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October 20, 2009
Oct. 20 -- The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has received £12.32 million, from the Government's Large Facilities Capital Fund, to invest in new hardware for the UK's High Performance Computing Consortia (HPC) -- providing UK particle physicists and astronomers with upgraded HPC technology to address some of the most challenging scientific problems.
The new funding will allow the UK's HPC facilities to continue pooling their complementary expertise and help ensure that the UK remains one of the world-leaders of theoretical modeling in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology.
The Minister of State for Science and Innovation Lord Drayson said, "Our physicists need the next generation of supercomputers to explore big questions about star formation, the forces within hadrons, and fluid dynamics. The UK is a world leader in the theoretical modelling of fundamental physics and this investment in new hardware will help to keep us on top."
Professor Stephen Hawking, principal investigator of the COSMOS consortium, welcomed the news and said, "This is an exciting time in astronomy, particle physics and cosmology with the UK heavily involved in world-leading terrestrial and space-based experiments. These STFC supercomputer funds will ensure that calculations from our theories keep pace and are tested against the observations now flooding in. I am confident these resources will help UK scientists answer some of the biggest questions about our Universe."
HPC-based modeling is an essential tool for the exploitation of observational and experimental facilities in astronomy and particle physics, as this technology allows our scientists to test their theories and run simulations from the data gathered in experiments. The UK has an extremely strong HPC community and continued investment in these powerful computing facilities will allow the UK science community to pursue cutting-edge research on a broad range of topics, from simulating the entire evolution of the universe, from the big bang to the present, to modelling the structure of matter.
Carlos Frenk, Ogden professor of Fundamental Physics and director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology of Durham University, said, "Today's bold announcement demonstrates that the government understands that the economic well-being of the nation relies on having a first-rate scientific and technological infrastructure.
"High performance computing is the engine for progress in contemporary science. This welcome announcement will ensure that the UK remains a major player in exciting scientific areas such as astronomy, cosmology and particle physics."
Professor Richard Kenway, Tait professor of Mathematical Physics and member of the UKQCD Collaboration, added, "This is perfect timing! Simulations of the strong interaction are just becoming possible at the level of accuracy needed by experiment. Within a year we will have a world-leading capability to test the Standard Model of particle physics and to try to explain the hoped-for discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider."
Professor Keith Mason, chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said, "This new investment will ensure that UK researchers can continue using novel computing solutions to enable cutting-edge research in astronomy, cosmology and particle physics and, at the same time, contribute to long-term economic recovery through training young scientists in the most powerful computing techniques of the 21st century. HPC is an invaluable tool for our science community and is helping us advance in many fields of science."
About the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
The Science and Technology Facilities Council ensures the UK retains its leading place on the world stage by delivering world-class science; accessing and hosting international facilities; developing innovative technologies; and increasing the socio-economic impact of its research through effective knowledge exchange.
The Council has a broad science portfolio including Astronomy, Particle Physics, Particle Astrophysics, Nuclear Physics, Space Science, Synchrotron Radiation, Neutron Sources and High Power Lasers. In addition the Council manages and operates three internationally renowned laboratories:
The Council gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the European organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and the European Space Agency (ESA). It also funds UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory. The Council distributes public money from the Government to support scientific research.
The Council is a partner in the UK space programme, coordinated by the British National Space Centre.
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