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August 2016 — September 2016

NCSA to Lead $110 Million NSF Project to Expand Nation's Cyberinfrastructure Ecosystem (Sep 5, 2016)
The National Science Foundation announced a $110 million, five-year award to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications NCSA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and 18 partner institutions to continue, and expand, the activities undertaken through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, a cornerstone of the nation's cyberinfrastructure ecosystem. XSEDE accelerates open scientific discovery by enhancing the productivity and capability of researchers, engi...
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Packaging a Wallop (Sep 4, 2016)
From climate-change predictions to models of the expanding universe, simulations help scientists understand complex physical phenomena. But simulations aren’t easy to deploy. Computational models comprise millions of lines of code and rely on many separate software packages. For the largest codes, configuring and linking these packages can require weeks of full-time effort. Recently, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team deployed a multiphysics code with 47 libraries on Trinity, the Cr...
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Simulating the Earliest Generations of Galaxies with Enzo and Blue Waters (Sep 4, 2016)
Galaxies are complex—many physical processes operate simultaneously, and over a huge range of scales in space and time. As a result, accurately modeling the formation and evolution of galaxies over the lifetime of the universe presents tremendous technical challenges. In this talk I will describe some of the important unanswered questions regarding galaxy formation, discuss in general terms how we simulate the formation of galaxies on a computer, and present simulations that the Enzo collabora...
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Microsoft Announces New Resources to Reduce Hate Speech (Sep 3, 2016)
Microsoft today pushed out in a blog post for users of its consumer services new resources to reduce hate speech. Users will now be able to communicate directly with the company to report hate speech, and petition for reinstating content via new online forms. Most people are familiar with efforts by social networks like Twitter and Facebook to ensure safety within their respective online communities. Just last week, Twitter announced the suspension of an additional 235,000 accounts for promoting...
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Analog DNA Circuit Does Math in a Test Tube (Sep 3, 2016)
Often described as the blueprint of life, DNA contains the instructions for making every living thing from a human to a house fly. But in recent decades, some researchers have been putting the letters of the genetic code to a different use: making tiny nanoscale computers. In a new study, a Duke University team led by professor John Reif created strands of synthetic DNA that, when mixed together in a test tube in the right concentrations, form an analog circuit that can add, subtract and multipl...
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Meet the Cyborg Bringing Biohacking to the People (Sep 2, 2016)
In the beginning, it was just about getting rid of the keys to his office. American biohacker Amal Graafstra, 40, decided in 2005 that he wanted to be done with such archaic technology "from like 700 BC." He looked at iris scanning and fingerprint reading as solutions for opening his office door, but decided those options were expensive and unreliable. Inspired by the way pets are commonly tagged, he settled on a safe radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant. "I used to say that if I was be...
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Designing Ultrasound Tools with Lego-like Proteins (Sep 2, 2016)
Ultrasound imaging is used around the world to help visualize developing babies and diagnose disease. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, revealing their different densities and shapes. The next step in ultrasound technology is to image not just anatomy, but specific cells and molecules deeper in the body, such as those associated with tumors or bacteria in our gut. A new study from Caltech outlines how protein engineering techniques might help achieve this milestone. The researchers engineered ...
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The First Autonomous, Entirely Soft Robot (Sep 1, 2016)
A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3D-printed robot -- nicknamed the octobot -- could pave the way for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous machines.

New Computer Science Course's Challenge is Finding Qualified Teachers to Teach It (Sep 1, 2016)
Expansion of a new Advanced Placement computer science course aimed at drawing young women and minorities into high-tech fields is being hampered by a nationwide shortage of teachers qualified to teach it. Only a fifth of California high schools, about 260, will be offering the course in the 2016-17 school year. The new course – AP Computer Science Principles – is being offered for the first time this month after seven years as a pilot program in 45 schools across the country. It is a corner...
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AI Is Here to Help You Write Emails People Will Actually Read (Aug 31, 2016)
Looking for an artificial intelligence that can write all your email messages so you don’t have to? Too bad. That dream is still years away. But in the meantime, a startup called Boomerang wants to take you at least part of the way there. Boomerang makes a plug-in for Gmail and Outlook that lets you hit the “snooze button” on certain messages. They’ll disappear from your inbox but then reappear at later time. But today, the company added a new twist to this plug-in: a new AI-powered tool...
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Stretchy Supercapacitors Power Wearable Electronics (Aug 31, 2016)
A future of soft robots that wash your dishes or smart T-shirts that power your cell phone may depend on the development of stretchy power sources. But traditional batteries are thick and rigid — not ideal properties for materials that would be used in tiny malleable devices. In a step toward wearable electronics, a team of researchers has produced a stretchy micro-supercapacitor using ribbons of graphene.

University of Oxford Develops Logic Gate for Quantum Computing (Aug 30, 2016)
Researchers at the University of Oxford have achieved a quantum logic gate with record-breaking 99.9% precision, reaching the benchmark required theoretically to build a quantum computer. Quantum computers, which function according to the laws of quantum physics, have the potential to dwarf the processing power of today’s computers, able to process huge amounts of information all at once.

Coral Conservation Efforts Aided by Computer Simulations (Aug 30, 2016)
Contrary to a prevailing theory, coral larvae could not survive the five-thousand-kilometer trip across the Pacific Ocean to replenish endangered corals in the eastern Pacific, according to new research. Researchers used a supercomputer to simulate billions of coral larvae traveling on ocean currents over a 14.5-year period. The simulations showed that even during extreme environmental events that speed ocean currents, like the 1997-1998 El Niño, coral larvae could not survive long enough to ma...
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DOD Supercomputing Inspires Interns, Helps Army Researchers (Aug 29, 2016)
Six graduate students recently concluded the DOD High Performance Computing Internship Program, or HIP, at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. “The intern’s summer projects were highly relevant and critical to our mission,” said Dr. Luis Bravo, Vehicle Technology Directorate. “They really took the lead in creating complex models that push the boundaries of engine combustion and turbomachinery sciences and have exploited the use of DOD’s Supercomputing platforms.” The annual HIP progra...
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Star and Planetary Scientists Get Millions of Hours on EU Supercomputers (Aug 29, 2016)
The universe is full of mysteries. Mysteries that cannot be solved by observation alone, but researchers can examine them using modelling. However, this requires enormous processing power and is very expensive. Now researchers from Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the Niels Bohr Institute have just been granted 91 million CPU hours on European supercomputers for three major research projects. "Astrophysics and Planetary Science is entering a busy, but exciting time," says Klaus Galsgaard.

Soybean Science Blooms with Supercomputers (Aug 28, 2016)
Knowledge of the soybean in the U.S. has come a long way since its humble start, namely as seeds smuggled by ship from China in the 1700s. A sanction back then from emperor Qianlong prevented trade outside of Canton. Undeterred, a former seaman with the East India Trading Company named Samuel Bowen first brought soybeans to Savannah, Georgia, in 1765. Today, an ambitious project called Soybean Knowledge Base developed at the University of Missouri-Columbia aims to find and share comprehensive kn...
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Computer Science Education Made Fun and Easy (Aug 28, 2016)
Knowing how to code is the wave of the future. Being able to code helps you to break down problems procedurally and think of new ideas in terms of processes. If you see something in the world that’s inefficient, a knowledge of code allows you to come up with concrete solutions. Learning to code is empowering for kids because it gives them a platform to actively take on the challenges they want to solve. More and more innovations across multiple industries are being brought to fruition using co...
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How High-performance Computing Safeguards Your Summer Vacation (Aug 27, 2016)
We are officially in the midst of the scorching summer months, and the great vacation migration to points all over the world has begun. While preparations and packing for these trips can be mind-numbing, many of the unknowns that keep mom and dad up the night before are being safeguarded by an unsuspected ally: high-performance computing (HPC) systems. An incredible shift is underway in the HPC market. HPC and the big data phenomenon have converged, moving HPC out of its comfort zone of research...
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What Is High-Performance Computing and How Can Engineers Use It? (Aug 27, 2016)
High-performance computing (HPC) has become increasingly more popular and important in the world of engineering. But defining what HPC is and figuring out how it can be deployed to aid designers can be tricky. And, honestly, it shouldn’t be that way. In this article, I’m going to present a clear definition of what HPC is, how it can be effectively used in engineering and what kind of HPC solutions are on the market today.

Supersmall Device Uses Individual Atoms to Store Data (Aug 26, 2016)
These orderly patterns of dark blue dots indicate where individual chlorine atoms are missing from an otherwise regular grid of atoms. Scientists manipulated these vacancies to create a supersmall data storage device. The locations of vacancies encode bits of information in the device, which Sander Otte of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and colleagues describe in Nature Nanotechnology. The team arranged and imaged the vacancies using a scanning tunneling microscope. The storag...
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How Carbon Nanotubes Could Give Us Faster Processors and Longer battery Life (Aug 26, 2016)
Carbon nanotubes are one of those supermaterials — a cylinder with a diameter of one or two nanometers — that are full of dreamy applications, ranging from supercomputers to ultra-efficient smartphones. The problem is, they are difficult to manufacture, and commercializing these applications may require 10 or 15 years. A nanotube is a tube-like molecular structure made of one element, usually carbon. In particular, carbon nanotubes (which were accidentally discovered in 1991) are known for t...
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Self-driving Buses Are Roaming the Streets of Helsinki (Aug 25, 2016)
The bus stops, and then moves forward, but the driver's nowhere to be seen. Two self-driving minibuses began plying the roads of Helsinki this week -- in real traffic. The small electric buses were developed by a French company EasyMile and can transport up to nine passengers. They are able to travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, although they are restricted to seven miles per hour during their trial period. The buses are being used to move passengers between two busy public transit stat...
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Argonne Discovery Yields Self-Healing Diamond-Like Carbon (Aug 25, 2016)
Fans of Superman surely recall how the Man of Steel used immense heat and pressure generated by his bare hands to form a diamond out of a lump of coal. The tribologists -- scientists who study friction, wear, and lubrication -- and computational materials scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory will probably never be mistaken for superheroes. However, they recently applied the same principles and discovered a revolutionary diamond-like film of their own that is ...
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How Government Can Unlock Three Trillion Dollars of Value in the Digital Economy (Aug 24, 2016)
The traditional Silicon Valley view is that innovation happens in spite rather than because of government. But according to Accenture Senior Director of Strategy, Anand Shah, government does have an important role to play in stimulating growth. But it’s not the old top-down New Deal kind of government focused on massive investment in infrastructure and the creation of “shovel ready” jobs. Instead, Shah – one of the authors of the recent World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation of...
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French Security Blogger Tricks Cyberscammers (Aug 24, 2016)
Raise your hand: who hasn't fallen victim to cyberscams or at least come pretty close. Among the most lucrative con games are technical support scams that scare people into buying expensive software to fix non-existent problems. But a French security researcher now claims to have avenged us all. In a blog post, Ivan Kwiatkowski recounts how he played along with the tricksters and duped them into downloading an attachment containing ransomware when they asked for his credit card details.

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