Articles written by Mike May

About the Author

Mike May has worked as a full-time freelancer since 1998, covering topics ranging from biotech and drug discovery to information technology and optics. Before that, he worked for seven years as an associate editor at American Scientist. He earned an M.S. in biological engineering from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University.

March 2017

Chipping away

March 22nd, 2017 Updated: March 22nd, 2017

Redirecting an old chip might change the pathway to tomorrow’s fastest supercomputers, Argonne National Laboratory researchers say.


February 2014

After the thaw

February 19th, 2014 Updated: February 19th, 2014

Simulations of melting permafrost promise changes in climate modeling.


September 2013

Sizing up the scales

September 30th, 2013 Updated: September 30th, 2013

Exploring the breaking and rejoining of magnetic-field lines requires simulations and computation. A simulation’s accuracy, however, depends on various issues of scale. Magnetic reconnection’s multiscale nature exacerbates the challenge of simulating it. Early research was based entirely on fluid models in just two dimensions, since kinetic simulations were infeasible. Kinetic modeling requires the space and […]


Predicting solar assaults

September 30th, 2013 Updated: September 30th, 2013

When Earth’s magnetosphere snaps and crackles, power and communications technologies can break badly. Three-dimensional simulations of magnetic reconnection aim to forecast the space storms that disrupt and damage.


March 2011

Pounding out atomic nuclei

March 7th, 2011 Updated: November 30th, 2011

Thousands of tiny systems called atomic nuclei – specific combinations of protons and neutrons – prove extremely difficult to study but have big implications for nuclear stockpile stewardship. To describe all of the nuclei and the reactions between them, a nationwide collaboration is devising powerful algorithms that run on high-performance computers.


Cranking up the speed of DFT

March 7th, 2011 Updated: March 16th, 2011

Density functional theory (DFT) can be used to determine densities of protons and neutrons making up a nucleus. “If we can determine those densities precisely,” says Witold Nazarewicz, professor of physics at the University of Tennessee, “we can determine the binding energy – the energy stored in the nucleus.” The energy density functional (EDF) in […]