Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Iowa State Physicists Among Teams Preparing for New Energy Department Supercomputer


A team of Iowa State University nuclear physicists is preparing to scale up its computer codes for Cori, the next-generation supercomputer being developed by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

Iowa State’s Pieter Maris and James Vary want to use the supercomputer to study the basic physics of the burning sun and exploding stars. Those studies could one day lead to safer, more efficient forms of nuclear power.

Photo by Bob Elbert/Iowa State University

Iowa State University's Pieter Maris, left, and James Vary will get a head start on scaling up their computer codes for the Energy Department's next-generation supercomputer.

“We’ll work with a select group of top computer scientists and applied mathematicians to co-develop new math algorithms and new schemes in order to get the best science out of this new supercomputing architecture,” said Vary, an Iowa State professor of physics and astronomy.

The $70 million supercomputer is expected to go online in 2016. It’s named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. And it’s being developed by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. The center is the primary high-performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Cori is designed to be extremely energy efficient, lowering one of the barriers to developing supercomputers at the exascale – machines capable of a quintillion calculations per second.

Research teams across the country recently competed for a head start on scaling up their codes for Cori. The 20 winners will now work with staff from the computing center and with Cori’s developers from Cray Inc. and Intel Corp.

Those research teams “will be doing the ‘heavy lifting’ during the project and will help us ensure that the workload is ready when Cori is deployed,” Harvey Wasserman of the computing center said in a statement. “This exciting machine architecture is now being followed by exciting science in the national interest.”

The Iowa State research will be led by Maris, a research associate professor of physics and astronomy. He and Vary have collaborated on other projects and have won supercomputing time to study the structure and reactions of rare and exotic nuclei.

They’ll use Cori to study two classes of nuclear states – the weakly bound states and the resonant states – in the nuclei of various isotopes of light elements such as hydrogen, helium, lithium and beryllium. Isotopes of the elements contain varying numbers of neutrons and often have very short lifetimes yet play critical roles in nuclear fusion, a valuable energy source for the future.

Helium-4, for example, is stable and has two protons and two neutrons. But the isotope helium-6 has two extra neutrons and quickly decays.

Those neutrons can be weakly bound to the nucleus or, in a resonant state, the extra neutrons come and go, forming a kind of cloud around the nucleus.

So why do we need to understand those isotopes and their reactions? And why would the energy department include a study of them in its latest supercomputer project?

First, Vary and Maris have already developed supercomputer software (called “Many Fermion Dynamics – nuclear physics”) to study isotopes, their structures and their reactions, studies that are very difficult and expensive to do in a laboratory.

And second, “We’re seeking to understand how the sun burns and how stars explode,” Vary said. “We want to understand how these astronomical environments tick.”

That, he said, could lead to a much better understanding of fusion and fission energy.

“The value of precise information about how fission works is the ability to design better reactors, reactors with less waste and more safety,” Vary said. “We need the basic science to predict what’s unknown. And that can help the fission and fusion energy industries.”

Contact Information

James Vary, Physics and Astronomy, 515-294-8894, 

James Vary | newswise
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons
20.03.2018 | ITMO University

nachricht Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions
20.03.2018 | University of California - Berkeley

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>