March 2017 — March 2017
Coding a Starkiller (Mar 27, 2017)
The spectacular Supernova 1987A, whose light reached Earth on Feb. 23 of the year it’s named for, captured the public’s fancy. It’s located at the edge of the Milky Way, in a dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. It had been four centuries since earthlings had witnessed light from a star exploding in our galaxy. A supernova’s awesome light show heralds a giant star’s death, and the next supernova’s post-mortem will generate reams of data, compared to the paltry dozen or so ...Read More
Using Big Data to Analyze Images and Video (Mar 27, 2017)
Improving traffic safety, better health services and environmental benefits - Big Data experts see a wide range of possibilities for advanced image analysis and recognition technology. "Advanced image recognition by computers is the result of a great deal of very demanding work. You have to mimic the way the human brain distinguishes significant from unimportant information," says Eirik Thorsnes at Uni Research in Bergen, Norway. Thorsnes heads a group in the company's Centre for Big Data Analys...Read More
Fighting Fake News: Societies Using Technology to Search for Truth (Mar 25, 2017)
Fake news has been accused of influencing election results and giving rise to populist movements. Is there anything governments - and citizens - can do to fight back? Some interesting responses to the fake news phenomenon are now in place around the world. The Czech government’s interior ministry, for instance, has opened a Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats in a bid to fight fake news.
Ultrashort Light Pulses for Fast 'Lightwave' Computers (Mar 25, 2017)
Extremely short, configurable "femtosecond" pulses of light demonstrated by an international team could lead to future computers that run up to 100,000 times faster than today's electronics. The researchers, including engineers at the University of Michigan, showed that they could control the peaks within the laser pulses and also twist the light.
Smart Machines v. Hackers: How Cyber Warfare is Escalating (Mar 24, 2017)
There is a gaping hole in the digital defences that companies use to keep out cyber thieves. The hole is the global shortage of skilled staff that keeps security hardware running, analyses threats and kicks out intruders. Currently, the global security industry is lacking about one million trained workers, suggests research by ISC2 - the industry body for security professionals. The deficit looks set to grow to 1.8 million within five years, it believes.
New Tech 'Promising' for Longer Battery Life (Mar 24, 2017)
New battery technology that could lead to faster-charging, longer-lasting and safer batteries received a big shoutout this week from Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet. Schmidt tweeted about the "promising" work of John Goodenough, an engineering professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and Maria Helena Braga, a senior research fellow there. Goodenough co-invented the lithium-ion battery.
These Future Applications Of High-Performance Computing Will Make Your Head Spin (Mar 23, 2017)
Richard Watson's latest infographic is a more refined aesthetic compared to the futurist and scenario thinkers previous work. Focused on the less buzzy (but ultimately dizzying) subject of High-Performing Computing (or 'supercomputing'), Watson has cut through the complexity of this subject to find some interesting patterns.
Your Brain is Unique – Here's How It Could be Used as the Ultimate Security Password (Mar 23, 2017)
Biometrics – technology that can recognise individuals based on physical and behavioural traits such as their faces, voices or fingerprints – are becoming increasingly important to combat financial fraud and security threats. This is because traditional approaches, such as those based on PIN numbers or passwords, are proving too easily compromised. For example, Barclays has introduced TouchID, whereby customers can log onto internet banking using fingerprint scanners on mobile phones.
Shape-Shifting Molecular Robots Respond to DNA Signals (Mar 22, 2017)
A research group at Tohoku University and Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a molecular robot consisting of biomolecules, such as DNA and protein. The molecular robot was developed by integrating molecular machines into an artificial cell membrane. It can start and stop its shape-changing function in response to a specific DNA signal.
The Long Rise of HPC in the Cloud (Mar 22, 2017)
The cloud computing market has seen considerable development in the last few years, as users begin to adopt cloud technologies across many business segments. However, the success of general purpose, enterprise cloud technology has hampered the uptake of cloud in HPC because it requires substantially more expensive hardware. As cloud providers could capitalize on this ‘low-hanging fruit’ in the enterprise, there was little to no reason for them to try and cater for more intensive computing de...Read More
Man, Computer Science Needs More Women (Mar 21, 2017)
“I remember walking into one of the classes at Stanford and just deciding not to take the class because I was one of only three women there, and I just felt so intimidated,” recalled Catherina Xu, one of the co-presidents for Women in Computer Science at Stanford University. Incidents like this are happening all across the country, and partly due to the lack of women in the field, there is now a shortage of computer science majors — and it’s going to get even worse. By 2024, the National...Read More
Passwords Suck, but Lip-reading Computers Won't Save Us (Mar 21, 2017)
Read my lips: passwords stink, and you already know all the reasons why. And as part of the quest to replace (or at least strengthen) the act of typing in a traditional password, a computer scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University has proposed using lip movement. The system works by analyzing the lip movement—and even lip shape and texture—of a person speaking a password to make sure he or she is authorized, according to the university. That way, even if the wrong person speaks the right pa...Read More
You Probably Should Have Majored in Computer Science (Mar 20, 2017)
If you’re looking for a college major that gives you an incredible job outlook, we have two words for you: computer science. There are almost 10 times more US computing jobs open right now than there were students who graduated with computer science degrees in 2015. That year, the most recent for which the National Center for Education Statistics has collected data, about 60,000 students graduated from US institutions with bachelor degrees in computer and information services. There are about ...Read More
Liquid Fuel for Future Computers (Mar 20, 2017)
Researchers at ETH Zurich and IBM Research Zurich have built a tiny redox flow battery. This means that future computer chip stacks—in which individual chips are stacked like pancakes to save space and energy—could be supplied with electrical power and cooled at the same time by such integrated flow batteries. In a flow battery, an electrochemical reaction is used to produce electricity out of two liquid electrolytes, which are pumped to the battery cell from outside via a closed electrolyte...Read More
Computer Operating System and Short Movie Stored on DNA (Mar 19, 2017)
A pair of researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) show that an algorithm designed for streaming video on a cellphone can unlock DNA's nearly full storage potential by squeezing more information into its four base nucleotides. They demonstrate that this technology is also extremely reliable. DNA is an ideal storage medium because it's ultra-compact and can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place, as demonstrated by the recent recovery of D...Read More
Should Computer Science Count as Math Credit? Gov. Says No (Mar 19, 2017)
Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed a bill that would allow a computer science class to count as one of a high school student's math or science requirements to earn a diploma. Proponents of the measure argued it would help New Mexico students prep themselves for a computer science career, a field predicted to have a major shortage of graduates in the coming years. The proposed law change, Senate Bill 134, cleared both the House and the Senate with little opposition, but hit a roadblock at Martinez's...Read More
NASA Saves Energy and Water with New Modular Supercomputing Facility (Mar 18, 2017)
Though there's been some recent relief in California's long-standing drought, water conservation techniques continue to be a hot topic for facilities that require significant amounts of water for day-to-day operations. The task of powering up and cooling down a high-end computing facility consumes large amounts of electricity and water. NASA is adopting new conservation practices with a prototype modular supercomputing facility at the agency's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. The system, ...Read More
Calculations on Supercomputers Help Reveal the Physics of the Universe (Mar 18, 2017)
On their quest to uncover what the universe is made of, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are harnessing the power of supercomputers to make predictions about particle interactions that are more precise than ever before. Argonne researchers have developed a new theoretical approach, ideally suited for high-performance computing systems, that is capable of making predictive calculations about particle interactions that conform almost exactly to exp...Read More
The Prototype of a Chemical Computer Detects a Sphere (Mar 17, 2017)
Chemical computers are becoming ever more of a reality. It turns out that after an appropriate teaching procedure even a relatively simple chemical system can perform non-trivial operations. In their most recent computer simulations researchers have shown that correctly programmed chemical matrices of oscillating droplets can recognize the shape of a sphere with great accuracy.
IBM Quantum Computers Will Unleash Weird Science on Business (Mar 17, 2017)
In a few years, the same quantum computing concepts that gave Albert Einstein the heebie-jeebies could help Amazon deliver your toothpaste faster. That's because IBM, the company that surprised the world in 1989 by spelling its name with 35 xenon atoms, is launching a business built on the weird science of quantum computing. Thirty-five years of research into the physics of the freakishly tiny is about to start paying its first dividends with real-world customers.
Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Makes AI Computing Possible Within Cameras, Sensors and More (Mar 16, 2017)
Nvidia has a new generation of its Jetson embedded computing platform for devices at the edge of a network, including things like traffic cameras, manufacturing robotics, smart sensors and more. The Jetson TX2 has twice the performance of its predecessor, the TX1, or it can also redirect efficiency to power savings, using less than half the power consumption of the original to achieve the same processing abilities.The TX2 uses a Pascal-based GPU, as well as two 64-bit Nvidia quad-core ARM chips,...Read More
Poker-playing AI program First to Beat Pros at No-limit Texas Hold 'em (Mar 16, 2017)
A team of computing scientists is once again capturing the world's collective fascination with artificial intelligence. In a historic result for the flourishing AI research community, the team has developed an AI system called DeepStack that defeated professional poker players in December 2016.
Burger-Flipping Robot Could Spell the End of Teen Employment (Mar 15, 2017)
A burger-flipping robot could mean the end of the summer job that all of us loved to hate. The AI-driven robot ‘Flippy,’ by Miso Robotics, is marketed as a kitchen assistant, rather than a replacement for professionally-trained teens that ponder the meaning of life — or what their crush looks like naked — while awaiting a kitchen timer’s signal that it’s time to flip the meat.
These Magical (Robotic) Socks Teach You to Dance (Robotically) (Mar 15, 2017)
As humans find themselves forced to mate with our robotic overlords I suspect there will be some dancing. And what better way to teach us how to dance than with motors tucked into our socks? Designer Pascal Ziegler built these wild wearables to teach “dancing pairs choreography.” They’re basically vibrating socks. There is an Instructable here so you can make a pair of your own but basically you need some vibrating motors, some sensors, and an Arduino. An app tells the motors to buzz, allo...Read More
Students Create Revolutionary Device That Could Transform the Lives of the Blind Community (Mar 14, 2017)
With just a few hours left to build a groundbreaking gadget, things weren't going as smoothly as planned. Six young women, all undergrad engineering students at MIT, had established a lofty goal: to create the first-ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. The idea could prove revolutionary for the blind community, transforming how they read while also creating sorely needed opportunities for children with low or no vision.