Bronson Messer, director of science at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will speak virtually to Friends of ORNL on Tuesday, Mar. 8, at 12 noon on “Computational Science at the Dawn of the Exascale Era.”
He will describe important scientific findings that resulted from modeling and simulations at the Summit supercomputer at ORNL, including work relevant to combating the COVID-19 disease.
He will also mention research projects planned for the Frontier supercomputer under construction at ORNL. This “exascale” machine will be capable of a quintillion (billion times a billion) calculations per second, which is 50 times faster than the most powerful supercomputers in use today and 1,000 times faster than the supercomputers that came online 14 years ago.
The talk is open to the public. To view the virtual lecture, click on the talk title on the homepage of the www.fornl.org website and click on the Zoom link near the top of the page describing the lecture. Here is Messer’s summary of what he will talk about.
“Regardless of our increasing reliance on and familiarity with computing power in our everyday lives, modern supercomputers are unique scientific instruments, more akin to the Large Hadron Collider or the James Webb Space Telescope than to our laptop computers and cellphones. Unlike those large devices, however, supercomputers are also among the most versatile of scientific instruments, as they push back frontiers in physics, biology, climate and many other fields.
“I will describe how the Summit supercomputer is used in modern scientific research and mention some recent discoveries, including work on the COVID-19 pandemic. I will also provide a glance ahead to the first science we hope will be accomplished with the under-construction Frontier machine, which is planned to be the nation’s first exascale supercomputer – that is, a machine capable of one quintillion floating-point operations per second.”
A computational astrophysicist, Messer is also a Distinguished Scientist and joint faculty associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee. Prior to joining ORNL, he was a research associate in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, where he was deputy group leader for astrophysics in the ASC Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes.
He is a member of the American Astronomical Society and recently served on the American Physical Society’s Committee on Informing the Public (2018-2020). In 2020, he was awarded the Department of Energy Secretary’s Honor Award for his part in enabling the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. Messer holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 2000.
His primary research interests are related to the explosion mechanisms and phenomenology of supernovae, especially neutrino transport and signatures, dense matter physics and the details of turbulent nuclear combustion. He also has worked on the application of machine learning algorithms to the analysis of galaxy merger simulations and on performance modeling and prediction for high-performance computing architectures.
The Summit supercomputer at ORNL