Supercomputing helped save lives in Pentagon attack

Supercomputing helped save lives in Pentagon attack

When terrorists crashed a jetliner into the Pentagon last year, 125 people in the building were killed. More would have lost their lives if part of the building hadn't been recently renovated with reinforced steel beams and blast-resistant windows, according to an Army official.

The Army Corps of Engineers simulates bombings and uses supercomputers to model the effects bombs would have on different structures, said Dennis Van Derlaske, who works in the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Part of the modeling included testing more than 100 window designs using supercomputers, Derlaske said. The windows installed cost $10,000 apiece.

Derlaske spoke yesterday during a discussion at the Homeland Security and National Defense Symposium in Atlantic City, N.J.

The Corps of Engineers now uses supercomputers for analysis of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, to see which structures held up and which toppled under the impact.

"The Army successes were due to technology just put in place to enhance protection, recovery and retaliation," Derlaske said.

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