Most supercomputers are surrounded by chain-link fences topped with razor wire and motion detectors," says Rich Loft, technology director at a new research center in Cheyenne, Wyo. Instead, the center—home to one of the world's fastest computers—welcomes visitors into a 4,400-square-foot exhibit hall.
Floor-to-ceiling windows frame Yellowstone, a superbrainy squadron of 100 refrigerator-size "racks" jammed with cutting-edge versions of the innards that make your smartphone smart. The place has a name just as big: the National Center for Atmospheric Research–Wyoming Supercomputing Center.
"There are interactives galore," Loft says. Short films explore severe weather, wildfire, and drought. Press a button to start a tornado simulation. Feeling fast? Pass your hand through a photoelectric eye and learn how many calculations Yellowstone ran in that instant. Admission is free; open Mon–Sat. (307) 996- 4321, nwsc.ucar.edu.
Photography by Andrew Geiger
This article was first published in July 2013. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.