University of Durham cosmologists have come up with a novel
technique, based on how brain neurons behave, which can dramatically
speed up computer simulations of the universe.
Lead researcher and postgraduate student Cesario Almeida has
developed an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) to accelerate the
process of creating mock catalogues of galaxies.
ANN simulates the way brain neurons connect and compute information.
The scientists hope it can be used to solve a range of astronomy,
mathematics and engineering problems.
During the study, Almeida and colleagues used the ANN to create
their mock galactic catalogue in several wavelengths of light.
By comparing mock galactic catalogues with actual observations, such
as the ATLAS sky survey currently being conducted by the Herschel
space observatory, cosmoslogists can assess how well their models
The study showed that ANN-derived universe matched previous,
well-known models with an accuracy of between 80pct and 90pct.
Moreover, it was best at simulating galaxies in the near-infrared
part of the spectrum.
"At all the wavelengths considered we find that the luminosity
functions predicted by the ANN are in excellent agreement," ABC
Online quoted the researchers as saying.
Associate Professor Andrew Hopkins of the Anglo-Australian
Observatory in Sydney, says the technique could speed up research in
the field of cosmology.
"It's certainly exciting that it can speed up this process. It opens
up a new approach to try and attack these problems because it can
work very quickly on a large number of simulated galaxies," he said.
"It's an important cog in a very large wheel and sidesteps a lot of
messy detail," he added.