Friday, November 11, 2011

World's first simulation of complete H1N1 influenza virus

Happy 11/11/11 and happy Veteran's Day! Here's some food for thought, before you head off to whatever activities you have planned to celebrate the occasion.

Scientists in China have created the first computer simulation of the complete H1N1 influenza virus, down to the atomic level. This is a major break-through was announced just yesterday. Until now, studying viruses in the laboratory has been challenging because reactions occur too quickly to observe. 


Simulating billions of particles in the correct conditions was no small feat. The researchers, at the Institute of Process Engineering of Chinese Academy of Sciences, used over 2,200 Tesla GPUs to power the Mole-8.5 supercomputer.

I suspect that the technology will need fine-tuning, but the possibilities are exciting. Using the H1N1 simulation, and others like it, scientists will be able to perform new research—an important step in developing more effective ways to control epidemics and create anti-viral drugs.

With this kind of detail for a virus, I can imagine a future where computers will have enough processing power to create a realistic simulation of places and even people. Perhaps someday my son will visit a real holodeck.

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