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July 2017 — August 2017

Why Humans Find Faulty Robots More Likeable (Aug 8, 2017)
It has been argued that the ability of humans to recognize social signals is crucial to mastering social intelligence - but can robots learn to read human social cues and adapt or correct their own behavior accordingly? In a recent study, researchers examined how people react to robots that exhibit faulty behavior compared to perfectly performing robots. The results, published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, show that the participants took a significantly stronger liking to the faulty robot tha...
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Internet’s Backroom Boffins’ Big Brainwave: Put People First in Future (Aug 5, 2017)
The Internet Engineering Task Force is being asked to formally adopt its informal philosophy that when it comes to new standards and protocols, end users' needs must come first. The "best current practice" drawn up by Internet Architecture Board member Mark Nottingham – currently in its fifth draft – states simply that its purpose is to ensure that "Internet Standards consider end users as their highest-priority concern." That may seem like an obvious statement but in recent years, corporate...
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Brookhaven Lab to Lead 2017 New York Scientific Data Summit (Aug 4, 2017)
The Computational Science Initiative (CSI) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory will be leading the 2017 New York Scientific Data Summit, to be held from Aug. 7 through 9 at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life. Jointly organized by Brookhaven Lab, NYU, and Stony Brook University, the annual conference will bring together data experts, scientists, application developers, and end users from national labs, universities, technology companies, utilities, and...
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When Neutron Stars and Black Holes Collide (Aug 4, 2017)
Now that scientists can detect the wiggly distortions in space-time created by the merger of massive black holes, they are setting their sights on the dynamics and aftermath of other cosmic duos that unify in catastrophic collisions. Working with an international team, scientists at Berkeley Lab have developed new computer models to explore what happens when a black hole joins with a neutron star – the superdense remnant of an exploded star. The simulations, carried out in part at NERSC, are i...
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Clarifiying Complex Chemical Processes with Quantum Computers (Aug 3, 2017)
Specialists expect nothing less than a technological revolution from quantum computers, which they hope will soon allow them to solve problems that are currently too complex for classical supercomputers. Commonly discussed areas of application include data encryption and decryption, as well as special problems in the fields of physics, quantum chemistry and materials research. But when it comes to concrete questions that only quantum computers can answer, experts have remained relatively vague.

To Boost Computer Science Instruction, Teachers Say Training is Key (Aug 3, 2017)
Educators in Iowa City and Solon say having the right tools to boost computer science lessons will be key as a new law comes into play. The new Iowa law, which took effect July 1, encourages teachers to increase computer science lessons in elementary, middle and high schools and comes with a professional development fund to help teachers prepare.

Pinpointing Sources of Water Pollution with a Robotic Eel (Aug 2, 2017)
Researchers from EPFL, together with other institutes, have developed a robotic eel that swims through contaminated water to find the source of the pollution. The sensor-equipped robot can be controlled remotely or move on its own. In tests carried out in a small section of Lake Geneva, the robot was able to generate maps of water conductivity and temperature. EPFL researchers are taking part in an ambitious project funded by the Swiss NanoTera Program to develop a swimming robot that can detect...
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System Automatically Retouches Cellphone Images in Real-time (Aug 2, 2017)
The data captured by today's digital cameras is often treated as the raw material of a final image. Before uploading pictures to social networking sites, even casual cellphone photographers might spend a minute or two balancing color and tuning contrast, with one of the many popular image-processing programs now available. This week at Siggraph, the premier digital graphics conference, researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Google are presenting a new ...
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Screen Saviors: Can Activism-Focused Games Change Our Behavior? (Aug 1, 2017)
If you don't have time to call your senator, stage a protest or partake in a rescue mission at a slaughterhouse, you can at least save some chickens on your phone. Thanks to the new animal rights app Paintball Hero, created by 17-year-old game developer Skylar Thomas, animal liberation is now as easy as click, swipe, win. An animal rights activist since early childhood, Thomas sought to start a conversation about animal abuse and mistreatment through gaming. He partnered with PETA2, the youth ch...
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State of Cybercrime 2017: Security Events Decline, But Not the Impact (Jul 31, 2017)
The past year has been tough for enterprise security teams. Attacks like Petya and NotPetya suggest that the impact scale is increasing dramatically. The recent leak of government-developed malware and hoarded vulnerabilities has given cybercriminals greater capabilities. IT is struggling to keep pace with the flow of important security software patches and updates, and the continued adoption of new technologies like the internet of things (IoT) creates new vulnerabilities to contend with.

Tech’s Most Dubious Promises, From Bill Gates to Elon Musk (Jul 31, 2017)
Last week, Elon Musk dashed off 125 characters announcing a remarkably ambitious plan to send Amtrak to an early grave. “Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins,” he proclaimed in a tweet. Yet something about this particular moonshot seemed off.

Need More Computer Science Teachers? Be Proactive about Recruiting (Jul 30, 2017)
Panelists at the Microsoft Policy Innovation Center event highlight that while there is generally a lack of qualified K-12 computer science teachers that need training. But, the overwhelming sentiment pointed in the direction of schools and decision-makers in the space to start being more strategic about their course offerings and how they target funding –– not just at the K-12 level, but across the entire spectrum of education. Understanding that courses at the K-12 and even early education...
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“Code Like a Girl” Bill Will Fund Computer Science Education for Young Women (Jul 30, 2017)
As you’ve probably noticed, science is going through an extremely tough time in America right now. When researchers aren’t bracing themselves for massive and historic funding cuts, scientists are being censored, bullied, and dismissed by the federal government – an administration that is shoring up the views of anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers. There are, however, plenty of pro-science lawmakers that aim to push back the tide. Take Representative Jacky Rosen, a Congresswoman from Ne...
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Blue Waters Intern Visualizes a Career in App Development (Jul 29, 2017)
As a high school student, and even as an early undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Max Collins was not sure what he wanted to do after graduation from college. This all changed as a result of his time spent as an NCSA Blue Waters intern and the time he spent working with Dr. Alan Craig, an NCSA researcher and leading expert in augmented and virtual reality. Collins, a psychology major graduate, now has a plan of action for the next phase of his education and ...
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Nick Nystrom Appointed Interim Director of PSC (Jul 29, 2017)
Nick Nystrom, senior director of research at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has been appointed Interim Director of the center. Nystrom succeeds Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies, who have been co-directors of PSC since its founding in 1986. During the interim period, Nystrom will oversee PSC’s state-of-the-art research into high-performance computing, data analytics, science and communications, working closely with Levine and Roskies to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

The Supercomputing Slump Hits HPC (Jul 28, 2017)
Supercomputing, by definition, is an esoteric, exotic, and relatively small slice of the overall IT landscape, but it is, also by definition, a vital driver of innovation within IT and in all of the segments of the market where simulation, modeling, and now machine learning are used to provide goods and services. As we have pointed out many times, the supercomputing business is not, however, one that is easy to participate in and generate a regular stream of revenues and predictable profits and ...
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STAMPEDE Supercomputer Skyrocketed Science (Jul 28, 2017)
Change was in the air at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2010, two years into the operation of the soon-to-be retired Ranger supercomputer of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Ranger represented a new class of cutting-edge computing systems designed specifically for getting more people — U.S. researchers from all fields of science and engineering — to use them. Ranger and a few other systems of the NSF-funded Teragrid cyberinfrastructure, such as Kraken at the National Ins...
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DOE Helps Tackle Biology's Big Data (Jul 27, 2017)
Six proposals have been selected to participate in a new partnership between two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) user facilities through the “Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science” (FICUS) initiative. The expertise and capabilities available at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) – both at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) – will help researchers explore the wealth of genomic and...
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Ultracold Molecules Hold Promise for Quantum Computing (Jul 27, 2017)
Researchers have taken an important step toward the long-sought goal of a quantum computer, which in theory should be capable of vastly faster computations than conventional computers, for certain kinds of problems. The new work shows that collections of ultracold molecules can retain the information stored in them, for hundreds of times longer than researchers have previously achieved in these materials.

Intelligent Animation (Jul 26, 2017)
Modern films and TV shows are filled with spectacular computer-generated sequences computed by rendering systems that simulate the flow of light in a three-dimensional scene and convert the information into a two-dimensional image. But computing the thousands of light rays (per frame) to achieve accurate color, shadows, reflectivity and other light-based characteristics is a labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive undertaking. An alternative is to render the images using only a few light r...
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Living Computers: RNA Circuits Transform Cells into Nanodevices (Jul 26, 2017)
The interdisciplinary nexus of biology and engineering, known as synthetic biology, is growing at a rapid pace, opening new vistas that could scarcely be imagined a short time ago. In new research, Alex Green, a professor at ASU's Biodesign Institute, demonstrates how living cells can be induced to carry out computations in the manner of tiny robots or computers. The results of the new study have significant implications for intelligent drug design and smart drug delivery, green energy productio...
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PPPL Researchers Simulate Impact of Recycled Atoms on Plasma Turbulence (Jul 24, 2017)
Turbulence, the violently unruly disturbance of plasma, can prevent plasma from growing hot enough to fuel fusion reactions. Long a puzzling concern of researchers has been the impact on turbulence of atoms recycled from the walls of tokamaks that confine the plasma. These atoms are neutral, meaning that they have no charge and are thus unaffected by the tokamak’s magnetic field or plasma turbulence, unlike the electrons and ions — or atomic nuclei — in the plasma. Yet, experiments have su...
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BSC Scientists Compare Algorithms That Search for Cancer (Jul 24, 2017)
Eduard Porta-Pardo, a senior researcher in the Life Sciences Department at Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), with the collaboration of a team of international scientists, has undertaken the first ever comparative analysis of sub-gene algorithms that mine the genetic information in cancer databases. These powerful data-sifting tools are helping untangle the complexity of cancer, and find previously unidentified mutations that are important in creating cancer cells.

Beauty Spot or Landscape Blot? Computer Trained to Judge Scenery (Jul 22, 2017)
Wordsworth found it in a host of daffodils; Nan Shepherd in the nooks of the Cairngorms. For Monet it popped up all over the place, from the windmills and canals of Amsterdam, to the sailing boats of Argenteuil. What lends a scene beauty has long been left to the poets and painters to define, but that may be about to change. In a new study, researchers trained a computer to tell scenic views from blots on the landscape. One day it could help with decisions over what land to protect, and how bett...
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DARPA Developing a ‘Modem’ Linking Computer and Brain (Jul 22, 2017)
Modern medicine has brought us quite a bit of amazing things. I, for one, love not dying from infections, from polio or mumps. Not to mention not pooping myself to death when I have a glass of water. These are things that I think we can all agree are good. Even with that progress, though, many of humanity’s oldest diseases and disorders are pernicious, but DARPA (yeah, that one) has started looking into some brain-computer interfaces that might do the trick.

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