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Primeur weekly 2016-11-07

Focus

EGI to finalize service catalogue and ISO certification ...

Exascale supercomputing

SLAC and Berkeley Lab researchers prepare for scientific computing on the exascale ...

Quantum computing

Researchers nearly reached quantum limit with nanodrums ...

Focus on Europe

New approach for ARM-based technology to halve the cost of powering data centres ...

PRACE to award contracts in third and final phase of Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) ...

PRACE welcomes new Managing Director Serge Bogaerts ...

PRACE 2016 Digest Special Edition on Industry is out ...

Supercomputer comes up with a profile of dark matter ...

Middleware

Bright Computing supplies Bright OpenStack to Stony Brook University ...

DDN Annual High Performance Computing Trends survey reveals rising deployment of flash tiers and private/hybrid Clouds versus public for HPC ...

With Corral 3, TACC provides a more unified data structure and increased space ...

Hardware

Mellanox launches open source software initiative for routers, load balancers, and firewalls ...

Mellanox Multi-Host technology reshapes data centre economics ...

Cray awarded $26 million contract from the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Programme ...

Hewlett Packard Enterprise completes acquisition of SGI ...

Centre for Modelling & Simulation in Bristol launches new supercomputer ...

Baylor University selects Cray CS400 cluster supercomputer to power innovative research ...

SGI awarded $27 million systems contract with the Army Research Laboratory Defense Supercomputing Resource Center ...

Applications

XSEDE spins off annual conference to unite research computing community ...

Researchers at UCSB explore the delicate balance between coherence and control with a simple but complete platform for quantum processing ...

Cosmic connection: KITP's Greg Huber worked with nuclear physicists to confirm a structural similarity found in both human cells and neutron stars ...

New technique for creating NV-doped nanodiamonds may be boost for quantum computing ...

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground ...

The Cloud

IBM drives Cloud storage with new all-flash and software defined solutions ...

Capital markets firms continue to invest in hardware for compute Grids alongside growing Cloud adoption, according to TABB Group Research ...

Cosmic connection: KITP's Greg Huber worked with nuclear physicists to confirm a structural similarity found in both human cells and neutron stars

1 Nov 2016 Santa Barbara - We humans may be more aligned with the universe than we realize. According to research published in the journalPhysical Review C, neutron stars and cell cytoplasm have something in common: structures that resemble multistory parking garages.

In 2014, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) soft condensed-matter physicist Greg Huber and colleagues explored the biophysics of such shapes - helices that connect stacks of evenly spaced sheets - in a cellular organelle called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Greg Huber and his colleagues dubbed them Terasaki ramps after their discoverer, Mark Terasaki, a cell biologist at the University of Connecticut.

Greg Huber thought these "parking garages" were unique to soft matter - like the interior of cells - until he happened upon the work of nuclear physicist Charles Horowitz at Indiana University. Using computer simulations, Charles Horowitz and his team had found the same shapes deep in the crust of neutron stars.

"I called Chuck and asked if he was aware that we had seen these structures in cells and had come up with a model for them", stated Greg Huber, the deputy director of UCSB's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). "It was news to him, so I realized then that there could be some fruitful interaction."

The resulting collaboration, highlighted inPhysical Review C, explored the relationship between two very different models of matter.

Nuclear physicists have an apt terminology for the entire class of shapes they see in their high-performance computer simulations of neutron stars: nuclear pasta. These include tubes (spaghetti) and parallel sheets (lasagna) connected by helical shapes that resemble Terasaki ramps.

"They see a variety of shapes that we see in the cell", Greg Huber explained. "We see a tubular network; we see parallel sheets. We see sheets connected to each other through topological defects we call Terasaki ramps. So the parallels are pretty deep."

However, differences can be found in the underlying physics. Typically matter is characterized by its phase, which depends on thermodynamic variables: density (or volume), temperature and pressure - factors that differ greatly at the nuclear level and in an intracellular context.

"For neutron stars, the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force create what is fundamentally a quantum-mechanical problem", Greg Huber explained. "In the interior of cells, the forces that hold together membranes are fundamentally entropic and have to do with the minimization of the overall free energy of the system. At first glance, these couldn't be more different."

Another difference is scale. In the nuclear case, the structures are based on nucleons such as protons and neutrons and those building blocks are measured using femtometers (10-15). For intracellular membranes like the ER, the length scale is nanometers (10-9). The ratio between the two is a factor of a million (10-6), yet these two vastly different regimes make the same shapes.

"This means that there is some deep thing we don't understand about how to model the nuclear system", Greg Huber stated. "When you have a dense collection of protons and neutrons like you do on the surface of a neutron star, the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic forces conspire to give you phases of matter you wouldn't be able to predict if you had just looked at those forces operating on small collections of neutrons and protons."

The similarity of the structures is riveting for theoretical and nuclear physicists alike. Nuclear physicist Martin Savage was at the KITP when he came across graphics from the new paper on arXiv, a preprint library that posts thousands of physics, mathematics and computer science articles. Immediately his interest was piqued.

"That similar phases of matter emerge in biological systems was very surprising to me", stated Martin Savage, a professor at the University of Washington. "There is clearly something interesting here."

Co-author Charles Horowitz agreed. "Seeing very similar shapes in such strikingly different systems suggests that the energy of a system may depend on its shape in a simple and universal way", he stated.

Greg Huber noted that these similarities are still rather mysterious. "Our paper is not the end of something", he stated. "It's really the beginning of looking at these two models."

Source: University of California - Santa Barbara

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2016-11-07

Focus

EGI to finalize service catalogue and ISO certification ...

Exascale supercomputing

SLAC and Berkeley Lab researchers prepare for scientific computing on the exascale ...

Quantum computing

Researchers nearly reached quantum limit with nanodrums ...

Focus on Europe

New approach for ARM-based technology to halve the cost of powering data centres ...

PRACE to award contracts in third and final phase of Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) ...

PRACE welcomes new Managing Director Serge Bogaerts ...

PRACE 2016 Digest Special Edition on Industry is out ...

Supercomputer comes up with a profile of dark matter ...

Middleware

Bright Computing supplies Bright OpenStack to Stony Brook University ...

DDN Annual High Performance Computing Trends survey reveals rising deployment of flash tiers and private/hybrid Clouds versus public for HPC ...

With Corral 3, TACC provides a more unified data structure and increased space ...

Hardware

Mellanox launches open source software initiative for routers, load balancers, and firewalls ...

Mellanox Multi-Host technology reshapes data centre economics ...

Cray awarded $26 million contract from the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Programme ...

Hewlett Packard Enterprise completes acquisition of SGI ...

Centre for Modelling & Simulation in Bristol launches new supercomputer ...

Baylor University selects Cray CS400 cluster supercomputer to power innovative research ...

SGI awarded $27 million systems contract with the Army Research Laboratory Defense Supercomputing Resource Center ...

Applications

XSEDE spins off annual conference to unite research computing community ...

Researchers at UCSB explore the delicate balance between coherence and control with a simple but complete platform for quantum processing ...

Cosmic connection: KITP's Greg Huber worked with nuclear physicists to confirm a structural similarity found in both human cells and neutron stars ...

New technique for creating NV-doped nanodiamonds may be boost for quantum computing ...

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground ...

The Cloud

IBM drives Cloud storage with new all-flash and software defined solutions ...

Capital markets firms continue to invest in hardware for compute Grids alongside growing Cloud adoption, according to TABB Group Research ...