“‘For our [Mars] landing site work, we always get the highest-end desktop Mac we can find, so we just got one of the G5s with dual 2-GB processors and 8 GB of RAM,’ Matt Golombek, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the E-Commerce Times. ‘If you pull up a shot of NASA after the [first] Mars landing and look at the desktops, you’ll see a couple of PC laptops there, but you’ll see more PowerBooks,’ Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president for hardware engineering at Apple, told the E-Commerce Times,” Robyn Weisman reports.
“Although no hard figures are available to chart the Mac’s rise in scientific communities, anecdotal evidence suggests various Apple machines, from the Xserve G5 to the PowerBook, have become viable options. For example, Virginia Tech chose last fall to build a supercomputing cluster using Power Mac G5s, then decided to upgrade to Xserve G5s when those machines became available. The university’s choice of Apple products stemmed from the computers’ attractive price-performance ratio, Virginia Tech spokesperson Lynn Nystrom recently told the E-Commerce Times,” Weisman reports. “As Apple continues to reinvent itself, how are scientists putting Macs to work in research projects and other innovative endeavors?”
“Matt Golombek, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), has used Apple machines since the Mac SE came out in the late 1980s. Golombek told the E-Commerce Times that 90 percent of his JPL colleagues also use Macs for a host of reasons,” Weisman reports. “Michael Swenson, life sciences computing analyst at research firm IDC, told the E-Commerce Times that Apple’s Unix-based Mac OS X has been the driver of Mac popularity in such areas as bioinformatics and chemistry, mainly because porting open-source applications from Linux and Unix has become a trivial process.”
“Why are these moves toward more Mac use taking place now? [Theodore Gray, director of user interface technology and co-founder of Mathematica maker Wolfram Research] contended that Apple occasionally takes a step ahead of other vendors in its price-performance ratio. The company now appears to be in one of those ‘leapfrog” cycles. Wolfram Research has a G4 cluster installed, and Gray said the company is happy with it because it is easy to maintain and is price competitive.
Indeed, because PCs no longer carry the huge price advantage they once did, choosing a hardware and software configuration now also involves an element of personal preference, Gray said. He noted that with Macs, ‘you do not have the [same] sort of virus problem as with Windows,'” Weisman reports.
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