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Science in a Digital World

As a participant and partner of the 4th National eScience Symposium, we had a great day on 13 October. As the main theme of the symposium was ‘Science in a Digital World’, we were of course at the right place. During the day-long event scientists from different fields met each other, shared experiences and discovered how digital technology impacts scientific practice.

Published by the editorial team, 27 October 2016

The symposium featured a plenary session with keynotes from Fernando Pérez (University of California), Ronald Stolk (University of Groningen) and Sally Wyatt (eHumanities KNAW). In five thematic sessions attention has been paid to world-class data-driven and compute-intensive research in different fields. Astronomy was the subject of one of these parallel sessions, organised in close cooperation between NLeScience Center and ASTRON.



Photo: Elodie Burrillon / HUCOPIX

As a partner of the symposium we had two speakers that gave very interesting talks. First Richard Follows, who gave a fascinating talk on the LOFAR telescope and how LOFAR is being used to observe space weather.

“The Sun is capable of launching material at supersonic speeds through the solar system, with the ability to cause “storming” of the Earth’s magnetic field which can affect satellite communications, power grids and result in spectacular displays of the aurora. The Netherlands-based LOFAR radio telescope can observe many parts of this chain of events, from new ways of imaging the Sun, to helping produce 3-D maps of the solar wind, to new insights into the small-scale structure of the Earth’s ionosphere, all made possible with one of the world’s most flexible radio telescopes.”

Secondly Chris Broekema, who gave a great talk on how we deal with big data. And especially big data that will come from the Square Kilometre Array. And the most challenging part will be that all of the data processing has to be on a low budget. Or as the title of Chris’ talk: Exascale on a shoestring budget: the Square Kilometre Array.

“Large scale science instruments are increasingly becoming very data-intensive. These next generation instruments rely on massive compute resources to make sense of the deluge of data that is produced by the instrument. The Square Kilometre Array, a future radio-telescope to be built from 2020, is such an instrument. Bound by strict energy and monetary budgets, we are challenged to design an integral compute system that rivals the largest supercomputers in the world, at a fraction of the cost. Intimate hardware / software co-design and close industry collaboration are explored as potential ways to optimize the efficiency of these systems.”

For us the participation in this interesting event was really great, and we enjoyed the day a lot. The speakers in other areas were also great. Thanks to their contribution it was a very interesting day. And a big thanks to the NleScience Center for their effort in organising such a successful symposium, visited by around 350 people.



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