April 21, 2005

C.U. Theory Center Turns 20

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The Cornell Theory Center (CTC) is in the midst of its 20-year anniversary celebration. Founded in 1985, the CTC has, over the course of its existence, provided cutting-edge computing technologies to many varied scientific endeavors. The CTC is also a “center-of-excellence for Windows-based high-performance computing,” as described on their website.

The open house, which took place from 1 to 6 p.m. on the 6th floor of Rhodes Hall, had three main centers of activity. One of the rooms that were open to the public was the one containing The CAVE.

The CAVE is comprised of a slightly elevated floor and two walls, all about 6 feet to a side. Projected upon each of these surfaces is an image which appears to be three-dimensional when the proper headgear is worn.

Dr. Andrew Dolgert led the computer-driven tour through the CAVE. Dolgert “walked” the group through a molecule of hemoglobin, pointing out the various heme groups and other structures within the molecule.

“When I’m in the cave I can think about the locations of the four hemes in space,” rather than simply reading off a list of atoms, noted Dolgert. The CAVE provides a completely different way to study molecules on a minute level.

Down the hall was a room with several workstations, each devoted to an example of research which utilized the CTC.

“The resources at the Cornell Theory Center (CTC) have been enabling groundbreaking research for 20 years,” stated Thomas F. Coleman, director of CTC, on the CTC website.

Research such as “Data intensive computing enables scientists to pinpoint pulsars” and “Development of high-resolution climate data for the northeast” were available to be viewed in this demonstration room.

On the other side of The CAVE a room was packed with children, all around elementary or middle-school age. Rich Bernstein, a technical coordinator for SciCentr, the online science museum of the CTC, explained that “we have this online virtual science fair where you can literally go explore” various areas of science through the computer.

The SciCentr allows middle and high school students from around the country to interact with college undergraduates through the computer. The college students work with the younger students to help them produce a research project to be presented at the virtual science fair.

CTC’s Symposium on High-Performance Computing: Predictions and Visions for the Future is the culmination of their open-house, and will be on May 24th. The symposium will feature various speakers such as professors from several different universities and the Vice President of Deep Computing at IBM.

Archived article by Bryan Wolin
Sun Staff Writer