A new generation of specialized hardware could make drug development and material discovery orders of magnitude faster.
At Argonne National Laboratory, roughly 30 miles from downtown Chicago, scientists try to understand the origin and evolution of the universe, create longer-lasting batteries, and develop precision cancer drugs.
All these different problems have one thing in common: they are tough because of their sheer scale. In drug discovery, it’s estimated that there could be more potential drug-like molecules than there are atoms in the solar system. Searching such a vast space of possibilities within human time scales requires powerful and fast computation. Until recently, that was unavailable, making the task pretty much unfathomable.