Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

In Depth

Physicists seek animated answers to dark secrets of the universe

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 02:09

Nov. 29 - Physicists at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois hope to unravel the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy with the most detailed computer simulations of the universe ever built. The two theoretical forces have never been detected but are believed to make up more than 95 percent of the universe The researchers want to know what the forces are and how they work. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

It looks like abstract art, but it's pure science - the largest and most accurate model of the Universe ever created. Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory are using a powerful super-computer to build the simulation with data sets gathered by cosmologists and deep space observatories around the world. They're looking for answers to universal questions. What exactly are the forces called Dark Energy and Dark Matter? And how do they affect those parts of the universe we can see? Project head, Salman Habib says the simulations could provide clues although it's a difficult and often frustrating search. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SALMAN HABIN, PHYSICIST, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY, SAYING: "So you get this beautiful picture of the sky and you would say, well, this is all very beautiful but what does it mean. So the first task of a simulation is to extract meaning." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SALMAN HABIN, PHYSICIST, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY, SAYING: "So the Universe is the biggest object out there and therefore the most annoying. If you look at it you ask 'who ordered that, right'. So that's why I think theorists are so drawn to it because the idea of trying to explain effectively 'Creation' so to speak, is something that is very interesting. It use to belong to in a completely different sphere, right, in philosophy, etcetera. And now it's just hard science." Habib says it's hard science now thanks to huge advances in technology. He says physicists have had equations that theorize how the Universe evolved for years. But, he says, these simulations allow for those theories to be tested against real cosmological data. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SALMAN HABIN, PHYSICIST, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY, SAYING: "That's the role that the simulations play. Without the simulations you wouldn't be able to go from the paper and pencil solutions to comparing to the observations. Or in the other directions, if I have very good observations I wouldn't be able to get any good science out of them unless I use a simulation to sort of work backwards." Scientists believe that 95 percent of the Universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter - even though both forces are theoretical. Habib says such large scale simulations, in concert with increasingly detailed sky surveys, will hopefully shed light on their properties - allowing for a clearer picture of how the Universe formed and why it's expanding.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Physicists seek animated answers to dark secrets of the universe

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 02:09

Editors' Picks »

Moving Pictures »

Dance of the northern lights Dance of the northern lights

Mon, 20 Oct, 2014 - (1:08)

Images of September Images of September

Thu, 02 Oct, 2014 - (1:00)

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, 05 Sep, 2014 - (2:05)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, 01 Sep, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (3:12)

Images of August Images of August

Fri, 29 Aug, 2014 - (1:00)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, 11 Aug, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, 08 Aug, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Fri, 01 Aug, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, 11 Jul, 2014 - (1:00)

Oddly Enough »

Christie's opens new Shanghai office Christie's opens new Shanghai office

Wed, 22 Oct, 2014 - (1:13)

White lion cubs unveiled to the public White lion cubs unveiled to the public

Tue, 21 Oct, 2014 - (1:01)

Ebola Halloween getup stirs controversy Ebola Halloween getup stirs controversy

Tue, 21 Oct, 2014 - (1:14)

Cuddly Ebola toy almost wiped out Cuddly Ebola toy almost wiped out

Mon, 20 Oct, 2014 - (0:34)

New MoMA exhibit cut out for Matisse New MoMA exhibit cut out for Matisse

Thu, 16 Oct, 2014 - (1:28)

London's Frieze art fair tests your senses London's Frieze art fair tests your senses

Thu, 16 Oct, 2014 - (1:28)

Paris streets become gallery for Plato-inspired sculptures Paris streets become gallery for...

Wed, 15 Oct, 2014 - (1:21)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, 19 Feb, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, 10 Jan, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, 05 Aug, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, 17 Dec, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sun, 09 Dec, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Mon, 10 Dec, 2012 - (10:39)