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With supercomputers, researchers model beating human heart

Posting in Science

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are using the Sequoia supercomputer and a code called Cardioid to, for the first time, model the beating of the human heart in real time.

The benefits of the advancement are many. Researchers can now run detailed models of the heart quickly enough to examine how potentially fatal arrhythmias develop. They can determine the influence of individual genetic variations. They can see drug administration occur, and they can view how medical devices impact the organ.

Until recently, scientists didn't have the computing power needed to simulate the billions of muscle cells in a human heart. But Sequoia -- an IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer rated at more than 16 petaflops of performance -- has the muscle to make it happen. (Pun very much intended.) In concert with the Cardioid code, which is a high-resolution model of the organ, researchers can simulate thousands of heartbeats -- not just a dozen or so, as previously possible.

Given the newly possible capabilities, researchers see the system eventually in use by medical centers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device firms who want (and need) to better understand the mechanisms of the heart.

Photo: Researcher Jeremy Rice using Cardioid. (IBM)

— By on November 11, 2012, 10:00 PM PST

Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure