Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Experimental Batteries in the Works / NanoEngineers in Action

A student assembles an experimental battery in the Department of NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. The work is being done in the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion run by NanoEngineering professor Shirley Meng.

Check out more photos from the Meng lab on the Jacobs School Flikr site.

Read the full story on the Jacobs School of Engineering news site.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How do Whales Hear?

UCSD structural engineering professor Petr Krysl has designed modern computational methods that give a 3D simulated look inside the head of a Cuvier’s beaked whale.
Researchers led by a UC San Diego structural engineering professor are working to understand the potential harmful effects of sound on marine mammals such as whales and dolphins.

The researchers led by Petr Kryls have developed a model that creates a 3-dimensional virtual environment in which they can simulate sounds propagated through the virtual specimen and reveal the interactions between the sound and the anatomy. By having a virtual “peek” inside the whale’s head, the scientists are able to better understand and see how sound may impact or potentially harm marine life. Read the full story by Andrea Siedsma on the Jacobs School site.

“Humans introduce considerable amounts of sound and noise into the oceans of the world,” Krysl said. “Many marine organisms make acute use of sound for their primary sensory modality because light penetrates so poorly into water. The primary focus of our work is Cuvier's beaked whale because some have stranded and died in the presence of Navy sonar. The discoveries we made with regard to the mechanisms of hearing in the beaked whale also apply to the bottlenose dolphin and, we suspect, to all types of toothed whales and perhaps other marine mammals.”

The work was recently published in the journal PLoS One: "A New Acoustic Portal into the Odontocete Ear and Vibrational Analysis of the Tympanoperiotic Complex"

UC San Diego Cut Electricty Purchases During Heat Wave Last Week

During Aug. 23-25 when California’s afternoon temperatures rose above 100 degrees, UC San Diego took a variety of energy-conservation steps, including simultaneously adjusting thousands of thermostats a few degrees warmer than normal to help cut electricity purchases up to 80 percent during three state-wide “demand response” events.

UC San Diego faculty and staff switched from desktop computers to more energy-efficient laptops and turned off printers and other office equipment not in use and took many other measures as part of an effort to restrain electricity consumption. As a result, UC San Diego reduced its purchase of electricity from 10.5 megawatts to only 2 megawatts during a critical two-hour period on Aug. 25 and reduced electricity purchases by similar amounts during the two previous afternoons.

Read the full story by Rex Graham on the UC San Diego news Web site.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Surf Video on Engadget

The UC San Diego science of surfing project from MAE undergrads and a Structural engineering graduate student made its way engadget to this week. The full story is here.

The exposure pushed one of the two related surfing videos on YouTube to almost 10,000 views. Check out the second Jacobs School surfing video on YouTube here.

Two Upcoming Alunni Events: Chuao Chocolate Making and a Night at Napa

Calling all UC San Diego alumni: check out these two upcoming alumni events.

September 22:  The Creative Process of Chocolate Making

Oct 2: A Night in Napa (includes GRAPE STOMPING and shuttle service from Oakland, San Jose and Sacremento!).

Popular Science Deems Calit2 "Awesome"

Popular Science Magazine recently featured "30 Awesome College Labs" and Calit2 at UC San Diego is among them. (From the link above, image 23 in the gallery is Calit2).

Check out the Calit2 Flikr stream for more "awesome" from Calit2.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Data Center Goes to DC (Direct Current not the US Capital)

Yesterday, a consortium of researchers from the public and private sectors embarked on a real-world experiment to gauge whether large computing facilities can operate on less power if they cut alternating current (AC) out of the equation.

At the University of California, San Diego, engineers switched a set of servers in a campus data center to operate continuously on 380-volt direct current (DC) – as part of a project that allows researchers to track in great detail the energy savings that servers and data centers can hope to achieve through a variety of architectural and procedural efficiencies, including the use of DC power.

The experiment at UC San Diego is part of Project GreenLight, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that has deployed a modular data center on campus with sensors and other instruments to measure the energy efficiency of information and communication technologies – and to help researchers build greener IT systems and software.

“The UC San Diego campus has made substantial investments for energy savings,” said Thomas A. DeFanti, principal investigator on Project GreenLight and a senior research scientist in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “The switch to DC powering of servers holds great potential on a campus where supercomputers and other high-tech facilities represent a disproportionately large share of energy consumption."

It is estimated that companies could save billions of dollars each year in capital costs and ongoing energy savings by using all-DC distribution in their data centers.

“The coupling of renewable energy systems that generate DC power with large consumers of DC is the wave of the future for energy efficiency,” said Byron Washom, director of strategic energy initiatives at UC San Diego. “Our contracted 2.8 MW fuel cell that utilizes renewable methane gas will only occupy the land area of a tennis court, yet it produces more DC power than that required by the San Diego Supercomputer Center.”

Read the full story on the Calit2 Web site.

Check out the Calit2 Flikr photo stream.

Above photo caption: UCSD electrical technician flips the final switch on the GreenLight Instrument to convert two of its racks to DC-DC power.

Glove Box in a NanoEngineering Lab

There is a glove box in Shirley Meng's NanoEngineering Lab at UC San Diego, but it's not the kind of glove box that stores gloves. Instead, you have stick your hands and arms through enormous black gloves in order to touch anything that is in the box. And once your black-gloved hands are in the box, you have to put on ANOTHER pair of gloves before you can do any work. Below are a couple of photos of students from the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion. More photos on Flikr, at the Shirley Meng set...photos that accompany the story about the new NASA contract to Meng and NEI Corp.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Science Blogging Aggregator

Like science blogs? Check out the new http://scienceblogging.org/

Pedestrian Remover in ScienceNews

Last Friday, ScienceNews covered the Pedestrian Remover story.

I liked the final quote from computer science professor Serge Belongie:

“The project is a nice combination of computer science and social awareness,” he says. “All too often, computer scientists implement something just because it is cool rather than there being a need.”

Read the full story by Rachel Ehrenberg on the ScienceNews site: "Protecting innocent — and not so innocent — bystanders "

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Largest Earthquake Simulation: Go SDSC!

SDSC Leads Supercomputing Efforts in Creating Largest-Ever Earthquake Simulation

Magnitude 8.0 Simulation, Named a Gordon Bell Prize Finalist, Could Guide Emergency Planning

Seismologists have long been asking not if, but when ‘The Big One’ will strike southern California. Just how big will it be, and how will the amount of shaking vary throughout the region? Now we may be much closer to finding out the answer to at least the latter part of that question, and help prepare the Golden State’s emergency response teams to better cope with such a potential disaster.

Check out the earthquke simulation video on Scivee.tv

Read the full story on the SDSC news site.

Check out the UT story by Gary Robbins. (Includes embedded version of the quake simulation).

Surfing with Onboard Computer in Wired

Software for Efficient Computing in the Age of Nanoscale Devices

San Diego, CA, August 19, 2010 -- As semiconductor manufacturers build ever smaller components, circuits and chips at the nano scale become less reliable and more expensive to produce. The variability in their behavior from device to device and over their lifetimes – due to manufacturing, aging-related wear-out, and varying operating environments – is largely ignored by today’s mainstream computer systems.
Now a visionary team of computer scientists and electrical engineers from six universities is proposing to deal with the downside of nanoscale computer components by re-thinking and enhancing the role that software can play in a new class of computing machines that are adaptive and highly energy efficient.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today awarded a $10 million, five-year grant to researchers who will explore “Variability-Aware Software for Efficient Computing with Nanoscale Devices.” The grant is part of the funding agency’s Expeditions in Computing program, which rewards far-reaching agendas that “promise significant advances in the computing frontier and great benefit to society.”

Read more of this Calit2 story written by Doug Ramsey.

Variability Expedition at Variability.org

Researchers on the team include: Rajesh Gupta, Ranjit Jhala, Sorin Lerner, Tajana Simunic Rosing, Steve Swanson and Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou from UC San Diego; Lara Dolecek and Puneet Gupta from UCLA Engineering; Subhasish Mitra from Stanford; Dennis Sylvester from Michigan; Rakesh Kumar from UIUC’s Coordinated Science Laboratory; as well as Nikil Dutt and Alex Nicolau from UCI’s Center for Embedded Computer Systems.

Surfing Discovery News

http://cse-ece-ucsd.blogspot.com/2010/08/surfboard-with-onboard-computer-youtube.htmlhttp://news.discovery.com/tech/computer-hangs-ten-on-surfboard.htmlBenjamin Thompson surfs the board with onboard computer. Image credit: UC San Diego
Benjamin Thompson surfs the board with onboard computer. Image credit: UC San Diego

The UC San Diego surfboard with onboard computer story is on the Discovery.com Web site. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CAPTCHA Research in Technology Review

Technology Review covered a CAPTCHA paper from computer scientists at UC San Diego that was presented last week at the 2010 USENIX Security Symposium.

The paper: "Re: CAPTCHAs -- Understanding CAPTCHA-Solving from an Economic Context," Marti Motoyama, Kirill Levchenko, Chris Kanich, Damon McCoy, Geoffrey M. Voelker, and Stefan Savage, Proceedings of the USENIX Security Symposium, Washington, D.C., August 2010.

The abstract is below. The Technology Review story by Christopher Mims is here.

Reverse Turing tests, or CAPTCHAs, have become an ubiquitous defense used to protect open Web resources from being exploited at scale. An effective CAPTCHA resists existing mechanistic software solving, yet can be solved with high probability by a human being. In response, a robust solving ecosystem has emerged, reselling both automated solving technology and realtime human labor to bypass these protections. Thus, CAPTCHAs can increasingly be understood and evaluated in purely economic terms; the market price of a solution vs the monetizable value of the asset being protected.We examine the market-side of this question in depth, analyzing the behavior and dynamics of CAPTCHA-solving service providers, their price performance, and the underlying labor markets driving this economy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Surfboard with Onboard Computer / Photos

The full story on the surfboard with an onboard computer is here.
(See even more photos on the Jacobs School Flikr site)

Videos are here.

caption for photo above: (L-R): Dan Ferguson, Trevor Owen, Benjamin Thompson, Julia Tsai, Victor Correa Schneider. Photo credit: UC San Diego

(See even more photos on the Jacobs School Flikr site)

Above caption: Dan Ferguson presses the button that triggers recording of the data captured by the boards sensors. Photo credit: UC San Diego

Above caption: Benjamin Thompson takes the surfboard with onboard computer down to Windansea Beach in La Jolla, California. Photo credit: UC San Diego

Above caption: (L-R): Benjamin Thompson, Julia Tsai, and Trevor Owen with their data-collecting surfboard. Photo credit: UC San Diego

Above caption: (L-R): Benjamin Thompson surfs the data-collecting surfboard. The onboard computer is visible at the front of the board. Photo credit: UC San Diego

Above caption: Victor Correa Schneider prepares to monitor the data sent from the surfboard to land in real-time. Photo credit: UC San Diego

Above caption: (L-R): Structural engineering Ph.D. student Benjamin Thompson preps one of the surfboards he plans to use in upcoming board flexibility tests. Photo credit: UC San Diego

Above caption: Dan Ferguson arrives at Windansea Beach with the data-collecting surfboard with onboard computer in the passenger seat.

(See even more photos on the Jacobs School Flikr site)

Surfboard with Onboard Computer / YouTube VIDEOS

The full story about the surfboard with onboard computer is here. Surfing and surfboard pictures here.

Arturo Flores' Pedestrian Remover on Engadget

Arturo Flores' pedestrian remover caught the attention of the tech blog www.engadget.com. Professor Serge Belongie jokingly wondered if the comments section might resemble some future version of conference peer review.

Check out the full story here on the Jacobs School Web site.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pedestrian Remover on Discover Blog

"When it almost succeeds, it gives users a good laugh: a post-apocalyptic cityscape including disembodied feet, ownerless dogs, and floating umbrellas."

That's from the write up of the pedestrian remover created by computer science grad student Arturo Flores and computer science professor Serge Belongie here in computer science at UC San Diego.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dancer Identification and Pedestrian Remover

Computer vision students at UC San Diego who took Serge Belongie's CSE 190-A class set up blogs to show off their final projects during the winter quarter...including a pedestrian remover and a dancer detector. (Dancer detector videos embedded above and below.)

The pedestrian remover project turned into a paper presented at IEEE International Workshop on Mobile Vision. The dancer detector project has cool movies: "Dancer Identification within Shot Boundaries". The final report for the dancer detector is here (PDF). The UC San Diego students who did the dancer detector work are: Kedar Reddy, Nevin Gaudreau and Nishanth Satyanarayana.

Embedded below is another one of the videos from the dancer identification project. Check out more videos, images and information on the dancer identification blog.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It takes a network to raise a graduate student

"As one of our students once put it, 'It takes a network to raise a graduate student,'" said computer science professor Garrison Cottrell.

This is a quote from the Calit2 update story on the UC San Diego Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center.

One of the students photographed for the story is computer science PhD student Jacob Whitehill, of "turn-your-face-into-a-remote-control" fame. See YouTube video below.

Remote Control Built into your Face

Remote control built into your face! Above is a 2008 video of a smile detector project from the UC San Diego MPLab. The project is referenced in a new Calit2 story about the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center here at UC San Diego.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Natural Reserve Videos from UC San Diego

I was poking around the UC San Diego Research Affairs site and stumbled on this collection of videos about various natural researves tied to UC San Diego. (The first video I clicked on required some buffering...but it was worth the wait...I learned about a protective seed pod that looks just like a "spiky loofah". The "spiky loofah" is from a plant called a "cucamonga manroot". The video is here: http://research.ucsd.edu/media/video/UCSDResearchVideo.aspx?v2Play=scripps_08.mov

Boris Babenko Bags Google Fellowship

Boris Babenko bagged the 2010 Google Fellowship in Computer Vision. Nice work!

Below is video from the 2009 Jacobs School of Rock concert at Porter's Pub here at UC San Diego. Babenko is performing at about the 18-second mark.