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Today's topic is "Japan's Fugaku Supercomputer is Helping Fight COVID-19"
Scientists around the world are trying to find effective treatments for COVID-19, and they're getting extra support from Fugaku, a Japanese supercomputer.
Fugaku — also another name for Mount Fuji — is kept in Kobe, Japan. Its installation began in December 2019, and even though it is not scheduled for full operation until 2021, it has been helping with coronavirus research since April 2020.
The supercomputer has identified dozens of possible treatments for COVID-19. Researchers from Kyoto University used it to run molecular-level simulations on 2,128 existing drugs. Over ten days, it looked for those that can bond with proteins associated with the novel coronavirus and inactivate them.
The dozens of drugs it identified include 12 that are already being tested around the world to treat the virus, but also a number that have not yet been looked at by scientists.
Research company Riken, which developed the supercomputer with Fujitsu, have also used it to model how the virus could travel through the air in different places. Findings from that study suggest that keeping the windows on commuter trains open and limiting the number of passengers could reduce the risk of infection.
Among the other research projects that could use Fugaku are those trying to find previously unknown characteristics of the still very new virus. The supercomputer could also be used to better understand the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, and contribute to countermeasures against the spread of the virus.
In June 2020, Fugaku was named the world's fastest supercomputer. It can perform 415 quadrillion computations a second, which is 2.8 times faster than the former fastest supercomputer, the Summit system from the US.
Fugaku is set to play a part in helping Japan achieve the goals in its Society 5.0 plan, which looks to use technology and data to balance economic growth with resolving social problems. Other than helping with medical science, it could be used to better predict natural disasters like earthquakes, or help with the development of clean energy.