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GEMS program for middle-school girls begins

The first middle-school girls to participate in the program are in their 30s now, which demonstrates the longevity and popularity of Girls Engaged in Math and Science (GEMS). GEMS (originally called Engaging Young Women in Science, but given the catchier moniker in 1998) was created to encourage girls to consider math and science careers and to gain confidence in doing math and science. Participants have...

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engine combustion simulation

Assanis models combustion in car engines

It's a common quandary for automobile manufacturers: Clean air laws require reductions in pollutants and increases in fuel efficiency, while market pressures push for new designs on faster timelines. Dennis Assanis, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's mechanical and industrial engineering department, performed pioneering work modeling turbulent flows in vehicle engines throughout the mid-1990s on NCSA's high-performance computers. The goal was a "numerical engine"...

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NCSA Mosaic

NCSA Mosaic is released

People had created Web browsers before. In fact Tim Berners-Lee, who first conceived of the World Wide Web while working at CERN, built a rudimentary one himself in 1990. Prior to anyone at NCSA putting down a line of code, researchers in Palo Alto and Berkeley and Helsinki were circulating their own versions, frequently with melodious names like Viola and Cello. NCSA Mosaic broke out in...

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Wai-mo Suen/Ed Seidel gravitational wave simulation

Colliding black holes

As funding and construction of the National Science Foundation's Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatories got under way, NCSA researchers were already hard at work, defining the gravitational wave signatures that LIGO would pick up. These observatories, now complete, are among the most sensitive instruments in the world, able to detect variations in the Earth's gravitational field. Cataclysmic astrophysical events—exploding supernovae or colliding black holes, say—are thought...

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NCSA’s CM-5 installed

A radical Thinking Machines Corporation (TMC) redesign, the CM-5 employed off-the-shelf SPARC processors with four 64-bit vector units added on. It was the first large scale "massively parallel" computing system to be employed by the National Science Foundation MetaCenter project and was one of the most popular systems for running some of most computationally intensive Grand Challenge computations. The CM-5 was a message-passing, distributed memory, massively...

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CONVEX C3880 enters production

NCSA users solved more complex problems with the arrival of a large-memory, eight-processor CONVEX C3880 supercomputer. Replacing the CONVEX C240, the CONVEX C3880 became the new center of NCSA's Numerical Laboratory, which explored interactive visualization, multimedia desktop video, and virtual reality. "We have cultivated a user base for very large memory applications on our Cray-2 supercomputer," said Michael Norman, NCSA research scientist in astronomy/astrophysics and Illinois...

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Eli Lilly develops asthma drug

David Herron of Eli Lilly and Company harnessed high-performance computing to aid the fight against asthma from the moment the company joined NCSA's Industrial Program, now the Private Sector Program, in 1987. Herron and the Lilly research team studied a class of small molecules known as leukotrienes, which cause the lungs to stiffen and become irritated. Lilly's goal was to develop receptor antagonists that recognize...

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Sever Tipei

Musical composition moves to the machine room

Sever Tipei, a professor in the University of Illinois' School of Music, saw a connection that, he said, had been lost on many people since the days of the Renaissance. He saw music and computation as sharing a common underpinning. With the help of NCSA researchers, he created a series of pieces that relied on the center's Cray Y-MP supercomputer. He established the parameters using...

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3D volumetric rendering of mummy

Mummies don't make their way to Central Illinois that often; when one does, you hate to destroy it while unraveling its secrets. The University of Illinois' World Heritage Museum received a donated Egyptian mummy in 1989. An interdisciplinary team, including NCSA, then worked to better understand the mummification process and to determine the mummy's age, sex, medical history, and cause of death. Two-dimensional CT scans were...

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CONVEX C240 comes online

The CONVEX C240 system—with 1 billion bytes of memory, and 50,000 calculations per second—came online in early 1991. The C240 formed the heart of NCSA's Numerical Laboratory, a research and development environment for interactive, three-dimensional visualization. In interactive visualization, the researcher sitting at a graphics workstation steers a supercomputer simulation and the accompanying visualization simultaneously in real time. The C240's large memory made it an effective...

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