University of  Sussex MEDIA RELEASE

The Information Office, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RH.

Wednesday 21 January 1998 For immediate release


There is about to be an enormous explosion in computing power at the University of Sussex. As a result of a successful bid to a public/private finance initiative aimed at providing state-of-the-art research equipment to selected universities, Sussex is to host a new graphics supercomputer which will deliver 9 billion mathematical calculations every second.

Sussex, which is home to two Nobel prize winners, put in a bid to the Joint Research Equipment Initiative (JREI) based on the world class computational research being performed in biology, cognitive science, chemistry, engineering and physics. It has now received an award worth around l.4 million between the government initiative and Silicon Graphics, the giant multinational computer manufacturer. The new supercomputer will be occupied exploring the mysteries of the origins of the universe, the properties of materials, biological systems in atomic detail and the optimisation of gas heating and flow in jet engine design.

According to Sussex chemist, Dr Malcolm Heggie, who was responsible for preparing the successful bid, the benefits of the new facility go beyond just speed. It will provide Sussex with the ability to process, store and visualise huge amount of data which the groundbreaking research of the 2lst century demands. "Nowadays, progress in information technology, computing research and even scientific research can be limited by how well concepts and results can be illustrated and explained by advanced visualisation techniques," he says. "This is key research within the program, both developing algorithms for efficient creation of realistic artifical scenes and for applying them to bring meaning to abstract ideas."

Scientists at Sussex are committed to the public understanding of science and engineering. This facility will provide a focus for their efforts and for the Vega Science Trust, which was set up by Sussex Nobel prize-winner Professor Sir Harry Kroto and others, to increase awareness and understanding of the contribution science makes to society.

For further information please contact Sue Yates, Information Officer on Tel. 01273 678384, Fax. 01273 678335, email

Note for editors:

The JREI is co-ordinated by the Office of Science and Technology and involves funding in partnership with industry. Funders include the Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Scotland and Wales and the Research Councils. Universities and colleges are invited to submit proposals to the annual competition. Sussex received funds for two other projects under the Initiative: l34,000 for a compressor to supply air to gas turbine engine rigs and 32,000 for state of the art light scattering and differential refractometry for its polymer group.

This file produced by USIS - 22nd January 1998