Supercomputing: when 1+1=3

Astronomy is our oldest science. There were Babylonians and others peering into starry Middle Eastern skies thousands of years ago. Greeks, Arabs and Europeans followed. The invention of things like astrolabes, telescopes, radio astronomy and spectroscopy deepened our understanding. And Astronomy has rightfully kept its place at the very forefront of learning.

Computing and information are latecomers. We know people who were born before the pioneering work of Van Neuman and Turing was dry, as ‘t’were on the page. It has since come on in strides-and we haven’t really started on quantum computing yet.

So what happens when you put the two together? You get results which are more than the sum of the parts. As this piece on the Guardian (too many authors-ed) shows. Researchers in Australia combined the work of their new, snappily named Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder with the supercomputers of the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre to produce stunning new images. [1] At the moment, they’re just trying out on a local supernova, but the potential for far deeper understandings is very firmly there. This is what happens when you combine insights from two different disciplines. Remember isotope physics and archaeology?

At a time when we seem to be buried under waves of bad news, it’s good to think someone out there is still thinking and working in new ways. Good on yer, Aussies!

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/aug/11/australian-supercomputer-produces-fantastic-picture-of-supernova-remnant

#astronomy #supercomputing

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