Supercomputer breakthrough allows astronomers to share universe simulations

Supercomputing has helped astrophysicists create massive models of the universe, but such simulations have remained out of reach for many researchers. That could change, however, after a successful test allowed scientists in Portland, Ore., to watch a Chicago-based simulation of how ordinary matter and mysterious dark matter evolved in the early universe, reports. The streaming event took place in real time, which means that teams in both Chicago and Portland theoretically could have interacted together in the simulation as easily as PC or console video gamers play together in online games. The demo goes far beyond entertaining people with 3-D journeys through the early universe. Only supercomputers can handle the huge amounts of data that make up the most sophisticated astrophysics models, and scientists can’t always travel to places with supercomputing clusters to do their research. Having the ability to stream a fully rendered simulation online allows scientists to collaborate on research remotely and overcome the barriers of limited access to supercomputers. “This is an example of trying to break down that barrier—a barrier that gets higher every day as simulations get more complex,” said Mark Hereld, a computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois…

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