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InTheLoop | 09.11.2006

The weekly electronic newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences employees

September 11, 2006

Swiss Foundation Honors BOOMERANG Team for Cosmology Contributions

A Zurich-based foundation has honored an international astrophysics project which earned a place on the cover of Nature magazine with its discovery that the curvature of the universe is flat. The project team includes Julian Borrill of CRD's Scientific Computing Group, and much of the project's data analysis was performed at NERSC.

The 2006 Balzan Prize for Astronomy and Astrophysics was awarded to Andrew Lange of the California Institute of Technology and Paolo de Bernardis of Università de Roma, "La Sapienza," "for their contributions to cosmology, in particular the Boomerang Antarctic balloon experiment."

In sharing the news, Lange wrote to members of the collaboration that “The prize is clearly a credit to the entire BOOMERanG team, more than just to the two of us. It is something that you all should take great pride in.” In particular, Lange credits Borrill with “pioneering the application of supercomputers to analysis of CMB data.”

In 1999, BOOMERANG, a balloon-borne experiment flying high above the Antarctic, captured the first resolved images of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The unprecedented combination of angular resolution and sky coverage presented fundamentally new computational challenges in optimal analysis of the maps. In order to fully exploit the potential of the data, the BOOMERANG collaboration teamed with Julian Borrill, then a NERSC staff member. Borrill had long anticipated the important role that supercomputing would play in the analysis of CMB data and, together with colleagues Andrew Jaffe and Radek Stompor (then at UC Berkeley), had developed sophisticated algorithms to extract the cosmological information from CMB maps in an optimum way, according to Lange.

A close partnership between Borrill's group at NERSC and the experimental group centered at Caltech produced the first dramatic cosmological result in relatively short time: In April 2000, a now-famous paper published in Nature reported the first definitive measurement of the geometry of the Universe. Subsequent results followed rapidly, confirming the presence of dark energy, and measuring with precision the density of ordinary and exotic matter in the universe and the age of the universe.

Since the initial BOOMERANG results, Borrill's group has contributed to the analysis of numerous other CMB experiments, and continues to pioneer new methods of optimal analysis of CMB data. NERSC is slated to play a key role in the analysis of data from Planck, a $500 million orbital mission scheduled for launch in 2008. Planck will produce hundreds of times the data of the original BOOMERANG experiment, creating a map of the entire microwave sky at nine frequencies with angular resolution as high as 5', and requiring the world's premier computing facilities for optimal analysis.

The Balzan Prize, which is worth one million Swiss francs (half of which must to be allocated to projects involving young researchers), is awarded by the Balzan Foundation. The foundation is named for Italian journalist and businessman Eugenio Balzan, who invested his assets in Switzerland — where he fled in 1933 in opposition to Italy's Fascist regime. The prize will be presented at a ceremony in Rome in November. Details about the Prize are at http://www.balzan.com/en/preistraeger/preistraeger06.cfm.

A news release about the BOOMERANG project is at http://www.lbl.gov/CS/Archive/headlines4-26-00.html.

Computing Sciences Seeking Demos, Posters for Booth at SC06

Planning is now underway for the LBNL booth at the SC06 conference to be held Nov. 11-17 in Tampa, Fla. As in the past, the booth will highlight Berkeley Lab high performance computing and networking accomplishments. Because space for demos and posters is limited, we need your input now as to what you would like to present.

Demos: If your group is interested in doing a booth demo(s), please send the name of the point-of-contact, demo title and a short description/abstract by Friday, Sept. 15, to Yeen Mankin (yfmankin@lbl.gov). Demo stations are limited, and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Posters and Handouts: As always, poster space is very limited, and we may not be able to accommodate everyone. We plan to produce large posters with minimal text (think bullet points) to maximize impact, and put the more detailed information on handouts. If you would like a poster and/or handouts at the booth, please contact Jon Bashor (jbashor@lbl.gov) by Friday, Sept. 15.

Challenge Participation: The SC06 challenge participation deadlines have passed, but if you have submitted a proposal to participate in any of the challenges, please let Yeen Mankin know by Friday, Sept. 15. We have a smaller booth this year (30'x50' as compared to 40'x40'), and have limited resources available, due to budget constraints. We will therefore need to determine if we can support these challenge participations. Please provide point-of-contact and an abstract.

LBLnet to Upgrade to 10 Gig Ethernet

ESnet's connectivity to the Lab increased from 1Gbps to 10 Gbps last year with the introduction of the Bay Area Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). Now, LBLnet will be increasing its bandwidth by connecting to ESnet. The first upgrade phase will be connecting LBNL to ESnet at 10 Gbps, followed by upgrades of the core routers to 10 Gbps over the next fiscal year, and then upgrades to buildings and certain systems over the next two years.

Suspect Ergo Pain? Get an Ergo Evaluation

Employees who experience any pain they believe is due to their workstation environment should advise their supervisors and request an ergonomic evaluation as soon as possible.

To request an ergonomic evaluation:
• Go from Berkeley Lab home page A-Z index to “Ergonomic Evaluation Request.”
• Enter LDAP user name and password.
• Select “Request My Evaluation.”
• Complete the information and submit.

For more information, contact EH&S liaison Betsy MacGowan (x2826).

Reminder: Sept. 27 NERSC/CRD All-Hands Meeting Followed by Pizza

NERSC and CRD staff are asked to attend the Computing Sciences all-hands staff meeting and pizza party on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The all-hands staff meeting will take place in the Bldg. 50 auditorium from 11 a.m.–12 noon, and will immediately be followed by the pizza party at the cafeteria lawn area. Pizza from multiple-award-winning Zachary's will be served, along with an assortment of soft drinks. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.

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.