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Syracuse University hopes to prove Einstein right with new supercomputer

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NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
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via Flickr
Syracuse University plans to build supercomputer that can detect gravitational waves from exploding stars.

Syracuse University has received $791,000  from the National Science Foundation  to build a new supercomputer, to try and better understand how the universe operates.

The computer will be used to detect something Albert Einstein predicted, but which no one has actually observed: gravitational waves.

 Duncan Brown is an assistant professor of physics at Syracuse University. He says what the supercomputer aims to do is detect gravitational waves on a galactic scale, by taking information from observatories in Louisiana and Washington that can capture data from stars that have died and exploded, many light years away. 

"The analogy I would use," Brown s when you throw a rock in a pond, you see these ripples propagate outwards from the splash where the rock hit the pond. The splash is like the star exploding, and the ripples that propagate outwards are like the gravitational waves.

Brown says what makes the supercomputer super is that it's approximately 2,500 times more powerful than a normal laptop.

The supercomputer should be complete this spring, and researchers are expected to begin sifting through data by summer.

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies. Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project. Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.
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