Supercomputer provides a COVID-19 eureka moment

Oak Ridge National Lab’s Summit supercomputer has come through clutch in the battle to beat COVID-19.

The Summit supercomputer in Tennessee did some major data analysis on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples. Its aim: to help scientists understand COVID-19. After over a week of number crunching, researchers analysed the results and then the breakthrough.

The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of COVID-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms. It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July.

According to the team’s findings, a COVID-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms. But once COVID-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting. According to Jacobson’s group, the data Summit analyzed shows that COVID-19 isn’t content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors. Instead, it actively hijacks the body’s own systems, tricking it into upregulating ACE2 receptors in places where they’re usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs.

But here’s the kicker: researchers suggested vitamin D as a potentially useful drug against the virus as it could “prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN,” and “stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming.”

Fugaku: Japan’s new next-gen supercomputer

The government aim to start using Fugaku in 2021.

Back in 2009, I started working at Fujitsu in Stevenage, UK. 10 years later and they’re helping to make a supercomputer for Japan. Together with the RIKEN research institute, they are developing a new supercomputer for the nation.

The name Fugaku was announced on 23rd May and it was chosen from over 5000 ideas sent in by the general public. Fugaku is the Japanese name for Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain. It wasn’t named after Uchiha Fugaku from Naruto.

Fugaku’s CPU will be 20x faster at processing data than the current K model and perform calculations 100x faster. It will also be “optimized with software programs that are often used in natural disaster mitigation, manufacturing, medicine, and six other areas”.

There’s A New Theory Explaining Why The Earth’s Core Doesn’t Melt

With the help of a supercomputer, scientists have come up with a theory about the Earth’s core and why it doesn’t melt.

As you may have heard, it’s impossible for anyone or anything to reach the centre of the earth. The concept inspired by Charles Lyell’s “Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man” and later,  Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. The reason you’ll never get there is because the core is approximately 5,427° C (9,800° F). Despite this, the inner core is solid iron and a quick look on Wikipedia tells you iron’s melting and boiling points are 1538 °C and 2862 °C, respectively.

So how can it remain a solid under these extreme temperatures? A study from KTH Royal Institute of Technology might shed some light on the situation with a proposed theory involving the simulation of solid iron under similar conditions. From the analysed data (done so with help from the Swedish supercomputer Triolith), it was determined that the core was around 96% pure iron and the other 4% comprised of nickel and other elements. You can stream the video below to see the team explain their findings.

(I wonder if they know anything about steel beams and jet fuel?)

(via KTH and New Atlas)