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InTheLoop | 07.05.2011

July 5, 2011

ESnet Tells the World: Bandwidth on Demand Will Only Get You So Far

This spring, ESnet staff traded ideas with the global technical community at conferences around the world, discussing the limitations of bandwidth on demand and how to compose services that are easy for end users to understand and use.

In May, Steve Cotter, Bill Johnston, and Inder Monga were invited speakers at the TERENA Networking Conference in Prague. Bill described ESnet’s experience with bandwidth on demand and reviewed new OSCARS collaborative research projects. Inder followed with a presentation on “Network Service Interface: Concepts and Architecture,” which discussed the motivation, concepts, and architecture in the upcoming Open Grid Forum standard. Steve Cotter talked about meeting user expectations in “Fighting the Culture of ‘Bad is Good Enough,’” asserting that bandwidth on demand on its own is inadequate to meet the growing needs of science.

Three weeks later at the NORDUnet conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, Inder Monga discussed the ins and outs of developing composable network services on demand. While in Iceland, Inder used high-speed networking to present a talk on green networking for the conference on Green and Sustainable ICT in Delhi, India. Read more.

Shane Canon Debunks Misconceptions at ScienceCloud2011

In a June 29 article titled “Science Clouds 2011 debunks cloud myths and more,” International Science Grid This Week spotlighted NERSC Technology Integration Group Lead Shane Canon’s presentation to the ScienceCloud2011 workshop held on June 8 in San Jose. Co-authors include Lavanya Ramakrishnan, Iwona Sakrejda, Tina Declerck, Keith Jackson, Nick Wright, John Shalf, and Krishna Muriki.

Titled “Debunking Some Common Misconceptions of Science in the Cloud,” the presentation addressed five misconceptions:

  • Clouds are simple to use and don’t require system administrators.
  • My job will run immediately in the cloud.
  • Clouds are more efficient.
  • Clouds allow you to ride Moore’s Law without additional investment.
  • Commercial Clouds are much cheaper than operating your own system.

SciDAC 2011 Conference Next Week in Denver

Each year, scientists participating in the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing Program (SciDAC), along with other researchers from the computational science community, gather at the annual SciDAC conference to present scientific results, discuss new technologies, and discover new approaches to collaboration. This year’s conference will be held July 10–14 in Denver, with the following contributions from Computing Sciences staff:

  • Ann Almgren: “From Convection to Explosion: End-to-End Simulation of a Type Ia Supernova” (poster)
  • Brian Austin: “Influences of Architecture and Threading on the MPI Communication Strategies in an Accelerator Simulation Code” (poster)
  • Hank Childs: “VisIt: Visualization and Analysis for Very Large Data” (poster)
  • Phil Colella: title TBD (poster)
  • Maciej Haranczyk: “Computational Carbon Capture in the Energy Frontier Research Center for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Air Technologies” and “Computational Approaches for the High-Throughput Analysis of Porous Materials for Energy-Related Applications” (poster)
  • Jihan Kim: “GPU Computational Screening of Carbon Capture Materials” (poster)
  • Alice Koniges: Program Committee
  • Wangyi Liu: “Modeling Droplet Breakup Effects with Diffuse-Interface Methods in ALE-AMR Code” (poster)
  • Filipe Maia: “Parallel Real-Time Ptychographic Image Reconstruction using GPUs” (poster)
  • Juan Meza: “Applied Energy Systems” and “ASCEM—The Advanced Simulation Capability for Environmental Management Program: Goals and Status”; Program Committee
  • Esmond Ng: “Advancing Nuclear Physics through TOPS Solvers and Tools” (poster)
  • Prabhat: “ExaHDF5: An I/O Platform for Exascale Data Models, Analysis and Performance” (poster)
  • Robert Preissl: “Address Space Communication Techniques for Gyrokinetic Fusion Applications on Ultra-Scale Platforms” (poster)
  • John Shalf: “New Challenges in the Next Decade” (panel co-chair) and Technical Session chair; Program Committee
  • Chaopeng Shen: “High Performance Computations of Subsurface Reactive Transport Processes at the Pore Scale” (poster)
  • Arie Shoshani: “The Scientific Data Management Center: Available Technologies and Highlights” (poster)
  • Daniela Ushizima: “Analysis and Visualization for Multiscale Control of Geologic CO2” (poster)
  • John Wawrzynek: “A Digital Design Infrastructure for Synthesis with Integrated Simulation” (poster)
  • Kathy Yelick: “New Challenges in the Next Decade” (panel)

The SciDAC Tutorials Day, organized by Andrew Uselton and David Skinner, will be Friday, July 15. Computing Sciences presenters include:

  • Hank Childs: “Advanced Visualization and Data Analysis with the VisIt Visualization System”
  • Tony Drummond: “DOE Advanced CompuTational Software (ACTS) Collection Tutorial”
  • Esmond Ng: “Towards Optimal Petascale Simulations (TOPS)”
  • Iwona Sakrejda: “Hadoop for Scientific Applications”

ESnet Staff Contributing to ESCC/Internet2 Joint Techs Conference

The Summer 2011 Joint Techs Conference, presented by the ESnet Coordinating Committee (ESCC) and Internet2, is being hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks next week from Sunday afternoon, July 10, through Thursday, July 14. Michael Sinatra of ESnet is co-chair of the IPv6 focus area; Brian Tierney is co-chair of Emerging Technologies; and Joe Metzger is chair of Performance/Measurement. ESnet staff are giving the following presentations:

  • Steve Cotter: “ESnet Update”
  • Eli Dart, Eric Pouyoul, and Brian Tierney: “Building a Data Transfer Node”
  • Inder Monga (with Samrat Ganguly, NEC Corporation): “Openflow with OSCARS: Bridging the Gap between Campus, Data Centers and the WAN”
  • Taghrid Samak: “Scalable Network Measurement Analysis With Hadoop”
  • Michael Sinatra (and four others): “Panel: IPv6 Campus Deployments”
  • Brian Tierney or Phil DeMar: “ESnet Distributed Help Desk”

Safety Suggestions Lead to Improvements: Pedestrian Crossing Sign Removed

A Computational Research Division employee has been recognized with a SPOT Award for the best CS Safety Suggestion or Near Miss for January–April 2011: Dan Martin reported a dangerous situation for cyclists heading up Cyclotron Road.

A pedestrian crossing sign had been installed in the middle of the crosswalk located between the Blackberry Gate and Building 65 to increase visibility, but it had the unintended consequence of making it difficult for vehicles to pass cyclists traveling uphill. The mid-road sign created a “pinch point” for vehicles passing cyclists. Drivers would try to squeeze back to the right side of the road, traveling very close to cyclists, in order to get past the sign. One driver even pulled all the way into the oncoming traffic lane, on this blind curve, in order to avoid hitting the sign.

In order to make the Lab safer for both cyclists and drivers, Facilities announced removal of the sign on June 8, 2011. Safety Suggestions and Near Miss events should be reported to Betsy MacGowan at 510-495-2826. For emergencies call x7911 or 911 from a cell phone.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

Uncertainty Quantification Summer Reading Group: Statistics
Wednesday, July 6, 3:00–4:00 pm, 50B-4205
Chris Paciorek, UC Berkeley

The group will discuss two papers: “Bayesian Calibration of Computer Models” and “A Framework for Validation of Computer Models.”

Link of the Week: How the Hippies Saved Physics

Today, quantum information theory—a broad field that includes quantum computing and quantum cryptography—is among the most exciting scientific frontiers, attracting billions of dollars in funding and thousands of talented researchers. But as MIT physicist and historian David Kaiser reveals in a new book, this cutting-edge field has a surprisingly psychedelic past in the New Age and counterculture movements of the 1970s San Francisco Bay Area. How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival introduces us to a band of freewheeling physicists who defied the imperative to "shut up and calculate" and helped to rejuvenate modern physics.

For physicists, the 1970s were a time of stagnation. Jobs became scarce, and conformity was encouraged, sometimes stifling exploration of the mysteries of the physical world. Dissatisfied, underemployed, and eternally curious, an eccentric group of physicists in Berkeley banded together to throw off the constraints of the physics mainstream and explore the wilder side of science. Dubbing themselves the "Fundamental Fysiks Group"—and meeting here at Berkeley Lab on Friday afternoons, as well as in restaurants off-campus, cafes in North Beach, and later in seminars at Esalen—they pursued an audacious, speculative approach to physics.

They studied quantum entanglement and Bell's Theorem through the lens of Eastern mysticism and psychic mind-reading, discussing the latest research while lounging in hot tubs. Some even dabbled with LSD to enhance their creativity. The group engendered some best-selling books, including Fritjof Capra's Tao of Physics and Gary Zukav's Dancing Wu Li Masters, which fascinated wide audiences while being scoffed at by mainstream scientists. Unlikely as it may seem, these iconoclasts spun modern physics in a new direction, forcing mainstream physicists to pay attention to the strange but exciting underpinnings of quantum theory.

An excerpt from How the Hippies Saved Physics was published last week in Scientific American; and David Kaiser describes how he came to write the book on the NPR science and culture blog. The blog entry highlights how the group's work became mainstream, including:

  • Fundamental Fysiks Group members dominated worldwide publications on Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement, recognizing their groundbreaking importance years before most physicists began to pay attention to the topic.
  • Every single demonstration that quantum entanglement could be compatible with Einstein's relativity came either directly from members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group or as direct responses to their calculations and thought experiments.
  • In the process of refuting a particularly clever thought experiment by group member Nick Herbert, three separate groups of physicists discovered the "no-cloning theorem," a fundamental feature of quantum theory that no one had ever recognized before. The no-cloning theorem became the linchpin of the first protocol for quantum encryption.

Berkeley Lab theoretical physicist Henry Stapp, now retired, was a charter member of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, and throughout his career he continued research on quantum mechanics and consciousness. Read more here and find links to Stapp’s publications here. A second edition of Stapp’s book Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer will be published soon.

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.