NASA’s new supercomputing application and Gov 2.0

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I ran across an article on Information Week via HPCWire about NASA’s new supercomputing application.

The application, which will be unveiled later today, is powered by the world’s sixth most powerful computer (according to the Top 500 ranking in 2009) and will be called the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX for short).

This application will allow scientists from all over the world to log into NEX and use its computing power virtually to perform computational research. According to Information Week, even scientists that are not computer wizards would be able to utilize this user-friendly scientific application.

The article also mentioned some interesting political implications resulting from a government-owned and globally-shared supercomputer like NEX. Foreign scientists often lack the U.S. government security clearance to access such tools and data as on NEX.

The scientific community has always prided itself on being cosmopolitan: it’s concerns are for the advancement of science, not towards any political end. Nevertheless, that’s not always the case (e.g. scientists’ close collaboration with government objectives to develop the nuclear bomb in the 1940s). A new challenge for U.S. government will be to balance global scientific collaboration with national security concerns.

The Information Week article links to an interesting website called Gov 2.0 Expo, which is a conference that examines the role of information technology in helping make government more efficient, accountable, responsive and transparent. We’ve covered this topic on the blog before and will continue to follow it, as it provides an interesting perspective on the age-old problem of government responsibility.

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