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These visualizations show ice flow velocity at the surface from satellite observations (top) and as reconstructed from parameters derived by solving the inverse problem. The scale is kilometers per year. The inverse reconstruction most closely matches reality in the critical coastal areas. (Tobin Isaac, University of Texas.)

Slippery subject

February 11th, 2015 Updated: February 9th, 2015

University of Texas researchers are out to improve computational models of ice sheets by refining estimates of basal friction: how much rocks and earth slow the sheet’s movement.


Undersea link to LHC

December 30th, 2014 Updated: December 30th, 2014

The Energy Science Network, the high-speed fiber optic data pipeline that has connected all 17 U.S. national laboratories for almost 30 years, will cross the Atlantic Ocean this year. The network will link with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva and with other information-intensive European research projects. The network, managed by Lawrence Berkeley National […]


Since 2000, RHIC – for Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider – has pushed gold ions to near-light speeds around a 2.4-mile racetrack at Brookhaven National Laboratory. This is an image from the collider's Star detector.

A smashing success

December 30th, 2014 Updated: December 30th, 2014

The world’s particle colliders unite to share and analyze massive volumes of data.


A small subset of the particles from the Dark Sky Simulation Collaboration, showing a massive galaxy cluster at the center. Particles are colored by their incoming (blue) or outgoing (red) velocity with respect to the cluster. (See i

Universe in a day

November 19th, 2014 Updated: November 19th, 2014

A team working on the Titan supercomputer simulates the biggest thing of all in a flash, then shares.


Making hydrogen

October 8th, 2014 Updated: October 8th, 2014

On the roads around the Bay Area in 2015, there’s a good chance Brandon Wood will spot one of the first commercially available hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles: Toyota’s 2015 FC (fuel cell) car. The Toyota’s fuel cells will electrochemically combine hydrogen with oxygen to generate electricity, producing water as the only chemical emission. However, drivers will […]


Liquid water molecules binding to a surface a promising photoactive system, called InP, for generating hydrogen using sunlight and water.

Back to the hydrogen future

October 8th, 2014 Updated: October 8th, 2014

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Computational Science Graduate Fellowship alum Brandon Wood applies the world’s most sophisticated molecular dynamics codes on America’s leading supercomputers to model hydrogen’s reaction kinetics.


Sidebar: Joints modeling: A worldwide movement

September 9th, 2014 Updated: September 9th, 2014

Matthew Brake, a principal research scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico, estimates that several thousand researchers worldwide are striving to improve how mechanical joints are modeled on computers. Many work in laboratories led by 80 active members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Research Committee on the Mechanics of Jointed Structures, which Brake […]


The multiple components of a nuclear weapon body are highlighted in this intentionally simplified mesh. Each part is comprised of numerous subcomponents, fastened together with screws, nuts, bolts, jar-lid-like fittings and more. (Sandia National Laboratories.)

Joint venture

September 9th, 2014 Updated: September 12th, 2014

Sandia National Laboratories investigators turn to advanced modeling to test the reliability of the joints that hold nuclear missiles together.



Life underground

August 19th, 2014 Updated: August 16th, 2014

A PNNL team builds models of deep-earth water flows that affect the tiny organisms that can make big contributions to climate-changing gases.


In this false-color image, NuSTAR data, which show high-energy X-rays from radioactive material, are colored blue. Lower-energy X-rays from non-radioactive material, imaged previously with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, are shown in red, yellow and green. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO.)

Supernova shocks

May 6th, 2014 Updated: May 6th, 2014

More than 10 years after simulations first suggested its presence, observations appear to confirm that a key instability drives the shock behind one kind of supernova.


Big explosions, big pictures

May 6th, 2014 Updated: May 6th, 2014

For discovering significant supernova phenomena and simulation flaws, several pairs of eyes beat pages of numbers, Anthony Mezzacappa says. Data visualization has been a key tool as he and his fellow astrophysicists model the standing accretion shock instability (SASI) in core-collapse supernovae, says Mezzacappa, director of the Joint Institute for Computational Science at Oak Ridge […]


Permafrost creates a polygonal landscape, irregularity that makes simulating thawing’s impact on climate change a challenge requiring advanced algorithms and high-performance computers. (Photo: Konstanze Piel, Alfred Wegener Institute.)

After the thaw

February 19th, 2014 Updated: February 19th, 2014

Simulations of melting permafrost promise changes in climate modeling.


A cosmological simulation with the Nyx code. The white lines represent the edges of a small sample of the universe, about 50 million light years on a side, at redshift about 3.5 billion years after the Big Bang. Shown are baryons at two different densities: blue is about twice the mean baryon density in the universe; the yellow is about 10 times. The blue regions approximate areas that give rise to the Lyman-Alpha forest signal; yellow is a rough representation of regions where gas coalesces into galaxies. (Simulation by Zarija Lukić, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Image by Casey Stark, University of California, Berkeley.)

Rewinding the universe

December 17th, 2013 Updated: December 18th, 2013

Dark energy propels the universe to expand faster and faster. Researchers are using simulations to test different conceptions about how this happens.


Scalability (red line) of the triples part of the re-normalized EOMCCSD(T) approach in excited-state calculations for porphyrin-coronene complex. Timings were determined from calculations on the Jaguar Cray XT5 computer system.

Balancing act

October 31st, 2013 Updated: October 31st, 2013

A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher is developing approaches to spread the work evenly over scads of processors in a high-performance computer and to keep calculations clicking even as part of the machine has a hiccup.


Sizing up the scales

September 30th, 2013 Updated: September 30th, 2013

Exploring the breaking and rejoining of magnetic-field lines requires simulations and computation. A simulation’s accuracy, however, depends on various issues of scale. Magnetic reconnection’s multiscale nature exacerbates the challenge of simulating it. Early research was based entirely on fluid models in just two dimensions, since kinetic simulations were infeasible. Kinetic modeling requires the space and […]


This visualization from a kinetic magnetic reconnection model shows magnetic flux ropes (blue) along a selection of magnetic field lines (yellow). A movie of such a simulation helps scientists explore the three-dimensional structure of the process, including the flux ropes interacting. (These findings come from work published this year by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Yi-Hsin et al. in Physical Review Letters, 110.265004.)

Predicting solar assaults

September 30th, 2013 Updated: September 30th, 2013

When Earth’s magnetosphere snaps and crackles, power and communications technologies can break badly. Three-dimensional simulations of magnetic reconnection aim to forecast the space storms that disrupt and damage.


A model of a nanocluster comprised of 11 gold atoms with attached ligand atoms. (Yan Li, Brookhaven National Laboratory.)

Quantum gold

September 12th, 2013 Updated: September 12th, 2013

Driven by what’s missing in experiments, Brookhaven’s Yan Li applies quantum mechanics to compute the physical properties of materials.


OSIRIS simulation on Sequoia of the interaction of a fast-ignition-scale laser with a dense deuterium-tritium plasma. The laser field is shown in green. The blue arrows illustrate the magnetic field lines at the plasma interface. The red/yellow spheres are laser-accelerated electrons that will heat and ignite the fuel.

Star power

August 28th, 2013 Updated: August 28th, 2013

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher simulates the physics that fuel the sun, with an eye toward creating a controllable fusion device that can deliver abundant, carbon-free energy.


Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier.

Deciphering the big thaw

July 16th, 2013 Updated: July 16th, 2013

Scientists thought they had figured out what ended the last ice age – except for one nagging problem. Researchers using Oak Ridge National Laboratory computers may now have discovered the final answer.



Foiling airflow error

June 4th, 2013 Updated: June 4th, 2013

Portraying airflow over wings and other fluid movement is tricky. A Department of Energy award for early-career researchers is helping a former DOE CSGF fellow devise mathematical methods to decrease the error rate in fluid modeling.


Display of a multijet event from a CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. (CERN.)

Cosmic questions

March 18th, 2013 Updated: March 18th, 2013

MIT’s Dragos Velicanu is helping sort through data from the Large Hadron Collider for clues to the mysteries surrounding the strong force and the early universe.


Seeking new angles

March 18th, 2013 Updated: March 18th, 2013

Dragos Velicanu likes to look at just about everything from a fresh perspective. “Outside work, I like to travel, go camping, hiking, skiing – basically see the world from all elevations, seasons and angles,” says the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship recipient at MIT. What’s more, he’s fortunate that his advisor is Gunther […]


A sequence of false color images generated from a numerical simulation show a MagLIF liner as it is heated by a laser in preparation for an implosion.

Sun on Earth

January 24th, 2013 Updated: January 24th, 2013

Simulations at Sandia National Laboratories reveal that using magnetism to heat and insulate fusion fuel could recreate solar conditions in the lab.


Putting Big Squeeze Fusion to the Test

January 22nd, 2013 Updated: January 22nd, 2013

A new Sandia National Laboratories-based approach to fusion that’s shown promise in computational simulations has passed its first bricks-and-mortar experimental test. MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion) envisions using Sandia’s Z machine as a massive magnetic vise to implode, and thus heat, a tiny cylinder full of deuterium to Sun-like temperatures, igniting a fusion reaction. “I […]



Filling in the blanks

November 27th, 2012 Updated: November 27th, 2012

To prevent important information from being missed, a Berkeley Lab team is improving how supercomputers divvy up the ponderous tasks surrounding large simulations’ analytics and visualization.