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Cray XK6 Supercomputer Used To Simulate Ice Cream

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the right-tool-for-the-job dept.

Supercomputing 55

An anonymous reader writes "The processing power available inside modern supercomputers isn't just able to help us better understand the universe we live in, develop better medicines, and model complex systems. Apparently it is also helping to make better ice cream. Research has been carried out at the University of Edinburgh to simulate the soft matter that makes up ice cream. More specifically, scientists are trying to understand the complex interactions occurring between the many different ingredients that make up your favorite flavor of the delicious cold stuff."

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The ice cream will melt before simulation runs.... (5, Funny)

Foske (144771) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788113)

How are you supposed to simulate something when the simulation generates so much heat that the simulated object can never exist long enough to run the simulation ?

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (5, Funny)

Artea (2527062) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788147)

How are you supposed to simulate something when the simulation generates so much heat that the simulated object can never exist long enough to run the simulation ?

Don't worry, they simulated the freezer first.

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (0, Troll)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788401)

I guess they got their budget from the global warming studies department.

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (3, Funny)

starworks5 (139327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788175)

Hopfully they find a way to create instant icecream

1/2 instant cold pack, 1/2 dehydratated icecream

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (4, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788287)

When the ice cream giants take over the planet, someone will invent a time machine just to go back in time an tag this "what could possibly go wrong".

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788573)

They'll probably set up the experiment on Mars, so that the ice cream just wont get the heat required to melt

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (1)

BagOCrap (980854) | more than 2 years ago | (#40816737)

They'll probably set up the experiment on Mars

I thought that would be for the flavour? If that would be the case, I certainly hope they won't do it on Uranus as well...

Re:The ice cream will melt before simulation runs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40790301)

The dastardly Icenberger exclusion principle rears its ugly head once more!

Android (3, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788153)

You need a supercomputer to simulate Android 4.0 ?

What will it take to simulate Jelly Bean

BTW my tablet runs Honeycomb 3.2.1 OK.

Re:Android (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789207)

You need a supercomputer to simulate Android 4.0 ?

No, you need a supercomputer to simulate 1/3 of Android 4.0
You'd probably need a beowulf cluster of them to simulate the entire sandwich

Anyone more than me... (0)

qrwe (625937) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788157)

...who thought "Ice Cream" was some short for Ice Cream Sandwich [wikipedia.org] ? With the second thought: "why would anyone need to simulate that in a supercomputer?"

Re:Anyone more than me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788343)

Joking aside, you'd be surprised how poorly it's simulated for developers. Even using a VM solution instead of the official "virtual device" solution, it's horrendously slow on hardware that should have no trouble at all simulating it.

It's about time however that someone decided to simulate something cool :p

Re:Anyone more than me... (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789171)

Joking aside, you'd be surprised how poorly it's simulated for developers. Even using a VM solution instead of the official "virtual device" solution, it's horrendously slow on hardware that should have no trouble at all simulating it.

So, basically, the Ice Cream simulation runs at a glacial pace?

Cray XK6 Supercomputer running Ice Cream Sandwich (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788563)

You beat me to it. I was going to make a joke about the Cray XK6 running Ice Cream Sandwich as its OS, instead of the several, well established multi-processing versions of either BSD or Linux, such as a DragonFly or a Debian.

Still not possible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788163)

You know, when you observe, you change!!!!

So no point of making observation anymore!

Universe (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788191)

There is something wrong with the summary. Ice cream is also part of the universe we live in.

Re:Universe (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788289)

Okay, Captain Pedantic:

The processing power available inside modern supercomputers isn't just able to help us better understand the universe we live in... Apparently it is also helping to make better ice cream

First of all, there's no actual contradiction here, so the summary's not wrong - only, on first glance, a little redundant. Secondly, the supercomputer could help to make better ice cream without helping us better understand the process/the Universe (by giving us an optimal recipe without explaining why), so I would argue that there isn't even, strictly speaking, a tautology.

Re:Universe (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788801)

If we can't simulate ice-cream at the cone-size level, then how could we ever get it right when we create ice-cream planets for our fully immersive hedonistic virtual reality future?

I'd rather have (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788259)

I'd rather have a Cray XK6 made out of ice cream. On an equally frivolous note did the Cray run Ice cream Sandwich [android.com] ?

Re:I'd rather have (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788735)

I'd rather have a Cray XK6 made out of ice cream. On an equally frivolous note did the Cray run Ice cream Sandwich [android.com] ?

And if they go to the App Store, are they told that they are not running a telephone?

Re:I'd rather have (0)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40797379)

I'd rather have a Cray XK6 made out of ice cream. On an equally frivolous note did the Cray run Ice cream Sandwich [android.com] ?

I'd rather have a Cray XK6 simulate a Fukashima reactor meltdown while I have real ice cream melt in my hand, than vice verse. Seriously, the myopic mindset that thinks this shit up using taxpayer money rather than political shareholders assets goes to show how far chaos theory will iterate before some level headed voters put a stop, once and for all, to this bullshit.

1536 cores (4, Funny)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788283)

They all scream for ice cream.

weird inference (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788285)

It's not clear to me why this research will improve ice cream's shelf life. Is shelf life limited by our understanding of the relevant physics?

Of course, I doubt that's why they're actually doing this, but it won't necessarily improve the practical side of making ice cream at all. That has been studied extensively an an empirical fashion, and we have pretty good information on how different methods and ingredients turn out. What's less clear is the reason for it, i.e. the physics behind some of the processes. That's good to learn to advance physics, but may or may not lead to practical improvements. And those practical improvements may or may not have anything to do with shelf life...

Re:weird inference (5, Informative)

jpatters (883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788349)

I'm sure the physics will be interesting, but it is much more fun to study ice cream making empirically. I've had the best luck by simplifying as much as possible. That and a teaspoon of vodka per quart of ice cream keeps it soft and scoopable no matter how long it stays in the freezer.

Re:weird inference (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788851)

Quality information like this is why I still come to Slashdot. That is a suggestion I will have to try. To better understand the physics, of course.

Re:weird inference (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788983)

I'm sure the physics will be interesting, but it is much more fun to study ice cream making empirically.

You are obviously not a physicist or mathematician. To paraphrase Feynman, studying the physics of ice cream allows you to see the beauty of how it is constructed in addition to enjoying the obvious properties of it. Empirical studies in this case are as intellectually stimulating as watching cars driving fast and turning left.

Re:weird inference (1)

jpatters (883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40791725)

Wow, you have such insight. You should use your vast physics knowledge to build a time machine and go back in time to tell Ben and Jerry that making experimental ice cream for fun is a useless endeavor.

Re:weird inference (2)

archmedes5 (106202) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789135)

There's a lot going in when making ice cream. For example, inclusions in the ice cream (like nuts or chocolate chips, etc...) can change certain properties of the surrounding mix, salts from nuts can lower its freezing point causing heat shock around the inclusions, acids from fruits can curdle the mix, some inclusions can leech into the ice cream, changing the flavor in ways not expected. An improper mix of emulsifiers and stabilizers can mean the ice cream can separate, even when frozen. An improper water, butterfat and air mix can cause the ice cream to freeze solid in hoses, which require line shut downs to fix, driving up costs. Some ice cream has to keep its shape for a certain amount of time before packaging or hardening, you need to plan your mix recipe for that.

Something like this can make things a LOT easier for those who make ice cream, and could easily drive down costs due to fewer issue in manufacturing, packaging, storing and transporting the final product.

Re:weird inference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40789559)

The information would be useful in making the ice cream. The solid transition that the ice cream undergoes is probably extremely complex to simulate as there in not a uniform density transition so discreet partial differential analysis in 3D is required to model the process. Most industrial processes are not operated at most profitable conditions. They are simply operated at conditions that turn a profit. It is very challenging to perfect a complex operation like making ice cream. This is not a trivial or abstract study. This probably has very significant real world application. The supercomputer is used to accomplish the differential approximations which is very computationally expensive. I mean 'stupid science joke' derp.

Re:weird inference (2)

Badge 17 (613974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40792591)

While ice cream makers have probably done lots of experimentation, simulations like this (in addition to being cool physics for other reasons) can give us new directions to look in - e.g how should we change the emulsifier used. More fundamentally, what are the controlling factors for the failure of ice cream? Since TFA is a press release, you can get a better taste for the work the Edinburgh group does from their papers - a related one is at http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.0410 [arxiv.org]

I should also pitch this group's work more generally - Michael Cates' group does a lot of cool simulation work on the dynamics of liquid crystals, as well as active fluids, such as swarming tanks of bacteria. Most of it is on the arxiv, http://arxiv.org/find/cond-mat/1/au:+Stratford_K/0/1/0/all/0/1 [arxiv.org] and http://arxiv.org/find/cond-mat/1/au:+Cates_M/0/1/0/all/0/1 [arxiv.org]

Some of the behaviors of fluids with active objects (bacteria or molecular motors) are quite unintuitive - if you try to push a sphere through one of these active fluids, it will sometimes go in the opposite direction of the force you apply to it! http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.1279 [arxiv.org]

(I am a soft matter physicist, but not from this group.)

I see where this is going! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788337)

Patented flavors!

Who get's the first patent for "tastes like shit"!!?

With great power comes... (4, Funny)

aneroid (856995) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788351)

...great Ice Cream!

Scientists do indeed have great imagination.

Re:With great power comes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40792623)

This is what they used to do without the supercomputer:
http://s181.photobucket.com/albums/x20/jojovanb/Far%20Side%20Pics/?action=view&current=Farside_-_Ice_Cream_Truck.jpg&sort=ascending

Finally a worthy use of that computing capacity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40788403)

Now to simulate a cat...

Re:Finally a worthy use of that computing capacity (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788807)

The Cat in the hat in the box.

Re:Finally a worthy use of that computing capacity (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789019)

Make non dairy, aerated, high fructose corn syrup sweetened treats not war?

I'm looking forward (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788719)

to know the high impact this study will have on the whole World!
It's nice to have all those resources focused on making our world a better world!

Re:I'm looking forward (1)

gewalker (57809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789087)

Hopefully, once they master ice cream physics, they can refocus their efforts on understanding frogurt.

They are (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788799)

They are asking HOW does it blend?

Depending on how they keep their processor cool... (2)

barlevg (2111272) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788821)

New meaning to Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream?

Re:Depending on how they keep their processor cool (1)

fgodfrey (116175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40792257)

Liquid nitrogen ice cream is awesome....

However, the XK6 chillers are a lot more boring. We take room air from under the floor, run it through a cold plate, blow it through the cabinet across 12 Opterons or 6 GPU's vertically, and then go through another cold plate and exhaust it at (approximately) the same temperature it came in it.

What do they boot this supercomputer from? (1)

lazlo (15906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788873)

I've got to wonder what they boot this supercomputer from. Because if it's optical media, then that means that somewhere there's an xk6cd. And that's got to be just a little confusing for the geeks who get to work on it.

I thought this was another 3D-printer article (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40788891)

Sorry, I'm not eating grey goo nanotech ice cream.

This portends much...perhaps, nah (0)

Sqreater (895148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789001)

Paul Davies talks about million-year-old civilizations of aliens exploring the universe physically (among other things) in his book "The Eerie Silence." But I don't think that will be the case. And looking for signals from them is an exercise in futility. The only exploration of the universe in any time that satisfies the need to do so will take place in massively complex computer systems based on a much deeper understanding of physics than we now have. That old civilization probably already computer-simulates we are here; it may even computer-simulate that YOU are here. I wonder if they started by simulating ice cream and nuclear explosions.

But the thought is moot. I don't believe there is other intelligent life in the universe. We are the universe asking itself what it is, and the universe does not have a head full of voices.

Where's the screaming? (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 2 years ago | (#40789003)

I'm not convinced this research will be proven out until they can simulate the effects of screaming on ice cream.

Wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40789609)

I'm allergic to dairy, you insensitive clod!

Wow, How Amazingly Boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40789883)

They didn't even render images of a semi-frozen liquid mass pouring and deforming around solid surfaces.

It's 6 paragraphs of "Scientists did this thing. So and so happened, and we have nothing to show for it."

This article was pointless.

Unfortunately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40790259)

They forgot to simulate a spoon.

Using a supercomputer to simulate ice cream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40790465)

That shit Cray.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40790593)

at least they are not crunching peoples encrypted data... ;)

Brain freeze ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40791075)

... and its applications to CPU cooling.

The next thing they simulated. (1)

korean.ian (1264578) | more than 2 years ago | (#40794339)

After the ice cream, the supercomputer then produced a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

OS? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40795761)

The article doesn't say what OS the computer is running, but it has to be Linux -- presumably a distro that uses Yum.

Is Peter Higgs involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40905743)

He's from Edi... :-D

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