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The Grid: A New Way of Doing Science

ICT Results (01/06/10)

Scientists are using a grid network managed by EGEE-III to carry out advanced number crunching and extensive simulations.  EGEE-III is the third phase of a European Union-funded project to create an infrastructure supporting European researchers using grid computing resources.  “We take computing and storage resources owned by individual institutions and provide a middleware layer of software that allows these resources to be shared securely over the international research networks,” says project director Steven Newhouse.  Grid computing started in the physics community, but since has spread to many other disciplines, including computational chemistry, materials sciences, life sciences, environmental sciences, and the humanities.  Many of the experiments would take years or decades to perform in a laboratory without grid computing. One common theme is to study how complex molecules interact with each other, with many studies searching for new vaccines or drugs.  Meanwhile, a Taiwan research team hopes to minimize the damage from seismic activity by using EGEE to model the effects of earthquakes on urban areas.  Another project, called AquaMaps, uses the grid to model the distribution of different fish species worldwide.  EGEE also helps doctors treat rare diseases through a project to create a worldwide image library.  An Italian research team recently used the grid to construct a digital model of an ancient Greek musical instrument called an epigonian, which was played in a concert in Naples last December.  “The grid is actually changing the way scientists think about doing their research and the questions they can pose,” Newhouse says.


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