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Research Spotlight: Professor honored for advancements in artificial intelligence

Power of thumb-sized chameleons

The smaller the chameleon, the more powerful its tongue, wrote Christopher Anderson, postdoctoral research associate in ecology and evolutionary biology, in the journal Scientific Reports, according to a University press release.

While all chameleon species have impressively powerful tongues, smaller chameleons launch theirs to catch insects faster and farther relative to their body sizes. Anderson reported that the power and acceleration chameleons produce for each kilogram of muscle mass is the second greatest among all vertebrates, second only to salamanders.

Anderson explained in his report that because smaller animals need to consume more energy for survival, they have evolved over time to be better than larger animals at catching food.

Professor honored for advancements in artificial intelligence

Stefanie Tellex, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, was recently named in Wired UK’s list of “Women Who Changed Science in 2015.”

Tellex designed Baxter, a robot that can find its way around unfamiliar places and pick up objects. Baxter can also teach other robots with the same infrared sensors and cameras to perform certain tasks.

According to the Wired article, Tellex strives to make robots more autonomous and collaborative. Her goal is to create a robot similar to a human child that learns through previous experience and adapts to new knowledge efficiently.

New software monitors nuclear explosions worldwide

Professor of Computer Science Erik Sudderth was part of a team that developed a network — the International Monitoring System — that detects nuclear explosions across the world, according to a University press release.

When a nuclear test occurs, it is picked up by one of the IMS’s 149 seismic monitoring stations. Data is then sent to the Vienna headquarters of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted a nuclear blast that was detected by the system. But the software can also locate much smaller activity in unexpected places. While most of the seismic activities detected by the network are natural disasters such as earthquakes, the system’s main utility is its ability to locate unnatural nuclear explosions around the globe.

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