Researchers create universe inside a computer

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

cosmos sim
The computer model is the first to correctly predict and create phenomenon that occur in the natural universe.

It goes without saying  that the universe is huge. I mean, NASA barely got a space probe out of the solar system after 33 years and 11 billion miles. Why go through all the fuss of sending machines to explore outer space when you can build one inside of a computer? Well, that’s exactly what Harvard and MIT researchers did! The computer model is called Illustris, and it’s the first model to ever correctly predict events in the universe.

The artificial universe reflects our own, stretching from the present all the way back to 12 million years after the Big Bang – the event which gave birth to the cosmos as we know it. The model has over one hundred thousand lines of code – which is basically as complicated as it sounds – and needs about 8,000 processors to operate. In fact, it’s so complex, it needs two different supercomputers to run a simulation. If a regular PC were to do the same test, it would need about 2,000 years to complete it just once!

The resulting Illustris simulation is the most advanced and accurate computer model of the universe ever. The researchers were sure to take into account real physics and chemical properties that give rise to phenomena like stars, planets, and black holes. However, it’s still much smaller than the real universe. Also, the 40,000 galaxies inside of the model are not in the exact same locations as reality, but they have just about the same shapes.

The historic model should open wide the doors to research that would normally cost millions of dollars to perform in outer space.

Images courtesy of Mark Vogelsberger on YouTube.