Here they are — the top most-visited stories from the past week. The supercomputer is cool again; how to find bias in machine learning algorithms; a powerful new security tool that detects malware uploading to cloud servers; an awesome satellite image of Las Vegas and Lake Mead; a small, modular, efficient fusion plant that could bring about this long-sought power source within a decade; and an exclusive conversation with novelist Andy Weir that reveals how The Martian has transported him to another world are all among the top hits.
Aliens Among Us: Andy Weir’s The Martian Transports Him to Another World
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?
Small, Modular, Efficient Fusion Plant could bring Long-sought Power Source within a Decade
It’s an old joke that many fusion scientists have grown tired of hearing: Practical nuclear fusion power plants are just 30 years away — and always will be. But now, finally, the joke may no longer be true: Advances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor — and it’s one that might be realized in as little as a decade, they say.
Las Vegas and Lake Mead
This image from the Landsat-8 satellite acquired on September 23, 2014, brings us over the southwest United States: Nevada and Arizona. Las Vegas with its grid-like urban plan is visible near the center. Sitting in a basin of the Mojave Desert, the city is surrounded by a number of mountain ranges.
Powerful New Security Tool Detects Malware Uploading to Cloud Servers
A powerful new computer security tool called XDet can detect malicious files being uploaded to a cloud computing service. The software is placed between the cloud server and distributed file storage rather than on the perimeter of the cloud network as might be the case with other security measures. This has three main advantages.
Programming and Prejudice: How to Find Bias in Machine Learning Algorithms
Researchers have discovered a technique to determine if algorithms used for tasks, such as hiring or administering housing loans, could in fact discriminate unintentionally. The team also has discovered a way to fix such errors if they exist. Their findings were recently revealed at the 21st Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in Sydney, Australia.
The Supercomputer is Cool Again? Thanks Obama!
Once considered a top priority, supercomputers today are often overlooked, as they aren’t considered mainstream anymore. The IT industry is now more concerned with hyperscale, big data and the commoditization of hardware and, as a result, applications that process big data and cloud-hosted web frameworks are garnering the majority of media headlines. That is, until President Obama recently delivered an “HPC moon shot.”