Surfer contouring and surface mapping software

Surfer 11 was released July 11, 2012. Click on New Features in the column on the left for details about the new features, including unicode support for international alphabets, watershed calculation, labeling data and map attributes, interactive map profiles, measuring distance and bearing, polyline to polygon conversion, XLSX support, import and export new file formats including vector GeoPDF, and more.
Watch the videos.

Surfer is a contouring and 3D surface mapping software program that runs under Microsoft Windows. The Surfersoftware quickly and easily converts your data into outstanding contour, surface, wireframe, vector, image, shaded relief, and post maps. Virtually all aspects of your maps can be customized to produce exactly the presentation you want using Surfer's software tools. Producing publication quality maps has never been quicker or easier.

Easily create a multitude of map types to visualize your data with Surfer software tools.
Top row left to right: surface map, contour map
Bottom row: shaded relief map, image map, wireframe map  


Cognitive computing

Artificial intelligence meets business intelligence

What is cognitive computing?

Cognitive computing systems are systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either man or machine could do on their own. They help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of Big Data.
Big Data is increasing in volume, speed and uncertainty. It comes in unstructured forms such as video, image and text. A new type of computing system is needed in order to understand, process and make sense of it.
Cognitive computers are not programmed to perform a function or set of tasks; rather, they use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to sense, predict and, in some ways, think. This allows these systems to comprehend and draw insight from Big Data. In order to handle this type of processing, cognitive computers require new hardware innovations in which data processing is distributed throughout the system and memory and processing are more tightly integrated. Eventually, entirely new architectures will be modeled after the way the human brain processes information.
Cognitive computing isn't about the computer becoming the primary expert as much as assisting the human experts. By having deep domain expertise in fields such as healthcare, banking and commerce, and using data visualization techniques, cognitive computing helps humans to solve complex problems and make sense of big data. Cognitive computing systems get smarter the more they are used.
Read chapter one of "Smart Machines: IBM's Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing" by Director of IBM Research, John E. Kelly III and IBM writer Steve Hamm

Director of IBM Research, John E. Kelly III discusses Watson and cognitive computing with Computer History Museum CEO John Hollar (1:18:23)

Learn more about this new era of cognitive computing (4:46)

IBM Watson: The Science Behind an Answer (6:43)

IBM Watson: The Face of Watson (5:26)

Announcing the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor (0:58)

Memorial Sloan-Kettering and IBM Watson to Advance Cancer Care (2:08)
The first cognitive computing system: Watson
The first cognitive computer was Watson, which debuted in a televised Jeopardy! challenge where it bested the show’s two greatest champions. The challenge for Watson was to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language, such as puns, synonyms and homonyms, slang, and jargon.
Watson was not connected to the Internet for the match. It only knew what it had amassed through years of persistent interaction and learning from a large set of unstructured knowledge. Using machine learning, statistical analysis and natural language processing to find and understand the clues in the questions, Watson then compared possible answers, by ranking its confidence in their accuracy, and responded – all in about three seconds.
Newer generations of Watson are currently being trained in oncology diagnosis for healthcare professionals, and in customer service as a support representative.
At Cleveland Clinic, Watson is partnering with medical students using a visualization technology called Watson Paths
IBM Journal of Research and Development: This is Watson

Domain expertise
Unlike expert systems of the past which required rules to be hard coded into a system by a human expert, cognitive computers can process natural language and unstructured data and learn by experience, much in the same way we do. While they’ll have deep domain expertise, instead of replacing human experts, cognitive computers will act as a decision support system and help them make decisions, whether in healthcare, finance or customer service.

How machine learning can identify financial fraud cases

Using voice recognition to detect and provide treatment for dementia

Overview of the SyNAPSE project (5:16)
From programmable computers to cognitive computers
Computers today are just very large, very fast number crunchers and information manipulators. They can process lots of data, but they really don’t think. They’ve all adhered to the Von Neumann model, a method of constructing a computer by separating memory and processing and calculating a series of "if X then do Y" equations that have been prewritten.
Cognitive computing bypasses some elements of the Von Neumann model by drawing inspiration from the human brain. Humans can do things in parallel - memory and processing are intimately intertwined and there’s no program telling us what to do - all because of the way our brains are configured. In fact the human brain can perform complex tasks rapidly and accurately using the same amount of energy as a 20 watt light bulb in a space equivalent to a 2 liter soda bottle. It’s these functions and capabilities of the human brain that will enable cognitive computing.
IBM scientists are working on a project called SyNAPSE to reproduce the structure and architecture of the brain—the way neurons receive sensory input, connect to each other, adapt these connections, and transmit mental and motor output. The goal is to model computing systems that emulate the brain's computing efficiency, size and power usage without being programmed.

Computers that can sense the natural world
Even with the processing power and algorithms to make sense of a large volume of unstructured data, computers need a way to interact with the natural world to consume that raw data. Image recognition and speech recognition give computers the eyes and ears to understand our world. Through computer vision, natural language processing and text mining they process what they see and hear, allowing them to extract meaning and decode human expression.

Communicating complexity
Our brains are amazing – but when faced with processing an ever growing barrage of data surrounding us, our capacity suddenly seems very finite. Cognitive computing can help push those boundaries of human cognition. By using visual analytics and data visualization techniques, cognitive computers can display data in a visually compelling way that enlightens humans and helps them make decisions based on data. The same image recognition and speech recognition that allows a computer to make sense of unstructured data also allows it to interact more seamlessly with humans. It provides a feedback loop for machines and man to learn from and teach one another.


Nanorods take down counterfeiters 

IBM scientists create nano-sized patterns to thwart forgeries
Last year, Operation Holiday Hoax II by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit netted 327,000 counterfeit items worth about $76.8 million1. The six-week sting that ended in mid-December seized all types of counterfeit goods including handbags, technology products and wallets.
The holiday season is prime time for counterfeiters looking to lure last-minute holiday shoppers with unbelievable deals, particularly on luxury goods. Although advances in technology for identifying authentic products, such as 3D holograms and electronic chips, have made it easier to identify fraudulent products, counterfeiters continue to keep pace, often by reverse engineering the theft-prevention techniques so their knock-off goods appear to be real.
IBM Research scientists in Zurich, however, have devised a new way to combat counterfeiting by bringing the technology to an entirely different scale — nano.
Earlier this year IBM scientists published a paper with the renowned university ETH Zurich demonstrating how they could precisely position gold nanorods, which measure 25 by 80 nanometers, on a surface using a simple printing process. As a point of comparison, the head of a pin is about 1 million nanometers wide.
In the demonstration they recreated the famous German Ampelmännchen®, which is known to Berliners and tourists alike, as it is featured on all crosswalk lights to help pedestrians cross the street. Except this version of the Ampelmännchen® was roughly 2,500 times smaller.
Scientists from IBM Research and ETH Zurich, arranged gold nanorods to display the STOP Ampelmann, which is 50 μm × 60 μm in size
IBM scientist Dr. Heiko Wolf explains: "We used the surface tension of water and a nano-sized template to orient the nanorods, which can then be printed on any surface using a nanoprinting process — similar to an old letterpress machine. We can then create any pattern, such as a corporate logo or a serial number, at the nanoscale to prevent counterfeiting." Unlike other technologies, it's impossible to reverse engineer.
IBM scientists have also patented a related nano-patterning technique using fluorescent spheres made of polystyrene, the same material used in coffee cups and packaging materials.
Heiko explains, "In addition to using nanorods, we can also create patterns using fluorescent spheres which emit red, green and blue light. What makes this particularly interesting is that they add another level of security, in that the order of the colors in which they arrange themselves is completely random. So not even I could replicate the pattern. We call it a physically unclonable function or PUF."
Both techniques can be used in conjunction to prevent the forgery of any high-end product, including diamonds, watches, famous works of art or even passports or priceless documents. Once the nanopattern is applied to a product or good, it can be viewed under an optical microscope to verify its authenticity.
IBM scientists are currently looking for opportunities to test the technique and believe it can be readily available in the consumer market within the next five years.

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Learn how IBM is helping cities fight crime
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IBM Research - Zurich

Heiko Wolf
Research Staff Member,
IBM Research - Zurich
1 Knockoff: The Deadly Trade in Counterfeit Goods



Breaking the bacteria barrier 
New hydrogel born from semiconductor research may help save lives
We are obsessed with cleanliness. From anti-bacterial cart wipes at the supermarket to individual sized packages of wipes and gels that we can carry in a pocket or a purse - you'd think we were winning in the war against germs.
But in hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, the potential for infection still exists. Despite advanced sterilization and aseptic techniques, infections associated with medical devices and surfaces have not been eradicated, thanks to the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.
According to the CDC, antibiotic drug resistance in the U.S. costs an estimated $20 billion a year in healthcare costs as well as 8 million additional days spent in the hospital1. And hospital-acquired infections are among the top five leading causes of death in the United States and account for up to $11 billion in healthcare spending each year2.
And while personal anti-bacterial products exist on the market today in the form of the aforementioned hand gels and wipes, these products target very common germs and most contain ethanol as a key ingredient. Ethanol evaporates after a very short time after application and does not provide long-lasting protection.
Cleaning products that effectively destroy bacteria on surfaces, including alcohol and bleach, also break down and/or evaporate after a short period of time and are not transferrable for human application based on their toxicity.
Now imagine a long-lasting substance that is biocompatible and non-toxic, but also biodegradable. A substance that destroys specific types of bacteria but leaves healthy skin and cells alone – one that could be applied to medical facility surfaces, surgical and diagnostic instruments, and even – one day - medical implants.
IBM Research, in association with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore have taken a first step towards that future with the development of an antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact.

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“ We were driven to develop a more effective therapy against superbugs due to the lethal threat of infection by these rapidly mutating microbes and the lack of novel antimicrobial drugs to fight them. Using the inexpensive and versatile polymer materials that we have developed jointly with IBM, we can now launch a nimble, multi-pronged attack on drug-resistant biofilms which would help to improve medical and health outcomes. ”
Dr Yi-Yan Yang, Group Leader, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore
It began with computer chips
The IBM nanomedicine polymer program began in IBM Research labs only four years ago with the mission to improve human health.
The program itself stems from decades of materials development traditionally used for semiconductor technologies. In earlier chip development research, IBM researchers identified specific materials that, when chained together, produced an electrostatic charge that allows microscopic etching on a wafer to be done at a much smaller scale.
This newfound knowledge that characterization of materials could be manipulated at the atomic level to control their movement inspired the team to see what else they could do with these new kinds of polymer structures. They started with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The outcome of that experiment was the creation of what are now playfully known as "ninja polymers" – sticky nanostructures that move quickly to target infected cells in the body, destroy the harmful content inside, and can then disappear by biodegrading without causing damaging side effects or accumulating in the organs. As a bonus, all of this occurs without damaging healthy cells in the area.
The next step was to figure out how to apply this new capability to other applications to help fight harmful bacteria.
On the left is a mature and healthy MRSA biofilm. After the hydrogel is applied, the biofilm is destroyed as seen on the right. Photo Credit: IBN

Zipping molecules and zapping bacteria
Through the precise tailoring of polymers, researchers were able to create macromolecules - molecular structures containing a large number of atoms - which combine water solubility, a positive charge, and biodegradability. When mixed with water and heated to normal body temperature, the polymers self-assemble, swelling into a synthetic gel that is easy to manipulate.
“ This is a fundamentally different approach to fighting drug-resistant biofilms. When compared to capabilities of modern-day antibiotics and hydrogels, this new technology carries immense potential. This new technology is appearing at a crucial time as traditional chemical and biological techniques for dealing with drug-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases are increasingly problematic. ”
James Hedrick, Advanced Organic Materials Scientist, IBM Research
This capability stems from internal reactions that create a molecular "zipper" effect. Similar to how zipper teeth link together, the short segments on the new polymers interlock, thickening the water-based solution into moldable and highly malleable hydrogels.
When applied to contaminated surfaces, the hydrogel's positive charge attracts negatively charged microbial membranes, like stars and planets being pulled into a black hole. However, unlike other antimicrobials that target the internal machinery of bacteria to try to prevent it from replicating, this hydrogel destroys the bacteria by rupturing the bacteria’s membrane, rendering it completely unable to regenerate or spread.
The hydrogel developed by the team is comprised of more than 90 percent water, making it easy to handle and apply to surfaces. It also makes it potentially viable for eventual inclusion in applications like creams or injectable therapeutics for wound healing, implant and catheter coatings, skin infections or even orifice barriers. It is the first-ever to be biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic, potentially making it an ideal tool to combat serious health hazards facing hospital workers, visitors and patients.
By preventing infections before they happen, doctors, hospitals, patients and healthcare providers may one day all benefit from improved medical outcomes and lower healthcare costs. This jointly developed hydrogel may be a key that helps open that door to the future.
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IBM Research produces staph-killing polymers that leave healthy cells alone
Research originally published in the Angewandte Chemie International Edition of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker
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Meet the researchers

Dan Coady
Polymer Chemist,
IBM Research - Almaden

Amanda Engler
Post Doctoral Researcher,
IBM Research - Almaden

James Hedrick
Advanced Organic Materials,
IBM Research - Almaden
1 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Hospital-acquired infections dramatically increase trauma patients' risk of in-hospital death and hospital stay
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Antimicrobial Resistance Posing Growing Health Threat