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Advanced Computer Simulation Screensaver Title
The images below represent the results of simulations performed on some of the highest-performance computers available to the U.S. academic community. The National Science Foundation supports these supercomputers and other computing, information and networking resources at three of the supercomputer centers established by NSF in 1985. These include the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh; and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego.
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Installation instructions
Ion Channel
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This image shows the internal surface of a model of the M2 helices that make up the pore of the pentameric nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Steered molecular dynamics simulations were conducted on the Blue Horizon and DataStar supercomputers at SDSC to investigate the ion conduction properties and changing geometry of the channel.
Credit: Richard Law, Andrew McCammon, UCSD.
Early Universe
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This image shows the distribution of visible matter--galaxies, quasars and gas clouds--inside a cube-shaped volume 248 million light-years on a side, the product of the world's most complex scientific simulation of the evolution of the universe ever performed. Michael Norman, a cosmologist from the University of California, San Diego, ran his Enzo program for more than 130 hours on 512 processors of the San Diego Supercomputer Center's Blue Horizon supercomputer, tracking more than a billion particles of visible matter and dark matter and performing hydrodynamics calculations in more than a billion cells (a simulation volume 1024 cells on a side) for more than 3 billion years of simulated time. The simulation begins only 30 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was a uniform sea of hydrogen and helium gas and dark matter. Over time, irregularities in density of about one part in a thousand are amplified by the action of gravity to form clusters of galaxies in enormous sheets and strings separated by immense voids. This view of the simulation corresponds to a time 1.3 billion years after the Big Bang, or 12.4 billion years ago. The simulation generated more than 40 terabytes of data, which is being compared to real-world observations to validate the parameters used in astrophysicists' theories.
Credit: Michael Norman, Pascal Paschos, UCSD; Robert Harkness, SDSC
Earth’s Magnetic Field
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Earth's magnetic field. A geodynamo simulation computed on PSC's LeMieux supercomputer shows inward-directed magnetic field lines (blue) and outward-directed lines (red). The complicated field of the core becomes smoother at the Earth's mantle. Gary Glatzmaier of the University of California, Santa Cruz. and his colleague Paul Roberts of University of California, Los Angeles, developed the first computational model of these geodynamic processes that evolves on its own consistently. This model has successfully simulated many features of Earth's magnetic field, including magnetic-field reversal, a recognized phenomenon that has happened many times over Earth's history. In recent work with LeMieux, Glatzmaier and graduate student Darcy Ogden have investigated heat from radioactive decay in the inner core as a buoyancy source that may help to drive the geodynamo.
Credit: Gary Glatzmaier, UCSC; Paul H. Roberts, UCLA; Darcy E. Ogden, UCSC
Black Holes Merging
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Black holes merging. Completed on NCSA's Titan Linux computing cluster, this simulation shows two black holes merging and the resulting ripples of space-time known as gravitational waves. The full simulation, a general relativistic numerical depiction of two black holes orbiting and then merging, represents the first time that three-quarters of a full orbit was computed. An animation of these visualizations was featured in the Discovery Channel documentary "Unfolding Universe."
Credit: Albert Einstein Institute at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum, Berlin. Visualization by Werner Benger and Edward Seidel, director of Louisiana State University's Center for Computation and Technology.
Orion Nebula
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Orion Nebula. Using the Blue Horizon supercomputer at SDSC, researchers created an animation of the Orion Nebula for the planetarium show at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The animation depicts the glowing center of the nebula and dozens of teardrop-shaped "proplyds," each one a newborn solar system.
Credit: David R. Nadeau and Jon Genetti, SDSC, University of California; Carter Emmart and Erik Wesselak, Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History; C.R. O'Dell and Zheng Wen, Rice University.
Water through Aquaporin
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Water through aquaporin. Scientists led by biophysicist Klaus Schulten at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, use scientific visualization and molecular dynamics simulation--which tracks how atoms in a molecule move--along with computer game technology to study membrane proteins, which reside in cell walls and control what passes. In effect, a researcher can interact with the protein and "feel" mechanical resistance as an ion, for instance, passes through the channel. One family of membrane proteins they have studied extensively is aquaporins, important in many organisms, including people. Last year, they answered a big question about aquaporins' selectivity. Here, the LeMieux supercomputer at PSC simulated water molecules (red and white) passing in single file from outside the cell (top) through a channel in the aquaporin protein to the cell interior. In a more recent study, they explained how some aquaporins transport sugars in a highly selective manner. In ongoing research, they hope to uncover how aquaporins block ions while at the same time, allowing water to pass freely.
Credit: Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group (http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/aquaporins/), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Tajkhorshid, et al., Science 296:525-530 (2002).
Protein Folding
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Protein folding. Before being able to carry out its biological role, a protein must first transform from its newborn form as a droopy string of amino acids, into just the right folded shape. How it does this-- in seconds or less--is of great interest to molecular biologists. To help understand how proteins fold, PSC's LeMieux supercomputer calculated the free-energy landscape--a map of energy interactions among the atoms as molecular structure changes--of a small protein segment called the tryptophan zipper. Each landscape represents many interrelated computations. To carry out these studies, Carlos Simmerling and colleagues at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, have implemented the software for a method called "replica exchange," that exploits massively-parallel systems like LeMieux with high efficiency. As many as 50 simulations at a time, running on up to 32 processors each, communicate with each other periodically to map the landscape's ridges and valleys.
Credits: Asim Okur, Daniel Roe, Guanglei Cui, Viktor Hornak and Carlos Simmerling, SUNY Stony Brook.
Tornado Simulation
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Tornado simulation. This image was created from data generated by a tornado simulation calculated on NCSA's IBM p690 computing cluster. High-definition television animations of the storm produced at NCSA were included in an episode of the PBS television series NOVA called "Hunt for the Supertwister." The tornado is shown by spheres that are colored according to pressure; orange and blue tubes represent the rising and falling airflow around the tornado.
Credit: Bob Wilhelmson, NCSA and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Lou Wicker, National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Matt Gilmore and Lee Cronce, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois. Visualization by Donna Cox, Robert Patterson, Stuart Levy, Matt Hall and Alex Betts, NCSA.
Gas Compression in Turbulent Flow
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Gas compression in turbulent flow. NCSA's Titan Linux computing cluster is used to simulate the details of turbulent motions. In this one billion-cell turbulent flow simulation, red to white streaks indicate strong compression of gas, while green to blue streaks show weaker compression. A better understanding of fluid turbulence has implications in myriad scientific and engineering disciplines, from understanding the behavior of rivers and oceans to designing better aircrafts and cars.
Credit: Paul Woodward, Laboratory for Computational Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota.
Download the screen saver for Windows (2.3MB)
Download the screen saver for Mac OS X (2.3MB)
PC Instructions

To install the screen saver, right-click nsf_screensaver_setup.exe to download it to your computer. Then double-click the setup file and follow the instructions to install it. The Settings window will open automatically to allow you to choose the time for each image on the screen; when you close that window the Display Properties window will be open. This screen saver will be selected by default. You can change to a different screen saver here, or disable all screen savers.

Installation of the screen saver may require administrative access to your PC, which may be provided by your IT department.

If at some point in the future you decided to disable or re-enable this screen saver, simply right-click your desktop and choose Properties from the popup menu to open the Display Properties window. Click the screen saver tab and choose your settings.

Mac OS X Instructions

To install the screen saver, download and unstuff the .sit file. Double click the "nsf_screen saver_osx" icon. The installer will guide you through the installation process. It will open your Desktop and Screen Saver control panel from your System Preferences. To customize, click the Options button. Choose the display time and the Playback Size of the screen saver. Once your selections have been made, close the Options window by clicking OK. To save your changes, simply close the Desktop and Screen Saver control panel.

This screen saver is provided "as is" for personal use only. Please review our Copyright policy.