August 2015 — September 2015
Methane Enshrouds Nearby Jupiter-Like Exoplanet (Sep 3, 2015)
The Gemini Planet Imager has discovered and photographed its first planet, a methane-enshrouded gas giant much like Jupiter that may hold the key to understanding how large planets form in the swirling accretion disks around stars. The GPI instrument, which is mounted on the 8-meter Gemini South telescope in Chile, is the size of a small car and was designed, built and optimized for imaging and analyzing the atmospheres of faint Jupiter-like planets next to bright stars, thanks to a device that ...Read More
Parents' Math Anxiety Can Undermine Children's Math Achievement (Sep 3, 2015)
If the thought of a math test makes you break out in a cold sweat, Mom or Dad may be partly to blame, according to new research from the University of Chicago. A team of researchers led by University of Chicago psychologists Sian Beilock and Susan Levine found that children of math-anxious parents learned less math over the school year and were more likely to be math-anxious themselves—but only when these parents provided frequent help on the child’s math homework. The new study, “Interge...Read More
Summer Camp Students Stimulate Mars Rover Mission Using Lego Robots (Sep 2, 2015)
A simulated Mars rover mission took place on Indiana University’s campus this week. It was part of the Ready, Set, Robots! camp that teaches teen’s basic computer programming skills while using LEGO Mindstorms robots. Morgan Menden is a mentor at the camp and says he hopes the camp makes students fall in love with robotics and programming. “They’re going to find out that critical analysis skills they learn here in programming will translate to any job they have especially IT,” he says.
Code.org Targets High School Computer Science (Sep 2, 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...Read More
New ORNL Hybrid Microscope Offers Unparalleled Capabilities (Sep 1, 2015)
A microscope being developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will allow scientists studying biological and synthetic materials to simultaneously observe chemical and physical properties on and beneath the surface. The Hybrid Photonic Mode-Synthesizing Atomic Force Microscope is unique, according to principal investigator Ali Passian of ORNL’s Quantum Information System group. As a hybrid, the instrument, described in a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, com...Read More
Three Education Technology Myths (Sep 1, 2015)
We are constantly hearing about how some piece of new tech will transform teaching and learning in the classroom. We believe that if something is shiny, new and slick, it will inevitably be good for the classroom. In other words, we believe that technology will solve the ills of the 21st-century classroom. This can, however, lead to blind adoption or ill-planned implementation. Remember QR codes, those fun black-and-white squares that were going to revolutionize the classroom? Or Google Glass? H...Read More
Latest Self-Driving Google Car Heading to Public Streets (Aug 31, 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.
Beckman Researchers Construct Atomic Model of an Immature Retrovirus (Aug 31, 2015)
Using molecular modeling and large-scale molecular dynamic simulation, Beckman researchers have constructed an atomic model of an immature retrovirus. The researchers from the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group published their work in the journal Structure. Retroviruses, such as HIV, are tricky to treat. They go through a multistage process to produce infectious particles. The viruses that are released from infected cells are initially in an immature state and are composed of an RNA ...Read More
SDSC, UCSD Focus on Sustainable Computer Science Courses (Aug 30, 2015)
The San Diego Supercomputer Center has been awarded a three-year U.S. National Science Foundation grant to help three regional school districts create model "villages" for deploying and sustaining up-to-date computer science courses in their curriculum. "Workforce training must evolve with technology innovations to maintain a vibrant economy," says SDSC's Diane Baxter. "The slower pace of K-12 curriculum revision poses a significant systemic challenge to an innovation-driven U.S. economy." Addre...Read More
UW Study Examines Gender Bias in Stock Images (Aug 30, 2015)
Researchers from the universities of Washington 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 for a ...Read More
Purdue University Researcher Invents Fake Password Technology to Confuse Hackers (Aug 29, 2015)
Purdue University Information Assurance and Security group researchers have developed ErsatzPasswords, a security system that makes it much harder for hackers to obtain usable passwords from a leaked database. Hackers "will still be able to crack that file, however the passwords they will get back are fake passwords or decoy passwords," says Purdue doctoral student Mohammed H. Almeshekah. ErsatzPasswords adds an additional step to traditional encryption methods.
Coursera Co-Founder Discusses the Future of Online Education (Aug 29, 2015)
Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller, former professor of artificial intelligence at Stanford University, hopes her online education platform will expand globally as more universities see online education evolving into a necessary, and inevitable, complement to traditional learning. Although Koller, who in 2008 received the first-ever ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences, does not envision the obsolescence of traditional university education, she says online education "gives peopl...Read More
Cyber-Defense and Forensic Tool Turns 20 (Aug 15, 2015)
In 1995, Vern Paxson, then a computer science Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, began writing what would eventually become Bro, the ground-breaking open source cybersecurity software that defends innumerable networks today, including key government and business enterprises in the U.S. At its annual meeting of users and cybersecurity engineers, Bro celebrated its 20th Anniversary.
Small Tilts in Magnet Makes Them Viable Memory Chips (Aug 15, 2015)
Engineers have found a new way to switch the polarization of nanomagnets without the need for an external magnetic field. The advance brings the semiconductor industry a major step closer to moving high-density storage from hard disks onto integrated circuits, and could soon lead to instant-on computers that operate with far greater speed and use significantly less power.
Access to Big Data is Crucial for Credibility of Computational Research (Aug 14, 2015)
Science is being transformed so that massive computation is central to scientific experiments, with scientists using computer code to analyze huge amounts of data. Computational science might be used to study climate change, to simulate the formation of galaxies, for biomolecular modeling or for mining a vast set of data looking for patterns. But, Victoria Stodden, University of Illinois Professor of Library and Information Science says, this relatively new form of scientific inquiry has not yet...Read More
Dengue and Climate: Scientists Tackle the Nuances (Aug 14, 2015)
For more than a decade, scientists have known that the mosquitoes transmitting dengue fever have been moving from the tropics north into the United States—as far north as New Jersey, with outbreaks in Brownsville, Texas, and heavily touristed Key West, Florida. Yet many of these areas have yet to experience a dengue outbreak. Now NCAR scientists and their colleagues are learning more about why certain areas are prone to dengue outbreaks while others aren’t, and what factors can best predict ...Read More
Hackers Stole U.S. Data on More Than 20 Million People (Aug 13, 2015)
Hackers stole Social Security numbers and other personal data for about 22.1 million people in breaches of the U.S. government’s personnel office, the Obama administration said. The total includes new data related to the breach of security clearance applications as well as information previously released on the theft of personnel records, the Office of Personnel Management said Thursday. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers said OPM’s director should be replaced.
"Pac-Man" Satellite to Munch on Space Junk (Aug 13, 2015)
There are more than 300,000 pieces of debris larger than 1 cm circulating less than 2,000 km above Earth, and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne's Space Engineering Center, aka "eSpace," is working on a solution to the problem. EPFL this week announced that its CleanSpace One satellite project has passed a milestone toward its goal of launching a cleanup satellite to capture and destroy its SwissCube, which has been orbiting Earth for more than five years. Swiss Space Systems, or S3, w...Read More
Neutrons Find "Missing" Magnetism of Plutonium (Aug 12, 2015)
Groundbreaking work at two Department of Energy national laboratories has confirmed plutonium’s magnetism, which scientists have long theorized but have never been able to experimentally observe. The advances that enabled the discovery hold great promise for materials, energy and computing applications. Plutonium was first produced in 1940 and its unstable nucleus allows it to undergo fission, making it useful for nuclear fuels as well as for nuclear weapons. Much less known, however, is that ...Read More
Genomics to Surpass the Biggest Data Producers, Experts Warn (Aug 12, 2015)
Each cell in the body contains a whole genome, yet the data packed into a few DNA molecules could fill a hard drive. As more people have their DNA sequenced, that data will require massive computational and storage capabilities beyond anything previously anticipated, says a new assessment from computational biologists and computer scientists at the University of Illinois and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The team of experts compared data needs of genomics with three of the biggest players in bi...Read More
Computational Fact-Checking (Aug 11, 2015)
Network scientists at Indiana University have developed a new computational method that can leverage any body of knowledge to aid in the complex human task of fact-checking. In the first use of this method, IU scientists created a simple computational fact-checker that assigns “truth scores” to statements concerning history, geography and entertainment, as well as random statements drawn from the text of Wikipedia, the well-known online encyclopedia. In multiple experiments, the automated sy...Read More
We're Not Alone --- But the Universe May Be Less Crowded Than We Think (Aug 11, 2015)
There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study led by Michigan State University. Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to look deep into the universe. The long view stirred theories of untold thousands of distant, faint galaxies. The new research, appearing in the current issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, however, offers a theory that reduces the estimated number of the most distant galaxies by 1...Read More
Dell Aims PowerEdge C-Series Platform for HPC and Beyond (Aug 10, 2015)
Dell has positioned its latest PowerEdge C-series platform to meet the needs of both traditional HPC and the hyperscale market. The recently hatched PowerEdge C6320 is outfitted with the latest generation Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors, providing up to 18 cores per socket (144 cores per 2U chassis), up to 512GB of DDR4 memory and up to 72TB of flexible local storage.
Computing the Cost of Catastrophe (Aug 10, 2015)
Francisco Olivera, associate professor of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, is evaluating the impact of hurricanes and coastal flooding on the Gulf Coast. His group's assessment of the damage caused by current and future hurricane storm surges has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Climatic Change, and Ocean and Coastal Management. These studies represented the first of their kind to explore how the coa...Read More
No Assembler Required (Aug 8, 2015)
KIBO is a toy with a purpose, to increase the supply of people who are genuinely computer-literate—for, despite what they may think about themselves, most so-called digital natives of the internet generation are not. They are, it is true, whizzes at operating the devices technologists have thrown at them, but few have much idea what is going on under the bonnet. Many parents and teachers want to change this, by encouraging children to learn how to program at the same time as they are learnin...Read More