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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2019-08-21 00:05:50
    • Article ID: 717796

    ECP’s Exastar Project Seeks Answers Hidden in the Cosmos

    • Credit: Michael Sandoval of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the ExaStar project

      This simulation image is of the isotopic composition of the ejecta of a core-collapse supernova as the shock breaks through the surface of the star after approximately a day from core bounce. Shown are helium (blue), carbon (green), and radioactive nickel (red).

    Prodigious and mysterious, the cosmos has many important secrets to reveal through its stars exploding as supernovae and its colliding neutron stars and black holes.

    “In those astrophysical explosions, you reach some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, much greater than anything we can achieve here on Earth, and so you can probe physics at new regimes,” said Daniel Kasen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and principal investigator of ExaStar, a project within the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project. “You can probe matter denser than the atomic nucleus. You can probe extreme gravitational fields that produce ripples in space time, gravitational waves.”

    Scientists believe that roiling inside these colossal blasts were the cauldrons in which the heaviest elements of the universe were fused.

    ExaStar aims to create simulations for comparison with experiments and observations to help answer a variety of questions: Why is there more iron than gold in the universe? Why is anything rarer than anything else? Why is finding transuranic elements on the face of the earth difficult? “At the same time, we want to figure out how space and time get warped by gravitational waves, how neutrinos and other subatomic particles were produced in these explosions, and how they sort of lead us down to a chain of events that finally produced us,” said Bronson Messer of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the ExaStar team.

    As new experimental facilities come online and unveil more about the universe, from the microscopic to the massive scales, the bridge between those scales is computer simulation, Kasen said. Yet the computational tasks involved are far from easy.

    “It’s difficult because we’re solving many different physics problems coupled together in a multiphysics simulation,” Kasen said. “For a supernova explosion, for example, we have to model the physics of gravity as a star collapses and dies but coupled to the hydrodynamics of how gas becomes turbulent, drives shocks and is expelled in the explosion, coupled to the nuclear reactions whereby the heavy elements were formed. Also included is radiation such as neutrinos and photons that are propagating through and producing the signals that we ultimately observe. So, that’s the grand challenge. Doing it with the requisite fidelity will require exascale computing resources.”

    The pre-exascale supercomputer Summit at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, ORNL, is helping the ExaStar team advance toward the needed precision. “Summit has allowed us to take pieces of the microphysics that we include in ExaStar simulations and really improve the physical fidelity in a lot of ways,” Messer said. “The most obvious example that we have is we were able to take the nuclear networks—the set of equations that tell us how one set of elements transmutes into another set of elements—and instead of using a schematic thirteen-element network, we were able to expand to hundreds of isotopes and run that in the same amount of time on Summit that it would take the smaller network to run on Titan. This has meant that we can actually make predictions that can be matched up to telescope observations both here on Earth and in space.”

    The key feature of Summit that enabled the big leap in physical fidelity was the computational power of the GPUs. “We harnessed the power to solve our equations very, very fast,” Messer said. “With the level of improved speed we’re going to get with the new set of GPUs on Frontier [the upcoming exascale supercomputer], we’ll be able to add more and more realism. We intend to take other pieces of the physics that we don’t currently have on Summit, put those on the GPUs on Frontier, and we hope to get the entire simulation to run a lot faster. So, instead of taking perhaps on the order of a month, which is what it takes us to run a supernova simulation or a neutron star merger simulation now, we hope to get that down to less than a week. And then we will actually be able to do science with those runs.”

    Scientists have been simulating astrophysical explosions for many decades. Although they have made great progress in understanding the fundamental elements of the simulation, computational expense has been a barrier in getting a grasp on how the explosions happen and how the heavy elements are formed. The speedup and memory capabilities of exascale computing could remove that obstacle.

    “I think we can look forward to resources like Frontier and be hopeful we’ll reach a tipping point in the science whereby we’ll be able to actually treat all the key physics with the requisite fidelity,” Kasen said. “We will move from understanding the basic elements of the explosion to being able to do predictive science determining how a supernova depends on certain parameters and types of stars. We’re about to enter a future in which exascale simulations are going to be the linchpin between the microscopic- and astrophysical-scale experiments.”

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    AI for Plant Breeding in an Ever-Changing Climate

    AI for Plant Breeding in an Ever-Changing Climate

    In this Q&A, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Dan Jacobson talks about his team's work on a genomic selection algorithm, his vision for the future of environmental genomics, and the space where simulation meets AI.

    A New Parallel Strategy for Tackling Turbulence on Summit

    A New Parallel Strategy for Tackling Turbulence on Summit

    A team at Georgia Tech created a new turbulence algorithm optimized for the Summit supercomputer. It reached a performance of less than 15 seconds of wall-clock time per time step for more than 6 trillion grid points--a new world record surpassing the prior state of the art in the field for the size of the problem.

    Modeling Every Building in America Starts with Chattanooga

    Modeling Every Building in America Starts with Chattanooga

    An ORNL team used the Titan supercomputer to model every building serviced by the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga--all 178,368 of them--and discovered that EPB could potentially save $11-$35 million per year by adjusting electricity usage during peak critical times.

    Climate Change Expected to Shift Location of East Asian Monsoons

    Climate Change Expected to Shift Location of East Asian Monsoons

    More than a billion people in Asia depend on seasonal monsoons for their water needs. The Asian monsoon is closely linked to a planetary-scale tropical air flow which, according to a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will most likely shift geographically as the climate continues to warm, resulting in less rainfall in certain regions.

    Nuclear warheads? This robot can find them

    Nuclear warheads? This robot can find them

    PPPL and Princeton University are developing a unique neutron-detector robot for arms control and nuclear security purposes. The robot recently passed a key neutron-detection test.

    Deep neural networks speed up weather and climate models

    Deep neural networks speed up weather and climate models

    A team of environmental and computation scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are collaborating to use deep neural networks, a type of machine learning, to replace the parameterizations of certain physical schemes in the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, an extremely comprehensive model that simulates the evolution of many aspects of the physical world around us.

    New AI Model Tries to Synthesize Patient Data Like Doctors Do

    New AI Model Tries to Synthesize Patient Data Like Doctors Do

    A new approach developed by PNNL scientists improves the accuracy of patient diagnosis up to 20 percent when compared to other embedding approaches.

    Scientists Explore Egyptian Mummy Bones With X-Rays and Infrared Light to Gain New Insight on Ancient Life

    Scientists Explore Egyptian Mummy Bones With X-Rays and Infrared Light to Gain New Insight on Ancient Life

    Experiments at Berkeley Lab are casting a new light on Egyptian soil and ancient mummified bone samples that could provide a richer understanding of daily life and environmental conditions thousands of years ago. In a two-monthslong research effort that concluded in late August, two researchers from Cairo University in Egypt brought 32 bone samples and two soil samples to study using X-ray and infrared light-based techniques at the Lab's Advanced Light Source.

    Etalumis 'Reverses' Simulations to Reveal New Science

    Etalumis 'Reverses' Simulations to Reveal New Science

    A multinational collaboration using computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center has developed the first probabilistic programming framework capable of controlling existing simulators and running at large-scale on HPC platforms.

    Deep Learning Expands Study of Nuclear Waste Remediation

    Deep Learning Expands Study of Nuclear Waste Remediation

    A research collaboration between Berkeley Lab, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Brown University, and NVIDIA has achieved exaflop performance with a deep learning application used to model subsurface flow in the study of nuclear waste remediation


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    ORNL to host 13 teams for DOE CyberForce Competition

    ORNL to host 13 teams for DOE CyberForce Competition

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory will give college students the chance to practice cybersecurity skills in a real-world setting as a host of the Department of Energy's fifth collegiate CyberForce Competition on Nov. 16.

    Argonne nuclear engineer J'Tia Hart selected to Crain's Chicago Business "40 Under 40"

    Argonne nuclear engineer J'Tia Hart selected to Crain's Chicago Business "40 Under 40"

    Argonne nuclear engineer J'Tia Hart has been named to Crain's Chicago Business's "40 Under 40" list, which recognizes young leaders in a variety of fields.

    Lab-Wide Stormwater Capture, Transportation Savings and Clean-Up Efforts Win Federal Recognition

    Lab-Wide Stormwater Capture, Transportation Savings and Clean-Up Efforts Win Federal Recognition

    Argonne National Laboratory has won a regional Federal Green Challenge award for conserving resources and saving taxpayers' money.

    PPPL wins $70,000 in project funding from DOE for entrepreneurship

    PPPL wins $70,000 in project funding from DOE for entrepreneurship

    The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for two projects to encourage entrepreneurship and mentor and encourage potential entrepreneurs.

    Brookhaven-Commonwealth Fusion Energy Project Wins DOE Funding

    Brookhaven-Commonwealth Fusion Energy Project Wins DOE Funding

    Brookhaven's Superconducting Magnet Division will partner with industry to develop and characterize superconducting power cables.

    U.S. Department of Energy to Hold Fifth CyberForce Competition(tm)

    U.S. Department of Energy to Hold Fifth CyberForce Competition(tm)

    Going on its fourth year, DOE's CyberForce Competition(tm) on Nov. 15-16 will give teams of cybersecurity students and professionals the opportunity to compete and refine their skills in real-time at 10 national laboratories across the U.S.

    Daniel Gruen awarded 2019 Panofsky Fellowship at SLAC

    Daniel Gruen awarded 2019 Panofsky Fellowship at SLAC

    Daniel Gruen's work on how massive objects bend light from distant galaxies is aimed at unraveling some of the greatest mysteries of modern physics: What is dark matter? What is dark energy, and how is it accelerating the expansion of the universe?

    DOE Announces FY 2020 Small Business Innovation Research Funding Opportunity

    The Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs issued its FY 2020 Phase II Release 1 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) with approximately $97 million in available funding.

    Research effort by Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago results in R&D 100 Award

    Research effort by Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago results in R&D 100 Award

    A joint effort by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago has led to a prestigious R&D 100 Award and is expected to bring an innovation closer to market so it ultimately can be used in many industrial applications.

    Department of Energy Awards Fermilab Funding for Next-Generation Dark Matter Research

    Department of Energy Awards Fermilab Funding for Next-Generation Dark Matter Research

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it has awarded scientists at its Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory funding to boost research on dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up an astounding 85% of the matter in the universe.


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    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Scientists designed and connected two different artificial cells to each other to produce molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Bone and mollusk shells are composite systems that combine living cells and inorganic components. This allows them to regenerate and change structure while also being very strong and durable. Borrowing from this amazing complexity, researchers have been exploring a new class of materials called engineered living materials (ELMs).

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Researchers developed two new methods to assess and remove error in how scientists measure quantum systems. By reducing quantum "noise" - uncertainty inherent to quantum processes - these new methods improve accuracy and precision.

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    Lanthanum strontium manganite (LSMO) is a widely applicable material, from magnetic tunnel junctions to solid oxide fuel cells. However, when it gets thin, its behavior changes for the worse. The reason why was not known. Now, using two theoretical methods, a team determined what happens.

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    How an ion behaves when isolated within an analytical instrument can differ from how it behaves in the environment. Now, Xue-Bin Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a way to bring ions and molecules together in clusters to better discover their properties and predict their behavior.

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Shape affects how the particles fit together and, in turn, the resulting material. For the first time, a team observed the self-assembly of nanoparticles with tetrahedral shapes.

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    This study is the first to confirm dust particles pre-dating the formation of our solar system. Further study of these materials will enable a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and have since altered them.

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Future fusion reactors will require materials that can withstand extreme operating conditions, including being bombarded by high-energy neutrons at high temperatures. Scientists recently irradiated titanium diboride (TiB2) in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to better understand the effects of fusion neutrons on performance.

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Scientists can use genetic information to measure if microbes in the environment can perform specific ecological roles. Researchers recently analyzed the genomes of over 6,000 microbial species.


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