A gargantuan "research cloud" has been built by three South African universities as the country takes the lead in unravelling the mysteries of the universe. This became a necessity when the most advanced technology in astronomy — like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the Northern Cape — meant that unfathomable amounts of data from galaxies far away in space and time would need to be stored and processed by scientists or researchers. "We now have the technology to know how the universe was made‚" says Professor Russ Taylor‚ "but there is a catch: the answer to these questions live in a massive amount of data‚ and in the next decade‚ processing that data is the biggest challenge." Taylor is the director of the IDIA (Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy) which launched the IDIA Research Cloud on Monday at the Iziko Planetarium in Cape Town — a cloud built especially to deal with all the data. The three universities that make up IDIA are the University of the Weste...

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