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A Supercomputer at the University of Arizona is Generating Millions of Virtual Universes

Aug 14, 2019 by CharismaticMannequin

We’re a curious bunch. We love learning about the things around us; the land, the seas, the skies, space, beyond. With so much out there, where do we begin to understand how the universe is put together, and what’s in it for us to find? The University of Arizona thinks one of the best ways is to simulate universes – millions of them.

“Researchers at the University of Arizona have used the school's Ocelote supercomputer as a "UniverseMachine" that generates millions of mini universes to see how well they line up with the real cosmos. Rather than try to portray every nuance of the whole universe (even a single fully modeled galaxy would require far too much computing power), the team devised a system that had just enough resolution to scale from supernovae to a "sizeable chunk" of observed space. Each virtual universe had a different set of rules, and it was largely a matter of seeing which simulations lined up the closest with real data.” (Engadget)

The machine managed to simulate around 8 million universes in three weeks – quite an accomplishment. The researchers hope this work will help them understand how galaxies such as ours evolve, as well as helping to challenge existing theories humans have about space, such as how galaxies may produce stars for longer than we originally thought. 

Space is a vast place, with plenty to discover – with advances in technology such as the telescopes we’re using and the like, our methods for uncovering the secrets of the universe around us get better and better. Who knows what we’ll know or discover over the coming years?

Our computers are getting more powerful too, meaning we could see supercomputers such as this one help us develop increasingly complex models of our universe over time, and with the help of AI, continue to learn and grow our understanding of space.

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