At an NIH workshop, they discover how advanced computation can improve their vision of life processes
PITTSBURGH -- Time was, all that a biologist ever wanted was a new microscope. But times change. A decade after the first supercomputers began to open up new vistas for physicists and engineers, life scientists are beginning to use these powerful machines to work on everything from high-resolution protein reconstructions to detailing how the brain functions.

"Anything I can do with a supercomputer, you can do with a pencil and paper," says Scott Berger, a neurobiologist at Cornell University Medical College. "But it would take many lifetimes to do it."

For John Gilbert, a biology graduate student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, one supercomputer is worth a million calculations. Gilbert uses an X-ray microscope to study fibroblasts: thin, flat cells that develop into connective tissue. But even with this modern piece...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?