World's fastest supercomputer makes recommendations to limit COVID-19

World’s fastest supercomputer that has been running simulations to determine how best to reduce the spread of COVID-19 recommends open train windows and limiting passengers as well we using floor-to-ceiling curtains around hospital beds

  • Japanese researchers used a supercomputer to simulate COVID-19 transmission
  • They used Fugaku, dubbed the world’s fastest super computer in 2020
  • Fugaku simulated air particle movement in a range of scenarios
  • The most effective means of stopping COVID-19 transmission were ventilation, limiting number of people in enclosed spaces, and personal barriers 

Japanese researchers have turned to the world’s fastest supercomputer to help test the effectiveness of different COVID-19 mitigation tactics.

The Tokyo-based scientific research institute Riken devised a series of complex simulations to observe how SARS-CoV-2 might spread indoors, and created a list of suggestions to limit transmission based on those simulations.

The researchers enlisted Fugaku, the $1billion supercomputer that was crowned the world’s fastest supercomputer in June, to conduct the simulations.

Researchers in Japan used a supercomputer to test public health measures to lower COVID-19 transmission and found limiting number of people in train cars in combination with proper ventilation was effective

Fugaku features 158,976 custom ARM processors, each of which have 48 CPU cores, and which can collectively process 415.5 petaflops a second, almost three times as much as the previous fastest computer in the world.

The team used Fugaku to simulate how air particles that an infected person might cough out would travel through the air in an enclosed space, according to a report from The Asahi Shimbun.

Using a base assumption that every cough releases around 50,000 particles that range in size between one micrometer and several hundred micrometers, they simulated the likelihood of another person inhaling one of those particles in a variety of different circumstances.

The team, led by Makoto Tsuobokura, concluded that one of the effective solutions was also one of the cheapest and involved simply opening windows.

According to a simulation of commuter train car, just opening the windows increased ventilation by between two and three times and substantially lowered the amount of microbes in the air.

The simulation also showed that limiting the number of passengers in each car would lower transmission even further.

For hospitals, the simulation suggested the optimal solution would be floor to ceiling curtains that completely enclose potentially infected patients.

The researchers used Fugaku for their simulation, dubbed the world’s fastest supercomputer in June 2020, it has 158,976 custom ARM processors, each of which have 48 CPU cores, and which can collectively process 415.5 petaflops a second

In offices and classrooms, the computer suggested installing short barriers across shared desks and conference tables to block the passage of air particles from one person to another.

In June, researchers used Fugaku for another calculation-intensive COVID-19 project, which involved simulating the effectiveness of different drug types on people with COVID-19.

The computer simulated protein bonding responses for 2,128 drugs and recommended a few dozen for follow-up research based on the computer’s computation.

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