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March 2016 — March 2016

Thomas Sterling: ‘Why We Want to be Part of OpenHPC’ (Mar 24, 2016)
The Indiana University Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies has been part of the OpenHPC community effort since it was launched in November 2015. In a recent Q&A with OpenHPC, Professor Thomas Sterling, associate director and chief scientist of CREST, explains the basis for the partnership. As the father of Beowulf clusters, developed in collaboration with Don Becker, Professor Sterling has experienced first-hand the singular power of community-wide involvement. He sees a similar po...
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Emails and Tweets Help Drive Climate Change (Mar 23, 2016)
Even email and social network campaigns used to promote Earth Hour, the annual symbolic dimming of lights to fight global warming, are inevitably contributing to climate change. In the 10th edition of the World Wild Fund for Nature, an NGO-backed event that raises awareness on climate change effects, the world’s landmark monuments and participating establishments will go dark at 8:30 p.m. their local time for a whole hour. Along with the activity comes the call to adjust lifestyles to slash pe...
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What Will a Driverless Future Actually Look Like? (Mar 23, 2016)
There is a growing consensus that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will soon be a reality. The debate today centers not on whether, but how soon, AVs will be commonplace on our roads. But for all the buzz surrounding AVs, many details about what a driverless future will look like remain unclear. Which business models will work best for the commercialization of AVs? Which AV usage models will be most appealing for consumers? Which companies are best positioned to win in this new market? These are big qu...
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This New Discovery Could Put Quantum Computers Within Closer Reach (Mar 22, 2016)
One of the obstacles that has kept quantum computers on the distant horizon is the fact that quantum bits -- the building blocks with which they're made -- are prone to magnetic disturbances. Such "noise" can interfere with the work qubits do, but scientists announced a new discovery that could help solve the problem. Specifically, by tapping the same principle that allows atomic clocks to stay accurate, researchers at Florida State University’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have fou...
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Computer-Assisted Approaches as Decision Support Systems Serving to Combat the Zika Virus (Mar 22, 2016)
Global climate change, international travel and ineffective vector control programs are aiding the emergence of infectious diseases globally. The currently expanding Zika virus epidemic is one such problem. The rapid expansion of this disease to epidemic proportions in South America in 2015-16 has led the World Health Organization to declare ZIKV a public health emergency. No drug is known to treat ZIKV infection; neither do we have any vaccine which can prevent the spread of the virus. While sc...
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The World's First Solar Airport No Longer Pays for Electricity (Mar 21, 2016)
Fed up with their hefty electricity bill, managers at Cochin International Airport in southern India took matters into their own hands. Three years ago, they began adding solar panels -- first on the roof of the arrivals terminal, then on and around an aircraft hangar. The success of those initial efforts led to a much bigger endeavor. Last year, the airport commissioned the German company Bosch to build a vast 45-acre solar plant on unused land near the international cargo terminal. The plant c...
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Would You Let a Robot Invest Your Hard-Earned Cash? (Mar 21, 2016)
The floors of the New York and London Stock Exchanges now exist mostly for show. The real trading is done automatically by robots. About three-quarters of trades on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are done by algorithms - computer programs following complex sets of rules. And this "robo-trading" is having a profound effect on the investment world, from global hedge funds right down to personal savers. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing computers to manage the world'...
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New Analytical Model for E-Sports Predicts Who is Winning and Why (Mar 20, 2016)
A new analytical model for e-sports developed by researchers in Sweden, Denmark and Germany, not only helps game developers better understand how players perform, but can also predict the outcome of the game. E-sports is the term used for the increasingly popular phenomenon of competitive computer and video gaming, where individuals or teams play against each other in various online environments. The game has millions of active players around the world that play tournaments and compete for prest...
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K Computer Simulates Global Seismic Wave Propagation (Mar 20, 2016)
Researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) reported simulating global seismic wave propagation with a best-ever accuracy of 1.2 sec seismic period for a three-dimensional Earth model on Japan’s K supercomputer. Optimizing the code allowed them achieve sustained performance of 1.24 petaflops on the K computer, which is 11.84% of its peak performance. Their work is reported in the International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications (A 1.8 trill...
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NSF Seeks ‘Breakthroughs’ for Energy-Efficient Computing (Mar 19, 2016)
Breakthroughs, by their nature, are rarely generated on demand. That said, the energy problem in computing today is so acute that the National Science Foundation and Semiconductor Research Corporation are joining forces to stimulate research into developing ‘breakthroughs’ in energy-efficient computing. The new NSF-NRC grants program, Energy-Efficient Computing: from Devices to Architectures, has a budget of up to $4 million per year and is currently seeking proposals due in late March. “T...
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Discovery Could Herald New Particle (Mar 19, 2016)
First gravitational waves opened a new window on the universe. Now data from the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, in Switzerland could change the standard model of physics. Physicists from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences analyzed LHC information from 2011 and 2012 and noticed an anomaly that wasn't predicted by the standard model, the institute said in a press release.

Dark Matter Satellites Trigger Massive Birth of Stars (Mar 18, 2016)
One of the main predictions of the current model of the creation of structures in the universe, known at the Lambda Cold Dark Mattermodel, is that galaxies are embedded in very extended and massive halos of dark matter that are surrounded by many thousands of smaller sub-halos also made from dark matter. Around large galaxies, such as the Milky Way, these dark matter sub-halos are large enough to host enough gas and dust to form small galaxies on their own, and some of these galactic companions,...
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Quality Control for Genetic Sequencing (Mar 18, 2016)
Researchers in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich in Basel have developed a new method that allows them to record the vast range of antibodies in an individual, genetically in one fell swoop. For example, they can track very precisely how the immune system produces antibodies following a vaccination or an infection. The new genetic method, established by scientists led by Sai Reddy, Professor of Biomolecular Engineering, delivers far more information than the prev...
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Show, Don't Tell: How Video is Swamping the Internet (Mar 17, 2016)
Asked what inspired him to write the cult 1979 hit single Video Killed the Radio Star, songwriter Trevor Horn said it came from the idea that "video technology was on the verge of changing everything". More than 35 years later, it's digital video - particularly on mobile - that is changing everything again. Video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014, says technology giant Cisco. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says that 90% of the social network's content wi...
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FCC Wants to Clamp Down on Internet Privacy (Mar 17, 2016)
The Federal Communications Commission wants to make it harder for Internet service providers to share your personal information without your permission. On Thursday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler laid out a new proposal to regulate companies such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. The rules would require ISPs to get customer consent in order to give their data to affiliates and other third-party companies. Giving customers "choice, transparency, and security" are the "core principles" of the proposal, se...
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World's Thinnest Lens to Revolutionize Cameras (Mar 16, 2016)
Scientists have created the world's thinnest lens, one two-thousandth the thickness of a human hair, opening the door to flexible computer displays and a revolution in miniature cameras. Lead researcher Dr Yuerui Lu from The Australian National University said the discovery hinged on the remarkable potential of the molybdenum disulphide crystal. "This type of material is the perfect candidate for future flexible displays," said Dr Lu, leader of Nano-Electro-Mechanical System Laboratory in the AN...
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How HPC is Helping Solve Climate and Weather Forecasting Challenges (Mar 16, 2016)
Studying both long term climate changes and shorter term weather forecasting is very demanding computationally, typically requiring high end HPC systems. Typically these days these would be large distributed memory clusters, made up of thousands of nodes and hundreds of thousands of cores, running MPI with Fortran and C. You will find these systems scattered around the globe in large operational weather centers – a few located in the US, three or four in Europe and a half dozen in Japan and As...
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Making Sense of HPC in the Age of Democratization (Mar 15, 2016)
These are exciting times for HPC. High-performance computing and its cousin high-productivity computing are expanding such that the previous definitions of HPC as a moving performance target or as the purview of modeling and simulation are breaking down. The democratization of HPC has spurred a lot of focus on the impact that HPC-hatched technologies are having on business computing, but HPC “proper” is also in the midst of a transformation.

Experiment Shows Magnetic Chips Could Dramatically Increase Computing's Energy Efficiency (Mar 15, 2016)
In a breakthrough for energy-efficient computing, engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown for the first time that magnetic chips can operate with the lowest fundamental level of energy dissipation possible under the laws of thermodynamics. The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, mean that dramatic reductions in power consumption are possible—as much as one-millionth the amount of energy per operation used by transistors in modern comput...
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Sharpening a New Fork for HPC Cluster Tuning (Mar 14, 2016)
There is a long-running joke in high performance computing that for any question that can be asked, the answer is probably going to be “it depends.” This maxim persists because there is an incredible amount of diversity of hardware, software, middleware, applications, and other factors that make coming up with a universally true statement about any tuning or optimization impossible. This same sentiment might also be applied in warehouse scale datacenters, although the number of parameters an...
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This Electric Bicycle Can Go Up to 40 MPH (Mar 14, 2016)
I've never been the type of guy to ride a motorcycle. I'm more of the play-it-safe type. Plus, I don't own a black leather jacket. Now, I'm shedding my good-boy image for an electric bike called Bolt. It looks, feels and acts like a motorcycle with one big difference: It's not. The Bolt has pedals and can limit its speed to 20 miles per hour, so most states consider it an "electric bicycle." That means you don't need a license, registration or insurance, plus you don't need to fill it up with an...
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Drone to Police Massive UK Marine Reserve (Mar 13, 2016)
An ocean-going drone will be helping to spot illegal fishing in the world's largest, continuous marine reserve. The UK said it would establish the 834,000-sq-km (322,000-sq-mile) zone around the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific. Data gathered by the drone will be beamed back to a satellite watch room to help prosecute unauthorized trawling. The drone will patrol areas in the reserve designated as no-fishing zones. The drone, made by US firm Liquid Robotics, will be directed by staff at the satell...
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Amputee Feels Texture With a Bionic Fingertip (Mar 13, 2016)
An amputee was able to feel smoothness and roughness in real-time with an artificial fingertip that was surgically connected to nerves in his upper arm. Moreover, the nerves of non-amputees can also be stimulated to feel roughness, without the need of surgery, meaning that prosthetic touch for amputees can now be developed and safely tested on intact individuals.

Wearable Technology May Soon Make Sign Language Audible (Mar 12, 2016)
Remember that Samsung Turkey video of a whole town learning sign language to surprise a young deaf man from Istanbul? It’s okay to admit that you got a little bit teary-eyed while watching that video. We’ve often been impressed with stories of people learning sign language to communicate with a person in their community. But a new technology developed by researchers at Texas A&M are now giving the deaf a voice. The device uses a system of sensors that recognizes the motion of hand gestures a...
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A Good Night's Sleep: Engineers Develop Technology for Special Needs Children (Mar 12, 2016)
A Kansas State University engineering team is developing a technology collection that can make a big difference in the lives of children with developmental disabilities. The team's projects so far have addressed around-the-clock technology: bed-based sensors to track child breathing and heart rates; wearable sensors to track child behaviors; and designs that can improve the quality of life for paraeducators who work with these children. Now the team has received a three-year $400,000 National Sc...
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