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Brookhaven Lab powers up for Japan quake aid

A man searches for a family member in

A man searches for a family member in the ruins of a tsunami-hit area in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. (March 20, 2011) Photo Credit: AP File

Brookhaven National Laboratory will offer Japan some unusual earthquake aid: computational power.

The lab is teaming up with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia to provide computing power to their Japanese counterparts that were affected by the earthquake in March and face continuing electricity shortages.

The Japanese physicists were studying the “interactions that lie at the heart of matter,” or lattice quantum chromodynamics, according to a Brookhaven news release.

The complex calculations require massive computing power at customized computer facilities. These facilities were shut down during times of high electricity use after the earthquake struck eastern Japan in March so that other essential services could run.

“The sharing of resources will not only be instrumental to continue research in Japan through the current crisis, but will also mark a significant step in strengthening the international collaboration for progress in our field,” said University of Tsukuba vice president Akira Ukawa, spokesman for the Japanese research community.

Brookhaven Lab is offering up to one-sixth of the computing time on a supercomputer designed and built with Columbia University and the Japanese institute RIKEN, as well as some processing time on New York Blue, Brookhaven’s IBM Blue Gene supercomputer.

“Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University have a long-standing relationship with our Japanese colleagues and we share their desire to see this worldwide collaborative research move forward,” said Doon Gibbs, Brookhaven’s deputy director for science and technology. "Offering these computing resources is just one small thing we can do to help during these challenging times.”

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