I want to direct our attention to where most of our minds are just not good enough. Complex problems that require brute force and iterations. These programs that are designed for calculations. Though made by humans, but there is so much grunt work required that it is beyond conceivable that any human can perform to a nearly complete solution in a worthwhile time span.
Though the information ill bring forth is highly esoteric and some is a long way from being spilled down from the research institutions and organizations to all of Canadian society. I think the advent of computers and the internet’s information highway in this case of huge merit for everyone. I can look up modern theories of the universe and read news articles on research projects. And I can watch documentary programs that fill the gaps where my high school and work education has left off.
Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
I will start with cosmological theories that can not be observed.
Galaxies have long been observed rotating much faster than our laws of motion allow. Long story short there was a term coined called dark matter. This allowed observers to allocate more mass to galaxies to accommodate their faster than expected rotation.
Another phenomena is dark energy. This energy is used to account for the accelerated expansion of the universe. The further away any object in space is observed the faster the object is moving away from us. This observation is counter intuitive because we observe almost all cosmological bodies red shifting (moving away). Because of this scientists say that the universe is expanding. If we run a cosmic scenario in our minds backwards, we can say that the universe began a point. At this point the universe is created with an immense amount of energy. The catch is the universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate. Normally gravity which acts over long distances and would eventually stop and then counteract the initial force of the big bang. Everything should be slowing down and to come together in a large cosmic crunch.
Today we observe roughly 5% of the matter we expect that is the matter we are familiar with in our field of view. The remainder we call dark matter and dark energy. Scientists generally admit they don’t know what dark matter and dark energy is but they are confident its out there.
Between these two highly abstract but practical solutions for cosmological observations how are we suppose to test the validity of the existence of both dark matter and dark energy? No one knows what this stuff is!
Enter Bolshoi. A simulation run on the supercomputer called Pleiades. Pleiades is equipped with 14 000 CPUs with 12 Terabytes of RAM at the NASAAmesResearchCenter. Bolshoi is a simulation of the universe from big bang to today. This simulation took 18 days to run. What Bolshoi allowed scientists and engineers to do is map a portion of the universe. Taken with data hypothesized; researchers were able to test our observations of space with a surprising result. The simulation showed qualitative similarities between what observers see in space to Bolshoi’s result. What is amazing to me is, not many times before have humans calculated something that we have little information on. And on top of that, run it through a computer to verify assumptions and observations. Especially towards the origin of the universe. Non of this would of been possible with the human mind alone. What Pleiades had done is allowed for concepts until modern computers, would be so theoretical the ideas can hardly be considered a science, into a tangible idea that can be calculated worked with and thought of in a scientific sense.
Image from [http://www.brentpeters.me/wp/2012/08/1008]
Gaston Julia a French mathematician looked at what happens when a equation has a output and is fed back into the original equation. The output is a set, (x,y) but solutions can require millions of outputs. He published his book at the age of 25 in 1918. The field of iterations was stagnant due to the amount of work required and because of this, his work remained relatively unknown. Benoit Mandlebrot popularized it some 60 years later. Benoit Mandelbrot is also a French mathematician. He began working at IBM in 1958. While there he had access to one of the early computers. While there he was able to use Gaston’s math in a early computer.
Self similarity was a concept earlier known but became something we can visually see with Benoit’s use of IBM’s computers. As the equations would require so many iterations (feedback loops) to produce results, this would take countless human hours to calculate out. Computers can do this for us.
Benoit’s program created beautiful design patterns as a graph. When zooming in, a pattern would result that looked like previous zooms. One can zoom in infinitely amount of times and always see a pattern. Pictures like this were used in the hippy/psychedelic movement.
Image taken from [http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/fractal/]
The fractal or self similarity is used today in simulations of water and fire in Hollywood movies. Our cell phones use a few different frequency bands for texting, phone calls, internet data, etc. Having a single antenna will save space on a portable item. Similar shape at different sizes, a single antenna can accommodates multiple carrier frequencies for a antenna. Self similarity may be prevalent in all biological living systems. When we look at a tree we see a trunk and some branches, these branches split and turn into other branches, and looking at these branches they split off into other branches and eventually twigs and so on until leafs. The veins in our body do the same thing. Instead of DNA compiling super complex instructions, a simpler code that has iterations may be a large possibility due to its overwhelming efficiency. Understanding genetic code may require use of self similarity maths.
Concepts of the coastline paradox can yield infinite result. Loosing speaking no matter how far we zoom into coastline there will always be more imperfections. The overall perimeter of a country can have a solution of an infinity.
Ideas I bring forth are not my own. However I would like to mention computers have popularized the way we develop technology, how we look at life, and see the universe today and where the universe came from and where its going. Yes, computers do a lot of work for us. And sometimes allow us to be lazy. But without computers we would have very different idea of how the universe, living systems, maths, and technologies work.