HPC from A-Z (part 24) - X

X is for X-ray analysis

There’s no denying that science is significantly more advanced than ever before. In fact, I would argue that today’s doctors and scientists would be lost if asked to work in the conditions experienced by their counterparts in times gone by.

Modern technology has allowed medicine and associated scientific disciplines to go beyond the simple diagnosis of coughs and colds or a broken leg. Instead, researchers can now extract huge amounts of detail about atom arrangement and electron density using techniques such as x-ray crystallography modelling and gather physical proof for their theories.

For example, a deeper understanding of biological molecules means bioscientific researchers can examine molecular dynamics, look further into protein analysis and identification, sequence alignment and annotation, and structure determination analysis. The results are fascinating and they are really driving the growth of knowledge in the scientific profession. What many don’t realize, however, is the sheer volume of data behind discoveries and how much information advanced research techniques actually generates.

Another example is medical imaging studies which use data from digitized X-ray images. In this case HPC is used to glean information from numerous medical databases. In fact, supercomputing facilities, along with industry, are exploring ways today that will ensure access to massive amounts of stored digital data for future research.

With HPC able to provide such insight into scientific happenings here on earth, just think what insights could come from Chandra about the wider Universe (and ET!) in years to come…


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