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InTheLoop 09.15.1997

September 15, 1997

McCurdy's Aug. 28 on Future of Computing Now Available on Video

If you missed Bill McCurdy's Aug. 28 talk, "Limitations of Silicon and Software: The Implications for Our Future," you can borrow a video of the presentation. Bill's goal is to use his presentation as a springboard to discuss future directions in computing once silicon chips hit their performance limits. To borrow a copy of the tape, reply to this message or call Jon Bashor at 5849.

Minimal Surface Interfaces Focus of Sept. 30 Lecture, Demonstration

David Hoffman of NERSC and the UC Berkeley Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, will talk about "Minimal Surface Interfaces" in a special presentation starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium. All employees are invited. According to Hoffman, the mathematics of minimal surfaces lies at the intersection of geometry, analysis and topology. To understand what it means for a surface to be minimal, do the following thought-experiment. Imagine the surface sculpted from a thin material. Cut out a small piece, save it, and then form a soap film over the hole. The shape of the film is determined by the boundary of the hole and the physical behavior of the soap film; it tries to minimize its area. If the soap film matches the piece you saved, and if this works everywhere you try it, the surface is minimal. Hoffman will give an overview of the uses of computation and visualization in the study of embedded minimal surfaces---the ones that bound solid regions. The ability to model these surfaces on a computer has led to interdisciplinary research with polymer physicists. The visualization tools that Hoffman has used in this research have been developed by James T. Hoffman, who will give a demonstration of the software and its output, as well as a brief overview of what is available.

Who's Who in Computing Sciences: Linda Maio

Linda Maio, the business manager for Computing Sciences, has come a long way since 1980. That was the year she earned her teaching credential, only to find the field overcrowded and underpaid. As an interim measure, she took a temporary job at the Lab, working on reports for the oil shale program. When an administrator position opened up in that program, she was encouraged to apply and got the job. Having fond memories of those early days, Linda keeps a piece of Green River oil shale in her office. Since then, she's worked as an administrator in EETD's Environmental Program, the Center for Advanced Materials, and became division administrator for Chemical Sciences in 1992. In early 1997, with the restructuring of administrative services at the Lab and a new assignment for CS's then-business manager Anil More, Linda agreed to take on the position with Computing Sciences.

"I'd met Bill McCurdy and Sandy Merola and heard Computing Sciences was an exciting place to work," Linda says. The fast-paced environment is demanding, but the support of an insightful and capable staff gets the job done, she says. Compared to other programs, everything in CS seems bigger, including the acquisition program for the Cray machines. Computing Sciences has "more people, more funding and more action," she says. Outside of her Lab life, Linda's also pursued a challenging course since the early 1980s. She got involved in Berkeley politics as a neighborhood organizer and helped create Ohlone Park.

Other ideas turned into action when she founded the non-profit Resources for Community Development organization to provide affordable housing. One of the biggest not-for-profit housing developers in the East Bay, the RCD buys and renovates properties, sometimes helping residents own their buildings as cooperatives. One of its biggest accomplishments was the transformation of the derelict BelAir Motel on University Avenue into an award-winning complex of handsome apartments for those with low incomes and disabilities.

These days, Linda is also working from inside the system to help the community. Now in her third two-year term on the Berkeley City Council, Linda is currently focusing on environmental and educational issues. She has helped pull together funding (including $25,000 from the DOE) to construct a demonstration "straw-bale" building to house an environmental educational center at Shorebird Park in the Berkeley Marina. The center will be built from bales of rice straw (which would otherwise be burned), innovative framing materials, and stucco. The result is a strong, lightweight structure that uses available materials wisely and saves trees. Other major projects planned are a Berkeley town meeting on climate change, and establishing enriched after-school programs, particularly for teenagers.

Andrew Canning Tapped to Speak at American Physical Society Meeting

Congratulations to Andrew Canning of NERSC's Scientific Computing Group, who has been invited to give a talk at the APS meeting in March 1998. Canning, who is working with researchers on two of DOE's Grand Challenge projects, will give a talk entitled "Parallelization of Electronic Structure Codes Based on Plane Wave Expansion" as part of the sessions on "Theory Of Materials." The meeting will be held in Los Angeles.

Sept. 17 Math Group Seminar Looks at Dispersive-Dissipative Interactions

The next Math Group Seminar will feature Philip Rosenau of UCLA discussing "On a Class of Nonlinear Dispersive-Dissipative Interactions," beginning at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, in Bldg. 50A, room 5132.

Questions, Comments About InTheLoop?

Send your questions, comments, suggestions or news items to JBashor@lbl.gov or call editor Jon Bashor at 5849.