What is a supercomputer?

A supercomputer is a computer that performs at or near the currently highest operational rate for computers. A supercomputer is typically used for scientific and engineering applications that must handle very large databases or do a great amount of computation (or both).
Source: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/supercomputer

Very useful read

World's fastest supercomputers (Nov 2012)

Supercomputing Superpowers

The worlds fastest computers. An interesting graphic
Source: bbc news 2010

Which countries are the key players?
What are these numbercrunchers primarily used for?

Climate change

Implications for the future?

IBM sends Jeopardy Supercomputer to medical school
IBM are planning to work with doctors to find new applications for their Watson supercomputer. Watson because famous in 2011 when it won a game of Jeopardy! against human opponents.

The computer uses artificial intelligence techniques to understand questions posed in natural language and provide an answer. Part of its "knowledge" comes from over 200 million pages of information, including a full copy of Wikipedia.

For Watson's new applications, IBM are working closely with doctors to ensure medical journals and textbooks are appropriately entered into the system. Watson will not replace doctors but will supplement them by suggesting diagnosis's based on patient's history and symptoms.

Watson ready for Health Care Debut