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Software Science

Simulate "The Day After Tomorrow" On Your PC 285

kpearson writes ", a distributed computing project to predict Earth's climate 50 years from now, has a new add-on project to study THC slowdown (how climate might change as CO2 changes in the event of a decrease in the strength of the thermohaline circulation). This kind of rapid, extreme climate change is shown in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, in which New York City is treated to a 10,000-year-long ski season. Anyone can download the project's client software and participate in the simulation. was previously mentioned in the September 13, 2003 article Distributed Computing and Climate Change." Clients are available for various varieties of Microsoft Windows, but none are listed for other OSes.
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Simulate "The Day After Tomorrow" On Your PC

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  • by quigonn ( 80360 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:25AM (#9181373) Homepage
    I always experience THC slowdown after I smoked some good pot. No need for a simulation here, absolutely not.
    • Same thoughts here. In fact, everybody's thoughts. One would think that the planet would benefit from increased levels of THC :)
    • by torpor ( 458 )
      ... welcome our THC overlords, and would like to remind them that as a qualified potsmoker, I've done my fair share of THC propagation in the world ... ;)
    • These guys are a little late with the THC slowdown project, us stoners had one years ago (Download Here []), yet they all call us the slow ones, pffft!

      And remember, 420 is ten times better than the meaning of life :-p
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:29AM (#9181379)
    I would have had first post, if it wasn't for THC Slowdown!
  • by Ckwop ( 707653 ) * <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:30AM (#9181381) Homepage
    .. if back at the time of the dinosaurs all this carbon was in the air.. then how can be releasing it be the end of "life as we know it".. The Dinosaurs did quite well :)

    Personally, It's my opinion that the earth is a pretty robust system and our climate models will be rather wrong.

    • Yes, those dinosaurs did great... which is why they are... extinct... and all. Yeah.
    • by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:44AM (#9181438) Homepage Journal
      "life as we know it".. The Dinosaurs did quite well :)

      I for one welcome our new/old dinosaur overlords!

      Joking aside, the argument that the earth has been experiencing major differences in temperatures in the past and that this is normal and all is very fascinating except for one small fact: We're humans. We don't like having volcanoes in our back yards, ferns all over our lawns, hurricanes ripping our houses to shreds and brontosaurs trampling our offspring. We're kinda picky that way.

      • by Epistax ( 544591 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @07:28AM (#9181612) Journal
        What I'd like to know is which animal on this planet will (would have) evolve into the next "Big Thing"? If it weren't for our timely sentience, many species we've killed over the years would still be around (mammoth, anyone?). My point is: is this planet at an evolutionary dead end until a disaster strikes, or is there a contender to be top eater? Could humanity be considered the natural disaster that they need?
        • by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @08:10AM (#9181815) Homepage Journal
          Roaches. They're hardy, breed easily and eats almost anything. When we're gone, they'll take over. Single-cells, fish, dinos, mammals, insects. I dunno what comes after the insects, though. Bacteria, maybe. Or MS Blaster. ;-)
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Insects like the cockroach won't "take over" (any more than they already have; most species of land animal are beetles) because you can't get much bigger than a beetle without your exoskeleton collapsing under its own weight. Insects like the cockroach lived alongside the dinosaurs and didn't "take over" their ecological niches when they died the way the mammals did for this reason. "Bacteria" is an even sillier answer because bacteria have been around for even longer than insects.
          • Not necessarily. Roaches have little selection forces at play, same with humans. Perhaps we're both at an evolutionary dead end?

            I think the prime candidates for evolutionary leaps will be the species under great environmental or ecosystem pressure. They have the greatest opportunity for random beneficial traits to become dominant.

      • Well, I'd rather like having ferns (as opposed to all the weeds) on my lawn.

        Moreover, I don't think global warming will reincarnate the Brontosaur, although I think that would be cool... but maybe that's the THC talking.
    • by nmoog ( 701216 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:47AM (#9181455) Homepage Journal
      I agree that the earth has a pretty robust system. Once it can kill off all those pesky humans it will take no time to bring itself back to good health, and enjoy the good life for another few million years.
    • by kd4evr ( 712384 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:52AM (#9181486)

      Earth may have a self-regulating system we do not yet (fully) understand. When you say its a robust system, you are right. Our climate models may well be worth squat, right again.

      Dinosaurs did quite well for quite a long time, until they could...

      However, the issue is not whether human interventions can fully derail earth's climate or only tackle the parameters a bit.
      The point is, that the changes in the weather we as a civilisation started will most certainly affect our way of life as we know it. Human is considered the most adaptable species, present in all kinds of environments. I cannot argue whether we are going to drive ourselves into extinction or not by what we did to the climate, but surely life (and survival) in either dry deserts, frozen glaciers or stormy swamps has little to do with the current trends in economy. There is a vast difference between a habitable and comfortable climate, you see...

      Dont start the IPO on that dino-breeding company just yet ;-)
    • The new form of anthropocentrism displaces the paternal role of God into systems: whether it be the Market or the Biosphere or Climate. If so, these are blind, impersonal gods that follow their own agenda: they even aware of our existence, much less are they working for our benefit.

      Systems do have negative feedback behavior, which create short term stability, but they also have positive feedback behavior which can create rapid shifts and oscillations. We should be aware of this and act accordingly. While
    • by Decaff ( 42676 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @07:20AM (#9181579)
      The earth and life are robust, but we aren't. Most of human civilisation has occurred within a 10,000 year period since the last glaciation in which ice sheets covered much of the Northern hemisphere. The climate has been particularly and unusually stable for the past millenium. This is not going to last. If (as is very likely) the ice returns, or if global warming stirs up the climate, millions could die and many more will be forced to migrate. In terms of life as a whole on our planet, what we do matters little in the long term, but we could, and probably will, make things very unpleasant for ourselves.
      • The difference is that now we have the technology to live more comfortably in those climates. We have better clothing, better buildings, better methods of heating and cooling...

        We haven't just been able to adapt physically, we've been able to adapt technologically as well.

        I'm not saying millions won't die, I'm saying that if change is coming, it's coming, and we will survive as a species, and we will adapt.
    • You refer to the lie that some of the eco-freaks like to believe in. That is that we're "saving the planet". As George Carlin put it, "That planet is fine, the people are fucked".

      You're right that the earths eco-system is very robust. It's survived meteor collisions, massive climate changes, etc. Human society isn't particularly robust though. While you may be fine with the eco-system taking a few thousand years to adjust to a new climate, most people aren't. I think mass famine because of crop failu
    • What most people like to forget or not know is, the possible phenomenon of global warming will be a runaway (positive-feedback) process, just like the runaway global cooling that happened a few hundred million years ago. With increase of temperature, already now many white areas have disappeared. Not only at the poles but also on mountains like the Alps. This decrease of albedo will cause further warming, as more energy is absorbed, hence increasing the rate of warming.
      There is another positive feedback:
    • There are several indicators that Earth did not have a massive carbon dioxide atmosphere, as well as that oil and natural gas are from virgin carbon and not recycled.
      • There were not increasingly greater deposits of carbonate rocks created further back in time.
      • Carbon isotope ratios have not become altered due to recycling.
      • Carbon is being removed from the atmosphere at a rate which would remove all carbon dioxide in 500,000 years. Plants haven't all died off over millions of years, so either new carbon is
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:31AM (#9181383)
    I missed the first word and thought this was going to be an article about Suprnova.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:31AM (#9181384)
    We all leave our computers on
    - running this software,
    - thereby using more electricity,
    - creating more greenhouse gases and the like,
    - increasing global warming...
    and therefore getting a very accurate answer much sooner.
  • by kevinvee ( 581676 ) <ktvaugha.unity@ncsu@edu> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:31AM (#9181386)
    Fond memories of high school, but I think THC Slowdown goes better with a 10,000 year snowboarding season. Or 10,000 years of marshmallow creme and funyuns.
  • by Peden ( 753161 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:33AM (#9181394) Homepage
    That movie is expected to draw furhter focus on the environment and specifically global warming. This is both good and bad, as too much focus on the environment can draw focus from other points of interesets. Danish Scientist "Bjorn Lomborg" (one of Time Magazines top 100 important persons) has been warning politicians to not forget other points of importance, such as healthcare and clean water. I hope this does not distort the vision of politicians around the globe, lets not forget how er priotitize.
    • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:49AM (#9181466)
      Danish Scientist "Bjorn Lomborg"
      You placed the "" the wrong place. It should be
      Danish "Scientist" Bjørn Lomborg
      He's in statistics, and judging by some of the critisism he's gotten from other people in that area, not a very good one either.
      • Bjorn Lomborg (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mad Man ( 166674 )
        was Re:Concerning the movie "The Day after Tomorrow" []

        He's in statistics, and judging by some of the critisism he's gotten from other people in that area, not a very good one either.

        Actually, it turns out many of his critics aren't very good scientists.
        from []

        Case Against Scientifically Honest Bjorn Lomborg Dismissed

        The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty abetted a vicious ideological [] environmentalist smear campaign []against Bjorn Lomborg by decl

        • Re:Bjorn Lomborg (Score:4, Informative)

          by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:31PM (#9184685)
          Yeah, I read about that as well - and reading between the lines of the media take, they were forced to drop the issue by the government. Apparently the Prime Minister who don't like "so called" experts telling people what to think, don't really like it, when people take issues with his own handpicked experts.

          Since I have not read the (now withdrawn) findings by the Committee, I choose not to base my judgements on their findings.

          By the way - I wasn't even thinking of that Committee, but was thinking of a smallish 5 page (I think) dissection [] (page 12 to 17 of that pdf) of a just a small part of his book - by Inge Henningsen, who is an associate professor at the Statistic Department [] of the Institute for Mathematical Sciences [] at Copenhagen University [].

          She also notes in her piece, that he's not actually a statistician like they know them at her department, as he has a M.A in Political Science [] from Århus Universitet [] and teaches "Methods" there as well. He is (as is noted) "an associate professor of statistics in the Department of Politital Science".

          As to who has the better credentials when it comes to statistics - well, my oppinion is fairly obvious, but I've given you plenty of venues to explore yourself and leave you to draw your own conclusions.
    • That movie is expected to draw furhter focus on the environment and specifically global warming.

      And what we learn from the movie is that this global warming you speak of causes a 10,000 year winter. Or, the warmer it gets, the more snow falls on New York ... or something like that.
    • The Abrupt Climate Change FAQ [] from the Union of Concerned Scientists, has a lot to say on the subject and the movie:

      Can what happens in The Day After Tomorrow happen in real life?

      No. The dramatic, virtually instantaneous and widespread cooling envisioned in the film is fiction. But like all good science fiction, the film is premised on several important scientific facts. We know with great certainty that the Earth is already warming, largely because as we burn fossil fuels and clear forests we are releasing carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. This warming is expected to continue in the coming decades, accompanied by changes in rainfall patterns and rising sea levels. The possibility of an abrupt shift in the climate system is only one feature of a changing climate that is expected to become more erratic, with extreme weather events like droughts, torrential rainfall, and extreme heat becoming more common. We can slow down global warming and reduce the likelihood of future abrupt climate changes by reducing our emissions of heat-trapping gases.

      The other interesting thing it mentions is that Abrupt Climage Change refers to changes that happen over years to decades as opposed to climate change that is happening now over decades and centuries. Make no mistake, we have changed our climate more in the last hundred years than in the previous thousand years.

    • by BRSQUIRRL ( 69271 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @09:25AM (#9182558)
      I don't think anyone should forget that this "environmentally focused" movie is based in part on the book The Coming Global Superstorm [], written by Whitley Strieber [] and Art Bell [], not exactly the paragons of scientific objectivity.
  • One question... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beacher ( 82033 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:33AM (#9181397) Homepage
    Does it come with media fearmongering "THE WORLD ENDS TOMORROW. DETAILS AT 8" addons? Seriously. Every single damn weather event is a showstopper. If my team blew everything out of proportion like the media did, I'd sack em. Also speaking of weather... They can't even get the 3 days forecast even close much less years out.

    Interested in weather, love/hate to watch tornados and hurricanes.. trouble is the news makes it out like "The Perfect Storm" is about to happen ..
  • The first four responses to this article about climate change were responses to the bit about 'THC slowdown' and not responses to anything else in the article (even the 'first-post' people are hiding behind the woodwork). So when we've completely wrecked the planet, is the plan to just get completely stoned and ignore the dire situation?
  • Considering that most serious climatologists think the very premise of Day After Tomorrow is bunk [], what does that say for the utility of us wasting CPU cycles on it?

    Or is the association with the upcoming movie merely some editorial license on the part of the /. crew?
  • GIGO? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pesc ( 147035 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:37AM (#9181408)
    So if the computer is big enough, the garbage-in, garbage-out problem disappears?

    We can't predict the weather for the next week, but doing it for the next 50 years might work if we only can get a computer big enough?
    • Re:GIGO? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pe1rxq ( 141710 )
      The input is totally different if you are doing climate predictions than for weather.....
      For predicting the climate in 50 years it is not necessarry to known for each day if it rained in your back yard.

  • Foolishness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Yonkeltron ( 720465 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:37AM (#9181412) Homepage
    Lorenze proved that weather was non-deterministic about 40 years ago. It seems foolish to believe we can predict weather to such a degree even with today's technology. I'll be saving my cycles for Seti@Home
    • Re:Foolishness (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gowen ( 141411 )
      Lorenz proved that weather was non-deterministic about 40 years ago.
      But Lorenz, being much, much, much smarter than you, appreciated that weather is not climate.
    • Re:Foolishness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @08:42AM (#9182067) Homepage
      There's a difference between weather and climate.

      A bit simplified, climate is average weather.

      It's a bit like while it is impossible to predict which days will get rain in Bergen, Norway this november, it's pretty easy to predict the average temperature, the annual rainfall and how many days it'll rain.

    • lorenz said "climate is what you expect, weather is what you get" so forget weather this is dealing with climate!

      This is the idea - weather forecasts will never show skill out beyond 12 to 14 days because uncertainty in the exact state of the weather now will always propogate upwards until the errors in representing the state overwelm the forecast.

      Climate forecast on the other had look at the mean state - how many rainy days do you expect in New york summers? This is a predictable quantity. Models

  • Strange (Score:2, Interesting)

    Clients are available for various varieties of Microsoft Windows, but none are listed for other OSes.

    If I was to make a program that basically asks of people to give me something for free (in this case, CPU time, and a little aggravation to install the client), I'd make the Linux/*BSD client a priority, since those OSes have been made almost entirely by people on their own time for free.

    At least I'd know I'd be likely to find a sympathetic hear to whatever cause my client serves in that community.
    • The original port of this model from the cray super computer was to linux. Most of the early developement was in linux. The windows port was, as I understand it, just past of the history of the project. The company which developed the client software worked in visual c++ - the model was got to a stage where it was stable (on window - the hardest part of the process) and then there was a huge pressure to release to the public.

      A OS X port and potentially a linux port are both immenent with the release

  • by QuasiRob ( 134012 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:38AM (#9181415)
    Just from watching the trailers it looks like it will be another contender for inclusion on various bad movie [] websites [].

    How much of the public will be mislead into thinking thats how it really happens? I still cringe whenever Armageddon is on.
  • Wine / CrossOver? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:40AM (#9181421) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone gotten the client running with Wine [] or CodeWeaver'sCrossOver []? It installs and starts alright, but on the console, a bunch of warnings is printed:
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 60 Not Opened
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 62 Not Opened
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 63 Not Opened
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 64 Not Opened
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 65 Not Opened
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 66 Not Opened
    CLOSE: WARNING: Unit 67 Not Opened
    It doesn't seem to continue further...
  • On global warming. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ForestGrump ( 644805 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:41AM (#9181427) Homepage Journal
    "There is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine . . . been
    here 4 1/2 billion years. We've been here, what, a 100,000 years, maybe
    200,000. And we've only been engaged in heavy industry a little over 200
    years. 200 years versus 4 1/2 billion. And we have the conceit to think
    that somehow we're a threat? The planet isn't going away. We are."
    -George Carlin
  • Ski in NY (Score:5, Funny)

    by Roland Piquepaille ( 780675 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:44AM (#9181441)
    in which New York City is treated to a 10,000-year-long ski season If this is to happen, I hope there's a massive earthquake crust movement to tilt the city a bit...
  • Not gonna work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigHairyDog ( 686475 ) * on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @06:58AM (#9181505)

    I did a climate modeling project for my dissertation at university. These guys have a good idea - throw massive computing power at it - but it's not that simple. Compared to SETI or protein folding, climate modeling is not as highly parallelisable. Plus what's holding back the state of the art right now is the quality of the algorithms we're using - they loose accuracy pretty fast as the result of feedback between multiple iterations of a process that introduces quantisation noise each time.

    IMHO this project will produce the same quantisation noise-ruined results we have now, just more finely ovesampled

    Still, they might get some useful insights into how to tackle the problems of parallel dynamic system simulation

    • Re:Not gonna work (Score:5, Informative)

      by dave_frame ( 707349 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @07:46AM (#9181661)
      We're not running a parallelised model across lots of computers, we're farming out a run to each of several thousand machines. And the purpose of the experiment is precisely to look into the feedback processes that govern how climate changes. You say: "what's holding back the state of the art right now is the quality of the algorithms we're using" and this - on climate timescales - is what we're looking to explore. Basically, the models that we have these days (IPCC TAR, for instance) lack any sort of quantitative measure of uncertainty. We're looking to find "error bars" for these sorts of predictions. See adv.php for details of the experimental strategy. [We (& friends overseas) have submitted bids in recent EU Framework 6 and NSF rounds, to try to do something similar with very different models. This will help us conduct a convergence/verification process.] We have recently submitted a "first results" paper and are awaiting the reviewers' comments. So far, things seem to be going pretty well (though we'd love some more participants!). Cheers, Dave Frame coordinator
      • That is very cool actually. Pande's whole "trick" w/ folding at home is using stat. mech. to examine certain dynamic properties of folding by using statistics. Basically the "mode" switching may be chaotic in the sense that any simulation may hop from one mode to the other its because most of the time a simulation is sitting in an entropic well waiting for its degrees of freedom to line up such that it can hop over an effective barrier. Even if that typical time scale for switching modes is much longer th
    • I do see your point about Discretization noise. Yes, any naive simulation of real-world phenomena is rife with artificial instabilities. However, AFAIU, there is a whole huge subject/industry on how to counter those instabilities. "Numerial Methods 101". Well, really I mean 701. In other words, to be simplistic, just be careful to choose your variables properly and those problems don't show up. "Runge-Kutta, etc, etc."

      But, I guess, since you did a dissertation on that, did you mean there are discretiz
  • Funny but.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hewhosaysni ( 780774 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @07:27AM (#9181607)
    "The Day After Tomorrow" (dagen efter) means hangover in swedish .
  • by Walkiry ( 698192 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @07:33AM (#9181626) Homepage
    when you don't know all the variables involved?
  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @07:59AM (#9181743) Journal
    ... and totally unbelieveable according to Bjørn Lomborg [] (Whom you should know if you pay any kind of attention to world affairs)
  • I've already done this.
  • I think that a really interesting distributed computing project would be one that simulates the growth, spread, and interaction between memes.

    It would have to be MS-based, though, or possibly done w/ Java. ;)

  • by randomErr ( 172078 ) <ervin.kosch@gmLA ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @09:35AM (#9182668) Journal
    Um guys.... the movie was written by Art Bell. The guy who had a late night radio show [] for decades where he talked about aliens, astro projection, and psychic pets. For that reason alone I can't take this movie too seriously.
  • Well, if they would provide a linux client I could toss this on an OpenMosix cluster I run.
    still no linux client..
    guess they just want the regular 'joe' home machines and not people with a lot of number crunching power?


  • by gnalre ( 323830 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:46AM (#9184178)
    Tried it, but my PC froze

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