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Students Develop Smart Note Taking System, Education Themed Software at BigRed Hacks

From Friday to Sunday, teams of programmers, designers and students from a variety of backgrounds raced against the clock to produce impactful software. BigRed Hacks, the oldest student-run hackathon at Cornell, drew upon a large number of students from across the country. “Part of what I feel our mission is, is to relieve tension and show people that you really don’t have to be a genius to have fun and learn things at hackathons. The only thing you need is the will to try,” said Jeffrey Van ’19, a student organizer at the event. Abhishek Velayudham, a sophomore majoring in computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park, reflected on what motivated him to attend the event.

A computer-generated image of Cassini entering Saturn's atmosphere.

To Infinity and Beyond: Cornell Astronomers Bid Farewell to Cassini

After 20 years, NASA’s Cassini mission ended with the spacecraft’s spectacular plunge into Saturn. To the very end, Cassini had its antenna pointed back at Earth to relay information about the planet’s atmosphere. Over the years, many Cornell astronomers had the opportunity to work closely on the project and have plenty of memories to share. Among them is Prof. Joseph Burns, astronomy, who is a member of Cassini’s imaging teams.

“Were it not for Saturn’s fleet of 62 satellites, the cloud of dust orbiting Saturn would assume the form of a circular disk in the equatorial plane, rather than discrete rings”, Burns said. “Cassini taught us that in order to understand the behavior of planetary ring systems, we need to observe them continuously over an extended period of time.

Tools like AdBlock Plus blunt some commercial surveillance methods.

Prof Shows How Your Internet Activity Is Being Watched

While news of data leaks and malware attacks seem to be on the upswing, there are forms of web surveillance that reveal just as much data, only they are completely legal and receive much less publicity. On Sept. 5, Cornell’s Department of Computing and Information Science kicked off the first of a series of talks that aims to discuss the importance of technological advancements and the law in exploring surveillance, privacy and bias. Prof. Arvind Narayanan, computer science, Princeton University, was the first speaker of the series and presented his research with a talk entitled “Uncovering Commercial Surveillance on the Web.”

Commercial surveillance involves techniques used by companies to discreetly and legally trace the internet activity of users. Such surveillance is so widespread that it affects anyone who uses the internet, even for basic browsing.

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Cornell Researchers Highlight Ethical Lapses in Recent Cybersecurity Failures

The internet is everywhere. From simple dial-up connections on bulky computers, the spread of internet access to watches, cameras, printers, refrigerators and televisions demonstrates the progress the computing industry has made. Connectivity is lauded for making our lives convenient and efficient. However, the increasing frequency of malware attacks and data leaks suggests that advancements in cybersecurity are not keeping pace. As a testament to this fact, on Sept.

Symbolic of the gender inequality in STEM, 1927's Solvay Conference on Physics featured only one woman, Marie Curie (bottom row; third from left)

New Study Offers Insight Into Gender Imbalance in Higher Education

Gender inequality in science, technology, engineering and math has been a long documented issue, but a new study coming out of the Cornell Center for the Study of Inequality offers encouraging evidence of avenues to bridge this divide. Dafna Gelbgiser, grad, and Kyle Albert, grad, found that green fields in higher education tend to bridge the gender divide in both STEM and non-STEM fields. Gelbgiser defined green fields as those that contribute to green jobs, which provide goods or have production processes that benefit the environment. Examples of such fields include environmental science and sustainability studies. Gelbgiser explained that both she and Albert were interested in studying green fields since they could track “what happens when a new field of study emerges in terms of gender inequality in those fields.”

According to Gelbgiser, green fields are unique because they do not have clear roots in other disciplines.

Higher calorie foods, like chocolate cake, could be among those used to obtain an optimal level of sweetness.

Cornell Study: Reduced Taste Causes Higher Calorie Intake

For those of us with a sweet tooth, an extra helping of dessert can seem irresistible. Nutritionists and doctors though, do not dismiss this as an arbitrary craving. In fact, many have hypothesized that a key cause behind these cravings is a diminished ability to taste sweet compounds. A new study by Prof. Robin Dando, food science, hopes to shed light on this mechanism and could have serious implications on how obesity is managed. “Several research projects in the past have found that taste is weakened in the obese.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Weill Researchers to Partake in Astrobiology Experiments During Eclipse

According to an ancient Korean myth, fire dogs sent by a power hungry king attempt to steal the fiery sun or ice cold moon. When they bite either orb, an eclipse results. But on August 21st, as parts of the United States are treated to a total solar eclipse, astronomers all over the country will not be searching for these creatures. Instead, they shall be taking part in experiments to try to understand the plasma around the Sun, the Earth’s atmosphere and the ability of life to survive beyond Earth. Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine will be analyzing data gathered during one such experiment.

The result of the combination of the two images displayed below.

Deep Neural Networks Transfer The Style of an Image Onto Another

Editing a picture to make it “Instagram worthy” can be difficult. Most simple apps have the basic filters, highlighting and exposure tools that you might expect. But apps that transform photos into a custom portrait in the style of your favorite artist need to use something more complex. This is because imposing, for example, the distinctive brushstrokes and features of Vincent can Gogh’s The Starry Night onto an average photo can often distort the structure of the image. Existing programs focus on the content and style of images, but usually do not preserve the edges and contours of the subjects photographed. This causes the final image to lose the structural details of the original photograph.

Prof. Edward Buckler at one of the laboratory's greenhouses.

Cornell Professor Receives Award For Studies on Crop Genomics

On a daily basis, most of us do not think about the crops that our food comes from. And yet, the importance of commercial crop studies cannot be overstated, especially for human health. Without the crucial genetic mapping resources developed by Prof. Edward Buckler, plant breeding and genetics, these studies would be impossible. As a geneticist at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Buckler is in a unique position to manage a variety of national resources to lead such studies. These efforts culminated in a Washington, D.C. ceremony in April, where Buckler was awarded the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agricultural Studies.