HPC from A - Z (Part 26) - Z

Z is for… Zodiac
The wonders of the universe will remain of interest to the human race until the end of time or at least until we think we know everything about everything. Whichever comes first…

With the developments in technology of late, the amount of information we have about constellations and other universes is growing exponentially. For all we know, in fifty years we may be taking holidays in space or have discovered a form of life just like us in a far away galaxy.

But understanding what is really out there is far more complex than books and films make it seem. The pretty pictures of constellations don’t do astronomy justice! The amount detail needed to track star and planet movements and understand which direction constellations are moving in requires some seriously high resolution telescopes. Just think about the amount of ‘zoom’ required to detect traces of flowing liquid on Mars. This is well beyond the capabilities of your standard Canon or Nikon – that’s for sure!

With high resolution come high data volumes. So, like all the posts before this, HPC is crucial for cosmology, astrophysics, and high energy physics research. Without it, results could take years to find instead of months of minutes. By the time the path of the celestial sphere is mapped it could easily be into its second or even third cycle.

HPC can also be used in more theoretical contexts. For example, researches at Ohio State University required the compute power provided by the Ohio Supercomputing Center Glenn Cluster to run simulations and modeling required for their study on the effects of star formation and growth of black holes.

As we finally reach the end of our ABC series, there’s no denying the critical role that compute power plays in our day-to-day lives. Technology is developing at a startling pace, and with each and every new development comes more data and a consequent need to process and make sense of it. Without HPC our technological advancements would not be nearly as fast, and we as a society would not have the insight and capabilities that we do today.


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