Interim Report

Team Number: 046
School Name: Del Norte High School
Area of Science: Mathematics
Project Title: Monte Carlo Calculation of Radiation Intensity
Project Abstract: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/abstracts/046.html
Interim Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/interims/046.html
Final Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/finalreports/046/finalreport.html

With the advent of high performance computing the Monte Carlo Method has become an increasingly effective tool for solving complex multidimensional problems. The issue of Radiation Transport through various metals is an excellent example of an area in which the Monte Carlo Method would be an ideal problem solving utility. Radiation has become an everyday occurrence in the twentieth century. However, not only does it affect all forms of life, but can also irreparably damage valuable electronics in environments in which the Earth's atmosphere is not able protect the equipment, such as space. The purpose of this Super Computing Challenge project is to find a combination of metal layers which can effectively and efficiently protect objects such as expensive electronic equipment from radiation sources found in space using the Monte Carlo Method. Not only is the calculation of the radiation transport phenomenon important in this study, but also the effective visual display of the data.

After exhaustive research on the Monte Carlo Method and Radiation Transport our immediate goal is to produce a working computer program in serial. However, due to the fact that the Monte Carlo Method requires thousands if not millions of computations in order to be comprehensive, a working program in parallel will be our next goal. One of the major problems of parallel computing is that the time of communication between computers is much longer than the time of calculation. However, if one must calculate the paths of one hundred thousand x-rays, it is impractical to divide the total number of x-rays, in this case one hundred thousand, by the number of nodes available and give each node that many radiation paths to calculate, due to the fact that there is a possibility that all of the x-rays of one node will be immediately absorbed by the first atom they come in contact with. This would greatly reduce the number of total calculations a node must do and one might find that one node will be idle while the rest are still busy calculating their x-ray’s paths. Therefore, a unique problem is created with the computation of radiation transport using the Monte Carlo Method in parallel. Our team has found an extremely effective solution to this interesting problem. We propose that each node is given one thousand x-ray paths to calculate. When the node has finished, it immediately reports back to the main node, asking for another one thousand x-ray paths. Using this packet system, we are able to avoid the problem of slow communication, and the issue of potentially idle, and thus useless, nodes.

One of the major purposes of this project is to effectively present the calculated data in a visual format. The paths of the rays of radiation can be easily shown in a two-dimensional fashion. However, we also want the viewer to see that the rays of radiation lose energy as they travel through the layers of metal. We propose a system in which the path’s of radiation are shown in color. As the ray moves through the layers, the color changes perhaps from violet, indicating high energy, to red, indicating low energy. This would easily and comprehensively show where and when and radiation loses its energy. We hope to visualize this data in three dimensions as the last part of our project, so that the viewer can also see the path of the electron on the Z-axis.

When a ray of radiation loses energy by hitting an atom it departs its lost energy to the atom by heating or ionizing it. This process can damage the metal, thereby losing its effectiveness. We feel that this is also relevant to our topic, due to the fact that not only is the effectiveness of the metal at blocking or reflecting radiation significant, but also the amount of time needed before replacement is required. Furthermore, we find it important to present this aspect of radiation transport visually. Our team proposes, that much like the paths of radiation, the metal layer also be shown in color. Areas of high damage, meaning high energy will be shown as a black color, and areas of low damage will be shown as white, with the different shades of gray presenting the various levels of damage.

This project is truly useful in this electronic age. Not only is it able to find an efficient protective layering system for valuable equipment, but also effectively visualizes the data so that it is easily understood.

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New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge