President Obama today named Warren Washington, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), as one of 10 eminent researchers to be awarded the National Medal of Science. The recipients of the science medal and of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation will receive their awards-the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists, engineers, and inventors-at a White House ceremony later this year.

"The extraordinary accomplishments of these scientists, engineers, and inventors are a testament to American industry and ingenuity," President Obama said. "Their achievements have redrawn the frontiers of human knowledge while enhancing American prosperity, and it is my tremendous pleasure to honor them for their important contributions."

"We are delighted that Warren's many years of dedicated research in climate science are being recognized with this extraordinary honor," said Roger Wakimoto, NCAR director. "His scientific leadership, innate diplomacy, as well as the mentorship to future generations of scientists have deeply and profoundly impacted our field."

Richard Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages NCAR, added: "It is a well-deserved honor for Warren as well as the atmospheric sciences, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the UCAR and NCAR community.  Warren is a wonderful scientist who has been at the forefront of climate modeling for 40 years.  Even more importantly, he is a kind and generous person."

Washington is an internationally recognized expert on atmospheric science and climate research and a pioneer in using computer models, which employ fundamental laws of physics to predict future states of the atmosphere, to study Earth's climate. He has served as a science advisor to former presidents Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, published almost 200 papers in professional journals, and garnered dozens of national and international awards. He also served on the National Science Board for 12 years and was its chair for 2002 to 2006.

Washington became one of the first developers of groundbreaking atmospheric computer models in collaboration with his colleague, Akira Kasahara, when he came to NCAR in the early 1960s. With support from NSF and the Department of Energy, Washington subsequently worked to incorporate the oceans and sea ice into climate models. Such models were used extensively in the 2007 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for which Washington and a number of scientists at NCAR and around the world shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

"I am very pleased to receive this honor, which recognizes not only my work but that of my many colleagues whom I've had the pleasure of working with for more than 45 years," Washington said. "Akira Kasahara and Jerry Meehl, at NCAR, contributed significantly to the development of computer climate models, and support from NSF and the Department of Energy enabled us to make research advancements that I hope will contribute to mankind's ability to sustain this planet." 

As the second African-American to earn a doctorate in the atmospheric sciences, Washington has served as a role model for generations of young researchers from many backgrounds, mentoring numerous undergraduate and graduate students. In 1999, Washington won the Dr. Charles Anderson Award from the American Meteorological Society "for pioneering efforts as a mentor and passionate support of individuals, educational programs, and outreach initiatives designed to foster a diverse population of atmospheric scientists."

Washington was born and grew up in Portland, Oregon. He became interested in science in grade school, going on to earn a bachelor's degree in physics and master's degree in meteorology from Oregon State University, and then a doctorate in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University. In 1963, he joined NCAR as a research scientist.

-----National Medal of Science-----

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. Nominees are selected by a committee of presidential appointees based on their extraordinary knowledge in, and contributions to, the biological, behavioral/social, and physical sciences, as well as chemistry, engineering, computing, and mathematics.

This year's recipients are:

Yakir Aharonov, Chapman University, CA

Stephen J. Benkovic, Pennsylvania State University, PA

Esther M. Conwell, University of Rochester, NY

Marye Anne Fox, University of California, San Diego, CA

Susan L. Lindquist, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, MA

Mortimer Mishkin, National Institutes of Health, MD

David B. Mumford, Brown University, RI

Stanley B. Prusiner, University of California, San Francisco, CA

Warren M. Washington, National Center for Atmospheric
Research, CO

Amnon Yariv, California Institute of Technology, CA

After running a series of complex supercomputer simulations, researchers have found that flaws in the structure of magnetic nanoscale wires play an important role in determining the operating speed of novel devices using such nanowires to store and process information. The finding*, made by researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Maryland, and the University of Paris XI, will help to deepen the physical understanding and guide the interpretation of future experiments of these next-generation devices.

Magnetic nanowires store information in discrete bands of magnetic spins. One can imagine the nanowire like a straw sucking up and holding the liquid of a meticulously layered chocolate and vanilla milkshake, with the chocolate segments representing 1s and the vanilla 0s. The boundaries between these layers are called domain walls. Researchers manipulate the information stored on the nanowire using an electrical current to push the domain walls, and the information they enclose, through the wire and past immobile read and write heads.

Interpretations of experiments seeking to measure how domain walls move have largely ignored the effects of "disorder"—usually the result of defects or impurities in the structure of the nanowires. To see how disorder affects the motion of these microscopic magnetic domains, NIST researchers and their colleagues introduced disorder into their computer simulations.

Their simulations showed that disorder, which causes friction within the nanowires, can increase the rate at which a current can move domain walls.

According to NIST physicist Mark Stiles, friction can cause the domain walls to move faster because they need to lose energy in order to move down the wire.

For example, when a gyroscope spins, it resists the force of gravity. If a little friction is introduced into the gyroscope's bearing, the gyroscope will fall over more quickly. Similarly, in the absence of damping, a domain wall will only move from one side of the nanowire to the other. Disorder within the nanowire enables the domain walls to lose energy, which gives them the freedom to "fall" down the length of the wire as they move back and forth.

"We can say that the domain wall is moving as if it were in a system that has considerably greater effective damping than the actual damping," says NIST physicist and lead researcher Hongki Min. "This increase in the effective damping is significant enough that it should affect the interpretation of most future domain wall experiments."

Asthma, Cancer, Weather Disaster-Related Illnesses Cited Among Concerns

The vulnerability of people to the health effects of climate change is the focus of a report released today by an NIH-led federal interagency group that includes NOAA. The report, “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change,” calls for coordinating federal research to better understand climate’s impact on human health and identifying how these impacts can be most effectively addressed. The report was published by Environmental Health Perspectives and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

The report indicates what is known and the significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of the consequences of climate change on 11 major illness categories, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, asthma and other respiratory disorders, food-borne diseases and nutrition, weather and heat-related fatalities, and water and vector-borne infectious diseases.  

 “To mitigate and adapt to the health effects of climate change, we must first understand them. This report is a vital new roadmap for doing that,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “There is an urgent need to get started, and I am pleased that we can bring NOAA climate science and NOAA capabilities in linking ocean and human health and a range of other monitoring and prediction tools to the table.”    

 Health experts from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA contributed to the new report. Research recommendations include examining how diseases in marine mammals might be linked to human health; investigating how climate change might contaminate seafood, beaches and drinking water; and understanding the impact of atmospheric changes on heat waves and air-borne diseases. There are questions about the effects of increased rainfall and extreme weather events on sewage discharges and run-off and what this will mean to human health. Integrating human, terrestrial and aquatic animal health surveillance with environmental monitoring is recommended to better understand emerging health risks like Lyme disease, West Nile virus, malaria, and toxins from marine algae.  

 To address disaster planning and management, the report encourages research aimed at strengthening healthcare and emergency services, especially when events such as floods, drought and wildfires can affect human health both during and after an event. The report also identifies the need for more effective early warning systems providing, for example, an alert to those with cardiovascular disease on extreme heat days or when air pollution is high. Other issues include susceptible and displaced populations; public health and health care infrastructure; essential capacities and skills, particularly for modeling and prediction; the integration of climate observation networks with health impact and surveillance tools, and communication and education.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov

Voltaire Switches Accelerate Top 4 Supercomputers on Green500 List Demonstrating Performance and Efficiency Leadership

 

Voltaire Ltd’s switches are connecting the world’s most energy efficient supercomputers, according to the findings of the latest Green500 list announced by Green500.org. Voltaire switches serve as the high-performance interconnect for the top 4 and 26 of the top 100 most energy efficient supercomputers on the list.

“Voltaire is known for delivering performance as evidenced by our InfiniBand leadership position on the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, said Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing, Voltaire. “This new Green500 list showcases Voltaire’s strength in delivering energy efficient fabrics for high performance systems. Voltaire’s unique combination of performance and efficiency is important for commercial data centers that need to reduce costs and energy usage without compromising on performance.”

Voltaire Grid Director InfiniBand switches deliver 20 or 40 Gb/s bandwidths and low latency with less than 5 watts per port power consumption.

“Insufficient power and cooling continue to dominate as the greatest data center facility problems,” said John Phelps, Research VP, Gartner. “In a recent poll of infrastructure and operations managers, combined power and cooling deficiencies were identified as the greatest data center facility problem for 67% of users.”

The Green500 (www.green500.org) is a list ranking the most energy-efficient supercomputers in the world and serves as a complementary view to the Top500 (www.top500.org) list of the most powerful supercomputers.

More information about Voltaire’s Grid Director InfiniBand switches is available at http://www.voltaire.com/Products/InfiniBand/Grid_Director_Switches and a free whitepaper, “Reducing Data Center Energy Costs Up to 50% by Consolidating and Virtualizing Your Network” is available at http://www.voltaire.com/unifiedfabric.

The Premier of Victoria John Brumby today announced a significant collaboration with IBM to build the world’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to life sciences research in Melbourne.

Mr Brumby said the supercomputer, to be based at Melbourne University in Parkville would further boost Victoria’s reputation as a global centre for excellence in life sciences research.

“The Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative (VLSCI) will provide Victoria’s researchers with the necessary tools to solve some of the biggest challenges facing our health system and impacting our quality of life,” Mr Brumby said.

“The Victorian Government is taking action to support our world-class researchers and to invest in innovative projects that secure the state’s economy.

“That is why we have contributed $50 million towards the $100 million VLCSI with the University of Melbourne and IBM.

“The University of Melbourne’s supercomputer partnership with IBM will enable researchers to process genes to identify risk of cancer and treatment, model brain functions to treat brain disorders and disease, and model and predict the threats of infectious disease.

“The project will also create 30 new high-value jobs in Parkville.”

The supercomputer will be established in stages, with the aim of building to a system of over 800 Teraflops by 2012 – one Teraflop capacity enables a computer to make one trillion calculations per second.

Mr Brumby said that by today’s standards the supercomputer would rank in the top six supercomputers world wide.

“It will be more powerful than the supercomputer currently used by NASA in California,” he said.

Vice President of IBM Research Tilak Agerwala said as the largest IBM collaboration in life science, the VLSC holds great potential for driving new breakthroughs in the understanding of human disease and translating that knowledge into improved medical care.  

“It gives IBM Research the opportunity to expand the impact of our Computational Biology Center,” Mr Agerwala said.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the University’s link with IBM in the partnership would further raise Victoria and Australia’s profile on the international map as a life sciences precinct equal to the best in the world.

“The outcome of this partnership will strengthen the research capabilities of Victoria’s life sciences researchers and expand of their capacity to carry out world-class life sciences research right here in Melbourne,” Professor Davis said.

For information about the partnership between UoM and IBM visit http://www.ibm.com/research

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