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June 2015 — July 2015

Code.org Targets High School Computer Science (Jul 1, 2015)
Code.org is collaborating with College Board to work to expand computer science in U.S. high schools and increase the number of female and minority students taking computer science courses. Under the new partnership, high schools in 35 of the U.S.'s largest districts will be encouraged to offer Code.org's computer science course this fall. Targeted school districts are in cities including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi says the nonprofit will provide the curri...
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Latest Self-Driving Google Car Heading to Public Streets (Jun 30, 2015)
Google announced plans to debut the latest version of its self-driving car on public roads this summer. The new prototypes look similar to the prototype unveiled last year, but with a more robust feature set. Dimitri Dolgov, head of software for the self-driving car project, says Google's self-driving software has improved in the last year and is much better at classifying objects and predicting the behavior of pedestrians and other cars. However, the new cars will still have limitations. The sm...
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UW Study Examines Gender Bias in Stock Images (Jun 30, 2015)
Researchers from the universities of Washington (UW) and Maryland analyzed gender bias in online image results, and their study found a systematic underrepresentation of women. In occupations that have the same number of women and men, the researchers report women only account for 45 percent of the search images. Moreover, women in the images sometimes appear highly sexualized. When study participants were asked to identify which images showed a more professional and appropriate-looking person f...
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Your Smartphone Could Have Serious Security Flaws (Jun 27, 2015)
Three separate research groups revealed app security flaws that could turn Apple and Samsung devices into cyberintruders' playthings -- allowing them to take control of your phones' cameras, microphones and GPS while stealing all your personal information and listening to your phone calls. The only good news is that the attacks would have to be aimed at specific phones, and attackers are unlikely to target everyday people. The bad news is that German researchers found flaws that could affect eve...
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Facebook's New AI Can Paint, but Google's Knows How to Party (Jun 27, 2015)
Facebook and Google are building enormous neural networks—artificial brains—that can instantly recognize faces, cars, buildings, and other objects in digital photos. But that’s not all these brains can do. They can recognize the spoken word, translate from one language to another, target ads, or teach a robot to screw a cap onto a bottle. And if you turn these brains upside down, you can teach them not just to recognize images, but create images—in rather intriguing (and sometimes distur...
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Tesla GPUs Power Winning Team in Student Supercomputing Competition (Jun 26, 2015)
The Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform has again powered the winning team in a major international student supercomputing competition. And, GPU technology helped another team set a student record in the supercomputing industry’s top performance benchmark. For the third year in a row GPU technologies have helped a team nab the top spot in the Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge, the world’s largest supercomputer competition. This year, 152 teams from around the world took part. Sixteen fro...
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Hyperloop Dreams May Become Concrete (Jun 26, 2015)
SpaceX has announced plans to construct a mile-long Hyperloop test track next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, scheduled for completion by June 2016. The company also announced an open competition for university students and independent engineering teams to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. Entrants will be able to test their pods on the track. "These tests will provide proof points at a reasonable cost, and will help build support for the project," said Jim McGregor, princip...
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New Minecraft Mod Teaches You Code as You Play (Jun 25, 2015)
Teachers are already capitalizing on their students’ fascination with the computer game Minecraft to teach everything from math to history. The immersive game lets you create your own mini-universe. The game has many tools, but many players are taking the game a step further by building entirely new features into the game. And, at the same time, they are also learning how to code with a tweak to the Minecraft game called LearnToMod. Modifications like this, called “mods,” are a big part of...
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SC15 Selects Nine Teams for Student Cluster Competition (Jun 25, 2015)
SC15 is excited to hold another nail-biting Student Cluster Competition as an opportunity to showcase student expertise in a friendly yet spirited competition. This year the SCC is proud to host nine teams that will battle it out to showcase their hardware and computing might to battle zombie invasions, hurricanes, exotic particles, gene reconstruction and more. The selected teams are from the following organizations/countries: Arizona Tri-University Team (U.S.), Illinois Institute of Technology...
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Rutgers Students Win with App for Diabetes Management (Jun 24, 2015)
Team "Copernicus Health" won the Nicholson Foundation's Rutgers Healthcare Delivery Challenge for its smartphone app that engages and motivates underserved populations to better manage their type 2 diabetes. The Rutgers Healthcare Delivery Challenge encouraged teams to develop ready-to-implement service delivery or technology innovations that can improve the quality and contain the costs of healthcare for underserved populations. The Copernicus Health app uses gamification techniques to enable p...
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Nine Programming Languages and the Women Who Created Them (Jun 24, 2015)
Software development has a well-known reputation for being a male-dominated world. But, despite this, women have made many important and lasting contributions to programming throughout the decades. One area, in particular, where many women have left a mark is in the development of programming languages. Numerous pioneering women have designed and developed the languages programmers use to give computers instructions, starting in the days of mainframes and machine code, through assemblers and int...
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Gadgets Powered Wirelessly at Home with a Simple Wi-Fi Router (Jun 23, 2015)
A multi-university team of researchers has developed a system that can power electrical devices with just a wireless router's signal, even while it provides wireless Internet access to an area. Using a traditional Wi-Fi signal, devices can be powered when the Internet is being used; however, when not browsing, the signal goes quiet. The new software broadcasts meaningless data across several Wi-Fi channels when the Internet is not being used, and small devices could use this signal as part of an...
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Fourteen Illinois Researchers Selected for NCSA Fellowships (Jun 23, 2015)
Fourteen faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been selected to receive one-year fellowships that will enable their research teams to pursue collaborative projects with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. NCSA's fellowship program aims to catalyze and develop long-term collaborations between the center and campus researchers, particularly in the center's six thematic areas of research: Bioinformatics and Health Sciences, Computing and Data Scien...
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NCSA Team Creates Solar Superstorms (Jun 22, 2015)
The members of NCSA's Advanced Visualization Laboratory and their collaborators are creating “Solar Superstorms,” an ultra-high-resolution digital film that presents the latest digitally enabled research on solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other aspects of space weather. This is just the first of three fulldome shows that AVL and its partners will produce in the next several years as part of a project called CADENS (The Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science), which is back...
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Engineers Develop Computer that Operates on Water Droplets (Jun 22, 2015)
Computers and water typically don't mix, but in Manu Prakash's lab, the two are one and the same. Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, and his students have built a synchronous computer that operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets. The computer is nearly a decade in the making, incubated from an idea that struck Prakash when he was a graduate student. The work combines his expertise in manipulating droplet fluid dynamics with a fundamental element of ...
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Medical Millirobots Offer Hope for Less-invasive Surgeries (Jun 21, 2015)
University of Houston researchers have proposed using tiny robots driven by magnetic potential energy from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to advance minimally invasive medical treatments. The new approach is based on sending tiny maneuverable robotic components to a desired location and triggering the conversion of magnetic potential energy into a suitable amount of kinetic energy to penetrate tissue. "Our noninvasive approach would eventually require simply a hypodermic needle or lum...
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Software “Reads” Kids’ Expressions to Measure Pain Levels (Jun 21, 2015)
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have developed a new method of measuring the pain experienced by pediatric patients using facial pattern recognition software. Pain is traditionally gauged via self-reporting, with patients rating their pain on a scale of 1 to 10; however, it can be difficult for medical professionals to accurately gauge the pain that pediatric patients are experiencing because children, especially young ones, are often unable to ac...
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NCSA Upgrading Research Networking Capacity (Jun 20, 2015)
As part of the Blue Waters project, NCSA is substantially upgrading its networking capacity, giving researchers across the country the ability to move data more quickly than ever before. The center will have four 100-gigabit research connections when the work is completed in summer 2015. “We believe this will make NCSA the most connected supercomputing center in the world,” said Tim Boerner, leader of NCSA’s networking team.



South African Scientists Create Cheap Computer (Jun 20, 2015)
University of Witwatersrand researchers are leading a project to create inexpensive computers or tablets to potentially be used by every student in South Africa in the near future. "We are creating this human capacity to solve complicated problems in software, hardware, electronics, computing, and all that," says Witwatersrand professor Bruce Mellado. The goal of the project is to equip the entire educational system of South Africa with low-cost computers or tablets, a mission that would be made...
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Making Computer Science More Inviting (Jun 15, 2015)
In most technology companies, only about 15 percent of computer science graduates and technical workers are women. The industry has been under pressure to recruit more. The difficult question, though, is how to encourage more women. Some colleges have made significant strides. Their methods offer lessons for other colleges and companies hoping to increase the number of women in fields where they remain underrepresented. Behind the scenes of many of these colleges’ efforts is an organization ca...
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Sizing Up Earth's Biosphere Supercomputer (Jun 15, 2015)
If you’ve ever wondered how much DNA data there is on earth, you’re not alone. But a trio of UK researchers did more than wonder. They set to calculating the total information content in the biosphere and published their results and methodology in a recent issue of PLOS Biology. In this first ever accounting of its kind, the total amount of DNA in the biosphere comes out to roughly 50 × 1030 megabase pairs (that’s fifty trillion trillion trillion base pairs). Weighing in at 50 billion met...
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San Francisco to Teach Computer Science to all Grades (Jun 14, 2015)
Presently, computer science is not a widely-taught subject in the San Francisco Unified School District. In the Spring 2014 semester, only a few hundred students took the AP computer science exam. The school district wants to increase these numbers, and expand computer science across all grade levels, because the subject is receiving high demand from the global tech industry. Recently, the San Francisco Board of Education unanimously voted to expand computer science education to all grade levels...
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NASA Makes Space Tech and Engineering Codes Available to Public (Jun 14, 2015)
If you want to be a rocket scientist or a space engineer, NASA’s latest announcement may help you on your way. The second annual release of their official Software Catalog makes even more of the codes and programs that NASA scientists use available to the general public, completely free. It sounds subversive, but the original catalog was actually released in response to a 2011 White House initiative to increase the efficiency and output of all US Federal agencies. The Software Catalog is just ...
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How a Handful of Companies is Forging the Future of Robotics Engineering (Jun 13, 2015)
Robotics are going to be a critical part of how we solve the big problems of the future. Unfortunately, it’s still an immature industry, hampered by a lack of standards, a focus on proprietary hardware and software, and no institutionalized mechanism for sharing knowledge among engineers. As a result, young engineers are entering the workforce with little practical experience, and employers can’t count on getting a standardized, well-defined skill set from new hires. However, several compani...
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Meet CHIP: The Hackable, Programmer-Friendly Computer That Fits In Your Pocket (Jun 13, 2015)
If you haven't already heard about Raspberry Pi, it's a computer that can fit on your credit card, literally. It uses the most basic setup possible: a few ports for power and peripherals, an operating system on an SD card and a frame that could fit in your pocket. The entire setup could be bought for roughly $40, meaning that just about anyone could purchase one. The CHIP is similar to the Raspberry Pi: it's a small, Linux-based computer that runs on absolutely bare-bones architecture. It's desi...
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