Half of he Universe
September 18, 2007 4:02 PM   Subscribe

The Horizon Simulation 70 billions particles : a new world record for a large scale simulation of the universe.

For the first time, we have performed a simulation of half the observable universe, with enough resolution to describe a Milky Way-like galaxy with more than 100 dark matter particles.
The images of the universe at different resolutions are splendid and the animation is breathtaking.
posted by bru (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Half of he Universe".... that's where you go when you escape from Real Bitch Island.
posted by katillathehun at 4:04 PM on September 18, 2007


And this is why it can be argued that we're likely living in a The Matrix of some sort.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:05 PM on September 18, 2007


Oh my god it's full of stars

and spelling mistakes
posted by tehloki at 4:10 PM on September 18, 2007


Wow. The Universe looks like a brain.
posted by Avenger at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2007


(Jai guru deva om) / 2
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2007


And this is why it can be argued that we're likely living in a The Matrix of some sort.

Indeed.

posted by anazgnos at 4:18 PM on September 18, 2007


Pfft, whatever. It's no where near as cool as my 1:1 scale map of the other half of the universe.

I'd show you, but I really only bring it out on special occasions. Refolding it takes forever.
posted by quin at 4:19 PM on September 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


I dunno. Some of these pictures just look like something exploding.
posted by salishsea at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2007


Wasn't me. This time.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:23 PM on September 18, 2007


Why don't we just use the Large Hadron Collider to create The Universe? It'd be a lot easier than printing out that huge map.
posted by tehloki at 4:26 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


When the anmation paused at 16x zomm I thought, "yeah, I guess that's pretty interesting." Then it kept going. That's where I got suitably impressed.
posted by lekvar at 4:28 PM on September 18, 2007


Great simulations. It's almost a shame you have to kind of hope they go wrong, because where they go wrong is where it gets really interesting.
posted by edd at 4:35 PM on September 18, 2007


"Pfft, whatever. It's no where near as cool as my 1:1 scale map of the other half of the universe.

I'd show you, but I really only bring it out on special occasions. Refolding it takes forever."

Oh, Steven Wright, where have you gone?
posted by klangklangston at 4:40 PM on September 18, 2007


"Wow. The Universe looks like a brain."

exactly like a brain cell
posted by vronsky at 4:40 PM on September 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Can you point to the location on the universe where Jesus touched you?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:44 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aww, that’s pretty big...I guess.
Doesn’t look like my house is in this half though.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:50 PM on September 18, 2007


Is this a Google app., yet?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:53 PM on September 18, 2007


Holy crap klang, I totally forgot about that joke! And here I was thinking I was being clever.
posted by quin at 4:58 PM on September 18, 2007


It's OK. I just assumed you were riffing on it
posted by klangklangston at 5:03 PM on September 18, 2007


I can see the simulation of my house from here!
posted by DU at 5:18 PM on September 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


The video up to 16x looks like they're zooming in on a kitchen sponge. Even the caption "La Toile D'Araignee Cosmique" sounds like it's an expensive French back scrub.

The thing that's surprising is how "filled" the universe looks.
posted by chime at 5:23 PM on September 18, 2007


(it means cosmic spider web, but yeah)
posted by blacklite at 5:28 PM on September 18, 2007


In what way is 70 billion particles 50% of the universe?
posted by empath at 6:12 PM on September 18, 2007


"and spelling mistakes"

Umm, that's French.
posted by Eideteker at 6:17 PM on September 18, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim: "And this is why it can be argued that we're likely living in a The Matrix of some sort."

Um. The fact that we can simulate some physics in a computer does not, in any way, imply that we ourselves are a simulation. You're saying, in essence, that if we can build an atom, then all atoms must be built, or if we can create a new life form, then humanity must have been designed. We can make a fire, does that mean fire was invented by God? The ideas are just completely disconnected from one another.

Worrying about living in a simulation strikes me as a remarkably fruitless line of endeavor, because if we are, what does it matter? The entities involved would be so unbelievably intelligent -- after all, they have the resources to simulate an entire Universe -- that we would have nothing in common with them anyway. We probably couldn't even meaningfully communicate, any more than we can communicate with protozoa.

If it's true, it doesn't matter, and there's nothing we can do about it anyway, so it strikes me as very low on the list of things to think about.
posted by Malor at 6:40 PM on September 18, 2007


I think it is a pretty fruitless endeavour to wonder about it, at least at this point. (If we could hack the computer it's running on by causing a buffer overflow with some super-duper-collider or something, then it could get interesting.)

But the point behind the argument is that we are running some simulations - everything from this thing to SimCity. So far, they're pretty weak, but people are doing things like artificial life (alife) simulations.

Let's say we are the real universe, not a simulation, and in the far future are able to harness the universe for computing power such that we can run say, 100,000 simulations that to us are complete simulations of galaxy clusters. And intelligence evolves in these simulations. To these intelligences, the galaxy cluster-sized region of space is the whole universe. And let's say that each of them eventually harness the computing power of their universe to run 10,000 galaxy-sized simulations, with enough detail that intelligence can evolve in these and so on.

So, we have 100,000*10,000*so on simulated universes, going on until the last level of simulation doesn't have enough computing power to evolve intelligence / start another level of simulations. At this point, we'd be pretty arrogant to assume that we weren't one of many "our-universe-sized" simulations being run by some much bigger universe.

It's not scientifically useful at this point, nor is it clear that we will be able to produce simulations that could evolve intelligence, though it would probably be rather trivial to program a two-level simulation - say, give the characters in The Sims a game of SimCity and a SimCity-playing AI. Really, though, once you introduce this idea it doesn't matter that much what's a "simulation" and what's "real" - it's just a question of what substrate your universe is running on - but I find it an interesting idea, even though it's really just a fancy version of the ending of Men In Black.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:05 PM on September 18, 2007


Half of the Universe

... looks like a brain.


Is it a co-incidence that BlueGene was recently maxed out simulating half a mouse brain?
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:15 PM on September 18, 2007


Wow, hadn't seen that before. I can't wait for them to get a more powerful computer, simulate the whole mouse brain, and hook it up to the appropriate simulated inputs and outputs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:19 PM on September 18, 2007


yeah, think of the size of the computer that they will have to build to design the mousetrap to kill the damn thing.
posted by vronsky at 7:26 PM on September 18, 2007


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