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May 2015 — May 2015

The Most Popular Programming Languages are Rapidly Changing (May 14, 2015)
There has been a rapid shift in the programming languages developers use most, according to an annual survey of developers by Stack Overflow. The poll found JavaScript has been the most popular programming language for the past two years. SQL led in 2013 but has fallen substantially, as have many of the C languages. The biggest growth in usage involved Node.js and AngularJS, Stack Overflow found. One reason the popularity of programming languages changes so fast is so many developers are self-ta...
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Study Suggest Depleting Groundwater Increases California Quake Risk (May 13, 2015)
According to a study published online in the journal Nature, temblor frequency seems on the upswing in Central California because of groundwater depletion. As water tables drop, land subsides accordingly and the earth’s crust underlying the valley and its environs begins to rise. This pushes the surrounding coast range and Sierra Nevada skyward.This landscape-scale rebound relaxes the downward tension of the San Andreas Fault, likely increasing the risk of quakes.

UC San Diego Speeds Up Simulations (May 13, 2015)
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a new family of methods to significantly increase the speed of time-resolved numerical simulations in computational grand challenge problems. Such problems often arise from the high-resolution approximation of the partial differential equations governing complex flows of fluids or plasmas. The breakthrough could be applied to simulations that include millions or billions of variables, including turbulence simulations. The smal...
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Shifts in Computer Science Interest (May 12, 2015)
A new study presented at the American Educational Research Association's 2015 annual meeting found although interest in computer science among both men and women has fluctuated over the last four decades, women have consistently been underrepresented. The study is based on the responses of first-year, full-time students at four-year institutions drawn from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program's Freshman Survey.The study found interest in computer science among both men and women spiked...
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Teaching the Machine to See (May 12, 2015)
Machine intelligence researchers Shoou-I Yu and Lu Jiang, working with colleagues on Carnegie Mellon University’s Alexander Hauptmann’s Informedia project and at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center have developed E-Lamp, a system of “event detectors” designed to search for events in videos without human intervention. E-Lamp consists of a series of tools that start with a definition of a kind of event and then scans videos for sounds or images that are associated with those definitions. The ...
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IBM Gets Closer to Real Quantum Computing (May 11, 2015)
IBM researchers, for the first time, have figured out how to detect and measure bit-flip and phase-flip quantum errors simultaneously. They also outlined a new, square quantum bit circuit design that could scale to much larger dimensions. “Quantum computing could be potentially transformative, enabling us to solve problems that are impossible or impractical to solve today,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “While quantum computers have traditionally ...
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A Day at Code Camp (May 11, 2015)
Code Camp is the capstone event for Females Excelling More in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (FEMMES). An offshoot of a club founded at Duke in 2006, FEMMES is a student organization devoted to helping local middle school girls develop key skills in computer science. The FEMMES team hopes to help students see past the stereotypes about what kind of person can be a programmer; they want them to learn that you don’t have to be a math genius to write code.

Disney Researchers Show Soft Sides with Layered Fabric 3D Printer (May 10, 2015)
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have developed a three-dimensional (3D) printer that layers laser-cut sheets of fabric to form soft, squeezable objects. Although the fabric printer is similar in principle to laminated-object manufacturing, fabric presents cutting and handling challenges, which the researchers addressed in the design of the new printer. The printer includes an upper cutting platform and a lower bonding platform. Fabric is fed into the device, where a...
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Apple Looking into Built-In Telephoto iPhone Camera Lenses (May 10, 2015)
Apple’s iPhone is just about the best smartphone camera you can get, but a new patent application provides a good indication of how it could get even better. The patent is for a “small form factor telephoto camera (via AppleInsider) and describes how the company might make a camera with a narrower field of view, but a much higher magnification factor, as well as how such a camera might be paired with a wider angle unit like the one that’s already used in your current iPhone to give you a r...
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Rock 'em Sock 'em Politics (May 9, 2015)
Intense fighting, sequesters and threats of shutdown are what many people associate with the current government in the United States. If it seems that this tension has become more amplified, that's because it has. Since 2010, when Republicans gained control of both the House and Senate, gridlock in government has been even more pervasive and damaging to enacting legislative change. Eric Svensen, a researcher and lecturer in the Department of Government at The University of Texas at Austin, is wo...
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How the Tech Industry is Redesigning the Future Workplace (May 9, 2015)
First, the technology sector gave us Google's bean bags and Facebook's feted ping-pong tables. Now these companies are raising jousting skyscrapers into the Silicon Valley skyline. Facebook has just this month moved into new headquarters designed by Frank Gehry, designer of Spain's Guggenheim Museum. Its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, describes it as the largest open-floor plan in the world. Atop it lies a nine-acre rooftop park. Google, Amazon, and Apple are also creating their own new colos...
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ORNL Reports Method That Takes Quantum Sensing to New Level (May 8, 2015)
Thermal imaging, microscopy and ultra-trace sensing could take a quantum leap with a technique developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “By pushing the noise limit lower than ever before, we enable these sensors to see things they couldn’t see,” Pooser said. “Imagine an image taken with so low contrast that all you see is a big gray square. Now imagine a technique that enhances the contrast to allow discernible features to emerge from that b...
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NERSC Invites Haswell-Based Cray XC40 Into Cori Fold (May 8, 2015)
Nearly one year after the Department of Energy inked a $70 million contract for the exascale-relevant Cori system, news of a second, smaller system has come to light. In an interesting turn of events, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) revealed that it will be acquiring a “Cori Phase 1” system, a 10-cabinet Cray XC40 machine outfitted with Intel “Haswell” parts to be installed this summer. Named after American biochemist Gerty Cori, the next-gen Cray XC syst...
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Video Games Can Power Up From Merely Fun to Meaningful Experiences (May 7, 2015)
Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have found many video games can have meaningful entertainment experiences for players. They studied 512 participants' experiences with video games, and learned players not only enjoyed playing games, but also frequently appreciated them at a deeper, more meaningful level. Participants suggested story details in the game were critical to feelings of appreciation, indicating more meaningful games were associated with heightened feelings of insight or...
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Supercomputer Faces Four Poker Pros in Texas Hold’Em Competition (May 7, 2015)
In a contest that echoes Deep Blue’s chess victory over Garry Kasparov and Watson beating two Jeopardy! Champions, computer poker software developed at Carnegie Mellon University will challenge four of the world’s best professional poker players in a “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” competition that began on April 24 at Rivers Casino. Over the course of two weeks, the CMU computer program, Claudico, will play 20,000 hands of Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold’em with each of the four pok...
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Which Groups Are Favored? (May 6, 2015)
A new study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Wisconsin Center for Education Research found men, and in particular white men, do not have the advantage many presume they have in science, technology, engineering and math, at least in academia. The study examined data from the national Survey of Doctorate Recipients gathered from 1993 through 2010, focusing on the amount of time it took academics to obtain a tenure-track position and then earn tenure. The study found bla...
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A-MAN Brings STEM into the Inner Cities (May 6, 2015)
The nonprofit African-American Male Achievers Network (A-MAN) was founded in 1991 to provide year-round science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related programs to students in K-12 using computer labs as well as hands-on activities with laser beams and robotics. The goal is to encourage underserved African-American and Latino students to enter STEM careers. A-MAN's STEM education currently comprises students who are 50 percent African-American, 49 percent Latino, and 1 percent Asian-Am...
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Materials Scientists Putting New Spin on Computing Memory (May 5, 2015)
Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data. Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting from the beginning, and dropping the device could wipe out the memory altogether. As computers continue to shri...
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Senate Education Committee Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill (May 5, 2015)
On a unanimous vote of 22-0, the Senate HELP Committee approved a bipartisan bill that rewrites the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). This means the bill will go to the Senate floor for final consideration, although floor time has not yet been scheduled. During Senate markup of the bill, known as the Every Child Achieves Act, 60 amendments were debated, 21 amendments offered and withdrawn, 29 amendments were passed and 8 amendments failed. Most of the amendments were...
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Europe Faces 800,000 Shortfall in Skilled ICT Workers by 2020 (May 4, 2015)
A shortfall in workers with information and communication technology skills could keep Europe from enjoying the economic and social benefits of trends, such as big data and cloud computing. The European Commission's Andrus Ansip described Europe's current state of affairs as alarming in a recent speech in Belgium. He said the rapid growth of the technology sector has led to the creation of 120,000 new jobs a year. However, Ansip noted Europe could face a shortfall of more than 800,000 skilled te...
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The Hubble Space Telescope, Our Window to the Universe, Turns 25 (May 4, 2015)
The Hubble Space Telescope launched 25 years ago. It’s easy to forget how revolutionary the project was, given that an entire generation of Americans has grown up accustomed to it beaming down stunning images of the cosmos on a regular basis. The first space telescope was proposed in 1923 by Hermann Oberth. Even then, it was clear that Earth-based telescopes operated at significant disadvantage. Not only are they impacted by light from cities, the atmosphere itself attenuates and blocks stars ...
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The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM (May 3, 2015)
Gender bias appears to be a key contributor to the scarcity of U.S. women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), according to new studies. Recent research in conjunction with the Association for Women in Science suggests bias drives women from STEM--and the mechanism of this prejudice can vary according to a woman's race or ethnicity. For example, interviews with and polls of female scientists found 66 percent of respondents had to prove their competence repeatedly, with black wome...
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India Green Lights $730 Million Supercomputing Grid (May 3, 2015)
The Indian government has approved a seven-year supercomputing program worth $730 million (Rs. 4,500-crore) intended to restore the nation’s status as a world-class computing power. The prime mandate of the National Supercomputing Mission, first revealed last October, is the construction of a vast supercomputing grid connecting academic and R&D institutions and select departments and ministries. The National Supercomputing grid will be comprised of more than 70 geographically-distributed high-...
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SpaceX Will Try Landing its Falcon 9 Rocket on Drone Ship Again (May 2, 2015)
SpaceX is on a quest to get things into orbit and be less wasteful doing it. After a less than successful test a few months ago, SpaceX is set to test its reusable Falcon 9 first stage again as it launches a new International Space Station resupply mission. SpaceX will attempt to land that first stage vertically on its “spaceport drone ship” in the Atlantic Ocean after seeing the Dragon capsule safely to orbit. Most of the launch platforms developed thus far have relied upon at least one or ...
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IBM's Watson Has Published a Cookbook (May 2, 2015)
Together with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), the Jeopardy! winning computer has created perhaps the world's first-ever cookbook co-created by computer algorithms. "Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson" is a collaboration that began three years ago when IBM began building an "idea-generating tool" using Watson's artificial intelligence. The teams settled on trying to innovate food because it's something everyone appreciates, according to the book's introduction.

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