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A history lesson from genes: Using DNA to tell us how populations change

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A TreeMix graph showing inferred human population splits and mixtures. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medical Center)

Jan. 9, 2013 — When Charles Darwin first sketched how species evolved by natural selection, he drew what looked like a tree. The diagram started at a central point with a common ancestor, then the lines spread apart as organisms evolved and separated into distinct species.

In the 175 years since, scientists have come to agree that Darwin's original drawing is a bit simplistic, given that multiple species mix and interbreed in ways he didn't consider possible (though you can't fault the guy for not getting the most important scientific theory of all time exactly right...

Wireless networks: Mobile devices keep track

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TechAndComputer (Nov. 21, 2012) — A more sensitive technique for determining user position could lead to improved location-based mobile services.

Many mobile-phone applications (apps) use spatial positioning technology to present their user with location-specific information such as directions to nearby amenities. By simultaneously predicting the location of the mobile-user and the data access points, or hotspots, improved accuracy of positioning is now available, thanks to an...

IT building blocks for the ordinary person

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TechAndComputer (Nov. 21, 2012) — Would you like to create your own tourist guide? Or put together telecom services that give you better control of the everyday functions on your phone?

We seem to be drowning in 'intelligent things' and IT services. In our smart home, we can use various applications to control the front door, TV, washing machine, vacuum, heating and blinds. Other apps enable us to find out what time the bus is leaving, or book a table at a restaurant. On the...

Bug repellent for supercomputers proves effective

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TechAndComputer (Nov. 14, 2012) — Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have used the Stack Trace Analysis Tool (STAT), a highly scalable, lightweight tool to debug a program running more than one million MPI processes on the IBM Blue Gene/Q (BGQ)-based Sequoia supercomputer.

The debugging tool is a significant milestone in LLNL's multi-year collaboration with the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison and the University of New Mexico (UNM) to ensure...

Software improves quality of sound for hearing aid users

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TechAndComputer (Nov. 8, 2012) — A new software product developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge could greatly improve sound perception for users of hearing aids.

The software prescribes the amount of amplification of high-frequency sounds required to restore the audibility of such sounds. This increases the frequency range of sound that individuals with hearing loss are able to detect, improving speech perception, sound localisation and the ability to hear...