov 15, 2015)
Back in 2014, Firefly CEO Tom Markusic noticed a void in the space industry. Small satellites, which have many uses from telecommunications to scientific research, could not easily launch into space. To fill this niche, Markusic founded Firefly Space Systems, the Austin-based startup that aims to provide low-cost space launch capabilities for the small satellite market. While most space companies can take up to a decade to design and launch a new rocket, Firefly plans to do it in less than two y...
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Chemical Complexity Promises Improved Structural Alloys for Next-Gen Nuclear Energy (Nov 15, 2015)
Designing alloys to withstand extreme environments is a fundamental challenge for materials scientists. Energy from radiation can create imperfections in alloys, so researchers in an Energy Frontier Research Center led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are investigating ways to design structural materials that develop fewer, smaller flaws under irradiation. The key, they report in the journal Nature Communications, is exploiting the complexity that is present when all...
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XSEDE Powers Polymer Research at MIT (Nov 14, 2015)
Researchers at MIT are using XSEDE resources to study polymers, the chemical compounds used to make plastic, rubber, and more. Details of the project are contained in the paper “Tube Curvature Slows the Motion of Rod–Coil Block Copolymers through Activated Reptation.” Wang and Brad Olsen, project principal investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, in collaboration with Alexei Likhtman, professor of mathematical physics at the University of Readi...
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Cloud Computing Finally Gets Some Startups (Nov 14, 2015)
For years, getting into the business of renting out extra computing power through the cloud has been a bit like getting into the business of nuclear power. First, you have to spend a few hundred million dollars on ginormous hardware and the pricey software to run it. Next, you have to hire a team of Ph.D.s to make sure the equipment always runs pretty much perfectly, because one screw-up means a customer—probably a big corporate IT department—leaves forever. That formula is changing as cloud...
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Can Math Teachers Teach Coding? (Nov 13, 2015)
How do students and teachers learn math and computer science, and how can we ease the coming shortage of computer science teachers? Worcester Polytechnic Institute will partner with Brown University and Bootstrap to examine those questions. A team of computing education experts will study how students—and teachers—learn mathematics and computer science, and how those ways of learning can influence each other. The study, funded by a National Science Foundation grant of nearly $1.5 million, is...
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Plants + HPC at NCSA (Nov 13, 2015)
Many fields of research are seeing changes in how that research is conducted thanks to advances in technology. Plant science is one of those, and NCSA is playing a role in two large projects. Historically, successful trait selection in plant breeding has involved manual measurement of individual plants. This requirement limits the number of plants that can be evaluated and the scope of properties that can be measured. A new grant from the Department of Energy will fund the development of a syste...
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Hubble Spots Mother Lode of 250 Ancient Tiny Galaxies (Nov 12, 2015)
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in operation since 1990 and it still can amaze scientists and space fans alike. A team of astronomers has used the Hubble to make a fascinating discovery that links back to the early days of our universe: a collection of over 250 dwarf galaxies. Researchers date the galaxies to an estimated "only 600-900 million years after the big bang." That sounds like a long time to us, but it's a pittance on the scale of the universe's life span. NASA notes that it took o...
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A7 Patent Suit Loss Could Cost Apple $862M (Nov 12, 2015)
A United States District Court jury found that Apple's A7 processor infringes a patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent management arm of the University of Wisconsin - Madison. WARF alleged patent infringement and claimed damages of up to $862 million in a complaint filed early last year in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. District Judge William M. Conley rejected Apple's motion to limit damages in a separate ruling late last month. Apple...
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MIT Team Genetically Engineers a Quantum Virus for Efficient Energy Transport (Nov 11, 2015)
When MIT phenoms Seth Lloyd and Angela Belcher put their heads together to create the perfect peanut butter cup, you know we are going to be there to take a bite. Lloyd, of quantum computer fame, realized that certain features of the kinds of viruses which Belcher builds are ideally dimensioned for trying increase the efficiency of photosynthetic energy transport via quantum effects. When he mentioned that to her, she said her lab was already making them. A short time later, the team had their p...
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Tracking Air Quality from High in the Sky (Nov 11, 2015)
NCAR scientists have demonstrated how new types of satellite data could improve how agencies monitor and forecast air quality, both globally and by region. The scientists used computer simulations to test a method that combines analysis of chemistry-climate model output with the kind of data that could be obtained from a planned fleet of geostationary satellites, each of which would view a large area of Earth on a continuous basis from high orbit. The NCAR team reported their test of the system'...
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IU School of Informatics and Computing Breaks Ground on New Building (Nov 10, 2015)
Indiana University Bloomington celebrated a groundbreaking and announced the lead donor on a new building for the IU School of Informatics and Computing today. The $39.8 million, 124,000-square-foot building to accommodate the rapid growth of students, faculty and programs at the school is expected to complete construction in December 2017. Private donations will fund at least $10 million of the building’s construction, including $8 million from former IU student Fred Luddy, a member of the de...
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IBM Research, Carnegie Mellon Create Open Platform To Help the Blind Navigate Surroundings (Nov 10, 2015)
Scientists from IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon University today announced the first open platform designed to support the creation of smartphone apps that can enable the blind to better navigate their surroundings. The IBM and CMU researchers used the platform to create a pilot app, called NavCog, that draws on existing sensors and cognitive technologies to inform blind people on the CMU campus about their surroundings by “whispering” into their ears through earbuds or by creating vibratio...
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