President Obama Establishes National Strategic Computing Initiative
On July 29th, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) to ensure the United States continues leading in this field over the coming decades. This coordinated research, development, and deployment strategy will draw on the strengths of departments and agencies to move the Federal government into a position that sharpens, develops, and streamlines a wide range of new 21st century applications. It is designed to advance core technologies to solve difficult computational problems and foster increased use of the new capabilities in the public and private sectors. See the full announcement at https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/07/29/advancing-us-leadership-high-performance-computing. See the NSCI Fact Sheet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/nsci_fact_sheet.pdf. The executive order is available in full at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/29/executive-order-creating-national-strategic-computing-initiative.
Professor Eric Ford Named 2015 Blavatnik National Award Finalist
Penn State Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Eric Ford, has been named one of eleven National Finalists for the 2015 Blavatnik National Award in Physical Sciences & Engineering. Established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, the annual Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists recognize and support America’s top young scientific innovators in three areas: Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry. The Finalists were selected from 300 nominations of highly-qualified, faculty-rank researchers from 147 of the nation’s leading academic and research institutions. Ford joined Penn State in 2013 as part of the Institute for CyberScience’s transformative cluster hiring initiative. As a Blavatnik National Finalist, Ford is being recognized for developing “computational and statistical methods to analyze space telescope data to characterize planets beyond the Solar System.” Ford advises students and postdoctoral researchers engaging in interdisciplinary research contributing to Penn State’s Center for Exoplanets & Habitable Worlds, Center for Astrostatistics, Astrobiology Research Center, and the Institute for CyberScience. On August 5-6, the Academy and the Blavatnik Family Foundation will host its second annual Science Symposium, featuring research of the 2015 National Finalists and honorees from previous years. The National Laureates and Finalists will be honored at an annual awards ceremony on September 28th at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The Laureates chosen will receive unrestricted cash prizes of $250,000 and be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Machine vision system could help the visually impaired shop for food
Device can follow a list and guide the shopper's hand to pick up a wanted item You're in the mood for pasta, so on the way home from work you stop at the grocery store and pick up rotini, shaved Parmesan cheese, and the organic tomato sauce you favor. Into the store and back out, 15 minutes, tops. Simple, right? For those of us who can see, it is. For those of us who are blind or have limited vision, a simple trip to the grocery store can be a major chore. "You always have to find someone at the store to help you," says Michelle McManus, an IT consultant at Penn State and president of the Happy Valley chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. "Then you have to explain exactly what you want -- " and hope the person helping you is diligent about getting it right. Now researchers at Penn State are leading an effort to help visually-impaired people shop independently. They're creating machines that can interpret a complex visual scene much as the human brain does. They're making machines that can truly see. Ambitious vision This work is part of "Visual Cortex on Silicon," a massive endeavor that spans fields of inquiry ranging from materials design to brain circuitry and includes nearly 50 researchers, from grad students to senior scientists, at Penn State and seven other institutions. Research is under way on many fronts at the same time, with new findings from each field shedding light on the problems in other fields. What neuroscientists learn about the architecture of the mammalian visual cortex helps computer scientists design circuits that reflect the way the brain works. In 2013 the project won a five-year, $10 million "Expeditions in Computing" award from the National Science Foundation. It is led by Penn State computer scientist Vijay Narayanan, who speaks in rapid-fire bursts and thrives on complex collaborative projects. "I learn every day from people who work in other fields," says Narayanan. "That's what keeps me running!" The project's formal name refers to the goal of creating a digital, silicon-based electronic system that performs like the human visual cortex, the part of our brain that processes and interprets visual information. The project also has an informal name, "Third Eye," inspired by the Hindu god Shiva, whose third eye fills the universe with kindness and spews fire to dispel evil. The name suits both the metaphoric and practical aims of the project: If successful, the project will provide its human operators with additional, often enhanced, visual information that will make their lives easier and safer. Click here for the full article
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