On 18th April 2013, Associate Degree students and lecturers from Computing Studies visited the Hong Kong Observatory Headquarter (HKO) in Tsim Sha Tsui. The group was greeted by Ms Terry Ng and Ms Y.S. Li from HKO and taken for a tour to the Server Room and Central Forecasting Centre.
Ms Li and Ms Ng introduced in vivid details the performance of the NICE supercomputer used for Hong Kong’s day-to-day weather forecasting, as well as the special care required to ensure an intensive, fail-safe, and non-stop computation. Students were thrilled by the chill of the server room, which was necessary amidst the heat generated by the 186 CPUs. Most importantly, students learned that only through human dedication and perseverance could such a computing marvel be run to benefit the society. At the Central Forecasting Centre, where the outputs of the number-crunching supercomputer were combined with the finesse of the human mind to produce the daily weather forecast. Students were all impressed by the fact that despite the many rows of monitors and charts displaying a plethora of meteorological data, it only required at most two human forecasters to produce the final daily forecast! The visit was well-received by students as they saw with their own eyes a distinct illustration of the seamless integration of computer and human at work.