KSA, Supercomputers, and Science!

21 10 2008

Well, here’s an interesting news to open up the blog after a month of total absence: Sixth most powerful supercomputer coming to Saudi Arabia

It really shocked me to hear about that. Not only because I never thought an Arabian country would ever get a supercomputer, let alone the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also because I never read an article putting the words “Science” and “KSA” in the same sentence!!

I mean, it’s a great move for them, and the KAUST project looks so damn promising to the point of disbelief! A university for both sexes is a first for the KSA, a supercomputer in a university is a first in the whole Arab world. But having a “…huge, nearly unlimited resources for research work…” is a shocker!!

So, congratulations to the KSA, and hats-off to you guys for diverting all that money from the skyscraper business to the educational sector. I only hope they will not use it to calculate prayer times in the entire solar system for the next 10 centuries!!… No, that was a joke, so, chill..

Seriously, I hope they put it to good use, maybe something that would benefit the entire region, or their fellow Arabs as a whole.

Anyway, as with ‘most’ of my posts, this one has a purpose. The purpose of this post is to remind the Syrians that, to this moment, we STILL don’t have any kind of scientific research in our universities. Which is a VERY, VERY disturbing fact, considering that research is a major role-player in a country’s cultural and scientific state.

Just as an FYI, I’m not implying that we need supercomputers, or unlimited resources, or any of that fancy stuff. Because I know we don’t have that kind of advantage. But, I think I can prove that we COULD do some kind of research with what we have. Let’s just do some research. Nothing fancy, I’m not talking AI or bioengineering, I’m talking simple stuff. We can do it theoretically, we can at least look at our options taking into account our limited resources. I’m quite confident it could be done.

You have to forgive me for being so pushy about this thing, it just saddens me to go through the whole 5 years of engineering school without doing any kind of valuable work. I know many others of my colleagues who are just as enthusiastic as I am. The only thing we need is projects and support (maybe spiritual support), both of which are in the hands of our college professors. So, obviously the whole system has to be reconstructed to account for all the variables. So it is not an easy story. But change is always hard. The most important thing we need to do is take the first move toward that goal.

And, as long as we don’t see any sign of a first move, one thing will remain certain: we’re not moving forward. The KSA has taken a HUGE step forward, in a massive scale too. I know it looks shiny and makes for a great news headline, but we don’t need all that. All that matters is: usage, and outcome. Everything else is just paparazzi stuff..