Using some of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet, the fine folks at Argonne National Lab have constructed a virtual model of the universe that tracks 1.1 trillion particles as they expand and bind. The achievement is four times larger than previous simulations.
The project, called the Hardware/Hybrid Accelerated Cosmology Code (HACC), is an effort to use supercomputers to model the physics of mass in an expanding universe. This type of work could eventually yield important insights into the nature of dark matter, the enigmatic substance that composes about 25% of the cosmos. And who knows — perhaps powerful simulations like these will eventually shed light on whether or not we ourselves live in a simulation.