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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Grid plan for high speed internet
Malcolm Atkinson from Glasgow University
Malcolm Atkinson will be director of the e-science project
Two Scottish universities have been allocated 5.5m to set up an e-science centre to help develop a "turbocharged" version of the internet.

e-science will change our ways of working

Malcolm Atkinson
Scientists from Glasgow and Edinburgh universities are hoping to create a grid linking some of the fastest computers on the planet.

The grid, to be operated from a National e-Science Centre, is part of the UK Government's drive to be among the frontrunners in building much faster and more powerful computing systems.

The idea is to enable specialists around the world to focus on complex problems in science, engineering, medicine and the environment.

And just like an internet browser, the grid software puts a common face on to the network of supercomputers behind it.

Massive power

Although it is being created to support the most challenging computations needed for science and engineering, the grid should become a resource-sharing model that will be just as applicable in businesses or in the home.

A 5.5m award from the Department of Trade and Industry and from business will help set up the centre.

The facility will co-ordinate and support the work of eight regional e-Science Centres around the UK and will include an e-Science Institute based in Edinburgh to host workshops and visiting scientists.

Professor Malcolm Atkinson, director of the centre, said: "e-science will change our ways of working. We'll solve hard problems faster. We'll focus the efforts of scientific communities, drawing on shared data and massive computing power to face urgent challenges.

Business opportunities

"We're taking the first steps in building the Grid, which will make e-science available to everyone.

"While the worldwide web allows us to share data, e-science allows research teams to collaborate to turn data into information and hence knowledge."

Professor Richard Kenway, centre chairman, said: "The National e-Science Centre places us at the forefront of the new revolution in computing, transforming academic research and creating new business opportunities."

The Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Graeme Davies, said: "This very welcome news recognises the international strength and complementarity of the two universities in this vital field.

"e-science is going to change the way society works, at every level. The creation of the centre will enable our scientists to collaborate in providing the leadership to develop the application of e-science on many fronts, in research, industry, communications and ordinary life."

e-science is going to change the way society works, at every level.

Glasgow University principal Professor Sir Graeme Davies
Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: "This national investment, establishing the UK's National e-Science Centre here in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, recognises that Scotland already has the concentration of top-level computational scientists with the vision, skills and expertise to lead the UK in keeping Europe at the cutting edge of international communications technology."

A spokesman for Glasgow University said more than 30 major corporations around the world had already expressed an interest in the new centre.

Over 25 senior members of staff at both of the Scottish universities will carry out the work at the centre, which will also have a support office in Glasgow.

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