Neutrino experiment may help explain origin of universe

Scientists may be one step closer to solving some of the biggest mysteries of the universe as a neutrino experiment in southern China returned promising results.

A team from China’s National Supercomputer Centre in Guangzhou using the world’s fastest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, have completed a simulation involving three trillion neutrinos and dark matter particles, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

Zhang Tongjie of Beijing Normal University and lead researcher of the project has described a “video” simulating the elongated evolution of the universe, produced thanks to Tianhe-2, which worked like a “high-speed camera with extremely high definition”.

The supercomputer “opened a new door” to the study of neutrinos, which could greatly expedite understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe, Zhang said.

Neutrinos are sometimes known as “ghost particles” because they interact very weakly with other forms of matter. They are among the most abundant — and least understood — fundamental particles. To figure out how they work, their mass must be established, but this has never been done accurately.

“At this moment, Tianhe-2 is the only supercomputer capable of conducting such an experiment,” he said.

Tianhe-2, which literally means “Milky Way-2”, took the top spot on a 2013 list of supercomputers. It is able to operate at 33.86 petaflops per second.

Tianhe-2 could hold the world’s fastest supercomputer title till 2018, when the US is expected unveil two supercomputers three to five times faster than the Chinese system, at a cost of $325 million.

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