Friday, June 20, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 16 - 20

On Past a Petaflop

The world’s fastest computer, as measured b
y the ability to solve an array of linear equations, is a Los Alamos National Laboratory supercomputer, assembled from components originally designed for Sony PS3 video game machines. In the twice-annual rankings called the Top 500 list, published on Wednesday morning, the machine dubbed Roadrunner reached a long-sought-after computing milestone by processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second. Read John Markoff's story here.

Roadrunner Top Business, Technology Story for Second Week

The IBM/Los Alamos supercomputer is officially ranked #1 in the world on the TOP500 list. The announcement made on June 18th in Dresden, Germany keeps Roadrunner story at the top of both business and technology news worldwide. A full listing of Roadrunner stories can be found using Google News. Other major stories include two from The Wall Street Journal, one that outlines Roadrunner technology, the other focuses on videogame technology. The Roadrunner #1 ranking garnered several business-focused stories from CNN Money, Forbes Magazine, BusinessWeek, and from the computing press, HPC Wire, ComputerWorld, and PC World.

LANL: Computer just might reveal
the secrets of the brain

There's a language hiding somewhere in the neurons and synapses between the eyes, the front of the brain and the back of the brain. Scientists know it's there, but speaking it and understanding it is a problem of monumental scale. Nobody really knows how it works. All they know is that it absorbs shapes, light and colors and defines them for us as objects such as "beer," "burrito" or "green chile." That may change in coming years though, as Roadrunner, the new extremely fast supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, starts the complex task of unlocking that language by simulating the brain's inner-workings, said Steven Brumby, a Los Alamos scientist. Read Sue Vorenberg's science story here.

Supernovae blasts kickstarted stars
in early galaxies

The first galaxies have always been considered rather dull creatures, but they may be due for a makeover - thanks to supernovae. Protogalaxies present 100 to 200 million years after the big bang were thought to have had only a handful of stars each, as elements heavier than hydrogen and helium were scarce. These heavier elements, which are forged in stars, help clumps of gas contract to form more stars. Now a computer simulation by Daniel Whalen of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and colleagues shows blast waves from the first supernovae mixing heavier elements into the surrounding gas and breaking it into clumps ripe for forming stars. "An entire new generation of stars may form directly in the debris," says Whalen. This could have led to protogalaxies glittering with hundreds of stars. Read the story and link to the research here.

Community leaders share a big day at the lab

Wednesday was a red-letter day for Los Alamos National Laboratory, a favorable occasion for community leaders to visit for a briefing and a rare tour behind the security perimeter.
“Good news,” Deputy Laboratory Director Jan Van Prooyen called it as he began a status report on the laboratory. 
Across the Atlantic Wednesday morning, after a meeting in Dresden, Germany, the lab’s Roadrunner computer was named top of the heap, “king of the (computer) world” – the pacesetter for the new petaflop generation of supercomputing. Read Monitor Editor Roger Snodgrass' coverage here.

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