Friday, June 13, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 9 - 13

Scientists develop fastest computer

Scientists unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer on Monday, a $100 million machine that for the first time has performed 1,000 trillion calculations per second in a sustained exercise. The technology breakthrough was accomplished by engineers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and IBM Corp. on a computer to be used primarily on nuclear weapons work, including simulating nuclear explosions. See the Associated Press story here.

Roadrunner Petaflop/s record makes major news

The Roadrunner Petaflop/s announcement on June 9, 2008 generated hundreds of news stories worldwide, from the New York Times, Reuters News Service, the BBC and many others. For much of the day the story was the number one science and technology story on Google News. The Laboratory made stories and materials available on the Internet including a fact sheet and a video that’s featured on YouTube. Some of the more popular links include: The New York Times, Reuters, ComputerWorld, a message from Senator Domenici, the Los Alamos Roadrunner Fact Sheet, the Roadrunner website, and the Laboratory’s YouTube video.

LANL Press Release

Roadrunner supercomp
uter puts research at a new scale
Code run on the machine mimics brain mechanisms underlying human sight

Less than a week after the Laboratory’s Roadrunner supercomputer began operating at world-record petaflop/s data-processing speeds, Los Alamos researchers already are using the computer to mimic extremely complex neurological processes. Welcome to the new frontier of research at Los Alamos: science at the petascale. See the press release here.

Thermal Explosions on Film

Some explosions begin with a bang, and some begin with a whimper. Unlike the triggered explosions used in mining or bombs, a thermal explosion occurs at an unpredictable time, after an explosive is heated gradually--as in a munitions factory fire. In the 6 June Physical Review Letters, a Los Alamos National Laboratory research team reports on the first direct, real-time look at how a thermal explosion unfolds and releases its energy. The team synchronized the explosion with pulses from a proton accelerator and made a high-speed movie of the blast. They hope their new technique will result in more accurate modeling and safer explosives. See the story here.

Neutron Science Center, its founder celebrate another fine year

For the past 36 years, the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center has provided physicists worldwide with a unique user resource. And early this month, like clockwork, LANSCE resumed beam operations for another year, with a number of experiments waiting in the wings to provide researchers with important answers to fundamental questions. Read the Daily NewsBulletin story here.

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