The New Library of Alexandria, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) (www.bibalex.org), is dedicated to recapturing the spirit of the ancient Library of Alexandria, a center of world learning from 300 BC to 400 AD. The BA aspires to be the world's window on Egypt, Egypt's window on the world; a learning institution of the digital age; and above all a center for learning, tolerance, dialogue and understanding.
ISIS, the International School of Information Science (http://bibalex.org/isis), is a research institute affiliated with the BA that acts as an incubator for digital and technological projects. Guided by the BA goals, ISIS strives to preserve heritage for future generations in digital form and to provide universal access to human knowledge, in addition to promoting research and development of activities and projects related to building a universal digital library. ISIS has adopted a number of major projects in cultural heritage as well as two R&D projects which are the Virtually Immersive Scientific and Technology Applications (Vista) and the Supercomputer.
Researchers can do complex simulations using BA supercomputer; a giant computer cluster composed of 130 computational nodes, 6 management nodes, Inter-process Communication network (Infiniband), a 36-TByte storage, a management network and a backup system. Nodes were selected to give a maximum throughput with the highest availability. This is achieved through the two quad core xeon processors (64 bit technology), a 2.83 GHz speed, 8 Gbyte RAM, 80 Gbyte hard disk, a dual port Infiniband, an Ethernet network port and a dual power supply source. With such specifications, the supercomputer cluster is meant to be deployed for specialized applications that require immense mathematical calculations, thus rendering the cluster a valuable tool for researchers seeking optimum and accurate results at a rate of trillions of calculations per second. Computation results are visually simulated through the visualization infrastructure of the VISTA (vista.bibalex.org).This allows Egyptian researchers to cooperate and work closely with researchers from all over the world. Thus, the R&D environment will be enhanced as the strategic means to securing sustainable development and growth in Egypt and the region. The project is currently based on an advanced CAVE (Computer Aided Virtual Environment) systems; FLEX. Using stereoscopic projection together with high-resolution 3D computer graphics, an illusion is created which makes the user feels that he/she is immersed in a virtual environment. This helps the user to have better perception and hence analysis of the visualized data. The VISTA software developers have developed useful virtual reality toolkits as well as Visualization and Virtual Reality applications in many fields including Bioinformatics,
Medical Visualization, Information Visualization, and Architecture. In the field of cultural heritage, the VISTA has two main products. The first is a highly detailed immersive virtual tour in Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The second is a collaboration work with IBM Centre for Advanced Studies in Cairo in a research that aims at studying the environmental threats facing Sphinx, one of the most important Egyptian and international heritage.