Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 11th Sep 2011

Supercomputers & Super Computing

This week, we seek the science of supercomputers!  We find out how they work, and how they can answer some of the biggest questions in science.  We also hear about the World Community Grid, which offers scientists computer time donated by volunteers worldwide.  In the news we hear how computer aided design can help breast restoration, why special stem cells with just one set of chromosomes can aid geneticists, and how Earth's precious gold may have come from outer space.  Plus, we explore the workings of the humble calculator in Question of the Week!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:25 - Using CAD to reconstruct breast tissue

    This week, an international team of researchers reported how they have used computer-aided design (or CAD) to build a precise mould that can aid breast reconstruction in cancer patients.

  • 03:11 - How Earth got its gold

    Gold, platinum and many other precious metals are more common in the Earth's crust than models of the planet's formation would predict, causing some to question the current theory. But now it looks like the planet's surface was re-endowed with "bling" by a late meteor shower...

  • 05:18 - Special Stem Cells With Single Sets of Chromosomes

    Researchers in Cambridge have created mammalian stem cells that only contain a single set of chromosomes. Most mammalian cells are diploid - they contain two copies of each chromosome. This is a complication for cell biologists and geneticists, hoping to study the function o...

  • 10:38 - Thermal camouflage

    A new form of thermal camouflage has been developed for military vehicles

  • 20:59 - Attracting Bees with Wild Flowers - Planet Earth Online

    Over the last few years there have been various government schemes here in the UK to pay farmers to plant live grass strips around the edges of fields of crops. The idea is to encourage wildlife but research suggests they might be better off planting wild flowers...

  • 26:12 - How do Supercomputers Work?

    Supercomputers are, as the name suggests, extremely powerful computing devices. They are used to model extremely complicated systems such as the weather as well as for high precision simulations and complex calculations required in quantum physics. So that might be molecular m...

  • 32:28 - What are Supercomputers used for?

    Paul Calleja explains the workings and uses of the Cambridge University High Performance Computing Resource Cluster named 'Darwin'...

  • 40:25 - The World Community Grid

    Joe Jasinski explains the workings of the World Community Grid and this supercomputer hopes to benefit benefit humankind...

  • 49:57 - What is the energy cost of keeping a computer cool?

    Cooling helps computing efficiency, but cooling takes energy - are there other ways of increasing the efficiency to power ratio?

  • 50:42 - With no humans, how long would automated systems run?

    My girlfriend and I were having a discussion recently about how automated society is becoming. She posed the question. "If humans were wiped out overnight or very quickly by some kind of virus, how long would the automated manufacturing systems and computer systems continue to ...

  • 52:45 - How does a calculator work?

    Hi Dr Chris, Dr Ben, How does a calculator work? How can it make complex calculation within nano-seconds?  Also, how does it display the result on the screen? Cheers, Hong Shee

 

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