January 2017 — January 2017
Off-Kilter Harmonies (Jan 31, 2017)
Asegun Henry wants to avert the worst effects of climate change by finding new forms of renewable energy and improving the materials that contribute to energy use. "The way we produce electricity today pollutes the environment," said Henry, a mechanical engineering professor at Georgia Tech. "My research is primarily centered on converting us from a fossil fuel-based infrastructure to a renewable- or solar–based infrastructure so we can rely on renewable forms of energy that don't pollute the ...Read More
HP Labs Builds Experimental Optical Processor (Jan 27, 2017)
According to a report in IEEE Spectrum, the chip design implements an Ising machine, which can take on the computational behavior of magnetic material. In a real magnet, atoms can “spin” up or down to represent different states. In the optical approach, magnetic spin is simulated using a combination of light beams, wave guides, interferometers, and heater wires – all integrated on-chip. The spins in HPE’s optical implementation are represented by “two phases of light that are 180 degre...Read More
Remote Visualization: An Integral Technology for Upstream Oil & Gas (Jan 27, 2017)
As the exploration and production (E&P) of natural resources evolves into an even more complex and vital task, visualization technology has become integral for the upstream oil and gas industry. To assess potential drilling sites, monitor wells, and track reservoir depletion, geoscientists, geophysicists, and engineers use large seismic datasets to build 3D models of the earth’s subsurface. Remote visualization has been used to access, interpret, and manipulate these models for over 30 years.
Making AI Systems that See the World as Humans Do (Jan 26, 2017)
A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand the world as humans do.
Why the U.S. Needs a Smokey Bear of Cybersecurity (Jan 26, 2017)
We all remember the bear with a big yellow hat who alerted to the perils of leaving a fire burning at a campsite. And the "buckle up for safety" PSA has been making the rounds for decades. But there are a number of intangible threats that aren't given the same attention as fire or car safety -- and that needs to change, according to Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. The organization is funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security and works to ed...Read More
A New Dawn for UK Engineering (Jan 25, 2017)
Engineering represents 27 percent of British GDP and supports 14.5 million jobs across the country, making it a driving force for both the UK and global economies. In the UK, the sector has been calling on the government to redress the economy towards engineering for years, and to take action to significantly improve the pipeline of engineering graduates and apprentices emerging from British universities and colleges.
The Best and Worst Countries for Paying Engineering Grads (Jan 25, 2017)
Engineering fields often top the list of lucrative careers for new grads — yet students may be still be selling themselves short. Engineering students in the U.S. expect to earn an average $62,948 in their first job after graduation, according to a December report from Universum, a Stockholm-based employer branding firm. That places the country second only to Switzerland in terms of salary expectation. The firm surveyed 277,590 engineering students in 57 countries during September.
Data Map Shows Computer Science, Business are the Most Popular Online Courses in the U.S. (Jan 24, 2017)
Coursera has analyzed data from 5 million students in the United States who have enrolled in the company’s massive open online courses (MOOCs), uncovering that computer science and business are the most popular topics overall in the majority of states. “Previously, we’ve shared data on how topic interests vary by country,” wrote Kyle Shiells, a data scientist at Coursera. “This time, we wanted to look more closely at course enrollments among the 5 million learners in our largest market...Read More
The Tiny Robots Revolutionizing Eye Surgery (Jan 24, 2017)
Last September, Robert MacLaren, an ophthalmologist and professor at Oxford University, plunged a tiny robotic arm into William Beaver’s eye. A membrane had recently contracted on the 70-year-old priest’s retina, pinching it into an uneven shape and causing him to see the world as if reflected in a hall of mirrors. Using a joystick and a camera feed, MacLaren guided the arm of the Robotic Retinal Dissection Device, or R2D2 for short, through a tiny incision in the eye, before lifting the wri...Read More
China to Develop Prototype Super, Super Computer in 2017 (Jan 23, 2017)
China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said Tuesday, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion, billion calculations per second. If successful, the achievement would cement its place as a leading power in the world of supercomputing. The Asian giant built the world's fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight machine, in June last year, which was twice as fast as the previous number one.
Research Team Sets New Mark for 'Deep Learning' (Jan 23, 2017)
Neuroscience and artificial intelligence experts from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have taken inspiration from the human brain in creating a new "deep learning" method that enables computers to learn about the visual world largely on their own, much as human babies do.
Women Coders from Russia, Italy, and Poland Top Study (Jan 22, 2017)
According to a study posted on HackerRank the best women coders as judged by performance on HackerRank challenges come from Russia, Italy, and Poland. The U.S. placed 14th. Countries with largest proportions of women coders participating in the challenges are India, United Arab Emirates, and Romania. The U.S. was eleventh. Attracting women to STEM careers generally and HPC specifically is an ongoing challenge although progress is being made.
Wanted: A Few (Hundred) Good Computer Science Teachers (Jan 22, 2017)
Here’s something to wrap your brain around: Washington state, one of the nation’s foremost tech hubs, has historically only offered computer science as an elective in public schools — if it’s offered at all. Currently, only one in 10 schools in the state offers courses that teach kids advanced computer science skills.
Catching CRISPR in Action (Jan 21, 2017)
One of the most talked about biological breakthroughs in the past decade was the discovery of the genome editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, which can alter DNA and potentially remove the root causes of many hereditary diseases. Originally found as part of the immune system of the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, CRISPR associated protein 9 (CAS9), in its native state, recognizes foreign DNA sequences and disables them. In bacteria, the system is used to target foreign viral DNA from bacteriophages – DN...Read More
Upping the Ante: Top Poker Pros Face Off vs. Artificial Intelligence (Jan 21, 2017)
Four of the world’s best professional poker players will compete against artificial intelligence developed by Carnegie Mellon University in an epic rematch to determine whether a computer can beat humans playing one of the world’s toughest poker games.
IBM Wants to Build Machine Learning ‘Macroscopes’ to Understand the World (Jan 20, 2017)
Like many tech companies, IBM is starting the new year by making a few predictions. One of them has to do with a software concept they call a “macroscope,” a software technology that can be used to analyze the complexities of the physical world. IBM predicts that within five years, such technology will “help us understand the Earth’s complexity in infinite detail.”
How the Met Office is solving the British weather with High Performance Computing (Jan 20, 2017)
If you’re looking for big data, just look up. Weather analysis requires petascale-class pipelines, with seven-day forecasts needing approximately 2000 time-steps for prediction, and each time-step requiring trillions of computer operations. Weather forecasting and climate simulations can encompass quadrillions of operations for a single forecast run – which needs to be done several times a day.
What Women Can Do to Win in Business (Jan 14, 2017)
Looking at 2017, it’s clear that technology will underpin future success for a variety of industries. So for girls aspiring to be women leaders, STEM education is critical. Here's why: Technology is the future. Just look at Starbucks. Howard Schultz shocked a lot of people when he announced last month that he was stepping down as CEO. Schultz has been the iconic leader of Starbucks, single-handedly disrupting coffee drinking all over the world by making it a lifestyle experience. As a nod to t...Read More
Chinese Humanoid Robot Turns on the Charm in Shanghai (Jan 14, 2017)
"Jia Jia" can hold a simple conversation and make specific facial expressions when asked, and her creator believes the eerily life-like robot heralds a future of cyborg labor in China. Billed as China's first human-like robot, Jia Jia was first trotted out last year by a team of engineers at the University of Science and Technology of China. Team leader Chen Xiaoping sounded like a proud father as he and his prototype appeared Monday at an economic conference organized by banking giant UBS in Sh...Read More
‘Hidden Figures’ Reminds us STEM is Where Black Women Belong (Jan 13, 2017)
Like most award-nominated films, Hidden Figures was a must-see during its opening weekend. Based on true events and Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name, the two-hour feature is a dazzlingly heartfelt story that uncovers the historic contributions of mathematician Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). The three black women play an integral part at NASA in the American space race of the 1960s, with foc...Read More
2017 Sneak Peek: What the New Year Holds for Science (Jan 13, 2017)
Expect researchers to glimpse an event horizon, continue striving for quantum supremacy and brace themselves for a political hangover.
Emerging Tech Aims to Improve Life for Handicapped (Jan 12, 2017)
Emerging technology is giving new hope for the handicapped, and harnessing brainwaves for the physically disabled and helping the visually impaired with "artificial vision" are just the start. Many systems showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are aimed at improving quality of life for people with disabilities. BrainRobotics, a Massachusetts-based startup, showed its prosthesis that can be controlled by residual muscle strength of an amputee with better efficiency than similar ...Read More
Facebook Engineering VP Explains Why "Cognitive Diversity is the Most Powerful Tool" (Jan 12, 2017)
As the head of Facebook’s secretive new hardware unit, Building 8, Regina Dugan leads a team of engineers who are trying to develop breakthrough technologies, much as she did when she was the first female director of DARPA. She’s learned that assembling a diverse group of perspectives is essential to the creative process. "There’s very little difference between scientists and engineers and artists—they just use different tools," Dugan said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival.
How Engineering Students are Seeking to Solve Major Food and Water Security Problems (Jan 11, 2017)
Food and water are two necessities for survival, but what happens when a changing climate in key agricultural regions threatens crop production? Or when the quality of milk cannot be ensured as it is exchanged between producer and seller? Seven MIT graduate students studying food and water security issues presented their research and preliminary findings on issues such as these during the MIT Water and Food Security Student Symposium. Hosted by the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engin...Read More
Wall-jumping Robot is Most Vertically Agile Ever Built (Jan 11, 2017)
Roboticists at UC Berkeley have designed a small robot that can leap into the air and then spring off a wall, or perform multiple vertical jumps in a row, resulting in the highest robotic vertical jumping agility ever recorded. The agility of the robot opens new pathways of locomotion that were not previously attainable. The researchers hope that one day this robot and other vertically agile robots can be used to jump around rubble in search and rescue missions.