Entries with tag georgia institute of technology.

Supercomputer Models Aids Astronomers in Modeling Phenomena

Georgia Institute of Technology scientists are using various National Science Foundation-funded supercomputers for simulations, enabling them to better understand various astronomical phenomena. One of these is known as a tidal disruption, which happens when a star’s orbit moves too close to a black hole, causing it to be sucked into the black hole. The tidal disruption causes a bright flare that changes over time. Modeling the dynamics of various forces involved should help scientists better understand tidal disruptions as well as interactions occurring between stars and black holes. With computer simulations, they are able to look at sequences of events from various perspectives, repeating the process if needed. The researchers are using computing resources at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the National Institute for Computational Sciences as well as at their home institution. Their work is already at the point where improved models are needed as the current research is reportedly outpacing the scientists’ current theoretical understanding of tidal disruptions and ensuring that such modeling will continue to inform their knowledge of these types of phenomena. (SlashDot)(National Science Foundation)

Researchers Model Graphene Nanoantenna

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have successfully modeled graphene nanoantennas that could be the basis for wireless network communications between nanoscopic devices. The technology could be used to create nanomachine communication networks with applications in biomedicine, industry, and the military as well as to improve the communication of conventional devices. The researchers say graphene could generate a type of electronic surface wave able to power antennas one micron long and 10 to 100 nanometers wide to do the work of much larger metallic antennas. The material overcomes several challenges inherent in metallic antennas, including their limited range and power-hungry operation. The graphene devices will operate between 0.1 and 10 terahertz and use energy-harvesting technology to power their operations. The researchers say they intend to make a graphene nanoantenna and demonstrate its operation using a graphene-based transceiver. They are slated to publish their work in the IEEE Journal of Selected Areas in Communications. (SlashDot)(IEEE Spectrum)(Georgia Institute of Technology)

Jekyll Applications Hide Apple Malware

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers coined a new term for those mobile applications that appear harmless, but are hiding exploitable vulnerabilities and malware: Jekyll apps. They created a proof-of-concept Jekyll app and successfully published it to the Apple app store. The application takes the digitally-signed Apple binary code and rearranges it such that it has new and malicious behaviors that remain undetected when the application is reviewed by Apple. "Since the new control flows do not exist during the app review process, such apps,” noted the researchers, “can stay undetected when reviewed and easily obtain Apple’s approval.” They created a news reading application to test the theory. Once in the Apple app store, the researchers successfully launched the Jekyll attributes of the device and launched remote attacks on a controlled group of devices with the app installed that was able to execute actions, such as sending texts and forwarding voice calls to other phones, without the user’s knowledge. It also was able to download additional malware and compromised other software on the device. The researchers said they were able to circumvent each of the major security technologies in iOS. After testing, they removed the application from the App Store and report that no other users downloaded the app while it was available. The researchers presented their work at the USENIX Security Symposium. (Computerworld)(The Telegraph)(“Jekyll on iOS: When Benign Apps Become Evil,” Wang, K. Lu, et al. in Proceedings of the 22nd USENIX Security Symposium)

New Sensor Converts Pressure into Light

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a sensor able to convert mechanical pressure into light signals that could be captured and processed optically. This could be used for gathering signatures or fingerprints. The sensor could also be used, say researchers, in applications such as biological imaging and creating MEMS systems such as human-machine interfaces, although they offered no detail as to how these sensors might be used in these applications. The device consists of zinc oxide, light-emitting nanowires that act as tiny LEDs when under pressure, based on a concept called piezophotronics. Their output changes based on the pressure applied. When there is no pressure, there is no light. The differences in the strain on the device create different amounts of light. A sensor could send the resulting light signals within a system that includes photonic components, such as chips, for data transmission, processing, and recording, ultimately enabling the analysis and determination of the amount of pressure applied. The researchers published their work in the journal Nature Photonics. (EurekAlert)(Georgia Institute of Technology @ EurekAlert)

Researchers Replicate Mona Lisa in Miniature on Substrate

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have drawn the Mona Lisa on a substrate surface approximately 30 microns in width. They created the black-and-white Mini Lisa to demonstrate a nanomanufacturing technique known as thermochemical nanolithography. The researchers generated the image pixel by pixel—each 125 nanometers from its neighbor—using varying heat intensities from a controlled, nanoscale chemical reaction in each location to produce the image’s different shades of gray. The demonstration shows the precision and control with which this process can produce chemical concentration gradients and variations on a sub-micrometer scale. The researchers say thermochemical nanolithography is accessible because atomic force microscopes are used, which are fairly common. . The method is also fast, and it could be used for patterning gradients in nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, and bioengineering. Researchers from the US Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign collaborated on the project. The scientists published their work in the online journal Langmuir. (EurekAlert)(Georgia Institute of Technology)(Langmuir) 

Wearable Computing Goes to the Dogs

The market for wearable computing is currently valued at US$800 million, according to Juniper Research, which expects nearly 15 million wearable smart devices to be sold in 2013, but now the market is going to the dogs. The Georgia Institute of Technology is creating “facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations” or FIDO, a wearable computing device for dogs designed to make it easier for a working dog, such as an assistance dog or police canine, to communicate with its handler. The system uses a sensor on the canine’s vest or collar to transmit a verbal command the handler would be able to hear through an earpiece or see on a head-mounted display. Initially, they used a dog vest equipped with an Arduino microprocessor and tested four different sensors that dogs could activate by biting, tugging, or placing their mouth next to them. The participating service dogs learned how to activate the sensors to set off a tone. The technology could eventually be used to allow bomb-detection dogs to tell their handler the type of bomb they found, for example, or permit rescue dogs to notify humans that they have found an injured person. Google is funding the research. The researchers are scheduled to present their work at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers 8 through 12 September 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland. (redOrbit)(Fast Company)(MIT Technology Review)

Researchers Develop Hack via Malicious Device Charger

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a proof-of-concept charger able to install malware onto an Apple device. The researchers say they used their Mactans malicious charging device to inject arbitrary software into current-generation Apple devices running the latest operating system. They say their hack could be particularly effective because it requires neither a jailbroken device nor user interaction. The researchers built their malicious charger using a BeagleBoard, a low-cost single board computer that is too large to fit in conventional power adaptors but could be concealed in a device such as a docking station. “While Mactans was built with [a] limited amount of time and a small budget, we also briefly consider what more motivated, well-funded adversaries could accomplish,” they noted. Apple has declined to comment on the work, according to Forbes magazine. The researchers will present their findings at the Black Hat USA 2013 security conference in July. (CNET)(Forbes)(Black Hat USA 2013)

Pushdo Botnet Is Evolving, Evading Detection

New research finds that a Pushdo Trojan variant has continued evolving and thriving and now can counteract attempts to disrupt the botnet it has created. Security experts first spotted the Trojan, which hackers use to distribute spam and other malware, in 2007 . Cutwail, the network’s spam-generating engine, is reportedly responsible for much of the world’s spam traffic. Security experts have tried to take down the Pushdo/Cutwail botnet four times during the last five years, according to PC World, but the disruption was only temporary. Security experts from vendors Damballa and Dell SecureWorks, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology, say the latest variant of Pushdo uses domain-generation algorithms, which periodically generate multiple domain names that botnet controllers can use to contact zombie computers. The many new contact points make shutting down botnets difficult for security experts. It also causes problems with user security products designed to block malicious traffic. The Trojan also has zombies regularly query legitimate websites to camouflage their traffic to command-and-control servers. Damballa published its Pushdo findings online at < https://www.damballa.com/downloads/r_pubs/Damballa_mv20_case_study.pdf >.  (PC World)(Infosecurity Magazine)(Damballa)

Collaboration Tool Tracks Project Tasks

A Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researcher has designed a tool that helps managers assign and track tasks in collaborative projects. The Pipeline tool makes it easier for project leaders to delegate and redistribute leadership responsibilities on collaborative projects and also streamline the project-development process. Kurt Luther, now a postdoctoral fellow at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute created the open-source tool while a doctoral student at Georgia Institute of Technology. He presented his research at the recent ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2013) in San Antonio, Texas. (PhysOrg)(Carnegie Mellon University)(Pipeline)

Tiny-Robot Swarm Plays Beethoven Piece

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory have programmed a swarm of very tiny robots to play Beethoven’s “Für Elise” on a virtual piano. The 5.5-centimeter-wide Khepera robots are thimble-shaped. The scientists choose one to be the swarm’s leader and provide it with the tune and information about where on the flat virtual piano each robot should be. The leader communicates this information to the other robots, which contain various sensors, an antenna, and two wheels. The robots mimic the swarming behaviors like those shown by birds or fish. The researchers have created a Robot Music Wall and are working on algorithms that would enable their robots to drive around it in a coordinated manner, playing different instruments and notes. (PhysOrg)(Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory) 

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