Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Supercomputing Science

Supercomputer Adds Credence to Standard Model 120

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the start-watching-for-vogons dept.
ScienceDaily is reporting that researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Southampton in cooperation with partners from Japan and the US have shed some light on the Standard Model of physics using a new computer model. "The project's enormously complex calculations relate to the behavior of tiny particles found in the nuclei of atoms, known as quarks. In order to carry out these calculations, the researchers first designed and built a supercomputer that was among the fastest in the world, capable of tens of trillions of calculations per second. The computations themselves have taken a further three years to complete. Their result shows that the Standard Model's claim to be the best theory invented holds firm. It raises the stakes for the riddle to be solved by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which will switch on later this year. Physicists' efforts to confront Standard Model predictions using the most powerful computers available with the most precise experiments offer no clues about what to expect."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supercomputer Adds Credence to Standard Model

Comments Filter:
  • Wow! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why does the number 42 come to mind?
    • No 42 (Score:3, Funny)

      ...but a Clearwater Revival does.
    • No! (Score:4, Funny)

      by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:11PM (#22607474)
      I am Vroomfondle and that is not a demand, it is a solid fact.

      We are philosophers (though we may not be). We are here as representatives of Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries, and Other Professional Thinking Persons and we want this machine off and we want off now.

      What's the use of our sitting up all night saying there may (or may not be) a God if this machine comes along next morning and gives you his telephone number?

      We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

      You'll have a National Philosopher's Strike on your hands!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxwell demon (590494)
      Well, the word "supercomputer" has 13 characters. 14, if you count the terminating '\0'. The supercomputer was running for 3 years. Now 3*14=42. That should explain it. :-)

  • Apparently the EFF is offering a $100,000 prize for discovering new prime numbers. As stated on the website. [mersenne.org] I'd be putting that processing to good use. If you've got a good system, the odds are not much worse than a lottery. And it's free. :)
    • Don't bother with EFF. If you have a computer that can brute force primes of that size, the NSA will pay you way more than 100K for it. The EFF is really looking for more techniques, not power.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ooops! Please ignore my previous post.
        • by gr8scot (1172435)
          Wow, the moderators really are paying attention! You saw that the EFF project is about distributed computing, right? So the moderators are exactly right, "Please ignore my previous post" was insightful. The article is not about brute-forcing primes with anybody's one computer. I'm not trying to call you less than insightful, but the moderation system takes a lot of crap, and maybe it's just because I'm new here, but I'm still impressed by how much better it works than some other feedback systems.
  • Boycott ScienceDaily (Score:5, Informative)

    by jnana (519059) on Friday February 29, 2008 @09:33PM (#22607258) Journal

    I wish people would stop posting crappy science articles from ScienceDaily and related sites.

    From this article, we learn that computer modeling confirmed something "about the behavior of quarks". That's it. There is nothing of substance in the article other than this and that the computation took three years.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Score Whore (32328)

      From this article, we learn that computer modeling confirmed something "about the behavior of quarks".


      Computer models cannot expand (or confirm) the frontiers of any research of any kind. All this has done is said "We made a computer program that gives us the results we would expect from running this computer program." Nothing in computer modeling makes a connection to reality and truth.
      • I'm pretty sure Haken and Appel would take exception to that.
        • I'm pretty sure Haken and Appel would take exception to that.


          What did they model? The answer is: nothing, because math is not reality. They used a computer to create a proof of a mathematical problem. The rules of the problem do not map, or even purport to map, to the real world.
          • And yet the proof was all about mapping the real world...
            • No it wasn't. It was about coloring regions of an area when the regions are restricted to certain arbitrary criteria. For example it does not apply to non-contiguous regions.
          • by wellingj (1030460)

            math is not reality
            I'm glad you cleared that up for us. I was confused.
            • You'd be surprised at how many people don't understand that fact.
              • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

                by a whoabot (706122)
                When I think of reality, I think of anything which exists. If you're saying math is not reality, then are you saying math doesn't exist? (Assuming that when you say math is not reality, you're not saying math is the whole of reality, but only that it is part?)
                • No I mean that the arbitrary rules of logic and construction that are mathematics do not control or define the laws of the universe. Math is a language no different than any other language. The fact that I can describe something in English doesn't make what I describe a reality. Why would something I can describe in math be any more real?
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by TapeCutter (624760)
                    "Why would something I can describe in math be any more real?"

                    Don't know, but it often is - perhaps maths is just mapping the functioning of our perceptions. Anyway because math has been usefull we continue to use it to model the real world and make testable predictions. TFA is describing a prediction that the LHC may falsify.
                  • by Xabraxas (654195)

                    No I mean that the arbitrary rules of logic and construction that are mathematics do not control or define the laws of the universe. Math is a language no different than any other language. The fact that I can describe something in English doesn't make what I describe a reality. Why would something I can describe in math be any more real?

                    I disagree. Knowledge of math is a priori, language is not. There is a reason for this. While we still haven't unlocked all of the secrets of mathematical modeling th

            • It is when you get to the checkout of the supermarket get handed a bill.

              (..ok, or your mom does..)
      • by jnana (519059) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:36PM (#22607580) Journal

        All this has done is said "We made a computer program that gives us the results we would expect from running this computer program."

        No, it's not nothing more than a tautology as you're implying. You're ignoring the nature of the program, which aims to embody the standard model well enough to make predictions about reality for phenomena that it's not been possible to directly observe. It's a little more than just a program that spits out arbitrary but predictable results, since the results do in fact have some relation to reality. If the model is any good at all, the correspondence will be very good.

        Nothing in computer modeling makes a connection to reality and truth.

        You must also believe that computer models of aerodynamics that predict a racecar will experience less drag than a Hummer also have no connection to reality and truth. I'd argue that to the extent that a model makes accurate predictions again and again, there is some connection to reality and truth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Score Whore (32328)

          You're ignoring the nature of the program, which aims to embody the standard model well enough to make predictions about reality for phenomena that it's not been possible to directly observe. It's a little more than just a program that spits out arbitrary but predictable results, since the results do in fact have some relation to reality. If the model is any good at all, the correspondence will be very good.

          If you can't observe the phenomena in the real world, then how do you know the model has any correspo

          • by dmartin (235398)

            If you can't observe the phenomena in the real world, then how do you know the model has any correspondence? Or are you going to say that my computer model of classical mechanics is proof that general relativity is incorrect?

            No, but you could do some very accurate classical mechanics calculations in order to compare them to experiment. While computers were not used, this method was used to calculate the orbit of Mercury, and it was found that using classical mechanics and the known planets that something was wrong. This gave us the hint that either something was wrong with gravity or that there were unknown planets. So by doing calculations of what you think is true and comparing to reality you can find where the holes in your

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jnana (519059)

            If you can't observe the phenomena in the real world, then how do you know the model has any correspondence?

            The whole point is that many phenomena are observable, and predictions by the model have been verified again and again. Those that cannot currently be verified may be verified in the future, and if they are falsified, that tells us that one of the simplifications that was made in order to create the computer program was not warranted or that there is some factor that our program failed to incorpora

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by dario_moreno (263767) *
            the point is that 99% of physical equations are non-linear, N-body, ordinary or partial differential equations and thus do not have an analytical solution. So the only approach to check if as you say the hypothesis are correct is numerical. Even the great Fermi had to recur to an army of mechanical calculators staffed by humans to see if his equations had a meaning. Since Galileo mathematized physics there have been 300 years without computers so people (and teaching up to nowadays) are used to approximatio
      • Four Color Map Problem. (computer proof ).
        Largest Prime.
        Optimal Golumb Ruler.
        Big bang simulation.
        Black Hole Simulation.
        Tuskunga Simulation.

        Actually, Universal machines and cellular automata.
        Monte Carlo statistical methods.

        Airfoil design.
        Traffic flow design.
        Space Shuttle design.
        ARCHITETUCRE.

        "Nothing in computer modeling makes a connection to reality and truth."
        I am sorry, I cannot agree. There are so many counter examples where computer simulation has

        Space Shuttle design.
        ARCHITETUCRE.

        "Nothing in computer mod
    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:08PM (#22607454) Journal
      it's much worse than that, the article was pretty much mirrored from the source university of south hampton article here: http://www.soton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2008/feb/08_31.shtml [soton.ac.uk] which has absolutely nothing to add on the subject. three years of work and they don't even say what it is that they were modeling... what exactly was the point? perhaps a better article is required like the one here: http://www.physorg.com/news121963192.html [physorg.com]
      • by jnana (519059)

        The first two sentences from the physorg article give more information than the entire ScienceDaily article:

        A new calculation, reported in the January 25, 2008 issue of Physical Review Letters, confirms the six-quark theory of particle-anti-particle asymmetry. This is the first complete calculation of this phenomenon to employ a highly accurate description of the quarks that adds a fifth dimension beyond those of space and time.

        Which was my point exactly. Thanks for the link.

      • My mind is going..,

      • You might try going to the arXiv, and doing a search on the names of the authors. Most likely, if there is a popular press article about their work, they've also got a preprint up, if not an actual journal article yet.
      • FYI : 'Southampton'. One word. One 'h'.
      • by JLF65 (888379)
        From the article:

        This is the first complete calculation of this phenomenon to employ a highly accurate description of the quarks that adds a fifth dimension beyond those of space and time.
        It turns out that fifth dimension is called the "fudge" dimension. It makes all the calculated values match the measured data, no matter how far off they might be. ;)
    • by ortholattice (175065) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:22PM (#22607514)

      I wish people would stop posting crappy science articles from ScienceDaily and related sites.
      I've found a better site to be http://www.eurekalert.org/ [eurekalert.org] which is run by the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and has less annoying ads. A very high percentage of ScienceDaily stories - although oddly not this one - are the same as those on Eurakalert, but Eurakalert seems to have them first (at least based on RSS feed). I think Eurakalert also provides the original press release from the university/organization - not a watered-down, clueless-journalist-rewritten "adapted from materials provided by [university/organization]" - and also gives the link to the actual "materials", usually not provided by ScienceDaily.
      • by jnana (519059)

        Thanks for the reference. Eurekalert does look much better than ScienceDaily.

        I get most of my science news from Science News [sciencenews.org], which I'm really happy with, but they are a little slower (and more thorough), so a bit behind the quickest to publish.

        I just wish Slashdot editors would exercise some judgment. A good first step would be never linking to ScienceDaily.

      • by Jugalator (259273)
        Ahh, so what this is really all about is that they've found support for why our universe weren't annihilated in an instant after the big bang due to a symmetry of particles and anti-particles. That they've found support for the six-quark theory that in turn open up the possibility, right in our Standard Model, for the particle-heavy universe we observe? Suddenly the outcome doesn't sound nearly as useless as ScienceDaily presented and well worth three years of calculations.
    • From TFA: the Standard Model, which encapsulates understanding of all the material that makes up the universe.

      The Standard Model actually encapsulates understanding of just under 5% of the material which makes up the Universe. ~20% of the material is dark matter which is not consistent with any SM particle and ~75% is dark energy which we don't even have a good theory for!
    • "There is nothing of substance in the article"
      There is ABSOLUTLY NOTHING of substance in the article.
      At Least you could have told us WHICH supercomputer/0
      HECHoR is brand new, or Maxwell or some
      beowolf cluster of bagpipes?

      ScienceDaily is a terciary source. ( also its 'related' site are also devoid of interest' )
      We should all just *ignore* it. Its not like there is any substance.
      Much better is Scientific America, or MIT's TechReview.
    • It is all part of the relentless drive to answer the question, is there or isn't there a God. And if there is, what exactly is it?

      Scientists take the long (empirical?)route, philosophers take the short (personal experience?) route. But in either case maybe the question is not satisfactorily answerable.
      • by jnana (519059)

        Hmmm, your response has nothing to do with my post, the gist of which was that ScienceDaily is a very poor quality Science-related website that Slashdot should avoid linking to.

        • My point: It is science itself that is full of uncertainty, so how could any article about science meet you quality standards?
          • by jnana (519059)

            I don't believe as you say that "science is full of uncertainty", but even if that were the case, it would not follow that every article relating to science must therefore be low-quality crap. The criticism was not that there was uncertainty in the article, but that it was utterly devoid of content.

          • by jnana (519059)

            Oh, and an article could quite easily meet my (not exceptionally high) quality standards: http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/PR_display.asp?prID=08-x5 [bnl.gov].

            • A Good One, and maybe you are right about the article quality. I used to be a big fan of science, but it seems that every answer just raises more questions, so how can any journalist dig for the truth? You will probably not read any science article now and have an Ah Ha moment. /. usually covers a wide range of interests

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljbI-363A2Q [youtube.com]
  • Uncertainty (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sorthum (123064) on Friday February 29, 2008 @09:36PM (#22607266) Homepage
    So they talk about how fast this new supercomputer is.

    I presume that means they have absolutely no idea where it is?
  • Higgs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday February 29, 2008 @09:44PM (#22607310)
    Before we claim that the Standard Model is the end all of particle physics, lets see if we can find the Higgs Boson. Afterall, Fermilab has come very, very close, so the LHC should be able to seal the deal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      I'm pretty sure Fermilab found the Higgs on a few occaisions. It's just that procedure calls for a certain number of data points before making such claims. It's still quite possible that Fermilab will announce solid findings on the Higgs before the LHC really even picks up steam. Either way, we should know in the next couple of years.

      I for one am hoping they find something totally unexpected with the LHC.
      • I for one am hoping they find something totally unexpected with the LHC.

        As cool as that would be (and I think it is actually quite likely) I tend to be more impressed by a new observational tool that finds exactly what was predicted then one that is used to "look at new weird stuff". Serendipitous discovery is good, but observational confirmation of what you think you know is the bread and butter of science.

        • by Cadallin (863437)
          Say what? That's ri-damn-diculous. The "bread and butter of science" IS finding things that deviate with our predictions. That's how science progresses, and what makes it different from, and superior to, other methods of learning of about the world. Sure, we do other experiments to see if what learn, and think is true from a new novel result is correct, but that's not the exciting part. That's why those people don't get Nobel Prizes.

          If all we did was poke at things and record how they behave in accor

          • Say what? That's ri-damn-diculous. The "bread and butter of science" IS finding things that deviate with our predictions.

            No, it is not. What distinguishes science from all other endeavors is that we put what we think we know to the test. That we go out of our way to make a new tool to look for the subtle little effect nobody has ever seen that should be there if our understanding is right.

            Finding new and unexpected things is cool -- but it is not science. No science is needed to find stuff you never expected. As a matter of fact it happens all the time to all kinda people.

            Sure, we do other experiments to see if what learn, and think is true from a new novel result is correct, but that's not the exciting part.

            The bread and butter of any endeavor is rarely "

      • I'm pretty sure Fermilab found the Higgs on a few occaisions.

        This sure is a bold assumption. Top-notch scientists work their butts off every day to extract minute deviations from statistics from gazillions of experiments that would point towards the possibility that the Higgs boson is here, but *you* are pretty sure... Care to give your reasons for being that affirmative ?
        • by Joe U (443617)
          It's called a hunch, that's why he said 'pretty sure'. Like *I'm* pretty sure you're acting like a schmuck by putting *'s around words.

  • Like what they used the supercomputer to calculate? I already RTFA, and tried a Google search.
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:02PM (#22607420)

    Supermodel Adds Credence to Standard Computer

    Did Dell get Gisele Bündchen as a spokesmodel or something?

  • From the summary of the TFA (The Flimsy Article):

    (..) however, it excludes the force of gravity, which is its shortcoming.

    Gravity - (arguably) the most important if not strongest force that makes our universe into what it is, given the distances over which it works, and it is NOT included in a theory that's supposed to explain same universe. That's no small shortcoming indeed!

    Maybe I'm naive in this respect, but IMHO the best theories (on any subject matter) are simply the ones that describe what we can observe in real life (aka empirical evidence) with the simplest/smalle

    • by l2718 (514756) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:27PM (#22607538)

      Gravity -- certainly the weakest force -- is completely irrelevant as far as the physics of elementary particles is concerned. In real life there is no way to observe any kind of gravitational interactions on the scales where the other forces are relevant. In particular, if there is physics just beyond the standard model it need not have any connection to gravity. It's true that gravity is relevant on extremely large scales, but for these scales we have perfectly good theories (GR; in fact Newtonian gravity is quite sufficient in almost all cases). You'd have to go to Planck scale before there'll be any guarantee of gravitational effects playing a role.

      This is not to say that a quantum theory including gravity is not an important goal of theoretical physics, it's just to say that so far we have not found any real-life situations where such a theory would be needed, that is when corrections due to quantum gravity would play any role whatsoever. Hopefully the LHC will probe the physics beyond the standard model. The number of orders of magnitude between the energy scales we can actually observe and the quantum gravity energy scale make it extremely unlikely, however, that gravity will be relevant to experimental fundamental physics for many millenia.

      • often contain the most important answers
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kestasjk (933987)

        Gravity -- certainly the weakest force -- is completely irrelevant as far as the physics of elementary particles is concerned.
        Unless you're talking about the big bang, which is what this computation is all about trying to understand.
        • Unless you're talking about the big bang, which is what this computation is all about trying to understand.

          Actually, this computation has nothing to do with the big bang. This a computation is about trying to see whether we can make sufficiently accurate (computer) calculations within QCD (our theory of quarks and elementary particles made from them) to understand particles at ordinary energy scales. This is actually quite hard (for reasons that would be hard to explain here). Making sure QCD correctl

      • I for one am interested in gravity the most! How it can be trillions of times weaker than the other 3 forces raises some very interesting questions. I've seen some put forth the idea that perhaps gravity is so weak because it exists is higher dimensions as well. Or even the possibility that gravity can interact with parallel universes. We may not gain a whole lot as a society by understanding gravity, but I think the very fact it is so strange and we so little about it alone makes me so interested.
    • by lexarius (560925)
      It's been several years since I've taken any physics courses, but I seem to recall that gravity is the weakest of all the forces. At the subatomic scale its effects are negligible compared to the other forces. It makes a large impact in the cosmic scale due to the distance at which it works as well as the large mass of celestial bodies compared to, say, their electromagnetic charge.
      • Well, the difference between gravitation and electromagnetism causing the former to dominate the large-scale structures of the universe is that electric charges of the same sign repell each other, while those of opposite sign attract each other. Therefore bodies tend to get electrically neutral. In gravity OTOH equal masses attract each other (indeed, there probably isn't negative mass at all), which means there's no neutralization. Indeed, by attracting more mass, gravity even increases.
  • the researchers first designed and built a supercomputer that was among the fastest in the world, capable of tens of trillions of calculations per second. The computations themselves have taken a further three years to complete.

    If my own purchases are any indication, three years out the damned thing's now completely outmoded, and a pocket calculator will do the same thing ...

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:05PM (#22607440)
    Rather than "they used a supercomputer to do physics"

    http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/PR_display.asp?prID=08-x5 [bnl.gov]
  • TFA - enjoy... :) (Score:2, Informative)

    by djupedal (584558)
    Supercomputer Confirms Standard Model Theory Of The Universe, Deepens Puzzle

    ScienceDaily (Feb. 29, 2008) -- Scientists have used a supercomputer to shed new light on one of the most important theories of physics, the Standard Model, which encapsulates understanding of all the material that makes up the universe. This 30-year-old theory explains all the known elementary particles and three of the four forces acting upon them - however, it excludes the force of gravity, which is its shortcoming.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:11PM (#22607476) Journal
    "Is the Standard Model correct?"

    I only had to wait a few seconds for the answer: "Reply hazy, try again".

  • Observable phenomenon(s) > Theory.


    I would have to agree. Observations tend to provide "eureka" information that theory might miss or not become main stream for a while. Running models can extol supercomputers to a point - and peer reviews may be a big obstacle to the progress of science in many ways. I hope CERN offers us some groundbreaking material.

    • But without theory, you wouldn't know if what you just measured is a "heureka" or not!
    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:17PM (#22607740) Journal
      Observations tend to provide "eureka" information that theory might miss or not become main stream for a while.

      I completely disagree. It is only when theory and observation both agree that you have a "eureka" moment. For example we have an observation that there is lots of dark energy (not dark matter - that is different) in the universe. However, so far, there is no good theory as to what it is. I don't seem to remember anyone going "Eureka! We have discovered dark energy!". Rather everyone is sitting around scratching their heads and wondering what it is.

      To get a Eureka moment you must have BOTH theory AND experiment in agreement. The SNO experiment is an excellent example. Experiment: not enough electron neutrinos coming from the sun; theory: neutrinos can change flavour from electron to tau or muon so the total flux of neutrinos will be correct; experiment: SNO measured the total neutrino flux and discovered that it agreed with solar model predictions while still seeing a reduced electron neutrino flux. Result: EUREKA! Neutrinos oscillate!

      Conclusion: theory and experiment are both EQUALLY important to advancing science. One without the other may be interesting but not very useful.
    • Hmm, that's funny...
    • > Running models can extol supercomputers to a point

      Uh...what?

  • I always wonder about experiments like this: exactly how certain can we be that the calculations aren't simply producing the theorized result because the calculations assume the theory (directly or indirectly) to begin with?

    It's a subtle point, but I think it's something that should always be double checked. How do we know that our mathematical equations apply in all simulated situations, and that they don't break down under different circumstances? What assumptions are we making about reality, and how su
  • by flyingfsck (986395)
    Deep Thought already gave us the answer.
  • when I first looked at the title I thought it had something to do with CCR.
  • My modest computer adds credence to FSM daily, and it doesn't boast of being super duper, although I think it is.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields

Working...