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An informative and entertaining journey through how supercomputing is changing the world, one story at a time.

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Digital Twins Will Change the World
June 8, 2021
Imagine you had a digital twin -- a computational model of yourself with not only all of your physical and physiological characteristics uploaded into it in real time, but also your thought patterns, personality traits, and opinions. Suddenly, doctors would know exactly what treatments would be best customized for you if you got sick or experienced emotional trauma, or even what medical abnormalities could be in your future and how to prevent them in advance. While it’s the kind of material screenwriters latch on to for TV episodes and movies, the day may be on the horizon where we can drop the “fiction” in this type of “science fiction.” In fact, this kind of technology is already being used to track machines and systems in fields like aerospace, automotive, energy, utilities, and building design, with enormous advancements around the corner. In this episode, we speak to Dr. Karen E. Willcox -- an expert on digital twins -- about what digital twins can do for us in the present, and how they could greatly change the world in the future.
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Preventing Airplane Engine Explosions
May 18, 2021
We’ve seen it on the news multiple times -- Engines exploding mid-flight on commercial aircraft, raining metal debris on anything and anyone below. The cause is often the same -- fatigued fan blades hitting their last leg, snapping off and destroying the engine and its casing, while terrifying passengers on board. Some flights like United 328 out of Denver managed to land safely without passenger injuries, while others haven’t been so lucky. So why are these fan blades breaking apart and wreaking havoc on the skies, and are these incidents realistically preventable? In this episode, we speak to Reamonn Soto, CEO of Sensatek Propulsion Technology -- an innovative startup creating fan blade sensors that grant an inside view into exactly what’s happening to an engine in real time, forwarding goals of putting these fan blade accidents behind us for good.
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The Hack that Stopped a Country
April 22, 2021
What if hackers were able to instantly cripple grocery stores, businesses, banks, hospitals, public transit, power plants, and government offices? While you may not have heard about it, this terrifying worst case scenario has actually happened before, costing more than $10 billion in damages and spreading across global enterprise. In this third and concluding chapter of our SolarWinds cybersecurity episode series, we tell the story of the 2017 NotPetya attack on Ukraine, and what a repeat could mean for the future of our digitally connected world.
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The SolarWinds Hack: Worst Case Scenarios
March 23, 2021
Never before has a hack of this sophistication and scale been seen. But now that 18,000 organizations are considered breached, what can the hacked information be used for? We walk through the worst case scenario possibilities of what the cyberattackers could do with the SolarWinds hack data -- from espionage to overwhelming electric grids -- and what that could mean for all of us, including those in the high performance computing industry. We also explore the Senate and congressional hearing testimonies given by Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye, and Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, about what the hackers went after once they were in the system, and whether the future of cloud poses a greater risk or a stronger solution.
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The SolarWinds Hack: What Happened?
March 2, 2021
It was a dark day in cybersecurity when the world realized that the largest and widest reaching data breach in history had hit over 18,000 companies and organizations, including the U.S. Department of Defense, Microsoft, and just about everything in-between. In this episode, we take a look at what in the world happened in the SolarWinds hack. How did it puncture cybersecurity barricades guarding information for some of the world’s most secure organizations? From SolarWinds to Florida’s recent public water facility hack to a thwarted ransomware attack on one of our own computers, we talk about what appears to be our day’s modern wargrounds -- the internet.
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From Supercomputing to Supersonic
February 11, 2021
It’s been about two decades since Concorde flew passengers across the Atlantic at supersonic speeds, and if it were still in operation today, a ticket would cost you around $20,000. Some saw the retirement of Concorde as the end of supersonic commercial air travel, but undercover superhero Blake Scholl of Boom Supersonic plans to break the sound barrier with passenger travel once again by 2030, with dreams of creating a new normal. In this episode, we hear parts of Blake’s BC20 speech about how his company is able to make this dream a reality through virtually unlimited high performance computing. We also touch on the on-premises vs. cloud HPC arenas, and revisit the world before conferences went completely online.
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How Supercomputing Touches the World(s)
December 22, 2020
From the plastic case protecting your phone to rovers on Mars to vaccines -- supercomputers have played a role in just about everything around us. And many of those projects have rolled through one of the biggest supercomputing centers in the world -- the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). In this episode, we talk to undercover superhero Dan Stanzione, executive director of TACC, about the many discoveries and innovations his supercomputers have had a role in, and what it’s like to oversee it all. Whether it be Rommie Amaro’s recent COVID-19 breakthroughs or assisting emergency responders after a hurricane, Dan and TACC are making a real difference behind the scenes of society.
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Tsimulating Tsunamis
December 8, 2020
In 1908, the largest earthquake ever recorded in Europe hit Southern Italy, wiping out the entire coastal town of Messina. Once the shaking had stopped, survivors thought they were safe until a massive tsunami followed minutes later. Even today, the exact cause of the tsunami is debated in the scientific community. In this episode, we talk to Dr. Lauren Schambach from the University of Rhode Island about what her computational simulations of the Messina tsunami have told her, and what that means for people living along coastlines around the world.
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The Power of Plants to Pulverize Coronavirus
November 12, 2020
What if that plant on your desk could hold the key to stopping your stuffy nose? From morphine to chemotherapy drugs, plants have played a vital role in developing pharmaceuticals to treat all kinds of ailments. We talk to undercover superhero, Jerome Baudry of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, about his computational search through hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds from plants around the world, on the hunt for a therapeutic that can seek out and stop the one hindrance on all of our minds -- the coronavirus.
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