In The News – 2008
New York Times
You’re Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy?
The article covers various emerging digital technologies versus privacy concerns. It references the Personal Environmental Impact Report from the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing and quotes computer science and electrical engineering professor Deborah Estrin, the center’s director.
Happy Accident Opens Door to Cheaper, Higher-Resolution Cameras
Scientific accidents have brought some of the most groundbreaking discoveries — vulcanized rubber, X-rays, penicillin — and now scientists at UCLA have accidentally discovered a material that could make digital cameras as we know them obsolete. Graduate student Hsiang-Yu Chen (of materials science and engineering) was working on a new formula for solar cells when something went wrong. Instead of creating electricity when hit with light, the conductivity of the material she was working with changed.
KCET SoCal Connected
The Southern California weekly television newsmagazine aired a segment on buildings in Los Angeles that are particularly vulnerable during an earthquake. Civil and environmental engineering professors Jonathan P. Stewart and John W. Wallace were featured.
News Focus: Biofuels. Eyeing Oil, Synthetic Biologists Mine Microbes for Black Gold
Biotechnology researchers want to reengineer microorganisms to turn agricultural products into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The article profiles several research groups, including James Liao, Chancellor’s Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Websites shed light on how humans value fresh ideas
Analysing the rise and fall of websites is the perfect way to shed light on the old debate over whether talent or experience matters most, say mathematicians. The question crops up everywhere, from job interviews to presidential races, says Vwani Roychowdhury (UCLA professor of electrical engineering), but it’s hard to examine the problem using hard figures. However, the same way of thinking can be applied to websites, which also succeed or fail based on many millions of human decisions. In fact, the web may be one of the few places it is possible to quantify the balance between the two, say the researchers. (The research team included Roychowdhury, PhD student Joseph Kong and Nima Sarshar of the University of Regina, Canada.)
KPCC 89.3 Patt Morrison Show
Nation’s Highest Scientific Honor given to Internet Father
Today, we take the existence of a high functioning internet for granted. In 1969, the basic technologies and processes that allow information to travel were just coming into being. Leonard Kleinrock, UCLA Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, has been selected to receive the National Medal of Science for his role in creating packet switching and the theory of data networks. His computer was one of the first nodes on the internet and he sent one of the very first emails. Love it or curse it, someone had to usher in the age of globalized communication.
National Tech Medal Winners Include eBay, OS Creator, And Net Engineer
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and President George Bush have announced this year’s recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. A packet switching inventor (Paul Baran), a software engineer and designer, and eBay are among the 2007 laureates scheduled to receive the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement during a White House ceremony on Sept. 29.
Calculate your Carbon Footprint with a Cell Phone
UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networked Sensing is testing new cell phone software that helps people track their carbon footprint and their exposure to pollutants. The project currently covers the greater Los Angeles area, but will begin a pilot program in the Bay Area this fall. And the CENS team hopes to expand to other locations soon.
Lessons Learned from the Chino Hills Quake
Civil and environmental engineering professor John Wallace was interviewed by host Larry Mantle following the 5.4 magnitude earthquake in Chino Hills, on July 29.
Homegrown products save Environment, Money
The article profiles several environmental efforts across the UCLA campus, including the Personal Environmental Impact Report, developed at the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing.
Technology changes how battles are fought
The article profiles defense-related work by several UCLA faculty members, including Sungtaek Ju, Ann Karagozian and Jason Speyer, all from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The university’s magazine features an interview with computer science alumnus Blake Krikorian ’90, CEO of Sling Media. The company is best known for Sling Box, a place-shifting device allowing users to watch their home television feed anywhere in the world via the Internet.
Quick Takes: Muscle Heal Thyself
It’s too early to think about bulking up with the artificial muscles that scientists like Qibing Pei of UCLA’s Materials Science and Engineering Department in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been working on for years. But researchers are fantasizing that the rubber-like material, called electroactive polymers, may one day power small, energy-efficient robots, turn your shoes into power generators that can keep your iPod or cell phone going, power your car windows and adjust your car seats, and help keep a weak heart pumping.
Quick Takes: IPhone Home
Jonathan Zweig was 7 years old when he had an Einstein moment. One day he spotted an Atari gaming system in the trash. Zweig reacted to the battered machine with the same wonder that Einstein famously experienced when, at age 5, he saw his first magnetic compass. “I would play computer games after school and dream about making them,” recalls Zweig ’00, who majored in computer science and engineering. He did eventually make casual entertainment games — from brain teasers to mobile arcade games — and posted them on his Web site, Jirbo.com, where they could be downloaded for free. But he never imagined that his creations would change his whole life.
Orientation Issue 2008
UCLA researchers forecast how new scientific findings will advance society and create new directions for research in years to come. Mohamed Abdou, distinguished professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and James Liao, chancellor’s professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, are among the UCLA faculty members featured.
An Oral History of the Internet: How the Web Was Won
Fifty years ago, in response to the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik, the U.S. military set up the Advanced Research Projects Agency. It would become the cradle of connectivity, spawning the era of Google and YouTube, of Amazon and Facebook, of the Drudge Report and the Obama campaign. Each breakthrough—network protocols, hypertext, the World Wide Web, the browser—inspired another as narrow-tied engineers, long-haired hackers, and other visionaries built the foundations for a world-changing technology. (The multimedia story features Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Leonard Kleinrock and alumnus Vinton Cerf MS ’70, PhD ’72.)
Number keys promise safer data
Sensitive computer files are to become both more secure and more flexible thanks to advanced mathematics. (Researchers) at the University of California in Los Angeles have applied a fundamental rethink to improve the “one lock – one key” method that current encryption technologies such as RSA and AES operate on. Amit Sahai, professor of computer science at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, told BBC World Service’s Digital Planet programme that they had decided to “rebuild the idea from the ground up,” and developed the idea of multiple keys giving access to selected pieces of data.
The Economist Technology Quarterly
Case history: Tapping the oceans
Environmental technology: Desalination turns salty water into fresh water. As concern over water’s scarcity grows, can it offer a quick technological fix? (The article includes current faculty member Eric Hoek, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. It also includes the pioneering contributions to desalination technology development by former UCLA Engineers Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan.)
The Pentagon’s Latest Recruits: Professors
Military power requires brainpower, and the Defense Department is moving to engage a new generation of scientists and engineers to conduct research that may pay off in technological breakthroughs for the nation’s military. The department last week announced the selection of six university professors who will form the first class of the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows Program. (Diana Huffaker, associate professor of electrical engineering, is one award recipients).
Orbach optimistic about solving energy, environmental crises
Under Secretary of Science Raymond Orbach of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently returned to his academic roots at UCLA with hopeful news about tackling the nation’s twin demons, the energy and environmental crises. Orbach brought a message of hope to faculty, staff, students, industry representatives and the public when he delivered the first L.M.K. Boelter Lecture at the UCLA Engineering Technology Forum May 27 at De Neve Auditorium. Faculty and students from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science presented their research during the one-day event.
Engineering team driven to create
Andrew Chao placed the two-foot-long car, covered in green circuit boards, on a line of wire and off the car went – no motor, no controller. Chao, a fourth-year electrical engineering student, was demonstrating one of the self-driving cars he and 11 of his teammates created to enter into an annual contest Natcar, sponsored by UC Davis and held last Friday.
Rainforest Climate Change Sensor Station Goes Wi-Fi. UCLA researchers are setting up a wireless data collection, dissemination and analysis system in Costa Rica’s La Selva rainforest
For more than half a century, the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica has provided researchers with the data needed to study everything from local amphibian and reptile populations to global warming. To meet a growing demand for La Selva’s treasure trove of biological and environmental data, the main facilities are getting a $785,000 high-tech makeover that includes wireless access to measurement systems that collect and transmit data and provide a dynamic 3-D analysis of the rainforest canopy. The Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) at the University of California, Los Angeles, plans to develop and expand its mobile sensor platforms and sensor arrays as well as the information technology and infrastructure used to store and share the collected information.
Future of chip design revealed at ISPD
Advances in the design and fabrication of semiconductors were unveiled here this week at the International Symposium on Physical Design (ISPD, April 13-16, 2008, Portland, Ore.). As the premier forum for sharing leading-edge results in chip-design methodologies, the ISPD also identifies future research trends years before they become commercialized. (Ultra-high-speed on-chip interconnects using radio frequency (RF) transmission lines presented by computer science professor and chair Jason Cong and electrical engineering professor Frank Chang featured).
News Bytes of the Week — Was the Red Baron Just Lucky?
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, was the most feared German flying ace of World War I. He racked up 80 official air combat victories—the biggest winning streak on either side—before being shot down on April 21, 1918, over northern France. We’re inclined to interpret the Baron’s record as proof that he was the best of the best. But a study published in the Journal of Mathematical Sociology claims that much of Richthofen’s success could be chalked up to plain old luck. (the study’s authors are electrical engineering professor Vwani Roychowdhury and research engineer Mikhail Simkin.)
A handful of small companies, including Pasadena, Calif.-based start-up Gevo, are scrambling to commercialize second-generation biofuels such as butanol that they believe will be cheap and clean enough to put ethanol out of business. These new fuels are even designed to be produced by the same refineries that are cranking out ethanol now. (The work of chemical and biomolecular engineering professor James Liao featured)
Fuel Cell Today
Discovery paves way for affordable and environmentally-friendly hydrogen vehicle
The findings of a study conducted by researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science could one day lead to commercially practical designs of storage materials for use in hydrogen gas fuelled vehicles, it has been claimed. The study, which appeared on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) web site on February 27th, expands on the finding in 1997 that adding titanium to sodium alanate not only lowers the temperature of hydrogen release from the material but also allows for an easy refueling and storage of high density hydrogen at reasonable pressures and temperatures.
An Ultrasensitive Optical Protein Sensor Analyzes Saliva
For the first time, an optical sensor, developed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), can measure proteins in saliva that are linked to oral cancer. The device is highly sensitive, allowing doctors and dentists to detect the disease early, when patient survival rates are high. The researchers are currently working with the National Institute of Health (NIH) to push the technology to clinical tests so that it can be developed into a device that can be used in dentists’ offices. Chih-Ming Ho, a scientist at UCLA and principal investigator for the sensor, says that it is a versatile instrument and can be used to detect other disease-specific biomarkers.
Virtual Extras: Giving each member of a digital crowd its own personality could make animated mob scenes more realistic
The behavior of computer-generated crowds in movies and video games could soon appear much more realistic, thanks to new software that gives each character a complex personality of its own. The software has been demonstrated in a simulation of Pennsylvania Station, in New York City, depicting more than 1,000 commuters, law-enforcement officers, entertainers, and tourists going about their business. Each individual demonstrates complex, rational behaviors that collectively create a much more lifelike representation of human activity, says Demetri Terzopoulos, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
National Public Radio
Scientists Seek Cause of Mysterious ‘Rogue’ Waves
All Things Considered, December 15, 2007 · “Rogue waves” are monsters of the open ocean — the powerful “walls of water” can destroy even large ships. Satellite measurements have found them to be up to 100 feet tall. So far, scientists have disagreed about what causes the waves, but researchers at UCLA think that they may have found a clue.