Willington Siabato is a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Topographic Engineering and Cartography from the Technical University of Madrid. He is also Research Assistant at the Laboratory for Technology and Information in Geoscience (LatinGEO – Centro GeoI+D). His teaching and research interests include spatial analysis and geographic information systems (GIS), temporal GIS, temporal and spatiotemporal reasoning, geosemantics, geographic and temporal information retrieval, mark-up languages, and Geographic Information Sciences (GISci). Recently, his research has focused on semantic and temporal components of geographic information, development of virtual map rooms, and aeronautical information management and geoservices. He obtained his BSc. degree in Land Surveying (Hons) from the Distrital University of Colombia. Then, he went on to do a Masters degree in GIS from the Pontificia de Salamanca University. Currently, he is writing his doctoral dissertation on semantic and temporal components of GI. He is member of the OGC WG's on GML and Aviation domains.
Bitcoin virtual currency is booming as it is used to pay for goods and services directly over the Internet without requiring intermediaries such as banks or credit card companies.Washington Post (05/04/13) Anthony Faiola; T.W. Farnam; Eliza Mackintosh
Bitcoin transactions carry fees that are lower than those charged by financial institutions, and they rely on cryptography to prevent double spending, counterfeiting, or theft. However, the number of available bitcoins is finite, and is expected to reach the 21-million maximum by 2140; this makes them commodities whose value appreciates as more users drive demand. There is no precise explanation for what is driving the currency's exponential rise, with some crediting a change in the network's programming that reduced the number of bitcoins issued daily. Wall Street analysts tracking bitcoin say there is still no sign the currency is attracting major investors, and critics say those paying high fees for bitcoins are investing in a phantom currency with illusory value. Also worrisome is the growing use of bitcoins to launder money, and the difficulty of keeping tabs on such transactions. “In a way it is like ... Monopoly money being used rather than your respective currency, not knowing who owns the bank and who is the dog, the car, the top hat or thimble," says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Rusty Payne. “Bitcoins are virtually untraceable.”
NSF Supports U.S. Participation in the Launch of International Effort Aimed at Making Data Easier to Share Among Researchers National Science Foundation (18/03/13)
The U.S. government is helping to launch the new international Research Data Alliance (RDA), an interdisciplinary organization that will seek to accelerate data-driven innovation through research data sharing and exchange. The official launch was the first plenary session, March 18-20, in Sweden. Computational scientists and experts from multiple disciplines will look to push the discussion forward on removing barriers to sharing research data and stimulating more interaction and development within the data community. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor Francine Berman and Indiana University professor Beth A. Plale will lead the U.S. involvement in RDA. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is supporting U.S. participation through a $2.5-million grant that promotes the coordination and development of infrastructure for data sharing. RDA currently is working to build community interest, garner international recognition for the importance of its goals, and grow its membership. "The establishment of RDA promises to break through inertia by 'just doing it'--that is, RDA supports mechanisms that enable data researchers and scientists to quickly adopt best practices and share and exchange data," says NSF's Alan Blatecky.
Lockheed Martin is preparing to become the first company to incorporate a quantum computer in its business operations.New York Times (21/03/13) Quentin Hardy
The company bought an early version of a D-Wave Systems quantum computer two years ago and Lockheed says the technology is now ready to help the firm solve some science and business problems millions of times faster than can be done with conventional computers. The company will use the quantum computer to create and test complex radar, space, and aircraft systems, says Lockheed's Ray Johnson. "This is a revolution not unlike the early days of computing," Johnson says. "It is a transformation in the way computers are thought about." The technology also could be used to determine the behavior of proteins in the human genome, a bigger and tougher problem than sequencing the genome. Quantum researchers "are taking a step out of the theoretical domain and into the applied," says Microsoft researcher Peter Lee. In Lockheed's system, a quantum computing processor made from a lattice of tiny superconducting wires is chilled close to absolute zero. It is then programmed by loading a set of mathematical equations into the lattice. The approach, known as adiabatic quantum computing, has been shown to have promise in applications such as calculating protein folding.
IBM researchers have developed a method for creating transistors that could be fashioned into virtual circuitry that mimics how the human brain operates. IDG News Service (21/03/13) Joab Jackson
The transistors are made from strongly correlated materials that have characteristics favorable for building more powerful and energy-efficient circuitry. Although the materials should act like conductors, they are actually insulators. "They don't obey conventional band theory,"and under certain conditions they can change their conductive states, says IBM researcher Stuart Parkin. IBM's approach involves electrons being introduced through contact with an ionic liquid consisting of large, irregularly shaped molecules. When a voltage is applied to the liquid, and the liquid is placed on an oxide material, the material can change from a conductor to an insulator. Parkin says this approach should be more energy-efficient than standard silicon transistors because the resulting transistors would not need to be constantly refreshed with a power source to maintain their state. "The scaling of conventional-based transistors is nearing an end after a fantastic run of 50 years," he says. "We need to consider alternative devices and materials that will have to operate entirely differently."
A grand coalition launched by the European Commission (EC) will address the information technology (IT) skills shortage in the European Union. BBC News (05/03/13)
The region is not producing enough skilled IT graduates to keep pace with the approximately 100,000 IT jobs being added every year. The EC plans to spend 1 million euros on the coalition. "I want people to be open in their commitments, join forces where they see the chance, and recognize we need to do things differently," says digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes. "Quite simply, facing hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies, we cannot continue as we were, and we must all do our bit." The EC estimates there will be 900,000 openings for IT-related roles within two years, and it is considering simplifying the certification system and making it easier to determine the skills of a graduate, regardless of where they studied or worked in the region. Kroes also says companies need to focus more on what they can do to address the problem, and highlighted some promising initiatives.
IBM is attempting to advance supercomputing technology in processing, optical communications, and memory through an international initiative to study the Big Bang's radio remnants using the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope. CNet (05/03/13) Stephen Shankland
Prior to the telescope's construction start, IBM is working to devise the required computing technology through a five-year alliance with the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. The telescope will generate 14 exabytes of data daily, and this data must be refined into about 1/1000 its size for further processing. Processing functions will be handled by IBM microservers, packed together densely and enhanced by hot-water cooling. The microservers will communicate over a system data pathway that can accommodate 10-gigabit Ethernet links and support communications with disks, USB devices, and other system plug-ins. IBM intends to use optical interconnects instead of copper wiring to transmit data to the processors. The company also is exploring phase-change memory technology as the project's data storage instrument, as it is faster and more durable than flash memory and is capable of storing data even when power is deactivated. In addition, the project is probing the use of programmable accelerator chips specialized for extremely rapid performance on jobs such as pattern recognition, data filtering, or mathematical transformation.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed an algorithm for solving graph Laplacians that is faster and simpler than its predecessors. MIT News (01/03/13) Larry Hardesty
A graph Laplacian is a matrix that describes a graph, and the researchers say the simplicity of their algorithm should make it both faster and easier to implement them in software than previous solutions. As part of the algorithm, the researchers find a spanning tree for the graph, which is a particular kind of graph with no closed loops. The MIT algorithm adds one of the missing edges to create a loop, which means that two nodes are connected by two different paths. The researchers showed that the process of adding edges and rebalancing will converge on the solution of the graph Laplacian. The new algorithm is "substituting one whole set of ideas for another set of ideas, and I think that’s going to be a bit of a game-changer for the field," says Yale University professor Daniel Spielman.
Researchers at Queen's University, Intel, and Plastic Logic have developed PaperTab, a tablet computer that looks and feels like a sheet of paper. Queen's University (Canada) (08/01/13)
PaperTab is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution 10.7-inch plastic display and a flexible touchscreen. However, instead of using several apps or windows on a single display, users have 10 or more interactive displays or "PaperTabs," with one per app in use. "Using several PaperTabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents," says Queen's University professor Roel Vertegaal. “Within five to 10 years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper.” The PaperTab project demonstrates how digital tablets could be used in the future, says Intel's Ryan Brotman. PaperTab has an intuitive interface that enables users to create a larger drawing or display surface by placing two or more PaperTabs next to each other. In addition, PaperTabs keep track of their location relative to each other, and to the user, which the researchers say provides a seamless experience across all apps.
The U.S. Library of Congress expects to finish the initial stage of building a Twitter archive by the end of January.IDG News Service (08/01/13) Jay Alabaster
In April 2010, Twitter agreed to provide an archive of every public tweet since the company went live in 2006. The initial four-year archive contained about 21 billion tweets that take up 20 terabytes when uncompressed, including data fields. The Library of Congress is storing 500 million tweets a day, and has added a total of about 170 billion tweets to its collection. The focus will now shift to making the collection accessible to lawmakers and researchers. "It is clear that technology to allow for scholarship access to large data sets is lagging behind technology for creating and distributing such data," the library says. The full archive now requires 133.2 terabytes for two compressed copies, which are stored on tape in separate locations for safekeeping. The library already has received 400 inquiries from researchers studying citizen journalism, vaccination rates, stock market trends, and other topics.
Free online college course providers are experimenting with security features that will enable students who successfully complete the courses to pay a small fee and obtain credentials.Washington Post (09/01/13) Nick Anderson
However, the credentials will not translate into course credit toward a degree because there are still questions about how much schools are willing to grant students who do not pay tuition. As major universities across the U.S. develop massive online open courses, it remains unclear how they will generate revenue from them. Classes sponsored by Duke University, the University of San Francisco, Georgia Tech, and the University of Illinois now will enable students to obtain a "verified certificate" that carries the university's logo by paying a small fee. The certificates are a "much more meaningful and valuable credential that they can use in their professional life or for their own personal reward," says Stanford University professor Daphne Koller. To qualify for the certificate, the student would submit, via Webcam, a picture and photo identification. During the course, samples of the student’s keystrokes would be checked as assignments are filed and tests taken, and the patterns taken from those keystrokes can serve as a biometric identifier to verify the user.
The Rise of the Bitcoin: Virtual Gold or Cyber-Bubble?Bitcoin virtual currency is booming as it is used to pay for goods and services directly over the Internet without requiring intermediaries such as banks or credit card companies.Washington Post (05/04/13) Anthony Faiola; T.W. Farnam; Eliza Mackintosh
NSF Supports Data SharingNSF Supports U.S. Participation in the Launch of International Effort Aimed at Making Data Easier to Share Among Researchers National Science Foundation (18/03/13)
A Strange Computer Promises Great SpeedLockheed Martin is preparing to become the first company to incorporate a quantum computer in its business operations.New York Times (21/03/13) Quentin Hardy
IBM Moves Toward Post-Silicon TransistorIBM researchers have developed a method for creating transistors that could be fashioned into virtual circuitry that mimics how the human brain operates. IDG News Service (21/03/13) Joab Jackson