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For more than two decades, Lawrence Livermore conflict simulations have proved highly valuable to the military services for training officers, rehearsing missions, and evaluating new tactics. A team of computer scientists has developed Livermore's most powerful conflict model, JCATS (Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation). The program realistically simulates the capabilities and limitations of combatants, weapon systems, and the environment. The model was used to rehearse possible combat options in support of the 1999 Kosovo conflict. It was also used by the Marine Corps and the Navy to plan for and participate in an exercise in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the exercise, JCATS tracked the live participants and tested the real-time effects of virtual air and artillery attacks. An enhanced version of JCATS released in October 1999 that can simulate up to 60,000 individual elements and can run on a workstation computer as well as a laptop, making it feasible for use in the field.
A group of Livermore scientists has conducted a series of laser experiments to deepen and refine understanding of the hydrodynamics of dying stars. Using Livermore's Nova laser (and more recently, the Omega laser at the University of Rochester), the group has simulated on a near-microscopic scale the hydrodynamic turbulence and mixing of Supernova 1987A, the great supernova of 1987 that marked the demise of a particularly massive star. The Livermore scientists are using the results of multidimensional laser experiments to refine existing one- and two-dimensional models of supernovas, to stand in for prohibitively expensive three-dimensional supernova hydrodynamics modeling, and to bring the supernova models into closer agreement with astrophysical observations. Their work has also helped resolve the issue of the difference in scale between a supernova event and a laser experiment, thereby allowing the cosmically huge supernova to be successfully studied using the vastly smaller laser medium.
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