37.05 Teraflops for the win

The FAU Team. Photo: Benedikt Oehlrich

Congratulations to the six FAU undergraduates (Egon Araujo, Fabian Fleischer, Lukas Maron, Benedikt Oehlrich, Phillip Suffa, and team captain Jannis Wolf) who earned the Highest LINPACK Performance Award and set a new record at the Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt last month, beating teams from universities like Harvard and MIT. Wow! But what does that mean?!

Benedikt Oehlrich, who was on FAU’s team for the third cluster competition in a row, explained the importance of High Performance Computing, or HPC, more commonly known as supercomputing. Oehlrich pointed out that HPC plays a vital role in making new developments in environmental protection. For example, today’s airplanes use dramatically less fuel than those of the past due to wing optimization that has been done with supercomputers. Quantum science, he added, would take years longer or be impossible on a basic computer. HPC is used in a wide variety of other fields, too, from predicting comet paths, to analyzing risk on Wall Street, to forecasting the weather!


Seeking the Muse

Christof Neunsinger warming up during soundcheck. Photo: Keels Mad

I’m only in my first year at FAU, but everyone I spoke to seemed shocked that this week was my first time hearing about the Musenhappen. I’ve learned now, from organizer Sina Pietrucha, that the Musenhappen has become a beloved tradition in the student community, having celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Each semester, once in Erlangen and once in Nuremburg, students with talent in the performing arts are invited to a showcase of their abilities, featuring a much-anticipated “pause” for free snacks in the middle.

I’m the sort of person who is always trying to work on one artistic hobby or another; but it’s easy for me during the semester to get caught up in schoolwork and forget about “seeking the muse” as it were. Attending the Musenhappchen was exactly what I needed to remind me of the things that I loved.

You’ll likely be able to find an official rundown of the night’s events elsewhere, but I hope to offer my personal impressions plus some insight I gained from chatting with some of the performers.

One of the highlights of the production for me was Christof Neunsinger, a pianist who specializes in unique and complex arrangements of popular songs. He was doing his soundcheck as I approached the Studentenhaus that night, and the delicate arpeggios of the piano immediately transported my heart and mind to another world. Neunsinger, an economics student, has amazingly only been playing for four years and has never had a lesson! He also performs at hotels, weddings, and other events, and you should definitely check out his Soundcloud.


Research meets international culture in an exciting new Elite Master’s Program

Photo: Keels Mad

Imagine a German businessman who just landed a Chinese client. To solidify their new working relationship, he breaks the bank purchasing an expensive watch as a thank-you gift, sure his client will be impressed. Over in Beijing, however, the client opens the box and is filled with an overwhelming sense of doom when he sees the fateful hands of the watch staring back at him. Receiving a gift of a watch, for him, is being told that he is “running out of time” on this mortal coil. While he may understand that his European colleague did not intend to remind him of his imminent death, the negative emotions brought up by the gift might forever color the interactions between the two.

This is one small example of how cultural differences can impact relationships between the East and the West. Many studies have analyzed the different styles of thinking that seem to be predominant in the two cultures. The East is known for holistic thinking, the West more analytical. While the East considers all aspects of a situation and the impact on every member of the group, the West places more emphasis on individual success.


A Wisconsinite Visits the Berg

When I found out that the Bergkirchweih was coming to a Berg near me, I knew I had to check it out. Photo: Keels Mad

Did you know that nearly half of the population of Wisconsin, a state in the northern Midwest region of the U.S. and nicknamed America’s Dairyland, is of German heritage? I know, I know. Europeans laugh at us Americans listing off the percentages of different European countries of our ancestors. Have it your way! But as you laugh, you might as well know some facts.

Throughout the 1800s, German immigrants were drawn to Wisconsin by its rich farmlands and very similar climate to Germany. By the 20th-century, Germans were by far the largest minority group in the area. All over the state, German communities thrived, where schools, churches, businesses, and local newspapers operated exclusively using the mother tongue until as recently as the 1950s. Wisconsin even developed its own varied German dialects!

I come from a larger city, as Wisconsin cities go, with a population of around 70,000. Last summer I worked briefly as the receptionist in a small chiropractic clinic in a very small town about 40 minutes away from my own. Going there was like stepping into another dimension. As the patients began to trickle in, each one of them with a German surname, I immediately noticed a pattern: I could barely understand any of them through their thick local accents! These people were all lifelong residents of the small town, going back generations into forever. Much to my amusement, one of them asked me if I was “from, like, another country,” and another asked me if I was British!