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June 2016 — July 2016

Researchers Break Record For DNA Data Storage (Jul 10, 2016)
University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have broken what they believe is the world record for the amount of digital data successfully stored—and retrieved—in DNA molecules. The team of computer scientists and electrical engineers encoded and decoded a video of the band OK Go (featuring the craziest Rube Goldberg machine ever), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in more than 100 languages, the top 100 books of Project Gutenberg and the Crop Trust's seed database—among othe...
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OLCF Researchers Scale R to Tackle Big Science Data Sets (Jul 9, 2016)
Sometimes lost in the discussion around big data is the fact that big science has long generated huge data sets. “In fact, large-scale simulations that run on leadership-class supercomputers work at such high speeds and resolution that they generate unprecedented amounts of data. The size of these datasets—ranging from a few gigabytes to hundreds of terabytes—makes managing and analyzing the resulting information a challenge in its own right,” notes an article posted on Oak Ridge Nationa...
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Tiny Bacteria-powered 'Windfarm' For Your Phone? (Jul 9, 2016)
A team of scientists from Oxford University has shown how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to assemble and power microscopic 'windfarms' -- or other human-made micromachines such as smartphone components. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, uses computer simulations to demonstrate that the chaotic swarming effect of dense active matter such as bacteria can be organised to turn cylindrical rotors and provide a steady power source.

IBM Supercomputer Watson to Help Advance Preschool Education (Jul 8, 2016)
Sesame Workshop and IBM announced a collaboration to use IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology and Sesame’s early childhood expertise to help advance preschool education around the world. As part of a three-year agreement, Sesame Workshop and IBM will collaborate to develop educational platforms and products that will be designed to adapt to the learning preferences and aptitude levels of individual preschoolers. Research shows that a significant extent of brain development occurs in t...
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XSEDE Names 2016 Campus Champion Fellows (Jul 8, 2016)
The National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program has named the fifth cohort of Fellows for its Campus Champions (CC) program, pairing a Champion with a member of XSEDE’s Extended Collaborative Support Services (ECSS) staff to work on real-world science and engineering projects for about one year. Campus Champions are local faculty, staff and researchers at over 200 U.S. institutions who advise researchers on the use of high-end cyberinfr...
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'Cut!' - the AI Director (Jul 7, 2016)
At the Cannes Lions advertising festival on Thursday morning, an audience was shown a series of short films in the annual New Directors Showcase, which highlights emerging talent. One of the entries had AI as a director. A few days ago, I saw Eclipse, a pop video featuring a French band, at the offices of Saatchi and Saatchi, which runs the Cannes showcase and commissioned the AI entry. What is remarkable about it is not the production values - it is actually a rather dull piece of work - but a ...
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Early-Universe Soup (Jul 7, 2016)
At the dawn of the universe – just after the Big Bang – all matter was in the form of a hot-flowing soup called quark-gluon plasma, or QGP. Large-scale computations have been critical to the theoretical study of QGP’s novel characteristics. As part of a theoretical effort funded by the Department of Energy, Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Swagato Mukherjee and his colleagues are using an allotment of 167 million processor hours from the ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge to better unde...
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Computer is Trained to Recognize Events in YouTube (Jul 6, 2016)
Using deep learning techniques, a group of researchers has trained a computer to recognize events in videos on YouTube - even the ones the software has never seen before like riding a horse, baking cookies or eating at a restaurant. Researchers from Disney Research and Shanghai's Fudan University used both scene and object features from the video and enabled link between these visual elements and each type of event to be automatically determined by a machine-learning architecture known as neural...
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The Inventors of the Internet Are Trying to Build a Truly Permanent Web (Jul 6, 2016)
If you wanted to write a history of the Internet, one of the first things you would do is dig into the email archives of Vint Cerf. In 1973, he co-created the protocols that Internet servers use to communicate with each other without the need for any kind of centralized authority or control. He has spent the decades since shaping the Internet’s development, most recently as Google’s “chief Internet evangelist.” Thankfully, Cerf says he has archived about 40 years of old email—a first-h...
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U.S. to Have 200-Petaflop Supercomputer by Early 2018 (Jul 5, 2016)
The U.S. plans to have a supercomputer by early 2018 with roughly double the performance of China's newest and most powerful system. The Chinese system, Sunway TaihuLight, was announced in the latest release of the Top 500, the biannual ranking of publicly known supercomputers. Sunway TaihuLight can reach a theoretical peak speed of 124.5 petaflops, and has achieved 93 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark, used by the Top 500 to assess the performance of supercomputers. The latest ranking of the w...
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Brazil Budget Crisis Slows Supercomputer from Studying Zika (Jul 5, 2016)
A supercomputer named Santos Dumont has been partially switched off in Rio de Janeiro due to government spending cuts. It was meant to be genetically mapping the Zika virus. "It seems nonsensical, at a moment like this when everyone is talking about the Zika virus," Antonio Tadeu, head of a government group responsible for high performance processing, told Reuters. "The financial problems have meant Santos Dumont is running below capacity since last month," he added. In the midst of Brazil's wor...
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MIT’s New AI Can (Sort of) Fool Humans with Sound Effects (Jul 4, 2016)
Neural Networks are already beating us at games, organizing our smartphone photos, and answering our emails. Eventually, they could be filling jobs in Hollywood. Over at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), a team of six researchers created a machine-learning system that matches sound effects to video clips. Before you get too excited, the CSAIL algorithm can’t do its audio work on any old video, and the sound effects it produces are limited.

Bluetooth 5: Quadruple the Range, Double the Speed (Jul 4, 2016)
Bluetooth is so ubiquitous, it's easy to forget it's still an evolving technology. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) defines the standard, and late last year teased what's coming in the next major version change since 2009. Today, the body shared a bit more about what we can expect from the release of Bluetooth 5, expected in late 2016 or early 2017. For starters, the next version will quadruple the range of connections and double their speeds, too, with no increase in power consumption...
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IBM’s Watson Lets You Talk to Your Self-Driving Car (Jul 3, 2016)
What makes Olli, the car that’s now rolling through the streets of National Harbor, Maryland, important isn’t that it drives itself, that it’s electric, or even that Local Motors made it from 3-D printed parts. What sets Olli apart is its gift of gab. Upstart automaker Local Motors and IBM teamed up to create the autonomous van-like shuttle, which launches today, carries twelve passengers, and uses the tech stalwart’s Watson supercomputer to chat with passengers. That may seem a step dow...
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OpenACC Adds Support for OpenPOWER; Touts Growing Traction (Jul 3, 2016)
In a show of strength leading up to ISC the OpenACC standards group today announced its first OpenPOWER implementation, the addition of three new members – University of Illinois, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Stony Brook University – and details of its expanding 2016 training schedule. Michael Wolfe, technical director of OpenACC, also talked with HPCWire about thorny compiler challenges still remaining as the number of processor (all types) cores grows and memory management issues be...
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Ethnic, Gender Imbalances Plague Computer Science Education (Jul 2, 2016)
For Obama administration officials, computer science education has become almost a moral issue. During a panel discussion at the New America Foundation, Melissa Moritz, deputy director of STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- at the Education Department, noted the ethnic and gender imbalances in computer science education. Still a rarity at schools across the country, computer science classes are disproportionately unavailable to low-income students, according to Moritz, who argue...
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Supercomputer Changing Genetic Medicine in Africa (Jul 2, 2016)
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is helping change the way genetic medicine is researched and practiced in Africa. Members of the Blue Waters team recently made it possible to discover genomic variants in over 300 deeply sequenced human samples to help construct a genotyping chip specific for African populations. NCSA's Blue Waters is the largest and most powerful open access supercomputer in the world, and is unique in being h...
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New See-Through Material For Electronics (Jun 25, 2016)
Creating more efficient lighting solutions and solar panels requires materials that let light pass through and conduct "missing electrons," or the charged holes created when an electron leaves. Scientists created just such a material by altering a transparent insulating oxide by chemical substitution. Even though conducting missing electrons and transparency were considered mutually exclusive, this new material both efficiently conducts missing electrons and retains most of its transparency to v...
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Tech Culture Still Pushing Out Women, Study Finds (Jun 25, 2016)
Social dynamics and "culture fit" are a key reason why female engineers tend to leave the profession sooner than men, according to a new study released by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the University of California, Irvine; the University of Michigan, and McGill University. "It turns out gender makes a big difference," says MIT professor Susan Silbey. "It's a cultural phenomenon." The research involved having more than 40 undergraduate engineering students keep...
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World's First 1,000-Processor Chip (Jun 24, 2016)
A microchip containing 1,000 independent programmable processors has been designed by a team at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The energy-efficient "KiloCore" chip has a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors. The KiloCore was presented at the 2016 Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu on June 16.

Huge FBI Facial Recognition Database Flawed: Audit (Jun 24, 2016)
A facial recognition database compiled by the FBI has more than 400 million images to help criminal investigations, but lacks adequate safeguards for accuracy and privacy protection, a congressional audit shows. The huge database—which enables investigators to search images to match those of criminal suspects—"is far greater than had previously been understood" and raises concerns "about the risk of innocent Americans being inadvertently swept up in criminal investigations," said Senator Al ...
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AI Fools Humans With Fake Sound Effects (Jun 23, 2016)
The auditory Turing test has been defeated. When MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab researchers showed videos of a drumstick hitting and brushing through various objects, subjects were fooled into believing that the sounds they heard actually came from the objects and materials on screen. They did not. Instead, a computer programmed to analyze the video and apply the correct sounds from its own library of samples chose the audio clips for all the videos. And the subjects were n...
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"Ransomware" Cyberattack Exposes Vulnerability of Universities (Jun 23, 2016)
The first Patrick Feng knew about a cyberattack on his university was when one of his colleagues told him that her computer had been infected by hackers and rendered unusable. Feng, who studies technology and sustainability policy at the University of Calgary in Canada, immediately checked the Dropbox folder that he was sharing with that colleague — and found that it, too, had been compromised. “The hackers had created encrypted copies of all my Dropbox files and deleted the originals,” he...
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How Lawrence Livermore Is Facing Exascale Power Demands (Jun 22, 2016)
When considering the challenges of exascale computing, power is right at the top of the list and the major leadership-class centers want to make sure they’re doing everything they can to manage the demands of power today – which can run as high as 10 MW at peak for the largest machines – and in the coming exascale era, when the number could be three times that high. At loads of this magnitude, the largest HPC facilities need to have all the relevant power data within arm’s reach. Managin...
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Financial Technology Matures as Government Steps In. (Jun 22, 2016)
You would be hard pressed to read the news and not know that fintech is seemingly at a crossroads — from Lending Club‘s CEO resigning to reports of other peer-to-peer lending platforms reducing their workforce to headlines that state that, after a boom in funding, venture capitalists are looking to other sectors out of fear. Indeed, some are already declaring financial technology dead as a space for the near-term. Not so fast. Here’s what we know. These signals are actually the chaotic rea...
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