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December 15, 2010

Original courtesy David Alan Grier

It may look like just another Yuletide scene in an office in 1958, but this one is something special.

November 17, 2010

Feature - The 1970s in the 21st century: synthesized music returns (via parallel processing)

This Arp 2500 analog modular synthesizer from 1971 had hundreds of inputs and outputs for control of the synthesis processes. Image courtesy of

Curtis Roads is a professor, vice chair, and graduate advisor in media arts and technology, with a joint appointment in music at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He also was the editor of the Computer Music Journal (published by MIT Press), and co-founded the International Computer Music Association. He is often a featured speaker at conferences such as Supercomputing. 
Music is an interactive, concurrent process. A note or a chord sounds, then is replaced, gradually or sharply, softly or powerfully, by the next one. For electronically produced or enhanced music, real-time technical advances are critical to continued progress and exploration. In the 1970s, I fondly remember learning my first parallel

November 17, 2010

  Link of the Week: Coming to an i-Phone near you Image courtesy Flickr under Creative Commons licence Since the story in iSGTW last year about Cinefilia, the grid-enabled film recommendation service, it creator and sole webmaster, Leandro Ciuffo, says his user base has increased by 27% — without any direct promotion or advertising. Once a user has signed up for a Cinefilia account they can review whether they like or dislike one of hundreds of films on the database. The system then ‘learns’ that user’s preferences and generates personalized recommendations accordingly. (But in order for the results to be accurate a minimum of 20 films must be rated by a user.)   Ciuffo aims to increase the amount of Brazilian films on the database because 95% of users on his site are Brazilian, possibly because there are currently no recommendation systems for Brazilian films. Ciuffo is looking for partners to help him improve the recommendation software algo

November 10, 2010

Feature - Scientific computing rock stars unveiled We asked you what makes someone a rock star of scientific computing, and you answered. Click on the image for a larger version. When last we polled our readers, we asked you who you think is a rock star of scientific computing. There were many names nominated, including Robert Grossman, director of the National Center for Data Mining, and Malcolm Atkinson, director of the e-Science Institute and the National e-Science Centre in the United Kingdom. Not all of our nominees were available to comment. Nonetheless, we did get three fantastic responses to our wacky rock star questionnaire. Read on to find out about where fame and computing meet! Ian Foster Director of the Computation Institute at Argonne National Laboratory Q: Let's start with the shameless plug part: What are you working on right now, why should your average user or developer care, and why is it super cool and challenging? A: Let

October 20, 2010

Announcement - CERN Latin-American School of High Energy Physics, Natal, Brazil, 23-25 April 2011

Photo courtesy CERN

The CERN Latin-American School of High-Energy Physics is encouraging experimental high-energy physics students, who are also in the final years of their PhDs, to apply. Masters and post-doctoral students are also welcome to the course. There are a limited number of places so an early application is advisable. Please be aware that prior knowledge of high-energy physics is required in order to fully benefit from the programme.
The school is being organized jointly by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), Geneva, Switzerland; CIEMAT, Research Organization of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and a team of local organizers from institutes in Brazil.
Successful applicants will be housed in the Hotel Porto do Mar, which provides conference facilities for lectures and discussion sessions. The hotel also has sports and leisure facilities that will be

October 20, 2010

Announcement - ISC Cloud '10, Frankfurt, Germany: 28–29 October 2010

Photo courtesy of ISC

The inaugural  International Science and Cloud conference (ISC 10) will have over 29 international speakers from academia and industry sharing their own ‘hands-on’ experiences of cloud computing with approximately 300 attendants. Wolfgang Gentzsch, the DEISA (Distributed European Infrastructure for Supercomputing Applications) consultant is general-chair of the event.
The conference topics includee:

Cloud Technology
Implementation Experiences
Governance & Security in Cloud
Business Models & Cloud Economics
HPC & Cloud
Cloud Research

Panel on ‘How to start with Cloud Computing’
Debate on Pros and Cons of Clouds

The cost to attend is 325 euros (plus government-required tax) and includes full catering, evening event and the conference proceedings.
More information can be found here.

October 20, 2010

Image of the Week - e-Science at the Globe

Image courtesy e-Science Talk

Do you want to know what e-science and e-infrastructures can do for your research?
If so, an important event about e-science is happening at the CERN Globe on Thursday 4th November 2010: the 8th e-Infrastructure Concertation Meeting. This event, organized by e-Science Talk, will gather key figures in the e-infrastructures' community and discuss the evolving distributed computing landscape. The aim of the two-day event is to talk about the long-term sustainability of e-infrastructure scientific research in Europe.
Keep your schedules free for Thursday 4th and Friday 5th November 2010: watch the event live on the upcoming webcast and join the online discussions to have your say.
More information to follow shortly so keep your eyes on the web.

October 20, 2010


Link of the Week - Nobel Prize follows Ig Nobel

Artist's impression of a graphene transistor. Image courtesy physorg

A first has just occurred in the world of Nobel Prize awards: Andre Geim, a Russian-born physicist, who was previously awarded an Ig Nobel for using magnets to levitate a frog, received a Nobel Prize in Physics for his experiments on a 2-D substance called ‘graphene.’ Graphene, which is one-atom thick and entirely made from carbon, comes from the ‘lead’ in a pencil.
The substance is made up of a handful of atoms in a honeycomb lattice, akin to atomic scale chicken wire. At this scale,  its properties truly shine as Andre and his team discovered that the material conducts electricity 100 times faster than silicon. Possible future applications of this material could be for the creation of ultra-fast transistors for the next generation of computers, electronics, smart displays and quantum-dot computers.

October 20, 2010

Profile – Domenico Vicinanza, master of fusion Musicians play ancient instruments live in Stockholm while dancers in Kuala Lumpur about 10,000 kilometers away simultaneously perform on the display above the stage. (Click on image above to see video of entire performance.) All images courtesy Domenico Vicinanza Domenico Vicinanza combines the worlds of science and music by using his talents as an engineer and a musician to bring ancient musical instruments back to life. In December 2009 Vicinanza and the 'Lost Sounds Orchestra' gave a unique performance. While playing ancient Greek music live in Stockholm on a virtual instrument, an ultra-fast, high-quality video-feed of dancers from Kuala Lumpur was displayed — simultaneously bringing two distant cultures and locations into one place. iSGTW caught up with Vicinanza for an interview.   iSGTW: What’s your job? Vicinanza: At DANTE I support international projects that use the GÉANT network, the pa

October 6, 2010

Announcement - SDH-NEERI, 19-20 October, Vienna, Austria

Image courtesy SDH-NEERI

SDH-NEERI (Supporting the Digital Humanities/Networking Event for European Research Infrastructures), NEERI will be held at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria.
“Supporting the Digital Humanities” is the first conference that is jointly organized by the CLARIN and DARIAH initiatives, which are building the European research infrastructure for the humanities and related disciplines. SDH2010 aims to bring together infrastructure providers and users from the communities involved with the two infrastructure initiatives. The conference will consist of a number of topical sessions where providers and users will present and discuss results, obstacles and opportunities for digitally-supported humanities research. Participants will be encouraged to engage with honest assessments of the intellectual problems and practical barriers in an open and constructive atmosphere.
SDH2010 is organized toge

October 6, 2010

Feature - HPC adds a spark to EDF’s computing capacities

Image courtesy Zsuzsanna Kilian, stock.exchng

Jean-Yves Berthou is responsible for IT in the research and development area of Electricite de France — a major energy company in Europe. EDF’s 2,000 researchers use computing to work on a number of different projects, including areas such as minimizing CO2 emissions, alternatives to fossil fuels, and ensuring the security of electricity grids. Here, he describes the use and impact of high performance computing (HPC) at the company.
Why do you use HPC?
Berthou: In many cases physical experiments and testing are not possible, for example in the simulation of fuel assemblies and crack propagation in nuclear reactors, or in optimizing electricity production and trading. Even when experimentation is possible, numerical simulation can go beyond what is physically possible. However, experimentation still remains an indispensable tool.
In what application

September 29, 2010

Interview - Kostas Glinos peers into his crystal ball

Image courtesy Corentin Chevalier, eScienceTalk

Kostas Glinos is a member of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Information Society and Media — and he just presented the European Grid Initiative with a 25-million euro contract in a brief ceremony onstage at the start of the EGI Technical Forum on 14 September. iSGTW caught up with him afterward, during a coffee break held in the middle of the poster session floor. We asked him about the significance of the EC’s backing, his hopes for EGI, and his ideas as to what it all means for the future.
iSGTW: What was the significance of the contract presentation today?Glinos: EGI is the culmination of an effort over eight years to look for a sustainable, long-term commitment from European countries, supplemented by the European Commission (EC). Of a projected 73 million euro cost, 25 million is coming from the EC, with the rest from member states. We n

September 29, 2010

Feature - Prospecting with High Performance Computing

This photograph, taken by S.D. Ellen of the U.S. Geological Survey, shows damage from the Loma Prieta earthquake which took place 17 October 1989. Image courtesy NASA.

ISGTW likes to take a look now and then at the world outside of grid computing, and see things from the perspective of end-users. Here, we learn about high performance computing at one of Europe’s largest oil and gas companies, Repsol, from Jesus Garcia—who is responsible for the company’s information technology.
iSGTW: Why do you use HPC?
Garcia: HPC is the only way that large amounts of seismic data can be processed quickly. When prospecting for oil and gas, there is significant commercial advantage in knowing where the most promising fields are, given the highly competitive nature of the sector.
iSGTW: In which application areas do you use HPC?
Garcia: The primary use of HPC within Repsol is for the processing of seismic data. Repsol uses a

September 15, 2010


Podcast of the Week - Alan Sill of OGF discusses standards, grids, and clouds

Open Grid Forum Vice President of Standards, Alan Sill.
Image courtesy of Alan Sill

It’s been a few months since Alan Sill took over the position of vice president of standards for the Open Grid Forum. Now that he’s had a chance to settle into his new position, Derek Stevens of Cloud Commons has posted an in-depth interview with Sill.
Currently, Sill is a senior scientist at Texas Tech University, where he helped to establish a CMS Tier-3 center and held key positions within TIGRE and PEGrid. He is a charter member of The Americas Grid Policy Management Authority, and has contributed to a variety of working groups within Open Science Grid and the OGF over the years. At the moment he participates in the LHC CMS experiment as a physicist, and contributes to SURAgrid on a regular basis.
According to Sill, a full set of standards for grid computing would necessarily address many of the s

September 8, 2010

Profile - People behind the European Grid Initiative: Tiziana Ferrari

Image courtesy EGI

The European Grid Infrastructure’s role is to support research and collaboration across the continent by providing seamless, instant access to computing resources. But who has the job of making sure things actually work? Meet EGI’s Chief Operations Officer, Tiziana Ferrari. She spoke recently with iSGTW to tell us what is rewarding about her job, what is challenging and why it is important.
iSGTW: Describe what you do for EGI.Ferrari: I am responsible for coordinating the operations of the infrastructure across Europe. The user doesn’t care whether a resources is in Spain or in France, they just need it to work — that is my job. In EGI though, every country is responsible for its own operations.
But EGI needs to coordinate this and ensure that everyone is using the same protocols. That is my role. I need to make sure the production and accounting infrastruc

September 1, 2010

Feature - People behind EGI: Steve Brewer steps in as the voice of the user

Image courtesy Steve Brewer

With the EGI technical forum coming up in a few weeks, readers may want to know more about the people behind the scenes.
Much of the organization’s success will hinge upon its ability to foster strong communities between users and resource providers. Who will act as a communication point between these two groups? Steve Brewer, a long-time member of the European Grid Community, has recently been appointed chief community officer for, the new organization responsible for coordinating the European Grid Infrastructure.
iSGTW: Where does fit into the grand scheme of things?
Brewer: From physicists, to chemists, to geologists, many European researchers need distributed computing for their work. While these researchers previously used an infrastructure coordinating by EGEE (the project Enabling Grids for E-sciencE), the same infrastructure is now coordinate

September 1, 2010

Poll of the Week - Rock stars of scientific computing

Image courtesy of Gus Cunh.

Over the past few months, our esteemed colleagues at insideHPC have published a fun series of (almost) monthly profiles called "Rock Stars of HPC."
So far, they've celebrated five rock stars with well-written, in-depth profile interviews:

Bill Kramer, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ricky Kendall, National Center for Computational Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Thomas Sterling, Center for Computation and Technology at Louisiana State University
Marc Snir, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
John Shalf, National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Every one of them is an accomplished and respected researcher in the field of high performance computing. But is that all there is to being a rock star? And if you slice and dic

August 11, 2010

Feature - The sky’s the limit

Image courtesy Simon Langton Grammar School

Becky Parker, head of physics at the Simon Langton Grammar School in Kent, UK, is introducing her students to outer space. In 2007, Becky organized a trip to CERN for her 16 to 18 year-old students. There, they were introduced to the Timepix computer chip, a sensitive light-detector used for medical imaging. Back in Britain, one of her students came up with the idea of using the chips to measure cosmic radiation. Parker’s response: “Brilliant!” A Timepix chip has 65,536 pixels over a 2 cm² area. An event occurs when a particle strikes a pixel and is converted into an electrical signal, which can be measured. Her students wanted to use Timepix chips to detect particle type, energy and possibly, the directionality.Consequently, her students entered and won a space experiment competition with their design made from adapting readouts of the chip. Their instrument, called LUCID (Langton

August 11, 2010


Link of the Week - A new twist on summer camp: computing classes in the wild

Image courtesy Carlos Jaime-Barrios Hernandez

We’ve all heard of summer camp.But SuperComputing Camp (or SSCAMP, as it is known by its acronym in Spanish) is a little different.
Starting on the 15th of August, 46 undergraduates and masters students will learn about high performance computing, grid computing, volunteer computing and cloud computing — while staying in a hacienda near Panachi National Wildlife Park, just outside the small town of Piedecuesta, Colombia.The organizer, Carlos Jaime-Barrios Hernandez, says the idea is for students to learn in a natural environment, where they can explore and enjoy the great outdoors while having access to fully up-to-date facilities, including digital resources, projectors and live-video feeds to keynote speeches and online lectures. They will remotely connect to the grid infrastructure via the web. Hernandez — a research scient

June 16, 2010

#photos { margin:0 auto !important; } .panel { background: #666 !important; text-align: center; } .panel img { margin: 0 auto; } .panel-overlay { height:20px; } .panel-overlay p { padding:10px 5px 10px 0; text-align:left; font-size:12pt; } --> $(document).ready(function(){ $('#photos').galleryView({ panel_width: 500, panel_height: 640, frame_width: 100, frame_height: 75, transition_speed: 800, transition_interval: 10000, background_color: '#000', pause_on_hover: true, filmstrip_position: 'bottom', overlay_position: 'bottom', overlay_height: 40 }); }); Image of the Week - A child’s-eye view of physicists Image 1 of 10 Image 2 of 10 Image 3 of 10

June 2, 2010

Profile: EGI’s director, Steven Newhouse

The new director of the organization that will coordinate Europe’s grid infrastructure, at the gala EGEE User Forum dinner in Uppsala, Sweden. Image courtesy Corentin Chevalier, GridTalk

Steven Newhouse was recently appointed director of, a new, long-term organization tasked with coordinating the European Grid Infrastructure. Headquartered in Amsterdam, it will support Europe’s National Grid Initiatives as they operate the infrastructure which was built by the projects DataGrid, EGEE-I, -II and -III. He will leave his post at CERN as EGEE technical director to head (and the EGI-InSPIRE project). Former iSGTW editor Danielle Venton sat down with him to ask a few questions.
iSGTW: How would you describe
Newhouse: is a group of people dedicated to working with colleagues in National Grid Infrastructure across Europe, and making those resources available to a diverse set of user communities across t

May 5, 2010

Feature - From EGEE to EGI: Plain talk with Bob Jones and Steven Newhouse At the Uppsala Gala Dinner, Bob Jones of EGEE handed over to Steven Newhouse of EGI his most prized possession — a crown made from all the name tags he collected from conferences in the past six years. Image courtesy GridTalk After six years, on 1 May, EGEE will hand over responsibility for the world’s largest grid infrastructure to a new organization dedicated to its coordination and development (, and its newly elected director, Steven Newhouse. During its lifetime, EGEE — Enabling Grids for E-SciencE — assembled a world-wide infrastructure of CPU cores, hosted by computing centers around the world. Each month, about 13 million jobs are executed on the EGEE Grid. This massive multi-disciplinary production infrastructure was led until now by Bob Jones who initially, like Steven, held the position of technical director at EGEE, and quickly advanced to project director. Du

April 28, 2010

Q&A: Peer-reviewed physics, at the speed of light

Sergio Bertolucci during an interview with a member of the Swedish press. Image courtesy Corentin Chevalier, GridTalk

Sergio Bertolucci is the director for research and computing at CERN. Over the noise of nearby cathedral bells chiming the hour, iSGTW caught up with him on the steps of the University Building in Uppsala during a coffee break at the EGEE User Forum. We asked him about the spate of new papers coming out from the LHC, and what it all means for science.iSGTW: We have heard that a lot of papers have already been published in the time since the start-up of the LHC. Is that right?Bertolucci: Four papers on high-energy physics have already published, and 15 are in preparation as of today, April 14, all based on the collisions that just happened.One week after the first collisions, the first papers were published electronically. And these were all peer-reviewed.
iSGTW: That’s very fast, compared to the some

April 21, 2010

EGEE User Forum Highlights Created with flickr slideshow. Images of EGEE User Conference in Uppsala, Swede. All images were taken by Corentin Chevalier of GridTalk For those of you who were not able to attend the EGEE User Forum in Uppsala, Sweden, here's a few highlights courtesy of the many people who contributed photographs for the use of iSGTW. Here, you can get a sense of everything -- although admittedly not get the experience of such Swedish institutions as cookies and caviar (from a toothpaste tube) for breakfast, served at the Akademi hostel at the University of Uppsala. —Dan Drollette, iSGTW

April 7, 2010

  Link of the Week: Ignobel At the last prize ceremony, Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention — a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. She is assisted by actual, bona fideNobel laureates. From left to right:  Wolfgang Ketterle (2001, Nobel Prize in Physics, for work on Bose-Einstein condensates), Orhan Pamuk (2006,  Literature), and Paul Krugman (2008, Economics). Image courtesy Alexey Eliseev Sure, we’ve all heard about the Nobel Prizes, awarded for research in physics, medicine, peace, and other areas of study. But what about the Ignobels? Awarded every year at about the same time as their more illustrious counterpart, the “Iggies” are given for “Research which makes people laugh and then think.” Over the years, the Iggies have grown in acceptabiliy, if not respect