HOUSTON – The White House this week enlisted the help of some of the most powerful supercomputers in the battle against the new coronavirus.
From finding possible treatments to organizing resources as fans, researchers are teaming up on the front lines to combat this deadly virus.
What is a supercomputer?
Supercomputers can do in minutes what can take weeks or months on the computer.
So what does that mean for fighting the coronavirus? A supercomputer called Frontera is located at the University of Texas at Austin.
"We have hundreds of researchers using our computers right now in various ways," said Dan Stanzione, executive director of the Texas Center for Advanced Computing at UT Austin.
1. Looking at the spread of the virus right now
Researchers are using the Frontera computer to observe the virus's spread patterns in real time.
"Keeping track of how things like social estrangement could slow the spread of the virus," Stanzione explains. "Try to find places where populations may be more at risk or more protected."
2. Help finding treatments
In an effort to find effective treatments, experts are looking at the structure of the virus itself with these computers. This is huge when it comes to possible treatments.
"Understand how it evolved and where it is common with other viruses so you can say that this other treatment worked with this virus so it can work with this one," Stanzione said.
3. Organize important resources like fans.
We know that hospitals in Houston are concerned about a future fan shortage. There has also been a concern about available hospital beds. The supercomputer data is helping to position important resources in hospitals across the country.
"If you can model the spread very precisely and where it will go, you can place your resources as fans, such as antiviral stocks and masks in the areas where the critical wave will hit next," Stanzione said.
Other ways Frontera helps
Recently, Frontera allowed researchers to begin developing a 200 million atom model of the coronavirus that they hope will give an idea of how it is infected in the body.
Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor at UT Austin College of Natural Sciences, also used a supercomputer to help epidemiologists model the spread of the new virus. Based on comprehensive location-based service travel data and disease models, Meyers and colleagues estimated that there were 11,213 coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China, at the time of the quarantine on January 22, a rate 10 times greater than the reported cases
Texas Advanced Computer Center is one of the nation's leading academic supercomputing centers, always providing computing time for national and global emergencies, such as the H1N1 flu outbreak and during hurricane responses.
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