Planeta Br. 101 | SUPERRAČUNARI/big data
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» Glavni naslovi






Supercomputers / big data

The world has come to the brink of knowing itself. The number of discovered and related facts has increased so extensively that it is already impossible to collect and set facts so that there is always a clear idea about them. Almost everything that exists and makes up today's reality has expanded and multiplied to the extent that it is impossible to grasp and even more difficult to manage in a useful and purposeful way. To achieve this though, humans invented and made supercomputers. They store an imaginable amount of data until yesterday, and computers then sort them at high speed, consider them and then deliver the required results.
Without such devices, it would be impossible to monitor changes in numerous scientific fields, and especially in those that are full of data by the nature of their contents. For example, without supercomputers, it would not be possible to process meteorological data at the required speeds. Also, neither astrophysical phenomena, chemical analyzes, medical research, details of processes in chemistry and physics. The scope of data about the world, about the actions we perform, about the things we are surrounded by, about material costs, about research and science ... has lately enlarged so much that designing and connecting computers is currently the only way to keep up with needs. Supercomputers are expensive, and their maintenance also requires large funds so today only rich countries can have them.



A year and a half of a pandemic

One hundred years after the Spanish flu, which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, we are witnessing another major pandemic in recent history, which, fortunately, has ten times fewer victims, but is causing equally great global confusion. Caused by the influenza A virus, a pandemic from the beginning of the 20th century - when medicine was just beginning to distinguish viruses from bacteria - killed a huge number of people because it happened during the war, before the end of the First World War. The current pandemic is happening at a time when medicine, in conjunction with new technologies, is rapidly reaching solutions that were unthinkable just a decade ago; however, in the conditions of great physical mobility of the world population, as well as specific socio-economic and ecological conditions, the relatively new coronavirus reminds us of the fact that we are again faced with a hidden but powerful enemy. In a conversation with Dr. Ana Gligić, MD, Dean of Yugoslav Virology, today a retired senior research associate, we once again summarize what we have discovered and learned in the year and a half, what answers are still being sought, and what new questions arise?
Dr. Gligić, a scientist who once isolated the deadliest virus, Marburg, and was on the first line of defense against the smallpox virus, reminds that viruses are a very special form of life, and whatever applies to other (micro) organisms don’t apply to viruses. Namely, viruses have evolved into almost perfect parasites: they do not have their own metabolism, so as a "host" they need to draw the energy from a living cell. At the same time, they do not reproduce by division, like other living organisms, but rather it can be said that they multiply in an occupied cell, in a very special way.



The seduction of interstellar travel

In September 2015, amateur astronomers, involved in the "Planet Hunters" project, came across a star tat behaved quite unusual. If searching for a planet without its own brightness, you will discover it when it passes in front of its star, covering it and diminishing star brightness - but the change will be very small. With this star, the change in brightness went as high as 22%, for which no one had a ready explanation. The star was nicknamed WTF, which according to the official version is an abbreviation of the English "What the flux?" (although those familiar with spoken English will understand that this abbreviation is actually a pictorial expression of the scientific team frustration for not having the right answer). For a moment, one explanation sounded credible enough to appear in the official media and tickle the imagination: the megastructure of advanced alien civilization hides the light of a star! And not just any structure known only to advanced beings, but something much more specific: Dyson's sphere.
Physicist Freeman Dyson was one of the leaders of the American "Orion Project”, that in the 1950s was tasked with making a spacecraft that would move using the energy of nuclear explosions. The amount of energy that the spacecraft would carry in the form of nuclear bombs would enable even interstellar travel, as some dared to predict.
However, the project was abandoned for several reasons, and its fate was definitely sealed by the Agreement on the Prohibition of Testing of Nuclear Weapons in the Atmosphere, Space and Underwater from 1963.



With the help of a slingshot/catapult

Rocket planes are aircraft that use rocket engines for propulsion, but, unlike classic rockets, they also have buoyancy surfaces (wings) for flying through the atmosphere. That is why they are also known as rocket planes. Rocket planes can reach much higher speeds than jet planes of similar dimensions, but the rocket engine most often has a short operating time (a few minutes at most), after which they fly by gliding in the air. Since they do not use oxygen from the atmosphere to operate the engines, they are suitable for flights at high altitudes where jet engines cannot be used.
The development of these aircraft became possible when reliable rocket engines with solid and liquid propellants were made, which happened in the 1920s. In the late 1920s, Fritz von Opel, 1899-1971, organized numerous commercials for his company "Opel" showing various rocket-propelled vehicles (cars, motorcycles, bicycles). His activities were assisted by pyrotechnics manufacturer Friedrich Sander, 1885-1938, and rocket technology pioneer Max Valier, 1895-1930. In March 1928, three of them visited the Wasserkuppe mountain, which was at the time the center of German aviation gliding, to examine the possibility of placing rockets on aircraft. There, one of the pioneers of the German Air Force, Alexander Lippisch, showed them his revolutionary glider constructions in 1894-1976. Due to their tailless construction, some of them enabled the installation of a rocket engine, and Lippisch immediately showed how the models of his gliders could fly with small rockets built into them.



Book of congratulations on the occasion
of Tesla's 75th birthday

The real treasure trove of significant recognitions to the genius scientist and inventor is contained in a unique book, richly bound in leather, with a gold print which Tesla kept in his safe until the end of his life. It is a unique collection of letters sent to him on the occasion of his 75th birthday by his contemporaries.
This collection of original greeting cards, written by hand or typewriter, is titled: "To Nikola Tesla, greeting his Seventy-fifth Anniversary, July 10, 1931".
There are 73 letters in this unusual collection. Of that number, 6 are in German (one written in Gothic), 3 in French, 6 in Serbian, and the rest in English.
Most of the greeting cards were written on a typewriter, and 20 people decided on a more intimate way of addressing by sending their handwritten letters.
Kenneth M. Svezey came up with the idea of congratulating Nikola Tesla on his 75th birthday, to unite them all in a richly bound book, in a leather binding, with a gold print, and to present it to the great scientist on July 10, 1931. (1905-1972), journalist and writer, great Tesla's friend, and admirer.



Frozen in time

Body decoration has been a significant form of expression during various periods of human history. Body tattooing played a vital role in many ancient societies, and the reasons were numerous and, above all, personal. Archaeological evidence has shown us that tattooing is an ancient art form dating back at least 6,000 years. Among the most beautiful and complex examples are the remains of tattoos of ancient people who lived during the Iron Age in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, more than 2000 years ago. Thanks to the cold weather conditions in Siberia, which made it possible to preserve the mummified bodies of the then inhabitants, archaeologists were able to detect the most spectacular tattoos on their bodies. They were mostly tattoos depicting mythical and real animals in various poses.
In the ancient past, tattoos were a rarity, an individual's privilege, a sign of belonging, masculinity, or courage. Only a certain member of the community could be "marked" to emphasize his position in society. Archaeological excavations of the frozen grave complexes of the Pazirik culture in Siberia have provided valuable and rich information, because they contain unique archeological objects and traces of rare burial customs. From the aspect of science and culture, these complexes have enriched the world with knowledge for understanding the way of life of past communities. The population of the Pazirik culture is the only ancient people in the world whose tattoos can be seen on the bodies of men and women from head to toe.



The illusions are real

The Museum of Illusions in Belgrade is one of 30 museums that are part of the largest museum franchise in the world. Its display of over 70 exhibits is arranged on two levels. The setting is mostly interactive and contains installations, optical illusions and spatial illusions, some of which can only be seen with a camera. Behind each exhibit are hidden phenomena and laws of nature, which describe and explain mathematics, natural sciences and psychology.
This is a museum, but an atypical museum. It educates and provides an experience that you cannot "touch" and, in a way, flirts with museology. A year ago, the exhibition was refreshed, and more than half of the exhibits are new. The installation is usually done for three years. The Museum of Illusions is highly rated on the "Trip Advisor" website and declared the most visited museum in Belgrade.



Something tropical in Belgrade

The public aquarium and tropicarium 'Belgrade' is the only such institution in Serbia. It was founded by aquarium lovers gathered in the Association "Aquaria Life", who, with the occasional help of volunteers, take care of more than three thousand fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
The signed agreements on cooperation with the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, and the Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia indicate that this institution has scientific and research significance. A similar document will be signed with the Natural History Museum in Belgrade soon. Biology and veterinary students will soon start coming to the Public Aquarium and Tropicarium for practice. Terrariums for the biotope of Serbia were prepared last year, but biologists have only now set out, on the field, so it can be expected that people will be shown these new wild animals.
In that sense, there will be a significant new collection that will soon be open to the public and was prepared in cooperation with the Institute for Nature Protection and the Museum of Natural History. It will be a part with domestic species, where we will live all domestic species of fish, amphibians, reptiles.




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