Science Rendezvous 2012

We had a great time at Science Rendezvous this year!

This year explorers of all ages at our booth found out how researchers use computers for discovery.  They saw how even simple computer simulations that you can run in your web browser can teach them important facts about how complex systems behave.

Learning how forest fires spread at Science Rendezvous 2012

A Science Rendezvous explorer learns how computer simulations can teach us about how forest fires spread

Canada is a leader in forest fire research; we have huge stands of forests and we must understand how fires behave if we’re to prevent them.    Students explored the Forest Fire application by Shodor and saw how wind speed and forest density effect forest fires in  a simplified model of how forest fires spread.

Students also crashed galaxies together with Galcrash; processes that take billions of years unfolded as they watched and they saw how different galaxy orientations — and even turning “on” and “off” effects of gravitational dark matter — change the outcome of these enormous events.

Students collide galaxies at Science Rendezvous 2012

Students use computer simulations to explore how galaxy collisions - which unfold over billions of years - take place

But as researchers ask harder questions – what if we wanted to include topography in our forest fire simulation?  Or more realistic galaxies in our galaxy collision simulations? – they quickly outgrow what can be done on a single computer.  That’s where we come in!

Discussing Cluster Computing at Science Rendezvous 2012

SciNetter Danny Gruner explains cluster computing and our Little Fe cluster at Science Rendezvous 2012

To show how supercomputers work,  we also debuted our LittleFe cluster, showing how networking together ordinary computers can, with carefully written software, make use of the power of many processors and memory to tackle bigger problems than you could with a single computer.

Many thanks the organizers who made this possible, and to everyone who turned out on a Saturday to discover science!