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B Just how Powerful is Computer Science + Astrophysics?

  1. Mar 30, 2017 #1
    It seems that for a long time astronomy and cosmology have been based on observation and then speculation. Those two tasks are both very hard on their own, with the observation costing tons of money to be able to produce effective telescopes and observation methods. Speculation is even harder since your trying to figure out the inner workings of the Universe with only still pictures of it. Just recently computing has been powerful enough to simulate stuff such as galaxies and even superclusters and therefore making astrophysics more experimental. All this time we have been writing simulations with prior existing knowledge of the laws that govern the Universe, but how can we actually better understand physical properties such as that of dark matter with help from the advances in scientific computing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2017 #2
    Computers enable us to do complex calculations that would be impossible to do 'manually',
    well not impossible but would take several thousands of years for a person to do it,
    That means we can explore mathematical models to see where they work and where they fail quite easily.
    However that doesn't make any particular model more valid than another.
    Observations and predictions still are the foundations of science.
  4. Apr 3, 2017 #3
    I don't think any modern science could be done without computers. Besides brute forcing rediulously complex math far easier than a human computers are also very good at finding patterns in extremely large datasets, which humans could never hope to do manually, even with thousands of years. I predict that in the next 30 years we'll see medicine go through its own moores law for a bit as computers begin to have the power to understand and create huge molecules and predict their behavoir on the body. The genome project was just a warmup for the biology-computer revolution.

    Huge experiments like the LHC would be useless without computers. So much data gets generated every second that only a computer could ever hope to make sense of it all.

    As neural networks expand and get trained in on more and more complex tasks, they'll soon be unleashed on all of that data. I predict that AI will beat humanity to a theory of everything. If that offends any humans here, I'd say you have less than a hundred years to prove me wrong. If quantum computer can work, way way less.

    Computers allow astrophysicists windows into the universe that otherwise would be invisible to us. The distribution of dark matter for example.

    Pretty incredible considering that it's just a rock that we've manipulated into "thinking."
  5. Apr 6, 2017 #4
    Well, we are also just a bunch of tiny bags filled by somewhat oxygenated liquid hydrocarbons too. ;)
    Manipulated into "thinking" by the ruthless evolutionary pressure.
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