What are Supercomputers Used for?
Supercomputers can be used to model or render the working of the nervous system or brain of an organism. In 2006, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne of Switzerland used a supercomputer to render a part of a rat’s brain, to understand how neurons transmit and generate messages in this type of organism. This is not the complete brain, the computer was only capable of demonstrating the working of a small area. Nevertheless it was a breakthrough.
In 2009, a joint venture by IBM and Stanford University modeled the cortex of a cat using the Blue Gene/IP supercomputer. They have simulated 1% of a human brain’s functioning in the same year. Within the next 10 years, a complete rendering and simulation of how the human brain works will be shown by a supercomputer. Why model a brain? To understand how it works, how messages are transmitted, how are memories stored etc. Psychologists will be able to study why some mental conditions occur and which part of the brain is affected. The human brain is the most used part of the body but very little is known about it and bridging this gap, is a key job of supercomputers.
The final frontier and perhaps the last remaining region which remains semi-unexplored by man. Supercomputers are used to:
* Modeling the path and behavior of various celestial objects and bodies in space.
Apathy "Science may have found a cure for most evils: but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all-the apathy of human beings." Some might think that when Helen Keller spoke those words, she was talking of some exotic disease that affects people in the slums. Or that she was speaking of an abnormality that can be found only in the mentally unstable. Those who believe those falsehoods are ...
* Rendering the Sun, its functioning and its impact on the Earth.
* Supercomputers can help simulate supernova explosions, that occur in deep space and are out of monitoring reach.
* Simulation of how the Universe was created, by recreating and rendering the Big Bang event as well as how stars, dark matter and other space entities are formed.
“As unpredictable as weather”, is a common phrase but what if you could predict the weather? Or at least, identify warning signs and premature indicators? Supercomputers once again come to the rescue by rendering models and simulations as well as arranging numbers and data into useful statistics and graphs. Predicting the changes and fluctuations in weather patterns is possible through supercomputers. Cloud coverage and migration, analysis of the previous season’s weather and comparison with the current situation, estimating the intensity and coverage of sunlight on Earth, analyzing the effect of pollutants on the atmosphere and weather and predicting ocean currents and temperature are just a few areas, that are explored and examined by supercomputers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses IBM manufactured supercomputers to aid in weather forecasting.
The deadly impact of natural calamities and forces can be estimated and calculated in advance, to minimize damage. To a certain extent, supercomputers can predict the path or route of hurricanes, tornadoes and storms or tsunamis. This helps in carrying out evacuations and strong-holding of key resources. Seismic activity and calculating the possible paths of seismic waves can help in planning and learning how to handle such calamities.