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'Toy ­niverse' Could Solve Life's Origins


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simulated organisms

Simulated organisms before they are scanned and sent on a rocket journey to an asteroid. From EvoGrid: The Asteroid Eaters.

Credit: DigitalSpace

The EvoGrid envisioned by Bruce Damer and a group of international advisers is a simulation of the primordial soup that they intend to use to gain insights about the development of life on Earth by studying the interaction of virtual particles with specific physical properties. "We will be constructing a model of a 'toy universe,' which has approximate properties of the early oceans on Earth," Damer says.

The EvoGrid would be comprised of a massive virtual ocean of interacting numbers that would simulate the time prior to the emergence of complex organisms, and the program would seek persistent patterns within the data to detect the occurrence of self-organization. The EvoGrid is being devised as an adaptation of GROMACS, an open source molecular dynamics simulator originally developed at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. The simulation is designed to have volunteer computers function as part of an interconnected grid for maximum processing capacity. Damer hopes to eventually have 1 million computers connected to the grid.

Damer imagines two possible versions of the EvoGrid — an Origins version that would run by itself without interference, and an Intelligent Designer version in which people could modify the simulation. Damer speculates that "in its ultimate incarnation, a much more powerful EvoGrid would allow us to pose the question: Where in this universe or others might life exist and at what level of complexity?" He says that eventually the organisms created in the EvoGrid could be replicated chemically, while even further out might be the generation of cyber-physical life forms used for terraforming or space colonization achieved through the pairing of more advanced EvoGrids and "ChemoGrids."

From Space.com
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