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The unreasonable effectiveness of the Julia programming language

Ain’t no party like a programming language virtual conference party

I’ve been running into a lot of happy and excited scientists lately. “Running into” in the virtual sense, of course, as conferences and other opportunities to collide with scientists in meatspace have been all but eliminated. Most scientists believe in the germ theory of disease.

Anyway, these scientists and mathematicians are excited about a new tool. It’s not a new particle accelerator nor a supercomputer. Instead, this exciting new tool for scientific research is… a computer language.

How can a computer language be exciting, you ask? Surely, some are better than others, depending on your purposes and priorities. Some run faster, while others are quicker and easier to develop in. Some have a larger ecosystem, allowing you to borrow battle-tested code from a library and do less of the work yourself. Some are well-suited to particular type of problems, while

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Researchers use artificial intelligence language tools to decode molecular movements

UMD researchers use artificial intelligence language tools to decode molecular movements
Scientists from the University of Maryland applied a language processing system to the movements of a riboswitch molecule pictured here, to understand how and when the molecule takes different forms. Credit: Zachary Smith/UMD

By applying natural language processing tools to the movements of protein molecules, University of Maryland scientists created an abstract language that describes the multiple shapes a protein molecule can take and how and when it transitions from one shape to another.


A protein molecule’s function is often determined by its shape and structure, so understanding the dynamics that control shape and structure can open a door to understanding everything from how a protein works to the causes of disease and the best way to design targeted drug therapies. This is the first time a machine learning algorithm has been applied to biomolecular dynamics in this way, and the method’s success provides insights that can also help advance

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Call me! How technology is changing our hand gestures | Language

Name: Hand gestures.

Age: Older than language.

Appearance: Demonstrative hand signals encoding commonly understood meanings.

I don’t follow you. Can you give me an example of what you’re talking about? Certainly: placing a fist alongside your head, thumb and little finger extended, in the manner of a man trying to scratch his chin and his ear at the same time.

OK. And what does that mean? Can’t you guess?

Does it mean: “My ear and my chin both itch”? No! It means: “Call me.”

What? How do you figure that? It’s miming holding a phone – the thumb is the earpiece, the little finger is the mouthpiece, and the fist is pretending to grab the long bit in between.

You’ve seen a phone, right? I guess it wouldn’t make much sense if you’ve only ever used a flat, rectangular mobile.

You’re correct, it wouldn’t. Give me a better example.

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