From fans of the Matrix movie to professional scientists, most of us have wondered at some point in our lives if the reality — as we experience it — is real, or are we living in a simulation? While answers to these questions are highly debatable, we now know that we can create simulated universes, and some complex being evolving in that simulation may also be pondering on the same existential questions.
In a remarkable feat, scientists have created an entire virtual universe — or a simulation — using the world’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to astronomy, ATERUI II. The simulation is named Uchuu, which means “universe” in Japanese. According to scientists, Uchuu is the most realistic and largest simulation ever made. Using 40,000 computer cores and 20 million computing hours, the international team of scientists could generate the simulation with details so high that the researchers could identify from dark matter halos to individual galaxies. However, the simulation does not focus on planets and the tiny beings that may inhabit planets called life.
The simulation has a universe with 9.6 billion light-years in the length of a computational cube and 13 billion years in time, which means scientists can move around in time inside the model to view and study various desired stages of the evolution of the universe. For example, we currently do not know what galaxies far away from us look like as the light that reaches from them to us is millions and billions of years old.
Using Uchuu, “we can see what is really happening at every instant and in every place of the universe from its earliest days to the present,” says Julia Ereza, a PhD candidate at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain, in a statement, according to Phys .org. Ereza uses simulation to study the universe at the cosmic scale. Containing more than 2.1 trillion particles, the simulation is 3 Petabytes or 3000 TB in size, which is further compressed to 100 TB.
The universe simulation is available online and anyone with sufficient hard disk space can download it. Additionally, users can also explore Uchuu online on the project’s website. The results of the project were published on June 22 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.