Supercomputing has long been used in weather forecasting. It can be used to predict next week's weather or model the climate for the next century. However, along with hardware costs, the overall price of supercomputing is coming down. Cloud computing is putting supercomputing within the reach of small organizations and researchers without enormous budgets. The revolutionary use of supercomputing is well within reach.
Evolutionary design takes many different concepts and their parameters into consideration before combining their features into hundreds of different designs. Each design is modeled and tested in a simulation. Those that don't meet pre-specified performance criteria are set aside. The best designs are either recommended to the engineering team, or run through another round of recombination to come up with even better designs. This approach is already being used to design lighter, more efficient engines and batteries with a greater storage capacity without taking up more space.
Greater Energy Efficiency
Supercomputing is already being used to find small but meaningful improvements in energy efficiency. Computer modeling revealed that putting a plastic shield on the bottom of diesel trucks led to a 7% improvement in fuel efficiency. The Department of Energy is planning on using supercomputing to design safer, cheaper nuclear reactors for green energy without the risk of meltdown or the cost of building test reactors.
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Simulations of the brain may allow us to perform medical tests on a virtual brain that would be impossible in the real world because of ethical concerns. Another exciting real world application of supercomputing is the modeling of various molecules and medical compounds. Understanding how proteins fold and the warped structure created by many genetic disorders may lead to new treatments for these disorders. Better simulations of the human body coupled with simulations of various medicinal candidates could lead to the faster discovery of new drugs with far less human testing. The Translational Research Institute in Australia announced in June of 2013 that it will use supercomputing to study diseases like Malaria and HIV.
Computer models have been used to simulate disease outbreaks for years. The EpiSimdemics was used to model the H1N1 flu pandemic so that it could be contained. Supercomputing was also used to determine the structure of the virus; this information was used to determine which drugs might work against the avian flu.
Supercomputers are also being used to analyze genomic data for genes that correspond to different disorders or predispose one to various health problems. The powerful technology is credited with finding genetic patterns related to autism spectrum disorder and other brain disorders. Supercomputers are being used to map the bloodstream so that differences between health patients and those with hydrocephalus can be understood. In time, we may better understand the cardiovascular effects of traumatic brain injury and strokes.
Research and Development
Supercomputing is being used to build simulations of the universe. The tech is also being used to model the Earth so that we can better model earthquakes. But while supercomputing is still very useful in meteorology, it is being used more and more in other fields today.
Edited by Ryan Sartor