June 12, 2018

WE ARE ALL DESIGNIST NOW:

The Universe Is Not a Simulation, but We Can Now Simulate It (Natalie Wolchover, June 12, 2018, Quanta)

[R]ecently, the scientists seem to have begun to master the science and art of cosmos creation. They are applying the laws of physics to a smooth, hot fluid of (simulated) matter, as existed in the infant universe, and seeing the fluid evolve into spiral galaxies and galaxy clusters like those in the cosmos today.

"I was like, wow, I can't believe it!" said Tiziana Di Matteo, a numerical cosmologist at Carnegie Mellon University, about seeing realistic spiral galaxies form for the first time in 2015 in the initial run of BlueTides, one of several major ongoing simulation series. "You kind of surprise yourself, because it's just a bunch of lines of code, right?"

With the leap in mock-universe verisimilitude, researchers are now using their simulations as laboratories. After each run, they can peer into their codes and figure out how and why certain features of their simulated cosmos arise, potentially also explaining what's going on in reality. The newly functional proxies have inspired explanations and hypotheses about the 84 percent of matter that's invisible -- the long-sought "dark matter" that seemingly engulfs galaxies. Formerly puzzling telescope observations about real galaxies that raised questions about the standard dark matter hypothesis are being explained in the state-of-the-art facsimiles.

The simulations have also granted researchers such as Di Matteo virtual access to the supermassive black holes that anchor the centers of galaxies, whose formation in the early universe remains mysterious.

Posted by at June 12, 2018 1:06 PM

  

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