Speed of Light: SLAC’s Ryan Coffee Talks Ultrafast Science

by Lauren Finkle

Editor’s note: This is part of a series profiling researchers advancing science in the expanding universe of high performance computing.

Ryan Coffee, senior research scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford, blows things up for a living.

Well, almost. He studies particle physics. But Coffee jokes, “This sounds like fancy X-ray diffraction and molecular shape and motion, but really, we’re blowing [molecules] up really fast.”

Coffee spoke with AI Podcast host Noah Kravitz about his work at SLAC as well as his upcoming GTC Digital session, EdgeAI: Turning Data into Information from the Point of Production Toward an HPC Ecosystem.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • In his GTC Digital talk, Coffee will discuss how the next generation of X-ray free electron lasers will produce massive quantities of information, which will need to be processed as close to the sensor as possible.
  • Coffee took the time to answer questions from Kravitz’s friends and family about everything from data reduction to the implications of capturing and processing data on a scale of terabytes per second.


“We don’t have time to run full-blown calculations and simulations, but we do have time to run inference engines.” — Ryan Coffee [16:58]

“As our detectors become very flexible and can handle errors in interesting ways, and they can start to interpret what humans are doing — I think this is a much brighter future of a partnership between artificial or augmented intelligence and human creativity.” — Ryan Coffee [33:50]

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