Welcome to the August 30, 2010 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.
HEADLINES AT A GLANCE
Location Determines Social Network Influence, CCNY-Led Team Finds
City College of New York (08/29/10) Simon, Ellis
City College of New York (CCNY) researchers led by professor Hernan Makse have found that location is more important than having the most connections when determining the best spreaders of information within a network. The discovery could help epidemiologists reduce the spread of infectious diseases and help marketers and public relations specialists conduct more effective social marketing campaigns. The key to determining the best way to spread information throughout a network is to locate the core, Makse says. "The important thing is where someone is located in a network," he says. "If someone is in the core, they can spread information more efficiently. The challenge is finding the core." To identify the core, CCNY researchers used a technique called k-shell decomposition, which involves removing network nodes with just one link. The researchers found that those nodes with many connection hubs located at the edges of the network, or those with low k-shell values, were poor spreaders of information. However, nodes with fewer connections but higher k-shell values were more likely to spread information, leading the researchers to conclude that the most efficient spreaders are located in a network's inner core.
WIT Researchers to Lead 15.8M Euro EU SOCIETIES Project
Silicon Republic (08/27/10) O'Brien, Laura
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) researchers are leading the SOCIETIES project, a European Union-funded study aimed at revolutionizing how businesses work and how emergency services respond during a disaster. "Essentially, what we are looking at is ways to combine social networking concepts with ‘pervasive technology,'" says WIT's Kevin Doolin. "Pervasive devices can be put in almost any type of object from cars and appliances to clothing. This technology is effortless, unobtrusive, intuitive, portable, and always available." The researchers plan to use wireless technology to enable online services and information to be accessed and synchronized remotely. The researchers also plan to develop technology for Community Smart Spaces (CSS), online networks where people from different groups could access a range of data, which could be used to benefit emergency services in disaster management. "Using SOCIETIES technology, a CSS would establish a group to quickly share critical information such as danger spots, photographs, trapped victims, and so on," Doolin says.
N.C. Scientists Helping Soldiers
The Charlotte Observer (NC) (08/29/10) Howell, Whitney L.J.
University of North Carolina researchers are collaborating with the Naval Postgraduate School to develop an intelligent-training system for the military using automatically controlled point-and-tilt cameras and three-dimensional (3-D) imaging. The researchers developed a virtual imaging sand table that enables military trainers to create a 3-D landscape and alter it to specific strategies. Digital projectors allow the trainers to change the lighting on the table to simulate different building textures or times of day. Meanwhile, scientists at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Duke University are conducting research to improve night-vision goggles. The researchers integrated vanadium oxide with a silicon computer chip, which makes the gear lighter and increases processing speed. "By putting the sensor and the computer on the same chip, we've made the device wireless," says NCSU researcher Jay Narayan.
Robot With Frog Egg Smell Sensor
PhysOrg.com (08/26/10) Edwards, Lin
University of Tokyo researchers have developed a method for improving a robot's sense of smell by using olfactory sensors containing frog eggs. The immature eggs were injected with DNA from fruit flies, silk moths, and diamond back moths, which stimulated the eggs to produce the olfactory sensors of these insects. The eggs acted as a platform for the parts of the insect DNA that have been shown to be responsible for detecting gases, odors, and pheromones, says Tokyo researcher Shoji Takeuchi. The modified eggs were placed between two electrodes to form a detector. The system can detect solutions containing only a few parts per billion of the target molecules and can distinguish between molecules with only small differences.
DARPA Takes Aim at Insider Threats
Network World (08/27/10) Cooney, Michael
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking to address security threats by launching a new initiative to enable security staff to rapidly detect and halt network insiders from stealing or distributing sensitive information. DARPA says the first step is creating a scalable, distributed infrastructure to securely gather, store, access, process, and correlate relevant data from heterogeneous sources over extended periods of time. Determining whether an individual or group of individuals is exhibiting anomalous and malevolent behavior comprises the second step. DARPA recently put out a call for automated technologies that can detect and notify security personnel to people with access to sensitive data and information systems who may intend to maliciously steal, change, or damage data and programs. The Cyber Insider Threat (CINDER) program is designed to dramatically boost the speed, accuracy, and rate with which insider threats are spotted and hinder enemies' ability to function undetected within government and military interest networks, according to DARPA. Among CINDER's objectives is developing scalable algorithms, data input sources, and dimensional mission components.
Facebook Alternative Diaspora Eyes Launch Date
BBC News (08/27/10)
The four American students behind the open-source Diaspora project plan to launch their alternative to Facebook on Sept. 15. The students describe Diaspora as a privacy-aware, personally-controlled social network. The developers criticized Facebook earlier in the year for its overly complex and confusing privacy settings, adding that users should have more power to control what they share. This summer the students focused on "building clear, contextual sharing" into the Diaspora social network. "That means an intuitive way for users to decide, and not notice deciding, what content goes to their co-workers and what goes to their drinking buddies," the team explains in its blog. "We know that's a hard [user interface] problem and we take it seriously." As an open-source social network, Diaspora will make its underlying code available for anyone to see and modify.
New Interface Technology Realizes 'Touchable' 3-D Images
Nikkei Electronics Asia (08/26/10) Saeki, Shinya
Scientists at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have designed a system that simulates the feeling of touching a three-dimensional (3-D) image. The i3Space system simulates the sensation of handling and touching a 3-D object displayed on a screen via a device that is attached to a fingertip. The system recognizes the movement of fingers, and controls a tactile sense and a kinetic sense in real time, to deliver the feeling of touching a 3-D image. The i3Space system consists of a real-time virtual reality space-creation system, an illusionary tactile and kinesthetic sense interface, and a multi-position tracker system. The sense interface features an illusionary tactile and kinesthetic sense device and controller. The use of multiple cameras for the multi-position tracker system enables positions to be located with no blind spots. The researchers say the i3Space system could be used to simulate medical operations, design appearances, and game interfaces.
Software Helps Scientists Conduct Hurricane Research
University of Alabama Huntsville (08/26/10)
University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) research scientist Matt He has developed flight planning software designed to help scientists study how and why Atlantic hurricanes form. The Waypoint Planning Tool (WPT) gathers and organizes data from different sources so researchers can plan and coordinate flights by research aircrafts. WPT also tracks the orbits of weather research satellites. "We want to increase the accuracy, to let them know exactly where the hurricane is now and where it should be when the aircraft arrives," He says. WPT is part of a suite of interactive Web-based programs UAH scientists are developing in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Genesis and Rapid Intensification program. The program features Web collaboration portals that enable scientists, forecasters, mission planners, and managers to share weather forecasts, flight plan details, mission reports, and data samples.
Ultralow-Power Memory Uses Orders of Magnitude Less Power Than Other Devices
PhysOrg.com (08/26/10) Zyga, Lisa
Cambridge University researchers have developed an inexpensive write once, read many (WORM) memory device that uses much less power than previous devices. The ultralow-power WORM device can be used in any organic electronic circuit in which the operation power is low. The electron-only design is made possible by solution processing, which makes it less expensive than other techniques. "By using the wide bandgap ZnO nanoparticles, the electron-only device structure allows us to block the hole current," says Cambridge's Jianpu Wang. The researchers say their device is designed for use in disposable radio-frequency identification tags, which need inexpensive memory devices that require very low current consumption.
New View of Tectonic Plates
California Institute of Technology (08/26/10) Svitil, Kathy
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Texas at Austin (UTA) have developed algorithms that can simultaneously model the earth's mantle flow, analyze large-scale tectonic plate motions, and simulate the behavior of individual fault zones. The researchers say that together the algorithms produce an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it. The research "illustrates the interplay between making important advances in science and pushing the envelope of computational science," says Caltech's Michael Gurnis. The researchers used a technique called Adaptive Mesh Refinement to create the algorithms. The algorithms "allow for adaptivity in a way that scales to the hundreds of thousands of processor cores of the largest supercomputers available today," says UTA's Carsten Burstedde. The algorithms helped the researchers simulate global mantle flow and how it manifests as plate tectonics and the motion of individual faults. The investigators found that anomalous rapid motion of microplates emerged from the simulations. Another surprising result of the research was that much of the energy dissipation occurs deep within the earth's interior.
Panel: U.S. Lacks Legal Framework to Fight in Cyberspace
Government Computer News (08/26/10) Jackson, William
The absence of a legal framework for waging cyberwarfare is crippling the U.S.'s ability to defend itself in cyberspace, according to a panel of government and private-sector experts. Setting up such a framework without putting the privacy and civil liberties of civilians who use the Internet at risk is possible but complex, says IBM's Steven Bucci. Both national policy and statutes that install definitions and limits of actions are needed to strike the proper balance. The panel's discussion came at a time when the Defense Department is accelerating its U.S. Cyber Command, which has been assigned to execute offensive and defensive cyberoperations. A formal strategy document will be authored this fall and completed by year's end, says Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn. Devising a policy on which to base legislation is difficult because of the lack of a working definition for cyberwar, while determining the source of a cyberattack remains a thorny issue. As a result, the U.S. cyber defense strategy will probably have a greater reliance on defensive rather than offensive tactics, panelists said.
Prediction of Intrinsic Magnetism at Silicon Surfaces Could Lead to Single-Spin Magnetoelectronics
Naval Research Laboratory (08/26/10) McKinney, Donna
Physicists at the Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin-Madison predict that a family of well-known silicon surfaces, stabilized by chains of gold atoms, exhibits intrinsic magnetism despite the absence of magnetic elements. If their theory is verified, it could make it possible to integrate single-spin magnetoelectronics within standard silicon technology. The construction of a single-spin device on a silicon wafer would enable direct integration of input and output electronics with the device's magnetic portion. The researchers' work suggests several experiments for directly testing their predictions, including spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy. Linear chains of spin-polarized atoms supply atomically perfect templates for the ultimate memory and logic, whereby a bit is represented by a single spin. Potential applications include a spin shift register and the storage of data in single magnetic atoms.
3-D Movies Via Internet and Satellite
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications (FIT) have developed a technique for compressing three-dimensional (3-D) movies that reduces their file size while maintaining their quality. The method, called Multiview Video Coding (MVC), reduces the data rate by up to 40 percent and enables the movies to be transmitted over the Internet. "MVC packs the two images needed for the stereoscopic 3-D effect so that the bit rate of the movies is significantly reduced," says FIT's Thomas Schierl. He says the MVC format also makes it possible for users to view 3-D movies in the home without special glasses because it contains the technical features to code and compress several views.
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