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Gizmorama - June 14, 2017

Good Morning,

Computers can really do it all. A new computer algorithm has been developed to help for the search for new materials and understanding structural properties.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Computers are helping scientists discover new materials --*

Scientists in England have developed a new computer algorithm to aid the search for new materials. The system helped researchers create two new promising materials in the lab.

Machine learning allowed the model to acquire an understanding of the structural properties of different materials. The algorithm uses its knowledge to predict new combinations of atoms to form materials with valuable physical and structural properties.

With the endless possible atomic combinations, materials scientists can be overwhelmed. Computer models can help researchers narrow their focus.

"Understanding which atoms will combine to form new materials from the vast space of possible candidates is one of the grand scientific challenges, and solving it will open up exciting scientific opportunities that could lead to important properties," Matt Rosseinsky, a professor of chemistry, said in a news release.

The model works by identifying only chemically stable combinations that can be reliably synthesized in the lab. Researchers hope the model can help material scientists develop new materials for energy generation and storage.

Rosseinsky and his colleagues detailed their work in the journal Nature.

"The key step in this research was the ability to generate large numbers of truly representative structures that could be used to assess which element combinations were stable," Rosseinsky said, "which greatly narrowed the space that had to be explored experimentally -- like having a map with someone's address, rather than knowing they live in London somewhere."

*-- Scientists simulate largest-ever virtual universe --*

Scientists in Switzerland have simulated the largest, most complex virtual universe to date, a feat they hope will yield new insights into the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Astrophysicists at the University of Zurich developed a new computer model to describe cosmic structures and the behavior of dark matter in unprecedented detail. Scientists ran their model for 80 hours using one of the world's most powerful supercomputers.

The model used two trillion macro-particles to represent dark matter and produced 25 billion virtual galaxies.

The algorithms allow the dark matter to evolve under the influence of its own gravity, yielding a phenomenon called dark matter halos -- concentrations of dark matter in which galaxies like the Milky Way form.

Simulating the proper proportions is the largest challenge of large-scale cosmic modeling. Roughly 23 percent of the universe consists of dark matter, and dark energy accounts for another 72 percent. Collections of ordinary matter make up just a small percentage of the cosmos. It is difficult to simulate small galaxies -- galaxies measure just a tenth the size of the Milky Way -- within massive structures.

"The nature of dark energy remains one of the main unsolved puzzles in modern science," Romain Teyssier, a professor for computational astrophysics at UZH, said in a news release.

Researchers hope the European Euclid mission, a space telescope designed to indirectly observe dark matter and energy, will yield even more accurate cosmic models.

Euclid's work will be guided by the record-setting model developed by Zurich scientists.

"Euclid will perform a tomographic map of our Universe, tracing back in time more than 10-billion-year of evolution in the cosmos," UZH researcher Joachim Stadel said.

Researchers detailed their virtual universe in the journal Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology.


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