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National Labs Open Doors to Displaced Japanese Researchers

July 5, 2011 - 1:42pm

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Maiko Kofu, Atsushi Nagoe and Osamu Yamamuro examine their sample attached to the end of the cryostat stick after running an experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source. | Department of Energy Photo | Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Public Domain |

Maiko Kofu, Atsushi Nagoe and Osamu Yamamuro examine their sample attached to the end of the cryostat stick after running an experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source. | Department of Energy Photo | Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Public Domain |

It’s said that a friend in need is a friend indeed. But what do you do when your friend needs a supercomputer... or something even harder to find, like a Spallation Neutron Source or a High Flux Isotope Reactor?

If you’re a researcher in the Energy Department’s Office of Science, it’s pretty simple: you offer them time on one of yours. And that’s exactly what researchers at several Office of Science facilities are doing for their counterparts in Japan.
 
On March 11th, the Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan’s main island of Honshu with shattering force. Tens of millions are still adjusting to the aftermath of those disasters, not only those living in quake-ravaged areas, but all around the country.
 
Many scientists are among them. For instance, the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) has been shut down due to earthquake damage. Researchers using electricity-hungry supercomputers at other facilities had their work put on hold due to the power shortages still afflicting the country.

That’s where researchers in the Energy Department’s Office of Science have come in. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have given their Japanese counterparts time on the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and High Flux Isotope Reactor, both of which are similar to the experimental equipment at J-PARC. The team at SNS has accepted two-dozen research proposals from J-PARC scientists, who expect to complete their work before December. Scientists at Oak Ridge even joined with citizens from the city to make a $20,000 donation to their sister city of Naka, Japan, which will be used to repair a local school damaged by the earthquake.
 
Three other Office of Science facilities -- Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia -- have offered supercomputing time to Japanese physicists trying to understand the fundamental interactions at the heart of matter (in a field of lattice quantum chromodynamics).

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