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Discovery Lab offers fall educational outreach tours

Submitted by Debra Damron
Phone: 907-450-8662


Student research assistants with the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center's Discovery Lab provide educational and public outreach tours every Thursday at noon, 12 - 1 p.m., Sept. 10 through Dec.17. Reservations must be made one week in advance and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve a time on the fall schedule, call 907-450-8638 or e-mail tours_arsc@arsc.edu. Maximum size for tours is 20 participants. Children must be 10 years of age or older and accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The hourlong presentation includes a virtual tour of the center's supercomputers, capable of calculating 30 trillion mathematical calculations a second, and ARSC's petabyte-scale data storage facility. One petabyte is a quadrillion bytes. ARSC's StorageTek Silo can hold about 7 petabytes of information. If an iPod had the same amount of storage, it would be possible to play 12,000 years of music, without ever repeating the same song.

Tours may also include a 3-D, virtual tour of Mars or a virtual visit to the city of Fairbanks, as it was nearly 100 years ago. Visitors may also participate in an interactive 3-D drawing program called BLUIsculpt, short for Body Language User Interface. BLUI was developed at ARSC. It is open source software, meaning anyone can use it or make new contributions to the existing software.

According to Discovery Lab manager Bob Huebert, BLUI is one of the more popular presentations for school aged children. He said that through the Discovery Lab, science teachers can spark an interest in learning about science and technology.

"Supercomputers allow scientists to study things that are too big, too small, too far away or too dangerous to do in the real world," said Huebert. "We hope visitors leave the Discovery Lab with a better understanding of what a supercomputer is and how high-performance computing helps scientists at UAF and around the world learn new things."

ARSC provides open research computing capabilities for the Defense Department's High Performance Computing Modernization Program. HPCMP has six DoD Supercomputing Resource Centers throughout the country: two in Mississippi and one each in Maryland, Ohio, Alaska and Hawaii.

CONTACT: Bob Huebert, Discovery Lab manager, ARSC, 907-450-8638 or tours_arsc@arsc.edu. Debra Damron, communications group lead, ARSC, at 907-450-8662, damron@arsc.edu.