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InTheloop | 11.01.2004

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences Employees

November 1, 2004

Nobel Laureate Donald Glaser to Kick Off CS Speaker Seminar Series

Donald Glaser, who won the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the bubble chamber, will be the inaugural speaker in the Computing Sciences Speaker Seminar series. Starting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, Glaser will discuss "What can we see, how do we see it, and why do we see things that aren't there?" The seminar will be held in Perseverance Hall.

Here is the abstract for Glaser's talk:
"The human visual system contains 1011 neurons, of which one third are devoted to vision alone. We know the 'wiring diagram' and the psychophysics of the system quite well, but we don't understand the meaning of the inter-neuronal signals. Since each neuron receives trains of random voltage spikes from about 104 other neurons, the traffic is noisy and intense and yet we see the world as stable, clear, and gapless. I will summarize the wiring diagram (anatomy), the conventional 'bag of tricks' theory of how the system works (which I think is wrong), and will outline our alternative model, the Excitable Neuronal Array, which is a simple neural network characterized by a small number of parameters. The dynamic properties of the ENA can account for perception of motion, depth, and perhaps other visual abilities. Finally I will show some static pictures in which illusory motion is seen. Our model accounts for these illusions as a consequence of statistical voltage fluctuations, analogous to stochastic resonance in a noisy brain, in which noise is otherwise nearly always suppressed."

The new seminar series will feature speakers of general interest to all Computing Sciences' staff, and will be held once or twice per month, usually on Thursday afternoons. Each seminar will be followed by refreshments, and an opportunity for informal conversations with the speaker as well as an opportunity to meet with colleagues in Computing Sciences. Suggestions for future speakers in all areas of  interest for Computing Sciences staff should be mailed to Roxanne Clark, raclark@lbl.gov.

CRD's Andrew Canning Named Adjunct Professor at UC Davis

Andrew Canning, a physicist in the Scientific Computing Group in the Computational Research Division, has been appointed as an adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Applied Science. Andrew will teach a graduate course in computational molecular modeling this academic year. Andrew joined the Lab in 1997 and was a member of the team which won the 1998 Gordon Bell Prize for achieving the best performance of an application on a supercomputer. The team, including Malcolm Stocks' group at ORNL, was subsequently recognized by the Smithsonian Institution in 2000 for having the first scientific code to run at more than 1 teraflop.

SETI@home's David Anderson to Talk Nov. 3 on Public-Resource Computing

David P. Anderson, director of the SETI@home project and a scientist at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, will be the next speaker in the EECS Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series on campus. At 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 3, Anderson will give a talk on "Public-Resource Computing" in the Hewlett Packard Auditorium, 306 Soda Hall.

Here is the abstract for his talk:
"The majority of the world's computing power is no longer concentrated in supercomputer centers and machine rooms. Instead it is distributed around the world in hundreds of millions of personal computers and game consoles, many connected to the Internet. A new computing paradigm, "public-resource computing," uses these PCs to do scientific supercomputing. This paradigm enables new research in a number of areas and has social implications as well: it catalyzes global communities centered around common interests and goals, it encourages public awareness of current scientific research, and it may give the public a measure of control over the directions of science progress."

Anderson received graduate degrees in mathematics and computer science at the University of Wisconsin. From 1985 to 1992 he served on the faculty of the UC Berkeley Computer Science Department. The topics of his published research include distributed operating systems, real-time and multimedia systems, graphics, computer music, and psychometrics applied to learning and aesthetic preference. Since 1998 he has directed SETI@home, a pioneering project in large-scale public distributed computing. He is currently a research scientist at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory.

UC Santa Cruz Astrophysicist and NERSC User Stan Woosley Wins Hans Bethe Prize

(Editor's note: The following is from an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.)
UC Santa Cruz professor Stan Woosley, an astrophysicist who used NERSC to simulate gamma ray bursts, will be honored next April with the Hans Bethe Prize. The prize was established by the American Physical Society in 1998 to honor Bethe, who won the Nobel Prize in physics for his explanation of the nuclear processes that power the sun.

Woosley is director of the Center for Supernova Research, funded in 2001 by the Department of Energy and headquartered at UCSC. Bethe served as chief of the Theoretical Physics Division at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project and for many decades advocated nuclear arms control.

Woosley's research has examined how elements are formed by stars, as well as studying how stars explode. For the past decade, he's also been studying gamma-ray bursts, that he describes as "titanic explosions that dwarf even supernovae."

He has developed very sophisticated computer simulations of both supernova explosions and gamma-ray bursts. His theory is that the gamma-ray bursts result from the collapse of stars that are too massive to explode. Read more about this research and how NERSC contributed at <http://www.lbl.gov/CS/Archive/news072103.html>.

Important Last-Minute Reminder: Email Must Be SSL-Encrypted Starting Nov. 2

If you haven't checked to make sure your email program encrypts messages using ssl (secure sockets layer), you need to do so today or risk losing the ability to read your email. The change is part of the Computer Protection Program's ongoing efforts to protect Lab users against escalating security threats. So, beginning Tuesday, November 2, all connections to the Lab's central mail server, imap4.lbl.gov, must be encrypted using ssl. This will not affect the majority of users. Additionally, it impacts only receiving, not sending, email.

Users who do not use the Lab-supplied version of Mozilla (available at <http://www.lbl.gov/download >) are likely to need to make a small configuration change in their mail client. Visit <http://www.lbl.gov/imapssl/> to determine whether your mail client needs this change and how to make this change if necessary. For assistance, call the Help Desk at X4357 or send email to help@lbl.gov.

A Few Slots in Nov. 4 Windows XP Security Hands-on Course Are Still Available

A few slots in the Windows XP security hands-on course to be taught from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 4 in Bldg. 90-0026 are still available on a first come, first served basis. A course description is at <http://www.lbl.gov/ITSD/Security/services/course-catalog.html#user5>. To enroll visit <https://hris.lbl.gov/>.

Reminder: Next Ethics Awareness Training Session to Be Held Nov. 17

As a follow-up to a talk last year, Associate Lab Director Horst Simon has commissioned an Ethics and Values committee to formulate a code of conduct for the organization. The committee is presenting a summary of their findings at two division meetings in October and November. Five areas will be covered: (1) scientific and professional integrity; (2) responsibility to the Lab; (3) working with colleagues; (4) customer service; and (5) security.

Every CS employee must attend one of the two presentations. The first was held Oct. 4 in conjunction with the ITSD all-hands meetings. The second presentation will be given as part of the November NERSC/CRD Technical Meeting starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17. All Computing Sciences staff may attend the meeting, which will be held in the Bldg. 50 auditorium.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 6,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.