Five Places You Didn't Think You'd Find Supercomputers

1 - Five Places You Didn't Think You'd Find Supercomputers
2 - The Bitcoin Marketplace
3 - Automobile Safety Ratings
4 - The Newspaper
5 - Smog Control in Cities
6 - 18-Wheelers Roll On
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Five Places You Didn't Think You'd Find Supercomputers

by Darryl K. Taft

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The Bitcoin Marketplace

Ever thought of supercomputing as a get-rich-quick strategy? Computer geeks do. It turns out that supercomputing processes are perfect for mining for Bitcoin. The mining community is now using dedicated mining machines, built purely to mitigate Bitcoin hash-rate problems. Supercomputers are so well-suited to this that they're now becoming essential for real financial success in the emerging online currency world.

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Automobile Safety Ratings

Supercomputers play a role in helping you decide what car to buy. When auto manufacturers subject their vehicles to safety testing, only a fraction of the testing is done in a live, simulated environment with a dummy. In fact, a large portion of a vehicle's safety rating is based on complex computer-generated scenarios, in which supercomputers crunch equations involving dozens upon dozens of different variables. These computer-generated scenarios, along with the data taken from the crash tests themselves, is analyzed to determine safety ratings.

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The Newspaper

New-age journalists are finding key sources—in the form of supercomputers. The Associated Press and other major news organizations recently began using software that employs algorithms to spot facts and key trends in data and describe them in a narrative way, effectively enhancing the journalist's ability to generate insights for data-centric stories, such as earnings reports. The algorithms can comb through historical data for outlier cases, select appropriate words from a vast thesaurus and apply what it considers to be the best ones to describe a situation.

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Smog Control in Cities

By running meteorological data through supercomputers, scientists can predict pollution levels in major cities like Beijing. These processes can help identify the source and dispersal pattern of pollutants across Beijing, with a street-level degree of detail, days in advance. Armed with this information, public health officials can warn at-risk individuals and potentially control the pollution's damaging effect on a community. The same insights can also help reduce pollution in the future by looking at energy consumption, predicting the effectiveness of alternative energy sources—such as solar and wind—or managing energy production to minimize waste.

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18-Wheelers Roll On

Eighteen-wheeler trucks have begun appearing with "skirts" on the bottom. Research done on supercomputers showed that this aerodynamic design reduces drag and increases efficiency enough that operators save up to $5,000 per truck, per year in fuel costs. This can have a significant impact on the $603.9 billion worth of freight these trucks transport each year across the United States.

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