Science - Written by on November 9, 2011

Igniting Innovation and Inspiration

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BY: Charles Rousseaux is a Senior Writer in the Office of Science.

Office of Science awards almost 1.7 billion supercomputing hours via the INCITE program.

Legend has it that Prometheus brought us the gift of fire—a gift of comfort, innovation and even inspiration.

Researchers in the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science are dedicated to passing on those gifts, especially through the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. The INCITE program is the major means by which the scientific community gains access to some of the nation’s fastest supercomputers. Today, it announced awards of nearly 1.7 billion processor hours to 60 high-impact research projects which will address scientific and engineering challenges of national and global importance.

For instance:

  • A total of 40 million processor hours was awarded to improve earthquake hazard forecasts for California.
  • 45 million hours was awarded for research focused on solving real-life challenges in wind and jet noise, research critical to delivering the next generation of “green,” low-noise wind turbines and jet engines.
  • And 63 million hours was awarded to further scientific understanding of laser energy coupling for ignition targets shot at the National Ignition Facility, research which will ultimately aid in the development a commercially viable alternative energy source that will enable a secure energy future for our nation.

The last represents truly a gift of fusion fire, but all of this year’s INCITE awards represent gifts of comfort and innovation. After all, by suggesting what might work—or what probably won’t—supercomputer simulations often reduce development costs and speed development time. They can also suggest new paths to discovery, revealing unexpected flaws or potentially promising lines of investigation.

That’s why the INCITE awards are open to all researchers across academia, industry and government. And individuals and groups from all three areas received awards this year. Those who won will likely have further contact with Office of Science personnel in either Illinois or Tennessee, since the INCITE program is co-managed by the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The Office of Science is driving discovery at the speed of supercomputing in other ways as well. Earlier this week, DOE’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), first demonstrated a new prototype network called the Advanced Networking Initiative (ANI) which transmits data at about 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps), about 10 times faster than most commercial Internet providers. And the supercomputing facilities at both ANL and ORNL are being improved and upgraded, which will speed the discoveries of the future.

Legend has it that things didn’t turn out too well for Prometheus (his punishment involved a hard rock and a hungry eagle). But his gift of fire lives on in the Office of Science: In its inspirations, its innovations, and in this year’s INCITE awards.

For more information about INCITE, go to: INCITE: And for more information about DOE’s Office of Science, please go to: