The brain, traffic and nano-circuits – e-Science takes on major... Research into three major scientific and technological challenges –

The brain, traffic and nano-circuits – e-Science takes on major challenges
Research into three major scientific and technological challenges –
understanding the brain, designing future generation nano-scale electronic
circuits and mapping the detailed environmental impact of traffic – is set to
take a leap forward thanks to the application of e-Science and grid computing.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with other funding
partners, has awarded more than £13m to three, 3-4 year projects covering
each of these topics in the third round of its e-Science programme.
e-Science is opening up to scientific scrutiny challenging problems that had
seemed out of reach, or even impossible to tackle. By giving researchers
access from their own desktops to resources held on widely-dispersed
computers, it is enabling research that would have been impossible using one
computer alone, even a supercomputer.
1. The £4.5m CARMEN project, led by Professor Colin Ingram at the
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, will harness e-Science techniques to
enable neuroscientists, working on different aspects of brain function at
different labs, to share and integrate their data and models.
Neuroscientists use many different techniques to unravel the processes within
individual neurons (brain or nerve cells) or interactions between networks of
neurons that lead to thoughts and behaviour. The techniques are timeconsuming, difficult and expensive, but researchers rarely record their data or
models so that they can be used by other labs or research groups. CARMEN
will help maximise the output from investment in brain science by enabling
neuroscientists to archive their data so that they can be retrieved and used in
new ways by others.
2. The £5.2m NanoCMOS project, led by Professor Asen Asenov at Glasgow
University, will build e-Science tools to allow designers of tiny electronic
circuits to meet the very demanding challenges created by future nano-scale
electronic components.
These components will be so small that their behaviour will be highly variable,
governed by individual atoms rather than the average behaviour of large
collections of atoms. The NanoCMOS project will build a grid infrastructure
and e-Science tools to enable circuit designers to share models that simulate
nano-component behaviour and explore the implications for circuit design. It
will help UK circuit designers to remain internationally competitive and
overcome the disadvantages caused by the lack of an indigenous UK
semiconductor industry.
3. Traffic contributes the largest share of air pollution in inner cities.
Governments devise policies and traffic management schemes to minimise
the impact of air pollution, but they are hampered by a lack of detailed
knowledge. Factors such as street and building design, vehicle braking and
accelerating patterns, individual traveller decisions and local weather
conditions affect the concentration of pollutants that individuals are exposed
to as they move around. The £3.5m PMESG (Pervasive Mobile
Environmental Sensor Grids) project, led by Professor John Polak at Imperial
College London, is jointly funded by the EPSRC and the Department for
Transport. It will develop e-Science and grid technologies to enable data from
a network of mobile sensors to be gathered and interpreted. The e-Science
technologies developed will be generic enough for use in other applications of
mobile sensor networks, for example, climate or weather mapping.
Professor Colin Ingram
Professor Asen Asenov
Professor John Polak