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U.s. Supercomputer Experts Assess Radiation Risks Amid Crisis at Japanese Nuclear Facility

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The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has enlisted a team of supercomputer experts to measure the radiation risks caused by the Japanese nuclear crisis. NNSA activated the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center, which will use supercomputer algorithms on radiation doses, exposure, hazard areas, meteorological conditions, and other factors to produce predictive models, and give U.S. authorities real-time estimates on the spread of radioactive materials in the atmosphere.

"Not only do they have codes that are capable of understanding the degrading of the nuclear stockpile, but also that are capable of simulating, at the physical level, very sophisticated interactions between materials that are necessary for reactors to operate," says the Renaissance Computing Institute's Stanley C. Ahalt.

The researchers will use the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's BlueGene/L and Dawn supercomputers, which are ranked Nos. 12 and 16 on the biannual list of the world's most powerful supercomputers.

"Senior officials and technical experts from the Department of Energy continue to be in close contact with other agencies as well as with our Japanese counterparts as we work to assess what is a very serious and fluid situation," says NNSA's Damien LaVera.

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