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Hurricane Arthur photographed by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. ESA/NASA

Six Amazing Sights that Look Even Better from the International Space Station

August 31, 2015 9:07 am | by Miho Janvier, University of Dundee | Comments

Imagine seeing the lights of cities spreading around the Nile Delta and then in less than an hour gazing down on Mount Everest. Astronauts on the International Space Station are among the lucky few who will have this humbling, once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the beauty of Earth from space. ISS doesn’t just offer spectacular and countless views of the natural and man-made landscapes of our planet...

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The enzyme TET binding to a segment of DNA. Courtesy of Kate Patterson

Art and Science Combine to Reveal Inner Workings of Our DNA

August 28, 2015 2:25 pm | by Kate Patterson, Garvan Institute and Susan Clark, Garvan Institute | Comments

How can cells that contain the same DNA end up so different from each other? That is not only a difficult question for science to answer, but also a challenging one to represent visually. It is also the question I posed at the start of my latest biomedical animation, called Tagging DNA, which visualizes the molecular mechanisms behind epigenetics.

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Katrina shortly after landfall. Courtesy of NOAA/NASA GOES Project

Climate Change and Hurricane Katrina: What have We Learned?

August 28, 2015 11:10 am | by Kerry Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Comments

Three weeks and three days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 10 years ago, a paper of mine appeared in Nature showing that North Atlantic hurricane power was strongly correlated with temperature of the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season, and that both had been increasing rapidly. Had Katrina not occurred, this paper would merely have contributed to the slowly accumulating literature on climate and hurricanes.

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Because there is the potential for such a large amount of data to be collected during play, the focus on sports analytics is increasingly associated with what is referred to as big data.

Big Data can give Athletes the Winning Edge

August 27, 2015 2:30 pm | by Carmine Sellitto, Victoria University | Comments

Sport at the elite level has always adopted new technologies to capture data from players during play to better understand their performance and team’s result. Closely aligned with this is the practice of data analytics, and developments here tend to fall into two areas. One is refinement of existing technologies that measure activities. The other is data analysis tools that allow some meaning to be drawn from data collection.

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Alan Turing: The Enigma is certainly the most complete work done to date on this complex man, a mixture of equal parts genius, runner and an oblivious observer of the norms of early twentieth century Britain.

Alan Turing: The Enigma

August 26, 2015 12:34 pm | by John A. Wass, Ph.D. | Comments

Upon receipt of the book Alan Turing: The Enigma, an amusing anecdote jumped to mind. In high school, one of the more formal teachers advised us not to go on a book hunt with a ruler! He was, of course, referring to choosing the one with the least number of pages. This rather large volume on Alan Turing, the cryptanalysis and mathematical genius who did much to define the modern computer, is certainly the most complete work done to date.

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How does our brain remember things? Ask a mathematician.

Numbers on the Mind: How Math Can Help Explain the Workings of Our Brain

August 25, 2015 3:58 pm | by Geoff Goodhill, The University of Queensland | Comments

Given that advanced mathematical training is critical for helping to solve some of the most challenging questions about the brain works, why are there so few mathematical neuroscientists? I hated biology when I was a kid. It was too messy, too shallow, too unprincipled for my taste, and I gave up studying it at school almost as fast as I could. Instead, I wanted to be a theoretical physicist...

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The dispute between Philipp Lenard and Albert Einstein sheds considerable light on the power of nonscientific concerns to sway scientists

When Science gets Ugly: The story of Philipp Lenard and Albert Einstein

August 24, 2015 3:10 pm | by Richard Gunderman, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis | Comments

Scientists are not always as scientific as many suppose. Recent well-publicized cases of scientific fraud prove that scientists can be as susceptible to the allures of wealth, power and fame as politicians, the group that enjoys the lowest public trust. Glaring recent cases have included falsified results in the development of an HIV vaccine and new techniques for producing stem cells.

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It’s all just data – how can it be prejudiced? Courtesy of Trey Guinn

Big Data Algorithms can Discriminate, and it’s Not Clear What to Do About It

August 20, 2015 12:22 pm | by Jeremy Kun, University of Illinois at Chicago | Comments

That’s what Brett Goldstein, a former policeman for the Chicago Police Department and current Urban Science Fellow at the University of Chicago’s School for Public Policy, said about a predictive policing algorithm he deployed at the CPD in 2010. His algorithm tells police where to look for criminals based on where people have been arrested previously. It’s a “heat map” of Chicago, and the CPD claims it helps them allocate resources...

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With big data, what you get out is what you put in.

Big Data Analyses Depend on Starting with Clean Data Points

August 20, 2015 12:02 pm | by H V Jagadish , University of Michigan | Comments

Popularly referred to as “Big Data,” mammoth sets of information about almost every aspect of our lives have triggered great excitement about what we can glean from analyzing these diverse data sets. Benefits range from better investment of resources, whether for government services or for sales promotions, to more effective medical treatments. However, real insights can be obtained only from data that are accurate and complete.

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New Arctic map, with August 2015 Russian claims shown in pale yellow

The Truth about Politics and Cartography: Mapping Claims to the Arctic Seabed

August 19, 2015 8:40 am | by Philip Steinberg, Durham University | Comments

While maps can certainly enlighten and educate, they can just as easily be used to support certain political narratives. With this in mind, Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research (IBRU) has updated its map showing territorial claims to the Arctic seabed following a revised bid submitted by Russia to the United Nations on August 4, 2015. The decision to release the map was not made lightly.

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Andy Weir imagined just what would happen when an astronaut was accidentally left behind on a mission to the Red Planet. What would this astronaut have to do to survive for a period of time much longer than his supplies were scheduled to last? So, Andy We

Aliens Among Us: Andy Weir’s The Martian Transports Him to Another World

August 18, 2015 10:07 am | by Randy C. Hice | Comments

Andy Weir is used to living on different worlds. For years, he pictured Martian landscapes in his mind, complete with all of the deadly threats presented by a planet bathed in radiation and the prospect that a human walking about would die in a very, very short time. Weir imagined just what would happen when an astronaut was accidentally left behind on a mission to the Red Planet. What would this astronaut have to do to survive?

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ISU researchers are using HPC systems to understand how weather patterns affect crop plantings, such as these soybeans standing in water due to heavy Midwest rains. Courtesy of Palle Peterson, Iowa State University (Published in the ICM newsletter, June 2

When It Rains, It Pours: HPC@ISU Powers Advanced Agronomy Research

August 17, 2015 2:06 pm | by Ken Strandberg | Comments

The American Midwest has recently seen significant precipitation and two major floods — in 1998 and 2008 — from extraordinary rain falls across the Great Plains. What is causing this dramatic change in weather patterns? Is it the warming planet? Are the crops themselves influencing dramatic weather changes taking place over the last couple decades? HPC clusters at ISU are being used to help discover answers to these questions.

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Two-dimensional contour plot showing the effect of temperature and pH on compound yield

Design of Experiments Improves Peptide Bond Yield from 20% to 76%

August 11, 2015 4:03 pm | by Manpreet Bhatti, Ph.D. and Palwinder Singh, Ph.D. | Comments

DOE was used to demonstrate that temperature and pH function synergistically in the process of peptide bond formation. The optimized reaction was used to achieve sequence-specific and nonracemized synthesis of a tetrapeptide and pentapeptide at high yields. This is believed to be the first published report of constructing sequence-specific peptides in a noncatalyzed reaction.

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Illustration of a cellulosomal structure. Cellulosomes are highly-efficient molecular machines that can degrade plant fibers. Red is the scafoldin of the cellulosome, where most of the Cohesins are ,and blue are the enzymatic domains where most of the Doc

Cellulosomes: One of Life’s Strongest Biomolecular Bonds Discovered with Use of Supercomputers

July 28, 2015 3:40 pm | by Linda Barney | Comments

Researchers have discovered one of nature’s strongest mechanical bonds on a protein network called cellulosomes. The cellulosome network includes bacteria that contain enzymes that can effectively dismantle cellulose and chemically catalyze it. The discovery was aided by use of supercomputers to simulate interactions at the atomic level.

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The rate of growth in computing power predicted by Gordon Moore (pictured) could be slowing. Courtesy of Steve Jurvetson, CC BY

Moore’s Law is 50 Years Old, but will it Continue?

July 27, 2015 9:06 am | by Jonathan Borwein and David H. Bailey | Comments

It’s been 50 years since Gordon Moore, one of the founders of the microprocessor company Intel, gave us Moore’s Law. This says that the complexity of computer chips ought to double roughly every two years. Now the current CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, is saying the days of Moore’s Law may be coming to an end as the time between new innovation appears to be widening.

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