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teacher and students gather around new computers
Pierre Martin (right), associate professor of astronomy and observatory director, with students in the upgraded computer lab. (Photo credit John Coney)

Students and researchers in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Department of Physics and Astronomy are celebrating the installation of 12 new high-end desktops and monitors, along with a new data processing and storage Linux computer system, thanks to a donation by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory.

The TMT donation totals more than $28,000 in equipment, supporting the replacement of 10 aged computers purchased in 2010 that no longer met department needs.

“Previous small hard drives and slow processors made for slow going,” said John Coney, an educational specialist in the department within the Natural Sciences Division. “And with the age of the computers at eight years, we worried that they might start to fail.”

Coney emailed Sandra Dawson, TMT’s community outreach coordinator, explaining that the UH Hilo physics and astronomy computer lab was out of date.

“We value this department and we understand the need for a good computer lab,” said Dawson. “I told John to tell us how much it would be to make it a functional lab. He gave us an estimate and my manager quickly approved.”

The new computers and the dual Xeon 12tb data processing server are the only dedicated Linux lab on campus. It is an operating system used by astronomy and physics scientists; the majority of the world uses Linux as a server operating system platform.

“The updated lab will aid in promoting cutting edge physics and astronomy at UH Hilo, both for physics and astronomy programming and computational projects,” said Coney.

Read the full story at UH Hilo Stories.

—By Susan Enright

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