First, the bad news: In four billion years it's going to get a lot more crowded around here. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are on a collision course. The good news is that a new video from NASA shows how it'll go down.
Space researchers uses deserts, valleys, and freezing lakes to test equipment and simulate procedures on space missions. Here's where they put future exploration to the test - without leaving our planet
By Katharine GammonPosted 02.24.2012 at 12:40 pm 5 Comments
To get into space, we have to practice at home. That's the idea behind NASA's Earth Analogs program, which tests people, ideas and technology at a variety of inhospitable places around the world. Finding places on Earth with physical similarities to space sites isn't easy - but the space agency has located desert, volcanic, arctic, lake and ocean locations for testing all manner of things.
A “violent encounter with Jupiter” may have hurled a fifth gas giant out of our solar system billions of years ago. A simulation done by the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado suggests that our solar system may have included another gaseous giant, placed between Saturn and Uranus. The computer models may prove how the planets of our solar system settled in their current position, a long-standing source of mystery to astronomers.
It took nearly a year of high-powered number crunching on various supercomputers, but researchers from UC Santa Cruz and the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Zurich have finally produced a computer simulation of a galaxy that looks much like our own.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Lab wanted to model and simulate the next generation of nuclear power facilities. While software that models a partial nuclear core or radiation transport exists in spades, the ORNL team wanted to model entire facilities at once. So they did what anyone would do: They started from scratch, merging a decade of research with the world's fastest supercomputer to build Denovo, the most sophisticated modeling software in the industry, to simulate entire nuclear facilities in one comprehensive snapshot.
Massive stars live for a very long time, so when their lives finally do come to an end they like to go out with a bang -- a bang that can become brighter than the whole galaxy for a time. Astronomers have studied and modeled these supernovae for decades, but for the first time researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics have created a 3-D computer sim of a star undergoing core collapse over a timescale of hours after the initial explosion.
SimCity players have struggled to keep their virtual towns alive against fires, tornadoes, and even UFOs, but can they handle strained water supplies and rising energy costs in CityOne? IBM's so-called "serious game" challenges urban planners to navigate the labyrinthine issues facing today's growing cities -- and perhaps to test better real-world policies.
A world rife with burst economic bubbles and the threat of global pandemics might look more manageable through the prism of a giant SimEarth-style model that puts even Google Earth's overviews to shame. The proposed "Living Earth Simulator" would aim to model both Earth and the details of its societies in detail by 2022, at the cost of about $1.3 billion, Technology Review reports.
Such "reality mining" would track everything from financial transactions to individual travel itineraries, from medical records to carbon dioxide emissions. If computer modelers can pull off the feat of simulating not only the planet's systems but also every one of its inhabitants, it could potentially lead to simulating the future in a way similar to how weather forecasters predict the weather.