Creating ‘Global Virtual Supercomputer’ Topic of Lecture at UH

CERN’s Bob Jones to discuss positive impact of ‘grid computing’ on science

Researchers in both academia and business have a growing need for very large computing power to solve problems that range from minimizing global warming to finding cures for genetic diseases. This need will be discussed in a free public lecture at the University of Houston Friday, Feb. 22.

The organization that often is credited with "inventing" the World Wide Web now is tackling the problem of how to deliver maximum computer power at the same time to researchers across the globe. CERN, a French acronym for the Swiss-based European Organization for Nuclear Research, is addressing this challenge with a paradigm called ‘grid computing' that essentially allows a user to access very large scale computer resources regardless of location around the clock. It is very much akin to one giant virtual supercomputer made up of smaller supercomputers from across the world.

As part of the Texas Learning and Computation Center (TLC2) Distinguished Lecture Series, CERN's Bob Jones will discuss how grid computing is used to create a seamless global computing infrastructure to advance science and technology.

Jones is CERN's project director of EGEE (Enabling Grids for e-Science), the world's largest grid infrastructure dedicated solely to science. Currently, more than 200 virtual organizations (sets of independent organizations sharing resources through computer networks) use EGEE in such fields as high-energy physics, biomedicine, earth sciences, astronomy, gaming and finance. Jones will share how the EGEE infrastructure, spread out over 48 countries in Europe, Russia, Asia and the Americas, is able to help advance science.

CERN is one of the world's largest and most respected centers for scientific research. It developed the protocols that drive the Internet to help increase communication between researchers living in different countries. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter - the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of nature.

UH Physics Professor Lawrence Pinsky is part of an international team studying heavy ion collisions through a project at CERN called ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment). The incredible number of particles produced in the collision of these relativistic heavy ions - as many as 80,000 per collision with thousands of collisions occurring every second - requires very large computing power that makes grid computing a valuable ally in advancing our understanding of the universe.

WHO: Bob Jones, EGEE Project Director
CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
WHAT: TLC2 Distinguished Lecture
"Science on the Grid"
WHEN: 11 a.m. to noon
Friday, Feb. 22
WHERE: University of Houston
Philip G. Hoffman Hall, Room 232
Entrance 14 off Cullen Boulevard

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