Supercomputer to analyse the universe

Cosmology Machine Supercomputer to unlock secrets of the universe

Scientists hope a new £1.9 million supercomputer at Durham University will help them unlock the secrets of the universe.

The Cosmology Machine Supercomputer at the university’s Institute of Computational Cosmology (ICC) has a memory of 15.4 terabytes, the equivalent of 7,500 normal home PCs. It boasts a disc storage capacity of a petabyte, or a million gigabytes.

The new machine, known as Cosma 4, will allow scientists to build on the ground-breaking work already carried out at the institute, which specialises in developing computer simulations of the evolution of the universe, so researchers can gain an insight into why it behaves as it does.

Durham University said in a statement: “Among the theories the ICC will be testing is that of dark matter - a mysterious substance which scientists believe is required to explain galaxy motions that would otherwise violate the laws of physics.

“The researchers’ simulations will also aid the investigation of the accelerated expansion of the universe which scientists believe is driven by a mysterious and poorly understood force – ‘dark energy’.

“The ICC is a leading international centre for research into the origin and evolution of the universe, addressing some of the most fundamental questions in science, such as how did the universe begin and how did it evolve to its current state.”

Institute director Professor Carlos Frenk said: “Durham and its research partners across the world are at the forefront of research into the composition and evolution of the universe.

“The technology available to us through Cosma 4 will ensure that we can continue to advance in our quest to figure out how the universe works.

“There is much to play for: the identity of the dark matter and the dark energy for starters, and thanks to these amazing technological advances, we hope to be able to shed light on some of the most fundamental unsolved questions in physics today.”

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