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InTheLoop | 10.20.2008

The weekly newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences

October 20, 2008

Video Explains Importance of ESnet and Internet2 Cyberinfrastructure for LHC

Internet2 has produced a 12-minute video explaining the importance of advanced networking to support the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments at CERN. The LHC will be the first experiment to fully utilize the advanced capabilities of ESnet, Internet2, and US LHCNet, which will connect DOE national laboratories and university researchers across the country to the LHC data. ESnet senior scientist and advisor Bill Johnston has a major speaking part in the video, which can be viewed at http://www.internet2.edu/lhc/.

Safety Near Miss Leads to Quick Resolution of Potential Hazard

Last month, a Computing Sciences employee had a near miss when using the double doors to enter the fourth floor of Bldg. 50. The employee had noticed that the doors seemed to close faster and with more force than other doors, but didn't think too much of it, until he was walking in with both hands full and the door banged his forearm. There was no injury, but the close call prompted the employee to contact CS Facilities Manager John Hutchings, who in turn contacted Facilities. It turns out that the closing mechanism was out of adjustment, a condition fixed the same morning. Afterwards, other employees said they had also noticed the problem with the door, but hadn’t spoken up. If you have a safety near miss, please let your supervisor or safety staff know about it — it could help keep others from getting hurt. Call John Hutchings at x7505 or email JEHutchings@lbl.gov.

Web Application Security Basics Course on November 4

Berkeley Lab has experienced a significant increase in attacks on Web applications over the past year. Secure coding is critical to reducing our vulnerabilities in this area.

To assist in this effort, Gabriel Lawrence, IT Security Director for the University of California San Diego, will give a Web application security basics course here at LBNL from 9:30 am to noon on Tuesday, November 4. Lawrence has given this talk at several UC campuses to very positive reviews. There is no charge, but advance registration is requested at Berkeley Lab Cyber Security.

This workshop will cover the basics of secure Web application development and testing. We will begin by examining the code for a simple Web application that tracks “To-Do” items. We will then shift roles and attack this application to expose the security issues common to many Web applications. Finally, we will shift back to the Web application developer’s role and examine the techniques used to fix the vulnerabilities found in the application. The code, techniques, and fixes used in this talk are applicable to any development environment. You will leave this talk with a good understanding of how to apply these techniques to secure your own applications.

Survey Seeks to Understand How Scientists Use Computers

Computers are as important to modern scientists as test tubes, but we know surprisingly little about how scientists develop and use software in their research. To find out, the University of Toronto, Simula Research Laboratory in Norway, and the National Research Council of Canada have launched an online survey in conjunction with American Scientist magazine. If you have 20 minutes to take part, please go to: http://softwareresearch.ca/seg/SCS/scientific-computing-survey.html.

UC Berkeley to Host Talk on Scientists and Engineers for America

Robert M. White, University Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), will give a presentation on “Scientists and Engineers for America: Injecting Science into Politics” on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 7–8 pm, in room 2040 Valley Life Sciences Bldg. on campus.

Prior to joining CMU, White served during the first Bush administration as the first Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology. During his tenure in Washington, he established new programs to enhance U.S. competitiveness in critical technologies, such as the Advanced Technology Program.

Scientists and Engineers for America envisions a future where wise science and technology policy will help every American live in a safe and clean environment, enjoy good health and education, and benefit from a strong system of national defense. Scientists and Engineers for America is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to advancing these goals through the electoral process.

ENIAC Programmer Jean Jennings Bartik to Speak at Computer History Museum

On Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7 pm, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View will present an evening with 2008 Fellow Awardee Jean Jennings Bartik, one of the first programmers of the 1945 ENIAC computing system. Bartik will discuss what it means to be overlooked, despite unique and pioneering work, and what it means to be discovered again. The program will be moderated by Linda O’Bryon of Northern California Public Broadcasting.

In 1945, at age 20, Bartik answered the government’s call for women math majors to join a project in Philadelphia calculating ballistics firing tables for the new guns developed for the war effort. A new employee of the Army’s Ballistics Research Labs, she joined over 80 women calculating ballistics trajectories (differential calculus equations) by hand — her title: “Computer.” Later in 1945, the Army circulated a call for computers for a new job with a secret machine. Bartik jumped at the chance and was hired as one of the original six programmers of ENIAC, the first all-electronic, programmable computer.

With ENIAC’s 40 panels still under construction, and its 18,000 vacuum tube technology uncertain, the engineers had no time for programming manuals or classes. Bartik and five other women taught themselves ENIAC’s operation from its logical and electrical block diagrams, and then figured out how to program it. They created their own flow charts, programming sheets, wrote the program and placed it on the ENIAC using a challenging physical interface, which had hundreds of wires and 3,000 switches.

On February 15, 1946, the Army revealed the existence of ENIAC to the public. In a special ceremony, the Army introduced ENIAC and its hardware inventors Dr. John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, but never introduced the women who wrote the software that made ENIAC work. Their faces, but not their names, became part of the press pictures of the ENIAC. For forty years, their roles and their pioneering work were forgotten and their story lost to history, until they were rediscovered by Kathy Kleiman in 1985.

For the complete abstract and to register for the event, go to Computer History Museum | Past Events Oct 22, 2008.

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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 7,000-plus 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 Department of Energy 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.