Future Scientists Webinar


The Ecological Impact of High-performance Computing in Science. Speaker: Simon Portegies Zwart, Computational Astrophysics, Leiden Observatory. Monday 9 May, 16:00 CEST.

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The Ecological Impact of High-performance Computing in Science
Monday 9 May – 16:00 CEST.

High-performance computer use continues to increase in science, and so also its impact on the environment. To minimize the effects, scientists should avoid interpreted scripting languages such as Python, and favor the optimal use of energy-efficient workstations.

Simon Portegies Zwart leads the interdisciplinary research team on Computational Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory. His main objective is to understand the universe by simulation and to develop the necessary algorithms and tools. This includes running on cheap graphical processing units, but also on the largest computers in the Solar system. He is concerned about the impact his research has on the environment and realizes very well that so far we know, Earth is the only habitable planet in the Galaxy.




About ‘Future Scientists’

By now, most people are aware of the seriousness of climate change and the ecological crisis (e.g., see this 2019 EU Survey). However, awareness by itself may not lead to behavioral change, let alone system and cultural change.

In the Future Scientists webinar series, we explore how to go forward in the decisive decade to come. As scholars and scientists, what is our role in contributing towards the “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” (IPCC) required to stay below 1,5 °C of warming? What system or cultural changes need to be discussed more widely, and how to best communicate that? Lastly, taking a more introspective view, how do we cope with emotions coming from the barrage of “bad news” regarding the state of our planet?