See articles listed chronologically
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.


Going deep

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

The discovery of that our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate garnered a 2011 Nobel Prize for Saul Perlmutter of the Supernova Cosmology Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, but the finding also opened up a plethora of new questions about what is happening in the far reaches of deep space. There, researchers glimpse […]


The NDM-1 enzyme's structure revealed a large cavity (dark gray) capable of binding a variety of known antibiotics (shown in different colors). Once bound, the enzyme can cut the carbapenem ring, destroying the compound's antibiotic activity. Modeling the interactions computationally can allow researchers to design compounds that will readily adhere to NDM-1 and prevent it from binding with antibiotics. (Argonne National Laboratory.)

Overcoming resistance

October 18th, 2012 Updated: October 18th, 2012

To find a path around antibiotic resistance, a team working with the Intrepid supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory is simulating molecular binding interactions to rapidly vet new infection-fighting candidates.


A timely death

October 18th, 2012 Updated: October 18th, 2012

Speed kills, as the slogan says, and in computers what it kills could be disease. Argonne National Laboratory researcher Andrew Binkowski’s calculations of protein structure help find ligands – smaller molecules – that attach to them, to deliver drugs that stop dangerous infections. But without supercomputers it could take months to model a single ligand, […]


A spontaneous collaboration

September 6th, 2012 Updated: September 6th, 2012

In 2007, when Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers calculated that adding boron would bend carbon nanotubes, they did little with the information. Boron was one of several elements the computational scientists plugged into their model as they investigated ways to induce useful changes in nanotube structures. There were experiments to compare with the results […]


nanosponge boomerang

Kinky nanotubes

September 6th, 2012 Updated: September 6th, 2012

With the help of Oak Ridge computations, scientists are probing the properties of macroscale sponges made of nanoscale carbon-boron tubes. The material could soak up oil spills, help store energy or meet other needs.


A visualization of a Vlasov-Poisson simulation for a bump-on-tail instability problem, where a non-equilibrium distribution of electrons drives an electrostatic wave. The image shows particle density as a function of space and velocity. (Jeffrey Hittinger, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.)

A passion for pressure

August 15th, 2012 Updated: August 15th, 2012

Plasmas are the purview of Livermore scientist and Computational Science Graduate Fellowship alumnus Jeffrey Hittinger. He works both sides of the fusion street – inertial confinement and magnetic confinement – while simulating aspects of these tremendously hot, fast-moving particle clouds.


A still from an animation of methane, the blue and silver molecules, escaping from a methane hydrate, the red and silver molecules water molecules that form a cage around methane molecules. (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.)

Twice-stuffed permafrost

July 31st, 2012 Updated: July 31st, 2012

A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory computation suggests that the water-gas compounds found in ocean permafrost can provide energy and store it, too – and then trap carbon dioxide.


Time evolution of the primary convective activity (white) and lightning (red dots) for Hurricane Rita. (Image: Jon Reisner, Los Alamos National Laboratory.)

Enlightening predictions

June 6th, 2012 Updated: June 7th, 2012

Computer simulations of hurricane lightning could be the key to predicting and avoiding the storms’ real-world punch.


University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers are using X-ray scans and computational models to learn the secrets of mantis shrimp, crustaceans who fire their appendages with amazing speed and force to ward off enemies and capture prey. On the left is a freeze frame from a high-speed video of an experiment in which a materials-testing machine compresses a mantis shrimp appendage to mimic the way the crustacean would prepare to strike. On the right is a finite element computer model of the appendage under similar loading conditions. Blue, or cold, regions represent areas with low calculated strain energy density. Red, or hot, regions have high calculated strain energy density. The comparisons show the model’s predicted behavior resembles the appendage’s physical behavior. (Images: Michael Rosario, University of Massachusetts Amherst. A video, "An inside look at the mantis shrimp's punching mechanism," is available in the Related Links box at right.)

Prime-time punch

March 26th, 2012 Updated: February 22nd, 2013

The mantis shrimp packs one of the strongest punches on Earth. Computational Science Graduate Fellow Michael Rosario is investigating the physics, design and material properties behind the crustacean’s prey-crunching wallop. His research has landed him on the National Geographic Wild channel.


Multi-scale model of arterial blood flow.

Inside the skull

February 14th, 2012 Updated: February 14th, 2012

Modeling the elements of blood flow in the brain could help neurosurgeons to predict when and where an aneurysm might rupture – and when to operate.


(a) Traditional approaches to address volume-change in battery materials use acetylene black as the conductive additive and PVDF polymer as the mechanical binder. (b) Conductive polymer with dual functionality, as a conductor and binder, could keep both the electric and mechanical integrity of the electrode during the battery cycles. (c) PF-type conductive polymers' molecular structure, with two key function groups in PFFOMB (carbonyl and methylbenzoic ester) tailor the conduction band and improve the mechanical binding force. (Click to enlarge schematic, courtesy of Lin-Wang Wang, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.)

Power boost

January 19th, 2012 Updated: January 19th, 2012

Berkeley scientists have combined computational modeling and advanced materials synthesis to devise a low-cost anode that bolsters the feasibility of long-life lithium-ion batteries.