Figures which blow your mind

Atto, Femto, Tera, Peta, Exa – welcome to understand your body and the universe! An EUSJA study trip to the heart of science make neurons rock. 40 000 Petabyte Storage Power […]

Atto, Femto, Tera, Peta, Exa – welcome to understand your body and the universe! An EUSJA study trip to the heart of science make neurons rock.

Budapest: Hub of Science & Culture (c) Goede

Budapest: Hub of Science & Culture (c) Goede

40 000 Petabyte Storage Power

“The twentieth century was made in Budapest.” This was observed by Nature in 2001. Not only the prestigious Academy of Science, inside and outside a temple of knowledge reminds of a rich history of scientific discoveries in this city. József Pálinkás, President of the National Office for Research, Development and Innovation and his fellow researchers are still very proud of this accolade.

During an EUSJA study trip to Budapest, as a satellite event of the European Conference for Science Journalists ECSJ in the beautiful Academy of Science, Pálinkás rolled out numbers, facts and charts how his relatively small country not only competes with Europe’s nations in the scientific quest, but tries to make the continent as a whole stronger in the competition with the United States, Japan, Korea, China.

József Pálinkás and Istvan Palugyai, study trip organizer (c) Goede

József Pálinkás and Istvan Palugyai, study trip organizer (c) Goede

For example in data storage. “Science is all about computers and saving their results”, said Péter Lévai, General Director of Wigner Research Center for Physics. The Higgs boson search at CERN required billions of collisions. 140 000 Terabyte (10 to the power of 12 = 1 000 000 000 000) save the information in the Budapest facilities. Now new dimensions are being reached. Storage power is up to 2000 Petabyte (10 to the power of 15 = 1 000 000 000 000 000), soon to be increased to 40 000 Petabyte.

The brain, at the least an organic computer, but with all its emotional and also transcendental components attributed much more complex, could easily compete with these superlatives. Ferenc Oberfrank, Director of Hungary’s National Brain Progamme, presented, compared to these dimensions, a very modest figure, but not less dizzying.

Increasing need for data storage (c) Goede

Increasing need for data storage (c) Goede

Atto Second Lasers

35 percent of the population suffers from mental disorders. To battle anxiety, depression, burnout and the likes we need to develop proper pharmaceutical means, he demanded and touched on the research. But it’s not only chemistry which relieves, but perhaps also a less demanding economy? Oberfrank did not disagree.

Climbing up the ladder all the way up and down, from Peta, passing our familiar scale and landing at Femto (10 to the power of minus 15) and Atto (10 to the power of minus 18). This is the specialty of Gabor Szabó, Rector of Szeged University. In the Hungarian South a new laser facility is shaping up. The man is all wired up about atto science, building atto second lasers with highly extreme short cycles, short enough to follow molecules in our DNA and help to reveal how it works.

Atto science looks into our DNA (c) Goede

Atto science looks into our DNA (c) Goede

Exa–ever heard?

Szabó knows how to make the neurons of his audience rock: “Turn atto seconds (-18) around (+18 = 1 000 000 000 000 000 000) and that’s the time you need to get to the end of the universe.” Mathematicians call this dimension Exa. “Wow”, commented later Elisabetta from Italy, “there it becomes almost religious, that’s the story”.

And what is this all good for—besides of dreams? Martin Kern, Director European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) took the floor and gave answers. It’s all about bridging the gap between Europe and the rest of the world, making European science more competitive, to apply research. His department helps to derive more products from scientific discoveries and makes students from the beginning of their career more entrepreneurial. Life is like a lab, Kern said. We must allow for more mistakes, become more tolerant, be not afraid of failure, probe and just do it, live up to the basic scientific and evolutionary law .

In other words: Try better, fail better.
Good luck, scientists and science journalists.
America & Asia, we’re coming!

Budapest study trip participants (c) Goede

Budapest study trip participants (c) Goede

About Wolfgang C. Goede

Wolfgang C. Goede is a science journalist based in Munich, Germany. He is a board member of the German Association of Science Writers TELI.