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Welcome to the May 7, 2021 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Illustration of Matrix-like strings of characters. Algorithm Uses Hologram to Control Trapped Ions
University of Waterloo News (Canada)
May 5, 2012

An algorithm developed by scientists at Canada's University of Waterloo uses holographic optical engineering technology to control trapped ions. Waterloo's Chung-You Shih said, "Our algorithm calculates the hologram's profile and removes any aberrations from the light, which lets us develop a highly precise technique for programming ions." The team enlarged a laser light to a width of 1 centimeter and beamed it through a programmable digital micromirror device (DMD), which uses the algorithm to display a hologram pattern. The intensity and phase of the holographic light is tunable, and the team was able to manipulate each ion with the light during testing.

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Three-dimensionally (3D) printed microalgae, 3D-Printed 'Artificial Leaves' Could Provide Sustainable Energy on Mars
Interesting Engineering
Chris Young
May 3, 2021

A novel bioprinting technique developed by an international team led by researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands could help pave the way for sustainable energy production on Mars. The researchers used non-living bacterial cellulose and living microalgae to generate a living, resilient material capable of photosynthesis via three-dimensional (3D) printing. Researcher Kui Yu said the material "can produce energy simply by placing it into the light." The researchers said the material could be used to make artificial leaves that could produce sustainable energy and oxygen in environments not conducive to plant growth.

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IBM’s 2-nanometer transistors, as seen through an electron microscope. IBM Unveils Two-Nanometer Chip Technology for Faster Computing
Stephen Nellis
May 6, 2021

IBM has unveiled what it is calling the world's first 2-nanometer chipmaking technology, which will be smaller and faster than current leading-edge 5-nanometer processors, as well as the 3-nanometer chips that are expected to follow. The company said the new chips could be up to 45% faster than the mainstream 7-nanometer chips used in many modern laptops and phones, and up to 75% more power-efficient. IBM Research's Dario Gil said miniaturizing the chips' transistors boosts their speed and efficiency, while also creating problems with electron leakage when the switches are supposed to be off. Gil said the IBM scientists draped sheets of insulating material just a few nanometers thick to stop leaks. The company said the 2-nanometer chips will take several years to come to market.

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Wearable Glucose Monitors Shed Light on Progression of Type 2 Diabetes in Hispanic/Latino Adults
Rice University News
Jade Boyd
April 29, 2021

Researchers at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) and Rice University have demonstrated that wearable continuous glucose monitors can track the progression of Type 2 diabetes in at-risk Hispanic/Latino adults. The devices, which feature a small electrode sensor affixed to the skin and a receiver that collects data from the sensor, continuously track blood sugar levels and allow for analysis of blood glucose trends over time. SDRI's David Kerr said the findings "provided new insights into measurable differences in the glucose profiles for individuals at risk of, as well as having, noninsulin-treated Type 2 diabetes." Kerr added that the monitors "could facilitate novel therapeutic approaches to reduce the risk of progression of Type 2 diabetes for this underserved population."

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Artist’s conception of information falling into a black hole. Beyond Qubits: Key Components for a Qutrit-Based Quantum Computer Demonstrated
May 3, 2021

Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley have witnessed quantum information smearing using qutrits, quantum units that can represent three separate states simultaneously. The researchers built a quantum processor that scrambles information similar to what theoretically occurs within black holes; it can encode and transmit information using a series of five qutrits, and exhibited unexpected resilience and robustness. The team used nonlinear harmonic oscillators as qutrits, and a critical element was preserving the coherence of the signal carried by the oscillators, as was creating customized logic gates that facilitate universal quantum circuits to run arbitrary algorithms.

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Researchers Speed Identification of DNA Regions that Regulate Gene Expression
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
May 6, 2021

A faster method for identifying the DNA regions that govern gene expression has been engineered by scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The integrated, high-throughput system combines bioinformatic prediction algorithms and an adenine base editing tool with tests to quantify how base gene editing impacts gene expression. The St. Jude's team used the ABEmax base editor to perform 10,156 specific edits in 307 regulatory elements that were forecast to affect fetal hemoglobin expression. St. Jude's Mitchell Weiss said this approach uncovered "a regulatory 'archipelago' of dozens of regulatory elements that act together to orchestrate a developmental switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin expression."

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Code written in ‘invisible’ ink. An Uncrackable Combination of Invisible Ink, AI
American Chemical Society
May 5, 2021

Researchers have printed complexly encoded data using a carbon nanoparticle-based ink that can be read only by an artificial intelligence (AI) model when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The researchers created the ‘invisible’ ink, which appears blue when exposed to UV light, using carbon nanoparticles from citric acid and cysteine. They then trained an AI model to identify symbols written in the ink and illuminated by UV light, and to use a special codebook to decode them. The model, which was tested using a combination of normal red ink and UV fluorescent ink, read the messages with 100% accuracy. The researchers said the algorithms potentially could be used for secure encryption with hundreds of unpredictable symbols because they can detect minute modifications in symbols.

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Two images showing how a submillimeter small soft machine can change its shape. A Modular Building Platform for the Most Ingenious of Robots
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (Germany)
April 29, 2021

Scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) have developed a system for fabricating soft miniature robots in a modular fashion. MPI-IS's Jiachen Zhang said, "You can put the individual soft parts together in any way you wish, with no limitations on what you can achieve. In this way, each robot has an individual magnetization profile." The process fabricates thousands of voxels (three-dimensional pixels) in one step, and the researchers use tiny mold casts to generate individual blocks no longer than about 100 micrometers. Said MPI-IS's Metin Sitti, "By mixing and matching, we enable tailor-made functionalities and complex robot morphologies."

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Fertility Apps Collect, Share Intimate Data Without Users' Knowledge or Permission
News-Medical Life Sciences
May 4, 2021

A study by researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. and Sweden's Umea University found that many top-rated fertility apps collect and share personal information without the knowledge or permission of users. The researchers studied the privacy notices and tracking practices of 30 free fertility apps chosen from the top search results in the Google Play Store. They determined that the privacy notices and tracking practices of the majority of these apps do not comply with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. The researchers also found that regardless of whether the user engages with the apps' privacy notices, an average of 3.8 trackers were activated as soon the apps were installed and opened. The researchers believe more adequate lawful and ethical processes are needed to handle such data.

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A dated router on a desktop. Millions of Older Broadband Routers Have Security Flaws, Warn Researchers
Daphne Leprince-Ringuet
May 6, 2021

Millions of U.K. households use old broadband routers that hackers could exploit, according to a probe conducted by consumer watchdog Which? and security researchers at consultancy Red Maple Technologies. Which? polled over 6,000 adults and flagged 13 older routers still commonly used by consumers across Britain; Red Maple analysts determined nine of the 13 devices did not meet modern security standards. Which? calculated that up to 7.5 million U.K. users could potentially be affected, as vulnerable routers present an opportunity for hackers to spy on people as they browse, or to steer them to spam websites. The researchers also highlighted weak default passwords as a vulnerability in older routers.

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The calving front of a crevassed glacier in Greenland. An Artificial Neural Network Joins the Fight Against Receding Glaciers
Columbia Climate School, Columbia University
Daniel Burgess
May 5, 2021

An artificial neural network developed by University of California, Irvine (UCI) researchers can autonomously recognize and quantify the edges of glaciers in satellite images with far greater reliability than humans. The team trained the Calving Front Machine (CALFIN) network on tens of thousands of images; afterwards, CALFIN could measure calving fronts to within an average of 82 meters (269 feet) from their true locations, outperforming previous models, which incurred errors of more than twice that distance on the dataset. Said William Colgan of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, “I think machine learning now offers a robust way of upscaling a handful of site-specific and process-level observations to tell a bigger regional story."

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An infographic illustrating the workings of trillion-scale graph processing simulation technology. T-GPS Processes a Graph with a Trillion Edges on a Single Computer
KAIST (South Korea)
May 6, 2021

A new technology developed by researchers at South Korea's Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) requires just a single computer to process a graph with 1 trillion edges. Traditionally, developing and testing graph algorithms involves generating a synthetic graph and storing it on disks, then loading the stored graph into the main memory of a graph processing engine and executing the graph algorithm. With T-GPS (Trillion-scale Graph Processing Simulation), the initial small real graph is loaded into main memory, and the graph algorithm is processed on the small real graph, generating the same result as the conventional approach. The researchers found that T-GPS outperforms the conventional approach by 10,000 in terms of computing resources, and is up to 43 times faster due to the lack of network communication.

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Cosmological simulations in low, high, and super resolution. ML Accelerates Cosmological Simulations
Carnegie Mellon University College of Science
Jocelyn Duffy
May 4, 2021

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the Flatiron Institute, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of California, Berkeley, have trained a neural network-based machine learning algorithm to upgrade a cosmological model's resolution dramatically. The trained code renders full-scale, low-resolution models as super-resolution simulations containing up to 512 times as many particles. This approach can produce a high-resolution model of a cosmological region encompassing about 500 million light years and 134 million particles in just 36 minutes on a single processing core, while existing methods would require 560 hours (more than 23 days). CMU's Rupert Croft said, "By incorporating machine learning, the technology is able to catch up with our ideas."

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Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics
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