With a network of more than 5,000 sensors that monitor weather conditions, seismic activity, traffic, bacteria on beaches, water levels and much more, Sensorpedia is a significant resource that continues to expand.

Sensorpedia, developed three years ago by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Bryan Gorman and David Resseguie, connects first responders, individuals and communities with online sensor data in the United States and beyond.

"Sensorpedia combines the best of Facebook and YouTube and continues to expand and evolve to meet the demands and needs of users," Resseguie said.

Sneak peeks of Sensorpedia, which is in beta testing, are available at http://www.sensorpedia.com. Funding for Sensorpedia is provided by the Department of Homeland Security-sponsored Southeast Region Research Initiative.

A fan upgrade that will save Oak Ridge National Laboratory's computing complex $150,000 a year in energy costs is just the latest step by the laboratory to reduce its computing carbon footprint.

The fan upgrade will allow the laboratory's Computer Science Building's (CSB's) 20 30-ton air conditioning units to operate at peak efficiency.

The upgrade is just the latest in a series of steps by the laboratory to reduce its energy footprint while maintaining two of the world's fastest computers and solving some of the world's most pressing scientific problems, from alternative energy to new materials to the role of proteins in diseases.

The CSB was among the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified computing facilities in the country and has one of the best power usage effectiveness ratings of any large-scale data center.

Furthermore, a new cooling system, dubbed ECOphlex, for the laboratory's Cray supercomputers allows the laboratory to reduce the amount of chilled water used to cool Jaguar, the world's fastest supercomputer.

Considering the fact that thousands of gallons of water per minute are necessary to keep Jaguar cool, a reduction in the volume of necessary chilled water means a proportionate reduction in the energy used to cool it. Whereas most centers use 0.8 watts of power for cooling per every watt of power used for computing, ORNL enjoys a far more efficient ratio of 0.3 to 1, one of the lowest of all data centers measured.

“Today, we pause to remember the nearly 3,000 men and women who lost their lives in the horrific attacks of 9/11 and to honor the heroes of that terrible day.  The people we lost came from all walks of life, all parts of the country, and all corners of the world.  What they had in common was their innocence and that they were loved by those they left behind.

“Although it has been eight years since that day, we cannot let the passage of time dull our memories or diminish our resolve.  We still face grave threats from extremists, and we are deeply grateful to all those who serve our country to keep us safe.  I’m especially proud of the men and women at the Department of Energy who work hard every day to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

“So as we honor those we’ve lost, let us also recommit ourselves to protecting and serving the country we love.  After all, our future will be determined not by what terrorists tore down but by what we together build up.

“The families of the victims are in all of our thoughts and prayers today.”

   If you wanted to perform a single run of a current model of the explosion of a star on your home computer, it would take more than three years just to download the data.  In order to do cutting-edge astrophysics research, scientists need a way to more quickly compile, execute and especially visualize these incredibly complex simulations.

Argonne scientists are working on more efficient techniques to allow visualizations of extremely complex phenomena, like this rendering of a supernova.

These days, many scientists generate quadrillions of data points that provide the basis for visualizations of everything from supernovas to protein structures—and they’re quickly overwhelming current computing capabilities. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are exploring other ways to speed up the process, using a technique called software-based parallel volume rendering.

Volume rendering is a technique that can be used to make sense of the billions of tiny points of data collected from an X-ray, MRI, or a researcher’s simulation. For example, bone is denser than muscle, so an MRI measuring the densities of every square millimeter of your arm will register the higher readings for the radius bone in your forearm.

Argonne scientists are trying to find better, quicker ways to form a recognizable image from all of these points of data.  Equations can be written to search for sudden density changes in the dataset that might set bone apart from muscle, and researchers can create a picture of the entire arm, with bone and muscle tissue in different colors.

“But on the scale that we’re working, creating a movie would take a very long time on your laptop—just rotating the image one degree could take days,” said Mark Hereld, who leads the visualization and analysis efforts at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.

First, researchers divide the data among many processing cores so that they can all work at once, a technique that’s called parallel computing. On Argonne’s Blue Gene/P supercomputer, 160,000 computing cores all work together in parallel. Today’s typical laptop, by comparison, has two cores.

Usually, the supercomputer’s work stops once the data ha­s been gathered, and the data is sent to a set of graphics processors (GPUs), which create the final visualizations. But the driving commercial force behind developing GPUs has been the video game industry, so GPUs aren’t always well suited for scientific tasks. In addition, the sheer amount of data that has to be transferred from location to location eats up valuable time and disk space. 

“It’s so much data that we can’t easily ask all of the questions that we want to ask: each new answer creates new questions and it just takes too much time to move the data from one calculation to the next,” said Hereld. “That drives us to look for better and more efficient ways to organize our computational work.”

Argonne researchers wanted to know if they could improve performance by skipping the transfer to the GPUs and instead performing the visualizations right there on the supercomputer. They tested the technique on a set of astrophysics data and found that they could indeed increase the efficiency of the operation.

“We were able to scale up to large problem sizes of over 80 billion voxels per time step and generated images up to 16 megapixels,” said Tom Peterka, a postdoctoral appointee in Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division.

Because the Blue Gene/P's main processor can visualize data as they are analyzed, Argonne's scientists can investigate physical, chemical, and biological phenomena with much more spatial and temporal detail.

According to Hereld, this new visualization method could enhance research in a wide variety of disciplines.  “In astrophysics, studying how stars burn and explode pulls together all kinds of physics: hydrodynamics, gravitational physics, nuclear chemistry and energy transport,” he said. “Other models study the migration of dangerous pollutants through complex structures in the soil, to see where they’re likely to end up; or combustion in cars and manufacturing plants—where fuel is consumed and whether it’s efficient.”

“Those kinds of problems often lead to questions that are very complicated to pose mathematically,” Hereld said. “But when you can simply watch a star explode through visualization of the simulation, you can gain insight that’s not available any other way.”

            Argonne’s work in advanced computing is supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR).

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today addressed America’s nuclear security workers and thanked them for their service to the nation.

Secretary Chu’s remarks, delivered by video to workers at National Nuclear Security Administration and Department of Energy sites across the country, highlight the talented experts who work not just on nuclear security issues but also in critical areas such as climate change, disease modeling, homeland security and cyber security.

“Because of our exceptional workforce and our strong national investment, the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration have the best science, technology and engineering enterprise in the world,” Secretary Chu said.

Click here for our video of Secretary Chu’s remarks.

Page 7 of 17