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Science: 

Watch the thirteen billion-year evolution of the universe in four minutes

Illustris body

The video shows the moments following the Big Bang

The universe as we know it has been around for 13 billion years. In this modern world, none of us have time to watch a video of all that, which is why MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has condensed it all into four minutes, reports Engadget.

That must have taken a while to make

It sure did. Five years in fact. Named the Illustris Project, a supercomputer has been used to calculate large-scale cosmological simulations, including the most ambitious simulation of galaxy formation yet performed.

According to the project’s website: “The calculation tracks the expansion of the universe, the gravitational pull of matter onto itself, the motion or “hydrodynamics” of cosmic gas, as well as the formation of stars and black holes”. It contains, “tens of thousands of galaxies captured in high-detail, covering a wide range of masses, rates of star formation, shapes, sizes, and with properties that agree well with the galaxy population observed in the real universe.”

Sounds complicated

It is extremely complicated. As CNET reports, the researchers created over 100,000 lines of code simulating the laws of physics and the computer model represents an area of space that is almost 350 million light years across. That includes 41,416 galaxies, a fraction of the actual universe, but still an incredible feat. The supercomputers involved are ridiculously powerful, taking a couple of months to run the simulation. If they’d used your desktop PC, it would have taken thousands of years.

Photo: Illustris

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