A Supercomputer Has Taken Over This 19th-Century Church

Atlas Obscura
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July 2 2014 12:46 PM

The 19th-Century Church Dominated by a Supercomputer

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Within the stone walls of the former Chapel Torre Girona in Barcelona, a supercomputer is bleep-blorping its way toward breakthroughs in human genome research, astrophysics, and weather forecasting.

The 19th-Century church building—now deconsecrated—is home to the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. Its star supercomputer, MareNostrum, is encased in a glass box that runs the length of the chapel. Operational since 2005, MareNostrum is a 10,240-core IBM PowerPC computer capable of 63.8 FLOPS—63.8 trillion floating-point operations per second.

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In 2012, researchers at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center reported on their use of MareNostrum to simulate the structure of triple helix DNA in a vacuum. The study contributed new data to the field of antigen therapy, a developing approach to disease that involves switching off activity in the relevant genes.

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