Science Highlights

Data data everywhere, including HUBzero hubs, where it’s ready for researchers to put it to work

Ann Christine Catlin’s ITaP Research Computing (RCAC) group is augmenting Purdue’s HUBzero platform for the “big data” era, making it possible for researchers to collaborate in analyzing data and generating new knowledge on a broad range of topics, from earthquake engineering to treating cancer.

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Quantitative ecologist uses virtual animals to explore how changes in the environment influence their real-world counterparts

Associate Professor Pat Zollner combines field study and sophisticated agent-based modeling using Purdue’s community clusters to accurately simulate how animals react to changes in their environment, providing policymakers and planners with information useful, among other things, in designing roads, airports, recreational trails and more.

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Simulation sheds light on the very small details of battery life, enhances understanding of fuel cells and catalysis

In research that could help lead to building better catalysts and batteries, Professor Jeffrey Greeley uses supercomputing as, in effect, a super microscope to better understand the atomic-level interfaces involved in batteries, fuel cells and catalysis.

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Economic modeling with Carter cluster, DiaGrid offers empirically based guidance for policymakers

Professor Michael Delgado models questions like how good voluntary pollution abatement programs actually are at reducing pollution or what the impact of education on economic development is to give policymakers robust results they can use.

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Carter cluster aids in probing turbulent combustion in engines

State-of-the art computer modeling combining turbulence and combustion helps Professor Haifeng Wang better understand the processes that go on inside engines with an eye to making them more fuel efficient and reducing pollutant emissions.

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Research using DiaGrid and community clusters helps make computer systems we rely on more reliable

Professor Saurabh Bagchi’s lab uses DiaGrid and the community clusters to help develop software systems that make heterogeneous distributed computing systems more robust and reliable and more secure, from massive simulations to ensure nuclear weapons safety and reliability to smarter smartphones less apt to drop calls and data.

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A hurricane evacuation route sign in Florida.

Agent-based models help identify path of least resistance in hurricane evacuations

With agent-based modeling and high-performance computing Professor Satish Ukkusuri’s lab is developing a battery of advice for emergency managers leading evacuations during hurricanes and other disasters. The research also is yielding techniques for predicting traffic flow at specific locations in real time, for automatically controlling traffic signals to optimize vehicle movement, and for optimizing placement of charging stations for electric vehicles

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Research uses clusters to explore how biomimetic composite materials meet and greet

Research uses clusters to explore how biomimetic composite materials meet and greet

Purdue Professor Vikas Tomar uses a mix of computational simulations and physical experiments to find out how the atomic-level interfaces of composite materials can be changed to influence functional and mechanical properties, for example, better performance at higher temperatures, which could contribute to developments such as hotter burning, more efficient engines made from ceramics.

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Airline cabin environment research could make the air up there better

Airline cabin environment research could make the air up there better

As experience with SARS and the H1N1 flu virus illustrate the idea of a deadly disease spread around the world by airline passengers is no fiction. That’s one reason mechanical engineering Professor Qingyan Chen is looking at aircraft environmental control systems with an eye to making them less apt to circulate airborne contaminants and also more energy efficient. His research also could improve the environment and energy efficiency in buildings.

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A view of one of the first full-energy collisions between gold ions at Brookhaven National Laboratory's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, as captured by the Solenoidal Tracker At RHIC (STAR) detector. The tracks indicate the paths taken by thousands of subatomic particles produced in the collisions as they pass through the STAR Time Projection Chamber, a large, 3-D digital camera. (Image courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory.)

Particle accelerator, supercomputing are revealing the universe’s original recipe

Particle accelerator experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the data produced — analysis of which Purdue researchers and community cluster supercomputers are helping do — add to our understanding of the universe and the quark-gluon plasma it may have been made of moments after the Big Bang.

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A Mars sunrise over an area including the Gale Crater, where the Mars Science Laboratory mission's rover is to land in August 2012. (Image courtesy of NASA)

Silicon wire 4 atoms wide and 1 atom tall may be small, but it can carry a load

Computer simulations at Purdue show that silicon wires just four atoms wide and an atom tall are as good at carrying current as traditional copper wires. The research in support of a team from the University of New South Wales and Melbourne University in Australia, which developed the tiny wires, could contribute to future generations of smaller, more powerful electronic devices.

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A Mars sunrise over an area including the Gale Crater, where the Mars Science Laboratory mission's rover is to land in August 2012. (Image courtesy of NASA)

Computational simulation opens a window on planet formation with a new view

Mars and the other planets located beyond Earth may not have formed in place as long believed. Instead, they may have migrated out from the vicinity of the young sun picking up mass as they went like a snowball rolling down a hill, simulations on Purdue research supercomputers are helping show.

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Animals of Madagascar

Madagascar’s unique animal population probably rafted there

How Madagascar got its unique collection of lemurs and other animals has puzzled naturalists for a century. Purdue professor Matthew Huber’s three-year computer simulation appears to provide an answer: the animals floated there on natural log rafts blown to sea in storms.

Ocean currents between Africa and Madagascar during the Eocene 20 million to 60 million years ago flowed the right way to make such a trip possible—and fast, too.

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electron wavefunctions

Purdue and Melbourne researchers propose the impossible: map electron wavefunctions

The 3-D mapping of electron wavefunction—the probability that an electron will be in a given position around an atom in a solid—is supposed to be impossible to do. But Purdue Professor Gerhard Klimeck and colleagues may have a way.

Their method should aid in designing, engineering and manufacturing nanoscale devices a few atoms in size, as well as next-generation microchips and other electronics with nano-sized features and super-fast quantum computers.

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Pharmacy student interacting with the virtual cleanroom.

Patient safety focus of virtual clean room for training pharmacists

Pharmacy clean rooms and proper clean room procedures to ensure that chemotherapy and direct-to-the-bloodstream intravenous treatments remain contamination free are vital to patient safety, all the more so with the rise of super bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

But clean rooms are in short supply, making it difficult for pharmacy students to amass training time. ITaP worked with Purdue’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to create a solution: a 3-D, immersive virtual pharmacy clean room that gives pharmacists-in-training plenty of practice, in the same way pilots now practice extensively in immersive flight simulators.

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Close up of a Weather Map

Research suggests urban sprawl, wet falls and winters influence severe weather

Previously rare big city storms like a 2009 tornado that downed trees and ripped off roofs in downtown Minneapolis and a 2008 twister in Atlanta that killed one person and caused $250 million damage may not be so unusual anymore.

As large urban areas continue to expand, they appear to influence tornadoes and other severe weather, research by Purdue Professor Dev Niyogi suggests. Cities could be even more at risk if located in a region experiencing a wet fall or winter, according to research from Purdue and the University of Georgia.

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Photo of the Earth

Purdue, NASA research provides blueprint for molecular basis of global warming, recipe for greener chemistry

Researchers affiliated with ITaP’s Purdue Terrestrial Observatory program say regional surface temperatures can be affected by land use, suggesting that local and regional strategies, such as creating green spaces and buffer zones in and around urban areas, could be a tool in addressing climate change.

Francisco says we may have bigger things to worry about than carbon dioxide and the other high-profile greenhouse gases that spill profusely from our car exhausts, coal-fired power plants and the like. Some lesser-known but widely used chemicals, fluorinated compounds in particular, are far more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere which otherwise would bleed harmlessly into space.

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United States map

Study shows how land-use changes affect U.S. temperature, and might be used to address climate change

Purdue Professor Joseph Francisco and NASA colleagues are developing a blueprint for the molecular machinery of global warming, research which lays the groundwork for designing chemicals that don’t heat up the planet.

A study by researchers from Purdue and the universities of Colorado and Maryland concludes that greener land cover contributes to cooler temperatures and almost any other change leads to warmer temperatures. The study, which covers the continental U.S., is further evidence that land use should be better incorporated into computer models projecting future climate conditions.

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