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June 2015 — June 2015

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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NSF Extends the Kraken Project (Jun 12, 2015)
The National Science Foundation has awarded the National Institute for Computational Sciences $3 million to continue to provide advanced computing resources for researchers in science and engineering across the country through July 2016. This extension brings the total award for the Kraken project to more than $84.5 million since its inception in 2007. “We are very happy to be able to provide our resources and, most important, expertise to the national NSF community,” said Tony Mezzacappa, d...
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The Bionic Man: Coming Soon? (Jun 12, 2015)
Hani Naguib, a professor of mechanical and materials engineering, is attempting to make an artificial muscle using his interest in smart and adaptive materials. “A smart material senses and responds to the environment,” he explains. “For example, if it senses heat, it could respond by cooling the environment. Or by sensing something in its environment, it might change its own shape.” Take the muscle. While previous generations of artificial muscles were made with motors, Naguib’s uses ...
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LLNL Breaks Ground on Supercomputing Facility (Jun 11, 2015)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory broke ground on a modular and sustainable supercomputing facility that will provide a flexible infrastructure able to accommodate the Laboratory’s growing demand for high performance computing (HPC). The $9.875 million building, located on the Laboratory’s east side, will ensure computer room space to support the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program’s unclassified HPC systems. ASC is the high-performance simulation effort of the National Nu...
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Woodside to Deploy IBM Watson to Improve Oil & Gas Operations (Jun 11, 2015)
IBM and Woodside announced they will use IBM Watson as part of the oil and gas company’s next steps in data science. The cognitive computing system will be trained by Woodside engineers, enabling users to surface evidence-weighted insights from large volumes of unstructured and historical data contained in project reports in seconds. Watson is part of Woodside’s strategy to use predictive data science to leverage more than 30 years of collective knowledge and experience as a leading liquefie...
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The Complex Process of Developing Intelligence in Robots (Jun 10, 2015)
Though language learning comes naturally to a child, encoding this complex process into a computer system is difficult; it lacks the physical and emotional connections to sounds and objects that are vital to the process of interpreting, conceptualizing, and understanding language. Today’s computer systems lack neurons and empathy, two ingredients vital for human language learning. But Onyeama Osuagwu, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, is working to build a system that can...
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UT Physicists to Work on Next Generation of ORNL Super Computer (Jun 10, 2015)
When the next generation of high performance computing comes to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UT’s physicists will be working on the first projects that put its power to work. Summit, the third in the evolution of ORNL’s supercomputers, is set to come online in 2017. Descended from Jaguar and most recently Titan, it will ramp up the current performance level by at least a factor of five. Late in 2014 the Center for Acceleration Application Readiness (CAAR) program at the national lab invite...
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Mapping App Turns Art Into a Sharable Walking Route (Jun 9, 2015)
University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed Trace, an app that turns a digital sketch the user draws on a smartphone screen, such as a boat or a leaf, into a walking route that can be sent to another user. The recipient tells the app how far they want to walk and the app produces step-by-step directions that eventually reveal the hidden shape on a map. The sender also can include audio recordings, images, or other messages that appear at specified locations along the route. The app ...
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Researchers Prove Magnetism Can Control Heat, Sound (Jun 9, 2015)
Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center and recently published by a researcher group from Ohio State University. In a recent issue of the journal Nature Materials, the researchers describe how a magnetic field, roughly the size of a medical MRI, reduced the amount of heat flowing through a semiconductor by 12 percent. Simulations performed at OSC then identified the reason...
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Wearable Technology Finds Its Place on Campus (Jun 8, 2015)
Several universities are experimenting with wearable technologies as a way to improve classroom instruction. Last year, University of California - Berkeley researchers and Intel launched the Make It Wearable Challenge, a competition to encourage entrepreneurs to develop wearable devices. The challenge involved instructors from Berkeley's Lester Center guiding the startup teams through an accelerator program. The competition's winning project was a wrist-mounted camera drone called Nixie. A low-c...
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Summer Camps Across the Country Seek to Build the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Experts (Jun 8, 2015)
Summer camps across the U.S. will focus on technology and computing this year as part of an expanding program called GenCyber funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Security Agency (NSA). The agencies want to teach children about threats that can be found online, defense basics and not misusing the information they collect. "In order to be really cyber-aware . . . a student, high school, college or new grad entering the workforce really needs to be fundamentally s...
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Girls Just Want to Code. The Trick is Making Sure The Don't Stop (Jun 7, 2015)
Getting women interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects in their early years and sustaining that interest through college is key to addressing an endemic gender imbalance in the technology sector. Programs such as Qualcomm's Qcamp coding camp, which offers instruction in coding, app design and robotics, seek to nurture STEM interest in young girls. Girls Who Code reports 74 percent of middle school girls say they are interested in STEM, yet only 0.3 percent of high ...
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Google Embeds Engineers as Professors (Jun 7, 2015)
In an effort to diversify Silicon Valley's technology sector, Google is placing engineers at a handful of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), where they teach, mentor and advise on curriculum. Although 35 percent of African Americans receiving computer science degrees currently come from those schools, they do not end up at Silicon Valley's top technology companies, as only about 1 percent of those firms' technical staffers are black. In response to this shortage, Google sent a...
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Big Data Must Haves: Capacity, Compute, Collaboration (Jun 6, 2015)
Big data researchers, network engineers, CIOs, and technology leaders are set to discuss ways to collaborate to advance research capabilities in IT infrastructure and applications this week at the Internet2 Global Summit, which takes place in Washington, DC. Clemson University professor Alex Feltus will showcase how his research team is leveraging the Internet2 infrastructure, including its Advanced Layer 2 Service high-speed connections and perfSONAR network monitoring, to accelerate genomic bi...
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The Revolution Will Be Digitized (Jun 6, 2015)
The essence of Larry Smarr is captured by a series of numbers. For nearly 15 years, the University of California at San Diego professor has been obsessed with what he describes as the most complicated subject he has ever experimented on: his own body. Smarr keeps track of more than 150 parameters. Smarr is the unlikely hero of a global movement among ordinary people to “quantify” themselves using wearable fitness gadgets, medical equipment, headcams, traditional lab tests and homemade cont...
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Using Smartphones to Avoid Spatial Disorientation of Elderly (Jun 5, 2015)
Researchers at the Technical University of Madrid have turned to network operating technologies to locate and send alerts to elderly people with mild cognitive impairment during episodes of disorientation. The researchers developed a location-awareness service using smartphones that examines such information as seniors' proximity to their homes or places of interest, whether that person is with a relative or using public transport and certain time intervals. When a disorientation episode occur...
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Kids Learn Arduino-based Code with Tinker the Robot (Jun 5, 2015)
Meet Tinker the Robot. UC San Diego mechanical engineering alumnus Kay Yang created him to teach and inspire children (ages 8-14) to play with robots. As a little girl, Kay loved taking things apart and learning how they worked – except electronics. She couldn’t understand how an electronic circuit could bring an object to life. It wasn’t until she came to UC San Diego and enrolled in mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Nate Delson’s Introduction to Engineering Graphics and De...
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