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Guru
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Supercomputer, Black Holes and Aircraft Design

07/25/2006 10:00 AM

Powered by SGI Altix, Researchers Simulate Merger of Black Holes, Shedding Light on the Most Powerful Event in the Universe

Recently, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center simulated the merger of two massive, orbiting black holes - an achievement that has eluded physicists for decades. Relying on Columbia, NASA's record-setting supercomputer, the Goddard team was able to simulate how colliding black holes will throw off gravitational waves that ripple throughout the fabric of spacetime.

Rated No. 4 on the Top 500 list of the world's most powerful computers, the Columbia supercomputer is built from 20 SGI® Altix® systems, each powered by 512 Intel® Itanium® 2 processors. Columbia has revolutionized the rate of scientific discovery at NASA.

For instance, with NASA's previous supercomputers, simulations showing five years worth of changes in ocean temperatures and sea levels were taking a year to model. By using a single SGI Altix system, however, scientists can simulate decades of ocean circulation in just days, while producing simulations in greater detail than ever before. Similarly, the time required to assess the flight characteristics of an aircraft design, which involves thousands of complex calculations, has dropped from years to a single day.

Read more about this impressive effort on Yahoo.
You will find some background information on gravitational waves here.

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#1

Uses for Supercomputers

07/25/2006 5:22 PM

Another great use for supercomputers is molecular modeling. Anyone who takes a quantum mechanics course has to calculate the energy levels for the hydrogen atom, which can be solved exactly since it's only a two body system.

Larger atoms and molecules can be calculated very precisely too when certain approximations are employed. Unfortunately these techniques can be computationally intensive but the advances in computers in the last ten years has made the idea of designing a material for a specific property a reality. Supercomputers allow larger molecules like nanotubes and DNA to be studied to a high precision, opening the door for new materials.

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