Perhaps Bob Dylan is right when he sings, "You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows." But you certainly need considerable expertise to know which way it will be blowin' tomorrow or a few days hence, how strong its blast will be, where it is likely to turn and what damage it is capable of doing.
Throughout history, people have attempted to predict the weather --- usually with little success. In the Middle Ages it was believed that the weather could be forecast by studying the motions of the stars, the behavior of wildlife or the condition of certain plants. Today, some people still rely on the Farmer's Almanac, which uses a 200-year-old "secret formula" and "calculations based on solar activity."
Meteorologist Lewis Frye Richardson understood the computaton-intensiveness of weather forecasting.
"Imagine a large hall like a theater, except that the circles and galleries go right round through the space usually occupied by the stage. The walls of this chamber are painted to form a map of the globe.
Several features of Richardson's giant computer with human components correspond to the hyperball computer, invented by the writer. The similarities include the following:
These are only a few examples of the parallels that could be drawn between Richardson's computing theatre and the hyperball computer.
Richardson's vision was bold and wonderful because he understood both that weather forecasting is computation-intensive and therefore will require 64,000 human weather forecasters. Richardson viewed his ideas as science fiction and wrote the above piece for entertainment purposes. On the contrary, I am taking the concept of the computing theatre very serious and used it as inspiration to design the hyperball computer.
The hyperball is a parallel computer that replicates the spherical structure of problems defined over a globe, such as the Earth, planets, heavenly or celestial bodies. The hypothetical computing theatre was imagined to have 64,000 human computers located around the spherical-structured Earth.
That form is massive parallelism --- that is, the massively numerous calculations are also subject to the same mathematical description operating in parallel throughout the phenomenon under investigation.
What Richardson did not foresee, however, is that accurate weather forecasting, especially a long-term forecast of global warming, would require about a billion billion calculations. In fact, it would have taken his 64,000 human computers more than 1,000 years just to forecast the next day's weather!
Each processor in the hyperball computer has far greater computing power than one human computing clerk. Collectively, the thousands of processors of the hyperball computer can solve the equations that govern weather forecasting at a rate of over one trillion calculations per second.
Richardson is greatly admired for his unique vision and early contributions to numerical analysis and is widely regarded as the father of numerical weather prediction. What he did not envision was a massively parallel hyperball computer. For the first time, I am proposing this hyperball technology as a practical means of solving complex real-world scientific problems.
Richardson was obviously unaware that the most accurate forecasts would require a billion billion calculations. This many calculations would have taken his 64,000 human computers over 1000 years just to forecast the next day's weather!
Off course, there are some differences between Richardson's Computing Hall and the modern hyperball computer. Each hyperball processor has far greater computing power than each human computer. Collectively, the thousands of processors of the hyperball computer can solve the governing equations used in weather forecasting at over one trillion calculations per second, at a very small fraction of the cost and with significantly greater reliability than Richardson's Computing Hall.
The analogy between Richardson's vision and the contemporary use of computers for weather forecasting is historically interesting. However, even more important is the recognition that massively parallel computing can lead to more accurate weather forecasts which will provide huge social and economic benefits. Accordingly, the United States included weather forecasting as one of the twenty national Grand Challenges in science and engineering. The classification of weather forecasting as a scientific "Grand Challenge" would have delighted Richardson, who was dismissed as an idle dreamer by his contemporaries.
Today, eighty years after Richardson wrote his mathematical fantasy, the writer has discovered that the
hyperball computer is the only technology that will enable us to fulfill Richardson's dream.
CAPTIONS OF MISSING PHOTOS
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|CHALLENGES IN COMPUTING:||EMEAGWALI'S HYPERBALL:|
A billion billion calculations are needed to model Earth's climate. A conventional supercomputer tries to use one processor to perform the calculations. It's very powerful, but not powerful or fast enough to complete the calculations in time to yield a useful forecast of approaching weather.
The natural laws governing Earth's weather --- and the mathematical equations derived from those laws --- operate at all locations in our atmosphere, and in the same way. Therefore, the innumerable calculations required to solve weather equations are distributed evenly throughout the Earth, whether the climatic condition is a harmattan wind in Lagos, a blizzard in Boise or a thunderstorm in Oslo. Since the natural law applies to all locations in the same way, forecasting the weather is inherently parallel and can be best solved on a hyperball computer.
The personal computer, as we know it today, will become obsolete. Mainframe computers will be as relevant as dinosaurs. Computing in the future will be distributed on computers interconnected in a hyperball network. The personal computers of the future will primarily be used to access more remote computers that are more powerful than any computer that exists today.
As computing shifts from the computer to the Internet, the World Wide Web evolves into an intelligent superorganisms or "brain of brains," which I will call a superbrain. The superbrain has a hyperball interconnection pattern with billions of nodes. Each node is powered by both a human- and computer-brain.
|GLOBAL WARMING:||HYPERLINKS ON HYPERBALLS:|
The hyperball is the best computer architecture for modeling Earth's climate. The processing nodes will be stretched, topologically speaking, over the Earth and an equal geographical area will be assigned to the node directly over it. A processing node computes the climatic changes in an area assigned to it and then exchange its data with its nearest neighboring areas.
This new approach is more accurate than existing ones because the spherical structure of the hyperball computer matches the spherical structure of the Earth. In the above artist's illustration of the hyperball, the red dots represents the processing node and the red lines represent the communication channels that connects each node to its neigbhors. The blue prism emanating from the Earth's surface represents the equal geographical areas assigned to each node.
The advantage of the hyperball computer is that after one node is programmed to calculate such weather variables as pressure, temperature, humidity and wind-speed for its prism, the hyperball computer will do the rest, directing the other processors to calculate the variables at the remaining locations at discrete intervals.
Forecasting the climatic changes on the hyperball computer is analogous to a three-dimensional chess
game. The grids (shown on the illustration) form the board, the numerical values assigned
to weather variables are the pieces, and tomorrow's weather corresponds to a position of the game. The governing
rules are the (system of partial differential) equations of motion
of the atmosphere.
The Internet consists of computers and routers (for sending information between networks) and fiber optic lines that are interconnected as a hyperball. However, since the structure of the Internet is invisible to the users, very few of the 300 million daily users of the World Wide Web are aware that they are surfing between one billion hypertext documents that are hyperlinked on a hyperball network.
Since the Earth is spherical, the World Wide Web and Internet has the structure of a hyperball.
The Web surfer moves her mouse cursor over a hyperlink in a web document, she may be pointing to a hypertext document that is stored on a Web server residing on the other side of the world. The one billion web documents are posted millions hyperball-structured Web sites. Cyberspace is a cyberball.
Since every computer in the world will eventually be connected to the Internet, all computers will merge as a cyberball.
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