Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Grad student life...

This past month or so has been relatively uneventful in the research front for me. I've been trying to get this paper written, and my advisor wanted one more example to demonstrate that the method I've developed is working correctly. The example we decided on was to simulate a magnetic photonic crystal (MPC) that has a peculiar property in being able to "freeze" waves that run into it. The difficult is that the computational resources needed to simulate this is rather high since the MPC structure is electrically large, so I've been using the supercomputers here at OSC to run my sims. OSC had just brought online a new Opteron supercomputer, which is rough 3 times faster than their P4 system before with my code. However, there's a lot of contention to use these resources, so any large jobs that you need done need to be sent through their job request software, and depending on the number of processors you allocate and the estimated time you think it'll take to run your job, their scheduler software optimizes it such that the jobs get done within a reasonable amount of time. At first when the system got online, I almost had all my jobs done quickly, but I guess the word's been getting out, and unfortunately right now for me, the wait can be up to 3 or more days, so it's been sort of frustrating watching my job request sit idly in the queue. It's even worse when you discover AFTER the simulation is done that you made a mistake -_- The good news is that once I get this all done and finish my paper, I can do my candidacy exam, which is second of three big step you need to hurdle before graduating (the Ph.D. Thesis defense being the last).

In other EM news, some US physicist have created an invisibility cloak, but unfortunately, you have to be pretty small to use it. What's sort of cool is that in the field I'm in, I could sort of see something like this coming since there're other computational groups here OSU that have simulated such materials to do these cloaking devices. Most of these effects can be achieved by using metamaterials, which can have goofy properties such as a negative index of refraction. But I guess we still have a ways to go before someone creates an invisibility cloak of useful size.

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