Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Oceans, the Grand Challenges - the awe!

Assalamualaikum

This post is intended to convey a very important message, but the incoherent state of my mind is such that I fear this post is probably going to be a bit weird. The problem is the continuous pressure that hasn't abated - Tuesday isn't here yet. The fact that class today was beyond heavy, combined with the quiz held today, add to that bhanja visit when I came back home that lasted till late night ... a visit where the lil chipkoo wasn't doing much except running around, wanting to play with me, or whining about wanting to be picked up - by me! Sooo adorable..MA. :D. I soo feel loved Alhamdulillah. [Check this out.. when they came over here, I hadn't returned from class yet, and Mum reported that he checked out all the rooms on his lil feet, and reached the last room and said ...''Laaa??" ... awwww MA].

Anyway. The post isn't to talk about the runnings-around of the day. I'm supposed to talk about what really awed me today.

The thing is that we're nearly at the end of this semester, and this was the second last class of Advanced Architecture. The topic we're covering right now is parallel architectures, parallel programs and how they are constructed (very generic, not specific). So the teacher today was talking about a case study, where she presented a sequential pseudocode, and showed us the parallel version - and how exactly is this conversion done etc.

The problem area she had taken was one of a Grand Challenge Problem in the field of Scientific Computing. And the challenge is that of ''Ocean Modeling'' - one of the major areas of work/research these days in scientific computing. So why would one wanna do this? Simple. The oceans cover 3/4ths of the earth (roughly), and their currents affect our mausam! The weather forecast systems depend heavily on ocean data, and the tide movements, as well as current calculations in order to determine the future weather. This is how we see next week's weather etc. Also, if one can predict the motion of the ocean, then wouldn't it be easy peasy to determine when a tsunami might occur? Just a thought.

Khair, so when she started off, I was a little intrigued. What possibly can be so difficult in this, that this is being termed as a Grand Challenge Problem in this field?

My query was very soon answered.

Er, simplistically speaking...(VERY simplistically speaking), the ocean is ... HUGE. Biggggggggg.
If there can be almost 2 billion [yes!] atoms in a full stop ... :P.. can you imagine how many atoms can be in this gigantic, huge, humungous, marvelous creation of Allah?

I can't.

The modeling of the ocean is thus, a basic understanding of how the currents change with time, and how the other parameters (like temperature, pressure) can change with time. Obviously, this isn't done at atomic level (people would go mad, trying to calculate all the atoms only!), this is done in a broader fashion. The entire ocean is divided into 1000 km, by 1000 km by 1000 km cubes, and this goes on, down till the ocean's bottom. Once you have this block thingie, you can select a bunch of points on it, and calculate stuff on it. Like, there are pretty simple to pretty complex calculations that are done on the data points per block... and then the results are seen... of ALL blocks.. and THUS some SORT of a conclusion can be reached, regarding the NEXT SECOND of the ocean's existence.

Can you now get the enormity of the problem. I understood why its a Grand Challenge, when I heard the explanation. [although, not quite in the words I used above :S].

Why did it awe me?

Because, now come to the Holy Quran, where Allah SWT, [I wanna say Subhan Allah so many times keh buss nahi, on this thing]... talks about the OCEAN...[yes!]... and compares it to ink. And then the Ayah comes, that flashed through my brain, as I listened to the whole ocean modeling thing with amazement.
The Ayah is in the last Rukuh of Surah Kahaf, and it says:


Say: “If the sea were ink for the Words of my Lord, surely, the sea would be exhausted before the Words of my Lord would be finished, even if We brought like it for its aid.’‘
So what amazed beyond amazed me, was that this Ayah, mentions the sea/ocean, and it goes on to compare it with ink... and says that we can never note down/take into account/model/encompass.... the information/data/signs of Allah [SWT]... ever! Even if that sea becomes ink [imagine, how much INK that would be!], but the sea would be exhausted, and still we won't be able to get a hold of all the knowledge of what He is, and what He Has Created.

And the ocean is just one thing that He Has Created. Image the universe, the galaxies [btw, the evolution of galaxies is another Grand Challenge Problem in scientific computing :)]..

And that's exactly what we were studying today. We were studying the modeling of an ocean, and one of the major issues here, is too much data! We have too much to take account of/to model. So we improvise, and do the best we can, on large chunks, and assume stuff (like, the ocean floor is a perfect rectangle!).. etc. We are forced to admit that this problem is a huge one, and our current resources for parallelizing computations is still not enough, that they can easily model an ocean to predict its movement... in the future. Work has been done... to the extent that the weather is predicted. But not to a pin point sharp accuracy, and movement of the ocean is still an open problem.

I am reminded once again, of this amazing Ayah in the Holy Quran [one of my favorites, actually.. something that prompted me towards Science].




Translation:  
190. Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.

191. Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): "Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.

5 comments:

Ahmar said...

me likes this
there should be a "like" button like in facebook for lazy people like me :P

**scrolls up again**
:D..the verification word below which I saw after I typed the comment in the box is "liked" :D, what a coincidence lol

majworld said...

gud to see love between ur bhanja nd u :) u knw boys r esp attached to their khalas..
OMG Modelling an ocean :S..seems a real tough thing :P..nd diff to capture by mind too :)
thanks for sharing gud ayats..I actually visited beach nd seen huge waves of water. so i can relate bit with ur post..nd someone told me a hadith..dun knw its authentic or not..its meaning is like..if we put finger in ocean water nd take out, this is equal to this world nd rest all of the waters on earh is equal to life hereafter..
so oceans nd this water really make u wonder about qudrat of Allah..

Moon said...

agree to Ahmar .. me too wishes there was a "like" button in this blogspot..

nice post MA .. keep up the good job.. :)

Uni said...

@Ahmar
Acha? Well, thanks. :) Lol at the verification word!

@Majworld
Boys are?? *delighted*. That's absolutely cool!

Yup, its magnanimous :S. Makes one feel very humble. Pity my classmates were bored .. :(

Yes, that Hadith is authentic. I have heard it from authentic sources. Amazing isn't it..? One should think how much importance we give to the droplets-clinging-to-fingers-portion, rather than the rest of the whole sea.

Thanks for the reminder.

@Moon
Well, thanks very much you too :).

And thanks all for dropping by!

majworld said...

ya..i have good attachment with my only khala too :) classmates were right on getting bored in such diff thing i think :P..
ya, agreed..Its really a thing to understand..