Monday, October 15, 2012

Onward and upward (and sometimes downward and dumbward) as Wyoming lurches into the future

American Bison at Utah's Hogle Zoo

The following comes from a University of Wyoming press release that appeared on Friday. It talks about Wyoming's and UW's commitment to the future in the form of computing power and connectivity. It's refreshing to see such forward-thinking planning on the part of a university that last summer removed a campus sculpture that dared to question global warming ("Carbon Sink"). But it's also the same university that opened a huge new visual arts building at the end of last year, and began raising funds to match a legislative appropriation for a renovated performing arts building. And remember Bill Ayers, the firebrand education reformer and one-time antiwar radical that UW tried to stop speaking on campus a few years back?

Okay, UW has a split personality, not unlike Wyoming's.

You gotta love this place for that. And sometimes, well, you gotta think of Nobel Prize winning writer William Faulkner. As the story goes, Faulkner was at a book signing in Montana when a woman said that she wished that Montana writers loved Montana like Faulkner obviously loved Mississippi. Faulkner's reply: "Madam, I hate Mississippi."

That probably left her speechless.

You don't have to love a place to write well about it. And you don't have to love a place to wish it a fruitful future.

So the new NCAR Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) was dedicated today. Go out and visit the new education center, which is open to the public on weekdays. After this week, you won't be able to visit Yellowstone, the new supercomputer, unless you have an appointment or you're running for president.

This is only one of the surprising bits in this article. DYK that the huge fiber-optic cable that laid the ground for the NWSC is called the Bison Ring (not to be confused with Wagner's Ring Cycle)? See above images for an explanation. And that another big computer has been installed at UW in Laramie with the name Mount Moran, after a peak in the Teton Range? I kind of like this trend that attaches Wyocentric names to tangles of wires and metal and electrons. Microsoft is building a new regional data center in Cheyenne. Wonder what its computer will be called? I suggest "Vedauwoo." Or possibly "Crazy Horse."

Here's the first few paragraphs of the UW release:
It began with laying hundreds of miles of fiber-optic cable, much of it buried under the ground along stretches of interstate that traverse the mountains and plains of Wyoming. Next week, the state’s evolution from primarily pulling minerals out of the ground to a sky’s-the-limit outlook for supercomputing will be complete.

The $74 million NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), with a primary focus of atmospheric research, is slated to open Monday, Oct. 15, with a ceremonial dedication. Located at the North Range Business Park in Cheyenne, the $30 million supercomputer, dubbed “Yellowstone,” will be used by multiple University of Wyoming researchers and their students to model detailed simulations of hydrology, carbon sequestration, planet formation, efficiency of wind turbines, and much more.
Read the whole thing at

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