Latest, Most Accurate Simulation of the Universe

The University of California, Santa Cruz, has this news item: Scientists release most accurate simulation of the universe to date. It says, with bold font added by us:

The Bolshoi supercomputer simulation, the most accurate and detailed large cosmological simulation run to date, gives physicists and astronomers a powerful new tool for understanding such cosmic mysteries as galaxy formation, dark matter, and dark energy. [“Bolshoi” is the Russian word for “great” or “grand.”].

The simulation traces the evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe, including the evolution and distribution of the dark matter halos in which galaxies coalesced and grew. Initial studies show good agreement between the simulation’s predictions and astronomers’ observations.

That video is less than two minutes long. We can’t make any judgment about it, but it sure is pretty. The news article continues:

The standard explanation for how the universe evolved after the Big Bang is known as the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model, and it is the theoretical basis for the Bolshoi simulation. According to this model, gravity acted initially on slight density fluctuations present shortly after the Big Bang to pull together the first clumps of dark matter. These grew into larger and larger clumps through the hierarchical merging of smaller progenitors. Although the nature of dark matter remains a mystery, it accounts for about 82 percent of the matter in the universe. As a result, the evolution of structure in the universe has been driven by the gravitational interactions of dark matter. The ordinary matter that forms stars and planets has fallen into the “gravitational wells” created by clumps of dark matter, giving rise to galaxies in the centers of dark matter halos.

We are made of debris that fell into the cracks. Ah, this describes what the video shows:

The Bolshoi simulation focused on a representative section of the universe, computing the evolution of a cubic volume measuring about one billion light-years on a side and following the interactions of 8.6 billion particles of dark matter. It took 6 million CPU-hours to run the full computation on the Pleiades supercomputer, recently ranked as the seventh fastest supercomputer in the world.

There’s more information and an endlessly-looping video here: The Bolshoi Simulation.

Our last post on a topic this grand was five months ago: Most Complete 3-D Map of the Local Universe. Predictably, the creationists said it proves creationism. A month before that we posted Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D.

We await the creationists’ reaction to the Bolshoi simulation.

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5 responses to “Latest, Most Accurate Simulation of the Universe

  1. Retired Prof

    Oh man, this one practically cries out for the watchmaker analogy: if it took an intelligently designed computer program running for 6 million CPU-hours to create the simulation of the universe, it must have taken even more intelligence to create the actual universe in 6 days.

    I’m constructing a straw man here, because I’m just speculating what they will say. If they do say it, though, think about this analogy for the analogy: If the propellor on my model Cessna is turned by a rubber band 8 inches long, think how long the rubber band in a real Cessna must be.

  2. If the propellor on my model Cessna is turned by a rubber band 8 inches long, think how long the rubber band in a real Cessna must be.

    I am so stealing this.

  3. @Retired Prof:

    Excellent. Most anti-evolution arguments boil down to just that. Which disctracts the audience, and sadly most critics, into not noticing that the evolution-denier invariably has not bothered to describe, much less attempt to support, any potential alternate explanation. Strip away their evasive word games and the best argument they have against evolution is to patiently listen to the evidence and reply: “Bolshoi!” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

  4. Tomato Addict

    I have just completed work on software that simulates creationist thinking, and plugged it into my Befuddlator-5000, which is at least the 7th fastest computer in the room. The result:

    More of the usual crap we have come to expect.

    The Befuddlator-5000 stands ready to answer the next profound question.

  5. Befuddlator-5000, which is at least the 7th fastest computer in the room.

    7th? It’s up to 7th now? Did you activate the turbocharger?