Science museum

History of Supercomputing Unveiled at Bradbury Science Museum – Los Alamos Reporter

At the opening of the Bradbury Science Museum’s revamped supercomputing exhibit are, from left, the museum’s executive director Linda Deck, IEEE project finance manager Terri Roberts, science director , of LANL technology and engineering John Sarrao and Nicholas Lewis, the historian of the National Security Research Center . Photo courtesy LANL

Ann Hayes, former executive director of LANL’s Advanced Computing Laboratory, also attended the inauguration at the Bradbury Science Museum. Photo courtesy LANL


A diverse crowd of computer experts and enthusiasts gathered at the Bradbury Science Museum recently to celebrate the opening of a revamped supercomputing exhibit. Leaders, designers, historians, and scientists from the Lab’s past and present ate cupcakes and talked about petaflops while exploring the exhibit’s new features and stories.

The result of a partnership between the Bradbury and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Foundation, the exhibition highlights the advances of supercomputing in the 21st century, its unique contributions to science, the role of sustainable engineering and the legacy of women in the Laboratory’s computing.

High Performance Computing and Durability

Museum director Linda Deck kicked off a jubilant reception in the museum’s technology lab. welcomed the partners and supporters of the exhibition gathered together. Deck introduced John Sarrao, the lab’s assistant director for science, technology and engineering. In his address, Sarrao highlighted the growing importance of advancing research and innovation for “climate, clean energy and sustainability”, and to identify “the role that supercomputers play in this regard”.

With the summer arrival of the Lab’s newest supercomputer, Crossroads, generating excitement in the science and engineering divisions, Sarrao remarked that the refresh comes at a “remarkably good time.”

A key element of the exhibition is the enduring and growing impact of high-performance computing, which efficiently performs very complex and time-consuming mathematical calculations. Visitors can discover how the efficiency of supercomputers in processing huge amounts of data can boost the prediction, control and understanding of scientific frontiers, from climate change to disease modeling to the origins of the universe.

The exhibit also explains how sustainable engineering supports supercomputer functions, such as Exascale-class computer cooling equipment that handles hot water cooling capabilities critical to operations.

Telling untold stories

The supercomputing exhibit features interviews with several computer scientists, some of whom were present at the event, such as Heather Quinn, Diane Oyen, and Ann Hayes, the former executive director of the Laboratory’s Advanced Computing Lab.

“Collecting and telling untold stories is not just about history; it’s an inspiration to the next generation,” Carolyn Connor told the band. Connor is the Acting Program Manager for Institutional Computing, Chair of the Women in Computing Lab Employee Resource Group, Project Manager on the History of High Performance Computing Project, and a key contributor to the Expo. Bradbury.

Echoing the importance of the Lab’s inclusive culture, Connor emphasized “the importance of voice, visibility and validation” in sharing the varied stories of “work here at Los Alamos and its impact on informatics, and the genesis of informatics”.

Tubie and ‘Total Immersion’

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony by Sarrao and IEEE Project Funding Manager Terri Roberts, attendees explored the new exhibit. Many of them were involved in its development, including Gabriella Smith, the designer of the exhibit’s vacuum tube avatar Tubie, a character who guides visitors through the exhibit.

A great example of the lab’s career pipeline with area schools and colleges, Smith created Tubie while an intern under the Cultural Technology Internship Program, a collaboration between the lab and the New Mexico Highlands. University. Smith now works in the Communications and External Affairs Laboratory.

National Security Research Center historian Nicholas Lewis was also able to celebrate his contributions to the exhibit. Lewis was the subject matter expert and lead writer for the historical elements of the exhibit. Lewis concluded the event with a talk entitled “Total Immersion in Computing”.

The Bradbury Science Museum‘s summer hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free entry.