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Posts tagged "data"


Engineers use Habits to Protect Data

We’ve all typed in a password to access a computer network. But how secure is that? Passwords can be hacked or hijacked to get at sensitive personal, corporate or even national security data. That reality has Iowa State Univ. engineers looking for methods beyond passwords to verify computer users and protect data. They started by tracking individual typing patterns; now they’re working to identify and track individual patterns for using a mobile device or a computer mouse.

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(via kenobi-wan-obi)

Half a Million DVDs of Data Stored in Gram of DNA

Paleontologists routinely resurrect and sequence DNA from woolly mammoths and other long-extinct species. Future paleontologists, or librarians, may do much the same to pull up Shakespeare’s sonnets, listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, or view photos. Researchers in the United Kingdom report today that they’ve encoded these works and others in DNA and later sequenced the genetic material to reconstruct the written, audio, and visual information.

The new work isn’t the first example of large-scale storage of digital information in DNA. Last year, researchers led by bioengineers Sriram Kosuri and George Church of Harvard Medical School reported that they stored a copy of one of Church’s books in DNA, among other things, at a density of about 700 terabits per gram, more than six orders of magnitude more dense than conventional data storage on a computer hard disk. Now, researchers led by molecular biologists Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton, U.K., report online today in Nature that they’ve improved the DNA encoding scheme to raise that storage density to a staggering 2.2 petabytes per gram, three times the previous effort.

To do so, the team first translated written words or other data into a standard binary code of 0s and 1s, and then converted this to a trinary code of 0s, 1s, and 2s—a step needed to help prevent the introduction of errors. The researchers then rewrote that data as strings of DNA’s chemical bases: As, Gs, Cs, and Ts. At the storage density achieved, a single gram of DNA would hold 2.2 million gigabits of information, or about what you can store in 468,000 DVDs. What’s more, the researchers also added an error correction scheme, encoding the information multiple times, among other tricks, to ensure that it could be read back with 100% accuracy.


Researchers in Japan have come up with a storage solution to keep your most important data with a method that seems to be drawn directly from the pages of Superman.

Everyone who has gone through the process of upgrading their computer system knows the inevitable task of transferring data involves a certain amount of acceptance that some data will forever be lost.

Saved on storage devices without drives to retrieve the files, or by the deterioration of the storage substrate, data becomes lost.

Even Ray Kurzweil mentions in The Singularity Is Near, how he resorts to paper printouts to save his most important data for the long term.

Now, Japanese storage and electronics company Hitachi has announced that it has come up with a solution that stores data on slivers of quartz glass, keeping important data safe and sound for perhaps as long as hundreds of millions of years. The company’s main research lab has developed a way to etch digital patterns into robust quartz glass with a laser at a data density that is better than compact discs, then read it using an optical microscope. The data is etched at four different layers in the glass using different focal points of the laser. (via 33rd Square | Superman’s Indestructible Data Crystals May Be Possible)


Artist/programmer/designer Marcin Ignac used software to track, measure, and visualize his computer use every day for 2.5 years. The result: This beautiful, simple look at one of the most prominent aspects of daily life in the 21st century. Each line is a single day, with colors representing which app was being used at the time of day. (So, for example, your line might be red during this time, signaling that you’re using your browser.) The black sections are times when he had his computer off—meaning that blacked-out section in every day is probably night.

Citizen Science Time: Help Scientists by Sending Them Some Poop.. No Seriously

Stool Samples for Science: For Jack Gilbert’s next research project, he’ll be exploring a dark, mysterious place where thousands of unique species live, many of them unknown to science. He’ll be collecting samples of those species, cataloging them and trying to understand how they live.

Image: Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium species that lives in the human gut. A new project is looking for volunteers to donate stool, skin and mouth samples for a study about the bacteria that live in human intestines. Credit: USDA

He’s not heading out on an expedition to the seafloor, a deep cave or anywhere else to do it, however. The specimens will be coming to him, by mail, in the form of thousands of scrapings from people’s skin, mouths and stools.

"Of course it’s gross, but science and helping people is more important than our sensibilities," Gilbert, who normally studies marine bacteria at the University of Chicago, told TechNewsDaily.

Want to send Gilbert a bit of you? Simply visit his study’s crowd-funding page and order a $99 kit to participate.

It’s a project whose time has come, says Lita Proctor, who coordinates the Human Mircobiome Project for the National Institutes of Health. She said DNA-analyzing technology — and social media — are finally ready to handle the task, which is being called the American Gut Project.

Ultimately, Gilbert and 28 other U.S. university researchers participating in the American Gut Project hope they can persuade 10,000 people to send scrapings. From those submissions, the researchers hope to learn more about how bacteria, health and diet are related. “How does the Atkins diet affect gut bacteria populations?” and “What bacteria do thinner people tend to have?” are the kinds of questions they should be able to answer, Gilbert said.

As long as they can gather enough volunteers, they plan to publish their first results sometime in 2014, he added.


Every Single Recorded Hurricane (since 1851) in One Map

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a tropical storm and hurricane data archive that stretches back to 1851.

But looking at each storm individually doesn’t have nearly as much impact as seeing them all projected onto a map at once. Data visualization expert John Nelson combined data on historical storms’ paths and intensities to create this stunning image, where the color of a dot represents that storm’s intensity.

Map of Scientific Collaborations

(Pictured Above: Collaboration going on in Europe)

In the spirit of the well-circulated Facebook friendship map by Paul Butler, research analyst Olivier Beauchesne at Science-Metrix examines scientific collaboration around the world from 2005 to 2009:

‘I was very impressed by the friendship map made by Facebook intern, Paul Buffer [sp] and I realized that I had access to a similar dataset. Instead of a database of friendship data, I had access to a database of scientific collaboration.’

From an extensive database of academic citations:

I extracted and aggregated scientific collaboration between cities all over the world. For example, if a UCLA researcher published a paper with a colleague at the University of Tokyo, this would create an instance of collaboration between Los Angeles and Tokyo.

(via kenobi-wan-obi)

Data as Art: Textured Brain

The brain is a monotone mass of neurons that is often difficult to pick apart, even on a dissection table. Yet through a technique called diffusion MRI, which measures the spread of water molecules through neural tissue, researchers can add revealing color to the maze of connections.

Ultra-strong magnetic fields on the order of 7 teslas (about 1,400 times stronger than a refrigerator magnet) manipulate the water molecules along tracks of white matter neurons, breaking the movement into three basic directions.

Left–right tracks of neural tissue are represented by red, front–back tracks by green and top–bottom tracks by blue. Each track winds around in a specific way, lending it a unique color. Functional clusters of white matter emerge as colored regions. "It’s a smart way to transform something so complex into something simple and immediately comprehensible," Margulies says of the diffusion MRI technique.

Data as Art: 10 Striking Science Maps

The computer age triggered a seemingly endless stream of scientific data, but such incoming mountains of information come at a cost. The more data you amass, the tougher it is to comprehend what you’re dealing with.

In a push for better perspective, a group of information scientists in 2005 created a decade-long competitive art exhibit called Places & Spaces: Mapping Science. From artistic pop-culture plots to illustrations of the state of scientific collaboration (above), the founders hope winning entries inspire researchers to present their troves of data in clever and digestible ways.

“Good science maps give you a holistic understanding of how the data is structured,” said information scientist Katy Börner of Indiana University, a founder and curator of the exhibit. She is also author of the Atlas of Science, a collection of the maps gathered over the years. “You don’t just have to use maps to find your way home. They can be ways to get global overviews on topics.”

(via kenobi-wan-obi)

Visual Cortexes: Brain-Art Competition Shows Off Neuroscience’s Aesthetic Side

With the rise in technology to help scientists better display their work, it seems an ever growing science as art movement in the past decade has been growing. Compiling data and turning it into art is exactly what these neuroscientist did.

To highlight the artistic effort neuroscientists pour into their research images, a nonprofit group held a friendly competition.

Image: Inside Out

Simon Drouin, a research assistant at McGill University in Montréal, created this illustration of an MRI brain slice digitally tattooed on his likeness.

Credit: Simon Drouin/The Neuro Bureau

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