Supercomputing and Computation

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Researchers from industry, academia, and government use ORNL supercomputers and support systems for data analytics, visualization, and storage to illuminate phenomena that are often impossible to study in a laboratory, such as climate change, galaxy formation, or fusion in a reactor not yet built. Simulations compress design cycles and lower costs for vehicle engines, airplane wings, and power plants, as virtual prototypes can be tested before their physical construction. In fields from disaster relief to the electric grid, simulations provide real-time situational awareness to inform decisions. Modeling and simulation speed insights into electrochemical energy storage, solar photovoltaic conversion, and the nuclear fuel cycle. Simulations led to the invention of a novel supercapacitor, forced rewriting of astrophysics textbooks when it was revealed how pulsars get their spins, and exposed the molecular mechanism of Parkinson’s disease. DOE supercomputers have helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation find child pornographers and the Department of Defense assess terrorist threats. An ORNL computing infrastructure to help the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services combat fraud is underway. An important focus lab-wide is managing the tsunamis of data generated by supercomputers and at facilities like ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source.

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