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Compiler 4/12/13: TEDxCERN and City Data Culture

By Rob Mitchum // April 12, 2013


We’re happy to announce that Computation Institute director Ian Foster will be speaking at the first-ever TEDxCERN conference, to be held May 3rd at the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme of the conference is “Multiplying Dimensions,” and Foster will speak in the second session on the topic of “Big Process for Big Data.” Other speakers include geneticist George Church, chemist Lee Cronin and philosopherJohn Searle. A webcast of the conference (hosted by Nobel Laureate George Smoot) will run on the TEDxCERN website, but the CI will also host a viewing party at the University of Chicago. Stay tuned for details, and enjoy the TEDxCERN animation on the origin of the universe — one of five animations (including one on big data) that will premiere at the event.


Before we get to May 3rd, be sure to join the CI for these other exciting events:



Since ScaleOut launched, we’ve written a lot about the buzz in Chicago surrounding the city’s open data policies and how they intersect with the programming and scientific community. In recent weeks, a handful of lengthy articles  have captured elements of this exciting movement, both in Chicago and across the country. Elliott Ramos at WBEZ put together a huge package of two stories — one a broad overview of how the City Hall and academic “suits” are working with the volunteer coder “hoodies” on new ways of using city data, and another summarizing several of the projects (including “Project Batman”) under development by Chicago’s acclaimed data analytics team. Both articles draw from the Urban Sciences Research Coordination Network kickoff meeting in February, organized by the Urban Center for Computation and Data and the Computation Institute. Be sure to also listen to Chicago’s Chief Data and Information Officer Brett Goldstein and New York City’s Director of Research and Development’s Andrew Nicklin discussing their city’s open data initiatives with WBEZ’s Morning Edition.

A wider angle was taken by Tal Kopan at Politico, who wrote about data efforts in San Francisco and Boston as well as Chicago. The article shows how these local communities are themselves forming partnerships to share data and applications. For instance, Boston borrowed Chicago’s flu shot app, while an “adopt-a-hydrant” app developed by Boston was adapted into an “adopt-a-sidewalk” app for snowy Chicago winters (and, later, to an “adopt-a-tsunami-siren” app in Honolulu). As Chicago’s Chief Technology Officer John Tolva told Kopan, these efforts are sparking an interest in civic improvement in a whole new generation.

“We’ve moved into a more productive and more hybrid mode of working with developers,” Tolva said. “It’s about people from outside city government feeling like they can change it from without.”



What is a data scientist and how are schools around the country producing them? The New York Times looks at “the sexiest job in the 21st century” and its unique blend of programming, mathematics and scientific skills.

The Hospital Microbiome Project will track the University of Chicago’s new Center for Care and Discovery building over its first year of operations to study how bacteria and other microorganisms move in and spread alongside the patients and staff. Before launching that ambitious effort, the team — including CI senior fellow Gary An and led by Argonne’s Jack Gilbert — held a meeting last summer, the details of which are summarized in proceedings published this week in Standards in Genomic Sciences.

Laboratories around the world may be saying goodbye to their spindles of  DVDs, but what will be the next technology used for long-term data storage? Jessica Stoller-Conrad reports from the recent Research Data Management Implementation Workshop on how scientists and IT experts are planning for the future of data archiving, curation and sharing.

[ScaleOut covered Ian Foster’s talk from the same conference.]

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