Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         CONTACT:
January 31, 1996                                  Michael Schneider
                                                  Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Woodward Honored for Turbulence Research

PITTSBURGH -- To see what the Sun's 5,000 degrees F. surface would look like if you were there, University of Minnesota physicist Paul Woodward developed new methods of computational modeling. Using computers at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and other places, he simulated the churning, turbulent dynamics of hot gasses in the Sun's outer layer. With new visualization techniques, he revealed phenomena that cannot be measured or observed, leading a committee of computational scientists to give him the 1995 Sidney Fernbach Award.

Woodward's research examines the Sun's outer layer, where highly turbulent fluid motions affect the rate at which energy leaves the Sun, radiating outward into space. Better understanding of these processes affects scientists' ability to predict how long it will be until the Sun burns out. It also improves understanding of solar flares, intense energy bursts from the Sun that can disrupt electronic systems on Earth.

In the fall of 1994, Woodward and his colleague David Porter carried out computations on the CRAY T3D at Pittsburgh believed to be the largest simulation of turbulent convection ever. The results showed features of solar turbulence, such as swirling rings of gas that resemble smoke rings, that had not been predicted by theory and were never before observed or successfully simulated.

The award recognized Woodward for his work over many years in computational fluid dynamics, citing his "relentless and innovative pursuit of hardware and software capabilities to carry out and visualize in real time the largest turbulence simulations." He developed a computational method -- the piecewise parabolic method (PPM) -- that has been used for research in astrophysics, meteorology and aerodynamics. In recent years, he developed strategies to implement PPM on scalable, parallel computing systems such as the CRAY T3D. Woodward also has been instrumental in developing software and visualization systems that aid scientists in drawing meaningful conclusions from the massive data produced in large-scale simulations.

Given annually since 1992 for "outstanding contribution in the application of high performance computers using innovative approaches," the Fernbach award is named in honor of the late Sidney Fernbach, a pioneer in using high-performance computers to solve difficult scientific problems. This year's award was presented to Woodward on Dec. 6 at the Supercomputing '95 conference in San Diego.

Information (and graphics) relating to Woodward's research is available on World Wide Web: http://www.psc.edu/science/Woodward/Woodward.html

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a joint project of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with Westinghouse Electric Corporation, was established in 1986 by a grant from the National Science Foundation with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to develop and make available state-of-the-art high-performance computing for scientific researchers nationwide.

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