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InTheLoop | 05.16.2011

May 16, 2011

Proton Dripping Tests a Basic Force in Nature

Like gravity, the strong interaction is a fundamental force of nature. It is the essential “glue” that holds atomic nuclei—composed of protons and neutrons—together to form atoms, the building blocks of nearly all the visible matter in the universe. Despite its prevalence in nature, researchers are still searching for the precise laws that govern the strong force. However, the recent discovery of an extremely exotic, short-lived nucleus called fluorine-14 in laboratory experiments may indicate that scientists are gaining a better grasp of these rules.

A team of researchers led by James Vary, a professor of physics at Iowa State University, first predicted the properties of fluorine-14 with the help of scientists in Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division, as well as supercomputers at NERSC and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility. Read more.


Shaping Hybrid Networks to Come

As the next generation of packet-optical integration permeates multi-layer Internet architecture as well as telecom equipment designs, valuable lessons can be drawn from hybrid network concepts championed and operationalized by research and education (R&E) networks. In fact, the ESnet4 hybrid architecture, conceived in 2006 and made operational in 2008, consists of separate physical wavelengths for IP-routed and dynamic virtual-circuit services. IEEE Communications Magazine’s May 2011 special issue on hybrid networking includes three ESnet co-authored articles:

Read more.


NUFO User Science Exhibition Called a “Slam Dunk”

According to a source from the DOE Office of Science, the April 7, 2011, Inaugural User Science Exhibition hosted by the National User Facility Organization (NUFO) in Washington, DC was a “slam dunk” in terms of fulfilling its objective. This event, held in the Rayburn Foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, was organized to highlight the significant and important role that scientific user facilities play in science education, economic competitiveness, fundamental knowledge, and scientific achievements. You can see photos and read more about the exhibition here, and read about Berkeley Lab and NERSC’s participation here.


Registration Open for DOE ACTS Collection Workshop in August

The 12th Workshop on the DOE Advanced Computational Software (ACTS) Collection, “Scalable and Robust Computational Tools for High-End Computing,” will be held at Sutardja Dai Hall on the UC Berkeley campus on August 16–19, 2011.

The workshop, organized by Berkeley Lab, will present an introduction to the DOE ACTS Collection for application scientists whose research demands include either large amounts of computation, the use of robust numerical algorithms, or combinations of these. The workshop will include a range of tutorials on the tools currently available in the collection, discussion sessions aimed to solve specific computational needs by the workshop participants, and hands-on practices using state-of-the-art supercomputers at NERSC. Presenters are tool developers from DOE National Laboratories.

Registration for this workshop is open to computational scientists from industry and academia. Registration fees are fully sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Science. In addition, DOE will sponsor travel expenses and lodging for a limited number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. For more information on the workshop, please contact Tony Drummond at (510) 486-7624.


ESnet Has Opening for a Systems Administrator

ESnet has an immediate opening for a Systems Administrator to join ESnet’s Infrastructure Group, which manages a broad range of services and technologies, including blade servers, multiple flavors of Linux and Unix, mass storage, automation tools, and virtualization platforms. See job details. The Lab’s Employee Referral Incentive Program (ERIP) awards $1,000 (net) to employees whose referral of an external candidate leads to a successful hire.


Emergency Preparedness Week Offers Training and Supplies

To help employees get better prepared for an emergency, be it earthquake, fire, or hazardous materials spill, the Lab’s Emergency Services Program is sponsoring its fifth annual Emergency Preparedness Week. It starts tomorrow, Tuesday, May 17, with a fair on the cafeteria lawn and parking area from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. The fair will feature the “shaker truck” simulating an earthquake, and three vendors will offer kits and supplies at a discount. You can also order discounted supplies from one vendor website through May 24.

Other events include:

  • Personal Preparedness presentation, noon–1:00 pm, Wednesday, May 18, Building 50 Auditorium
  • Earthquake Awareness Panel, noon–1:30 pm, Thursday, May 19, Building 50 Auditorium
  • UCPD Suspicious Package Demonstration, 11:45 am–1:15 pm, Friday, May 20, cafeteria lower parking area.

CITRIS to Host Two Workshops Next Week

Berkeley-INRIA-Stanford’11 (BIS’11) is a joint workshop hosted by CITRIS on the UC Berkeley Campus on May 23–24, 2011 and co-organized by CITRIS and INRIA (the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control) in partnership with UC Berkeley and Stanford University. BIS’11 is the first workshop launched within the framework of the joint research program INRIA@SiliconValley. The objectives of this workshop are to present the current state of scientific collaborations and to work on proposals for future ambitious joint projects. Click here for free registration.

Speakers from Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences include:

  • Jim Demmel: Communication-optimal algorithms for linear algebra
  • Esmond Ng and Xiaoye Sherry Li: Scalable hybrid solvers for large sparse linear systems of equations on petascale computing architectures
  • Kathy Yelick: Research challenges and opportunities in exascale computing
  • Tony Drummond: Toward smart-tuned post-petascale libraries and methods

“From Data Collection to Display: How Visualization Transforms Industries“ is an all-day workshop on Thursday, May 26, in Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall at UC Berkeley. Telecommunication and IT technologies are driving dramatic and significant change across a range of industries. The conference showcases cutting-edge technologies from startups and industry leaders that enable visualization of data and analysis in real-time. We will cover various aspects of video communications, including Generating of Data, Communications, Immersive Multimedia Displays and Industry Cases, and will address a broad range of applications and services, including video processing and delivery, service issues and perspectives on areas of future development. There is a $99 conference fee for registration.


This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

Solid State Nano-Photonic Quantum Technologies
Tuesday, May 17, 11:00 am–12:30 pm, 521 Cory Hall (Hogan Room), UC Berkeley
Andrei Faraon, Hewlitt Packard Laboratories, Palo Alto, CA

Single solid state optical quantum emitters and nano-photonics can be combined in an on-chip platform for future photonic quantum technologies. Applications include quantum information processing, advanced optoelectronics at ultra-low power levels, and sensing. In the first part of my talk I present proof of concept quantum photonic devices based on indium arsenide quantum dots embedded in gallium arsenide photonic crystals. A single strongly coupled quantum dot is used to control the transmission function of a photonic crystal cavity, thus enabling electro-optic switches that can operate at energies below 1fJ/bit. We demonstrate that this system also exhibits optical nonlinearities at single photon level (photon blockade), which proves its potential for single photon logic devices that can be integrated in an on-chip optical network.

In the second part of the talk I focus on devices based on nitrogen-vacancy color centers coupled to optical micro-resonators in single crystal diamond. These experiments demonstrate the potential for developing integrated nano-photonic technologies in diamond, a material with some of the most remarkable optical, thermal and mechanical properties. I discuss the prospects of using these devices for classical and quantum applications.

OSF HPC Seminar Series: Magellan Update
Tuesday, May 17, 12:00–1:30 pm, OSF 943-238
Shane Canon, NERSC Technology Integration Group

OSF HPC Seminar Series: Statistical Properties of HPC I/O
Thursday, May 19, 12:00–12:30 pm, OSF 943-238
Andrew Uselton, NERSC Outreach, Software, and Programming Group

For three years NERSC has monitored the server I/O activity on the Franklin Cray XT’s “scratch” file systems. The Object Storage Servers (OSSs) of the Lustre parallel file system record the I/O for each storage Logical Unit (LUN). The service fronting that LUN is a Lustre Object Storage Target (OST), and the data collected from the OSTs at five second intervals is of 64-bit counters for bytes read and bytes written. With over a billion such observations recorded, the data set is a rich source of insights into the performance characteristics of the file system, on the one hand, and the Franklin I/O workload, on the other. This talk presents a simple theoretical model connecting the I/O workload to the observations collected, a comparison of that model with the data set, and a comprehensive characterization of the I/O workload. An early version of this talk was presented at the 2011 Lustre Users Group meeting this past April, and some of the content is due to be submitted, in collaboration with Daniella Ushizima of CRD, to an on-line journal. Other portions are going to be submitted as an SC2011 Poster.

RESS Seminar: A Unified View of Uncertainty Theories
Thursday, May 19, 4:00–5:00 pm, 540 Cory Hall, UC Berkeley
Didier Dubois, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse

The notion of uncertainty has been a controversial issue for a long time. In particular the prominence of probability theory in the scientific arena has blurred some distinctions that were present from its inception, namely between uncertainty due to the variability of physical phenomena, and uncertainty due to a lack of information. The Bayesian school claims that whatever its origin, uncertainty can be modeled by single probability distributions. This assumption has been questioned in the last thirty years or so. Indeed the use of unique distributions so as to account for incomplete information leads to paradoxical uses of probability theory. In the area of risk analysis, especially concerning environmental matters, it is crucial to account for variability and incomplete information separately, even if conjointly, in uncertainty propagation techniques. Indeed, it should be clear at the decision level what is the part of uncertainty due to partial ignorance (hence reducible by collecting more information) from uncertainty due to variability (to be faced with concrete actions). New uncertainty theories have emerged, which have the potential to meet this challenge, where the unique distribution is replaced by a convex set of probabilities, this set being all the larger as less information is present. Special cases of such representations, which enable efficient calculation methods, are based on random sets and possibility theory (using fuzzy sets of possible values). The aim of this talk is to trigger interest in these new approaches, by explaining their epistemology and illustrating them on some applications.


Link of the Week: Successful STEM Education in K-12 Schools

On May 10–11, 2011, the National Research Council held a webcast Workshop on Successful STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] Education in K-12 Schools. Videos from the workshop can be viewed here.

For a broader perspective, Sir Ken Robinson, who has authored and co-authored a wide range of books, reports, and articles on creativity, the arts, education, and cultural development, explains how our current paradigm of education is based on outdated assumptions in this RSA animation.



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.