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September 2015 — September 2015

Technology Reshapes Education, "Making Thinking Visible" (Sep 15, 2015)
Jeannette Jones, dean of education at Schaumburg-based for-profit American InterContinental University, told of a time she sat in on a middle school class and a student asked the teacher a question. She said the teacher didn't know the answer — but on the spot posed the question to her Twitter followers. The teacher in seconds received responses from several experts in the field, Jones said. That’s an example of how technology is changing education forever. Other examples include increased u...
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Ten Students Named to XSEDE Scholars Program (Sep 14, 2015)
Ten STEM students have been named to the XSEDE Scholars program, an outreach and educational effort that reveals the full reach and potential of XSEDE’s resources and services to undergraduates and graduates. This 2015-16 cohort is the fifth generation of this program, which aims to engage with underrepresented groups in computational science. As part of the XSEDE Scholars program, the scholars attended the Blue Waters Petascale Institute, participated at the XSEDE15 conference.

Code @ TACC: An Immersive Two-Week Summer Workshop for High School Students (Sep 14, 2015)
This summer, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) hosted 50 rising high school juniors and seniors for its innovative and inaugural STEM program, CODE@TACC. With support from Mellanox and the Central Texas Summer STEM Funder Collaborative, which includes the KDK-Harman Foundation, TACC’s Life Sciences and Education and Outreach (E&O) teams designed a program that introduced students to principles in high performance computing, life sciences, and robotics.

The 2015 Top 10 Programming Languages (Sep 13, 2015)
In cooperation with computational journalist Nick Diakopoulos, IEEE Spectrum has released its second annual ranking of programming languages. Forty-eight languages were included this year and are ranked based on weighting and combining 12 metrics from 10 data sources, including the IEEE Xplore digital library and Github. The rankings are weighted to broadly represent the interests of IEEE's members, but users can apply filters to tailor the rankings to their specific situation using the Top Prog...
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Raspberry Pi is Succeeding in Ways its Makers Almost Imagined (Sep 13, 2015)
When the Raspberry Pi shipped to a planet of excited geeks in the middle of 2012, it changed the way we taught IT. That had always been the intention of creator Eben Upton. Give the kids the goods and they’ll do the rest. At first, it seemed as though the grownups were more excited than the kids, creating all sorts of wacky Pi-based projects. Fortunately, those grownups - eager for the respect of their peers - shared everything they learned, posting to blogs, StackOverflow, and thousands of ot...
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Cyber-Defense and Forensic Tool Turns 20 (Sep 12, 2015)
Users and cybersecurity engineers celebrated the open source cybersecurity defense/forensic software Bro's landmark achievements as a real-world tool as part of its 20th anniversary. Bro's success owes a lot to long-term backing by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and early adoption by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), which saw its practical applications almost immediately, given that LBNL and other research centers are under near-constant cyberattack. Bro not only sup...
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Stanford Researchers Unveil Virtual Reality Headset that Reduces Eye Fatigue, Nausea (Sep 12, 2015)
New virtual reality headset technology developed at Stanford University provides a more natural viewing experience. With current "flat" stereoscopic virtual reality headsets, each eye sees only one image and the depth of field is also limited. However, Stanford professor Gordon Wetzstein says in the real world, people see slightly different perspectives of the same three-dimensional scene at different positions of their eyes' pupil. Wetzstein also notes people focus on different depths, and the ...
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Matthew Tirrell Named Deputy Laboratory Director for Science at Argonne (Sep 11, 2015)
Matthew Tirrell, the Founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) at the University of Chicago, has been appointed to an additional scientific leadership role at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, in a move that will strengthen the two institutions’ combined efforts. Tirrell, a pioneering researcher in the fields of biomolecular engineering and nanotechnology, will maintain his leadership of the IME, which is a scientific partnership b...
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Creating an Avatar from a 3D Selfie (Sep 11, 2015)
Smartphone users will be able to generate a three-dimensional duplicate of themselves by using a new process developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Alexandru Ichim from EPFL's Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory and colleagues say they have condensed an expensive and complex Hollywood studio process into an application for use on smartphone cameras. "We wanted the process to be fast and easy: all you have to do is take a video of yourself ...
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Obama Signs Executive Order to Build World's Fastest Supercomputer (Sep 10, 2015)
President Obama has signed an executive order to announce the National Strategic Computing Initiative, which will be responsible for building the world's fastest supercomputer.The Defense and Energy Departments along with the National Science Foundation will lead the research on the development of a new high-performance computer. The technology will be used for better "economic competitiveness and scientific discovery," according to Obama's order. Supercomputers are used for many purposes, some ...
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Blue Waters and Titan Help SCEC Gain Insight about Earthquakes (Sep 10, 2015)
The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and its lead scientist, Thomas Jordan, use massive computing power made possible by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve our understanding of earthquakes. In doing so, SCEC is helping to provide long-term earthquake forecasts and more accurate hazard assessments. One SCEC effort in particular, the PressOn project, aims to create more physically-realistic, wave-based earthquake simulations using an earthquake model they developed called...
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Pacific Research Platform Expands Across Pacific Ocean (Sep 9, 2015)
Barely days after announcing the $5 million, five-year NSF-funded Pacific Research Platform (PRP) project led by Calit2 director Larry Smarr, Smarr was in Australia where he signed an agreement with Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet) to link Australian researchers to PRP. The agreement is with the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) on a partnership to connect Australian researchers to the PRP, a "next generation data sharing network li...
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Exploring Computer Science Course Achieves Program Status (Sep 9, 2015)
The Exploring Computer Science (ECS) project, affiliated with UCLA Center X and the University of Oregon, has just announce it has been granted program status approval as a “G” elective with the University of California Office of the President. The ECS course is an excellent choice for the “first” course on a career pathway because it introduces students to the breadth of subjects found in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector. The course was developed with funding ...
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University of Illinois Funded by Google on Innovative Mobile-First, Open Web of Things Initiatives (Sep 8, 2015)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Department of Computer Science has received funding from Google for two of its ongoing research projects. The first program is Mobile First, a three-year, $1-million project focused on mobile research and education. Mobile First will support professor Robin Kravets' research into heterogeneous mobile computing and distributed systems, with a focus on cross-device power management and efficient collaborative communications in crowded bandwidth-cons...
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Big Data Challenge for Food Resilience (Sep 8, 2015)
Microsoft Research and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have launched a new contest with the goal of exploring the impact of climate change on the U.S.'s food system. The Innovation Challenge for Food Resilience encourages developers and researchers to build applications that make use of USDA data to provide actionable insights to farmers, agriculture businesses, scientists, or consumers. USDA will make key datasets available on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform, enabling compl...
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XSEDE User Portal Launches Mobile Apps for Android, Apple iOS (Sep 7, 2015)
The XSEDE User Portal Project launched two mobile apps to provide powerful features to help researchers' better use XSEDE resources and services. The XSEDE User Portal is a powerful, virtual cyberinfrastructure used to share computing resources, data and expertise for researchers across the nation. The new mobile apps allow users and staff to access the XSEDE User Portal at their fingertips — the free apps are now available in Google Play and the Apple App store.

PSC Supercomputer "Blacklight" Unplugged (Sep 7, 2015)
It’s uncommon for computer geeks to show sentiment when decommissioning a machine. More attention is devoted to the bigger, faster replacement, with supercomputers having lifespans of guinea pigs. Ralph Roskies, one of the center’s two scientific directors, heralded Blacklight as “a remarkable machine.” It outlived its expected existence. “In terms of the lifetime of these machines, four years is becoming long, and Blacklight at 5½ years has been productive all the way to the end,” ...
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Beyond Just "Big" Data (Sep 6, 2015)
As new big data technologies advance and the challenges of extracting meaning from these massive data sets shift, it seems likely computer scientists will need an entirely new vocabulary to define these various trends. For example, big data enthusiasts sometimes categorize storage units as "brontobytes," each of which adds up to 1,000 trillion terabytes. A unit of 1,000 brontobytes is called a "geobyte." Accompanying the new lexicon of big data storage units are new terms for data professionals,...
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Bioinformatics Pioneers Launch First Online Bioinformatics Specialization on Coursera (Sep 6, 2015)
Learners around the world now have the opportunity to enroll in a series of courses designed for biologists eager to gain computational skills and for computer scientists who want to explore the frontier of bioinformatics. UC San Diego will launch its six-course Specialization in Bioinformatics on Coursera, which culminates in a Capstone Project using software tools and big data provided by Illumina, a leading company in genome sequencing and the emerging field of personalized medicine. The new ...
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Why HBO, Netflix and Amazon Want Your Kids (Sep 5, 2015)
When HBO decided to take the Internet seriously, it was only a matter of time before it started getting interested in your kids. The deal for rights to premiere the next five seasons of Sesame Street on HBO's cable channel and streaming services, alongside other Sesame Network content produced exclusively for HBO, shows just how important children's programming has become to anyone who wants to build and maintain a massive subscriber base in a marketplace being reshaped by cord-cutting behavior....
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The Pichai Era: Google's New Age of Innocence (Sep 5, 2015)
"A" is for new Google parent company "Alphabet," for Sundar Pichai's "ascension" to CEO, and for a slimmed-down search engine company that seeks to become more "agile." After Google cofounder Larry Page's Tuesday announcement that he and cofounder Sergey Brin were stepping back to manage Google's divisions through the newly formed Alphabet Holdings, consumers may wonder if that "A" also stands for "altruism." Page and Sergey had been in search of a perch that would give them a better vantage poi...
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Algorithm Clarifies "Big Data" Clusters (Sep 4, 2015)
Rice University scientists have developed a big data technique that could have a significant impact on health care. The Rice lab of bioengineer Amina Qutub designed an algorithm called “progeny clustering” that is being used in a hospital study to identify which treatments should be given to children with leukemia. Clustering is important for its ability to reveal information in complex sets of data like medical records. The technique is used in bioinformatics — a topic of interest to Rice...
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Today's Car Hacks: BMW, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz on iOS (Sep 4, 2015)
It’s becoming clearer that most any car is hackable. Reports before, during, and after DefCon showed that. Here’s the most recent hack news: The ubiquitous Samy Kamkar showed how his OwnStar device was adapted to get into the car via their remote iOS apps. He targeted BMW Remote, Mercedes-Benz mbrace, and Chrysler Uconnect services, all on Apple iOS. The flaw, according to Kamkar, is the automaker’s almost childlike faith that the certificate on the remote server is valid, disregarding wha...
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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 ...
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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...
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