I'm particularly taken by one of the projects we're demonstrating on the UK e-Science Stand at SC06. "e-Social Science in action: a prototype geo-simulation portal" is, as the name suggests, applying Grid computing to the social sciences. It is simulating the interactions of individual households across an entire city to produce estimates of various factors such as health, housing, and car ownership. The simulations are based on UK census data. Users can then model the effects of various policy changes on these factors.
Under the hood, this is using standard Grid systems such as a compute cluster for running the simulations and SRB for managing the data. The system is easily scalable, so we might see more detailed simulations or see the system applied to larger cities such as London. There are some interesting research challenges left - I'm especially interested in the secure management of sensitive data - but the potential is clear.
The UK is at the leading edge of e-science in the social sciences and I'm pleased to have this demo on our stand at SC06.