Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shaking Update

Here is an update to yesterday's post about the shake tests on the one-story masonry building out at the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California, San Diego.

Tony Perry from the Los Angeles times wrote an interesting piece about yesterday's tests. You can read the LA Times story here.
Here is the NBC San Diego story...with cool video from yesterday's tests. Check it out.

I'm capturing video from the tests now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

There's a Whole Lot of Shaking Going on

There was a whole lot of shaking going on today out at the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California, San Diego. Check out the live web came...you might stumble on the end-of-the-day-powerful-shake test. We'll link to video of highlights of today's tests as soon as they are ready. Journalists from quite a few local and state media outlets attended today's tests...we'll link to the online stories as they are published.

In the meantime, here is the link to a recent post on our shake table.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reef Research Getting Networked

Computer science professor Ryan Kastner and PhD student Bridget Benson are teaming up with Calit2 to develop an autonomous craft to collect data on the environmental conditions in the world's coral reefs. As part of this project, the computer science is developing underwater transducer modems that would transmit data from underwater sensors to the Reefbot.

"As hard as oceanographers are working to understand what's happening to the reefs, they're collecting very little data. Graduate students are getting up at the break of dawn, going out on the boat and coming back at dusk having only collected a few data points, when they need hundreds of thousands of data points. Having an automated craft that could be programmed from a laptop to explore a range of many hundreds of miles would be invaluable," says Doug Palmer, Principal Development Engineer at the University of California, San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Read the full story from Calit2's Tiffany Fox here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Suspicious URLs studied at UC San Diego

A lecture titled "Beyond Blacklists: Learning to Detect Malicious Web Sites from Suspicious URLs ," was part of UC San Diego's Center for Networked Systems' (CNS) recent Research Review. Read a full account of the research review here (written by Calit2's Tiffany Fox)

There are a number of lexical features and IP-based characteristics for detecting malicious URLs, spam phishing and other exploits that are relevant for trying to predict with Web sites are malicious. "There are various characteristics associated with these sites," said Justin Ma, the UC San Diego computer science grad student who gave the presentation. "The question is: How do you relate these properties of the URLs to the maliciousness of the Web sites?" (FYI, Just in Ma is third from the right in the photo above.)

Ma is part of a team (that includes computer science professors Stefan Savage and Geoff Voelker) that drew malicious URLs from those submitted to "phish tanks" by online users, and compared them with benign URLS from certain online directories that had been previously vetted for validity. Using a probabilistic linear model called "logistic regression" as a classifier, they reduced a set of 30,000 URL features down to 4,000 features for model analysis. They discovered that certain "red flags" indicate malicious intent, including:
1) suspicious ownership of the site

2) where the site is hosted geographically

3) the registration date of the site

4) what kind of connection the server is using

5) the presence of certain URL extensions.

The extension".com," for example, tends to signify a malicious Web site when it is found in the middle of a URL (i.e. "bankofamerica.com" is probably fine, but "bankofamerica.com.cz.rnl" should raise some eyebrows). Ultimately, the researchers would like to create a URL reputation service that will allow users to query URLs via a database to determine their validity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Water conservation research featured in The Economist and other mass media

The Economist and many other major news outlets covered Jan Kleissl's water conservation research. The story is called "Twinkle, twinkle, little laser" and describes how water evaporating off a field causes lasers shooting above the field to twinkle...and encoded in this twinkling is information about the water needs of the crops in the field. Read the full story here. Check out a collection of water conservation news stories tied to this research project here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Video Game Creature Comes to the Library

Sure, people come to the library and play muliplayer networked video games on their computers when they should be studying, but it's not every day that video games wander into the library and set up shop. But that's pretty much what happened recently at UC San Diego's Science and Engineering Library.

A group of UCSD alumni founded Presto Studios and created a video game called Journeyman Project “Legacy of Time.” The group of alumni, Michel Kripalani, Greg Uhler, and Farshid Almassizadeh, donated a life-sized model of one of the creatures from this computer game, Chameleon JumpSuit, to the library.

What's interesting to me is how much video games have changed in the last few years. This game was a CD-Rom game...and today so many of the computer games are multiplayer games distributed across the Web so you can be playing against people from all over the world. It makes me think that the special powers that Chameleon JumpSuit was endowed with might one day make their way to regular folks.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Graphics at UC San Diego

A graphic created by computer science grad student Iman Sadeghi landed on the cover of the January 2009 issue of Optics and Photonics News.

For this image, Sadeghi won the grand prize in the 2007 graphics contest for CSE 168 Rendering Algorithms. What the judges said back in 2007, "Inspiring artistic quality. Portraying nature is very hard, and Iman did a great job at that."

Pulse, the Jacobs School's alumni magazine, featured this image last year. Read the blurb here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Live Cam from the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center

Live Web cam of a masonry structure...it's cooler than it sounds.

The link above is one of the live Web cams showing construction of a masonry structure that engineers will shake later in the month in order to learn how to devise better seismic retrofit schemes to make buildings safer. A media advisory is in the works...the test is tentatively scheduled for Monday January 26. Let me know if you want more info. Read about the most recent tests on the shaketable here. Video here.

With its one-of-a-kind facilities, the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California, San Diego is enabling structural tests that have never been possible before. The Center is equipped with the world's first outdoor shake table adjacent to the country's largest soil-structure interaction facility, allowing researchers to perform dynamic earthquake safety tests on full-scale structural systems. The Center's blast simulator will be used to study the effects of bomb blasts and test new technologies to harden buildings against terrorist bomb attacks. A defining element of the Englekirk Center is strong collaboration with industry, and 45 companies and organizations among southern California's building industry participate on an advisory board and support research at the Englekirk Center.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sequence Unknown Antibodies Fast

If you are wondering why Santa didn't bring you that fast antibody sequencer you asked for...there is a good reason...UC San Diego researchers and their collaborators are still inventing it.

In a paper in the December issue of Nature Biotechnology, the bioinformatics researchers from UC San Diego and Genentech propose a new shotgun protein sequencing method reduces the time required to sequence an unknown antibody to under 36 hours. This is a “dramatic reduction” compared to the most widely used technique today, which can take weeks or even months.
“Our new approach has the potential to be a disruptive technology for all protein sequencing applications,” said Nuno Bandeira, lead author on the paper and director of the new Center for Computational Mass Spectrometry (CCMS) at UC San Diego. “This project is a collaboration with Genentech, the leader in development of antibody-based drugs, and it illustrates the potential impact that this center and this technology can have on the biotech industry in California and around the world.”

Bandeira’s co-authors on the Nature Biotechnology paper include UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Pavel Pevzner, director of the Calit2-based Center for Algorithmic and Systems Biology (CASB); and three researchers from the Protein Chemistry Department of San Francisco-based Genentech: Victoria Pham, David Arnott, and Jennie R. Lill.

Friday, January 2, 2009

News Years Thougths from La Jolla Light

Take inspiration in 2009 from those around us
Dec 30, 2008

- La Jolla Light

As we dive into a new year that's certain to be filled with joy and challenge, disappointment and success, we should take inspiration from those people featured in today's paper as those to keep an eye on in the coming year.

These people - some of whose names are well known, others may be less so - are at the forefront of what's made the region a leader in the scientific community for many years. From the halls of our research institutions to the classrooms of UCSD and the labs and offices of local companies, these people are setting the pace for years to come.

Whether it's an entrepreneur like Larry Bock who's pulling together the inaugural San Diego Science Festival or a leader like William Brody who will take over the reins of the Salk Institute this spring, these people represent the dedication that should inspire us to think big.

The list could go on and on, with the likes of UCSD Prof. Joseph Wang, a superstar in the rapidly developing field of nanbioelectronics, or marine ecologist Stuart Sandin of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who is expected to play a role in formulating ways to protect and preserve marine ecosystems.

Within the work of each of these people are hints about what it takes to succeed: dedication to a task, commitment to success, a willingness to carry on in the face of obstacles and an ability share their knowledge.

Next week we'll go beyond the halls of science to find more people who are likely to play a role in our own neighborhoods.

While all of these people, be they leaders in science, politics, sports or education, may have a more public role than many of us, we all have a role to play. For some that role is highly visible, for others it is often behind the scenes.

As we move into another year and the many opportunities ahead, let's seek ways to look to one another for hope and to inspire each other to make our communities better by simply being kinder, more thoughtful and supportive of each other.

Happy New Year.