Cosmology@Home is being developed by my group at the University of Illinois to enable participants to contribute actively to front-line research in precision cosmology by donating their CPU time.
The goal of Cosmology@Home is to search for the model that best describes our Universe and to find the range of models that agree with the available astronomical and particle physics data. In order to achieve this goal, participants in Cosmology@Home (i.e. you!) will compute the observable predictions of millions of theoretical models with different parameter combinations. We will use the results of your computations to compare all the available data with these models. In addition, the results from Cosmology@Home can help design future cosmological observations and experiments, and prepare for the analysis of future data sets, e.g. from the Planck spacecraft.
Each work package simulates a Universe with a particular geometry,
particle content, and "physics of the beginning." It produces
predictions of the observable properties of the Universe which we can
then compare to:
1) the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (observed from space by the WMAP and soon the Planck spacecraft, as well as from ground based and balloon based experiments),
2) the large scale distribution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies,
3) measurements of the current expansion speed of the Universe by the Hubble space telescope,
4) the acceleration of the Universe as measured by observations of supernova explosions,
5) observations of primordial element abundances in distant gas clumps, and
6) gravitational lensing data, when it becomes available.
Our research group is involved in several areas of theoretical and phenomenological cosmology: the earliest instants of time, when the Universe formed, the cosmic microwave background, the cosmic dark ages, structure formation, dark matter and dark energy as well as the development and adaptation of mathematics, statistics and computation to advance the state of cosmology. We expect that we will eventually be offering several kinds of computations to participate in. All of these computations will contribute directly to forefront research projects in cosmology the Wandelt group in the Physics and Astronomy departments of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that my group and I have been floored by the level of community enthusiasm we have received as a result of Cosmology@Home. This made us realize the potential of Cosmology@Home as a way to connect our research group with people who are enthusiastic (or at least curious!) about cosmology, astrophysics and computing in the world at large. So I think it is appropriate to set ourselves an additional goal for Cosmology@Home: beyond being an opportunity for active public participation in our research program C@H should also provide the opportunity for everyone to help understand the exciting research they are contributing to.
As a further incentive for people to participate we are considering offering the Cosmology@Home Prize for the owner of the computer that calculated the model that best fits the data as of the 31st of December 2009. We will acknowledge you by your real name in one of our research publications (of course, only if you grant us permission to use your name - if you will not, we will pass the prize on to the contributor of the second best model and so on). Please let us know if this sounds like an attractive idea to you.
We are looking forward to your feedback on this and all other aspects of the project. Do not hesitate to contact us, either by e-mail or using the message boards related to Cosmology@Home.
All the best,