Data visualization could reveal nature of the universe

Data visualization could reveal nature of the universe
A visualization showing predictions of what patterns of cosmic microwave background – radiation left over from the Big Bang – would look like in different universes, with the patterns of our own universe depicted in a single point. Credit: Cornell University

As cosmologists ponder the universe—and other possible universes—the data available to them is so complex and vast that it can be extremely challenging for humans alone to comprehend.

In applying scientific principles used to create models for understanding cell biology and physics to the challenges of cosmology and , Cornell researchers have developed a promising algorithm to map a multifaceted set of probabilities.

The new method, which researchers have used to visualize models of the , could help solve some of physics' greatest mysteries, such as the nature of or the likely characteristics of other universes.

"Science works because things behave much more simply than they have any right to," said James Sethna, professor of physics and senior author of "Visualizing Probabilistic Models With Intensive Principal Component Analysis," which published online June 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Very complicated things end up doing rather simple collective behavior."

That, he said, is because not every factor in a system is significant. For example, millions of atoms may be involved in a physical collision, but their behavior is determined by a relatively small number of constants. Data about the universe collected by powerful telescopes, however, has so many parameters it can be challenging for researchers to figure out which measurements are most important to reveal insights.

The algorithm—developed by first author Katherine Quinn, M.S. '16, Ph.D. '19—allows researchers to image a large set of probabilities to look for patterns or other information that might be useful—and provides them with better intuition for understanding complex models and data.

"As we have much bigger and better datasets, with terabytes and terabytes of information, it becomes more and more difficult to actually make sense of them," Quinn said. "A person can't just sit down and do it. We need better algorithms that can extract what we're interested in, without being told what to look for. We can't just say, 'Look for interesting universes.' This algorithm is a way of untangling information in a way that can reveal the interesting structure of the data."

Further complicating the researchers' task was the fact that the data consists of ranges of probabilities, rather than raw images or numbers. "It's a trickier problem to handle," Quinn said.

Their solution takes advantage of different properties of probability distributions to visualize a collection of things that could happen. In addition to cosmology, their model has applications to machine learning and statistical physics, which also work in terms of predictions.

To test the algorithm, the researchers used data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite, and studied it with co-author Michael Niemack, associate professor of physics, whose lab develops instruments to study the formation and evolution of the universe by measuring microwave radiation. They applied the model to data on the cosmic microwave background—radiation left over from the universe's earliest days.

The model produced a map depicting possible characteristics of different universes, of which our own universe is one point. This new method of visualizing the qualities of our universe highlights the hierarchical structure of the dark energy and dark matter dominated model that fits the data so well. While the structure isn't surprising, these visualizations present a promising approach for optimizing cosmological measurements in the future, Niemack said.

Next, the researchers will try to expand this approach to allow for more parameters for each data point. Mapping such data could reveal new information about our universe, other possible universes or dark energy—which appears to be the dominant form of energy in our universe but about which physicists still know little.

"We use only crude models to explain what dark energy could be, or how it could be evolving with time," Niemack said. "There are a whole slew of different parameters that could be added to the models, and then we could visualize those and decide which are the important measurements to prioritize, to try to understand which model of dark energy best describes our universe."


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More information: Katherine N. Quinn et al, Visualizing probabilistic models and data with Intensive Principal Component Analysis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1817218116
Provided by Cornell University
Citation: Data visualization could reveal nature of the universe (2019, June 25) retrieved 23 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-visualization-reveal-nature-universe.html
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Jun 25, 2019
If I'm to agree with the proposal that this visualization technique could 'solve' (whatever that means) the mystery of DM, I'd like to see it converge on a solution to a problem that has already been unravelled: the particle zoo. Specifically, could you take all the 50's and 60's cloud-chamber and bubble-chamber etc. photographs and come up with the Standard Model?

Jun 25, 2019
"The algorithm—developed by first author Katherine Quinn, M.S. '16, Ph.D. '19—allows researchers to image a large set of probabilities to look for patterns or other information that might be useful—"


Somehow, this reminds me of the 'probabilistic' method to predict the half-life of the Free Neutron decay - and the above quote is just another sample of a guesstimate method of probability of the unknown or unknowable. I suppose that the 'patterns' and 'other information' will be found useful in lieu of the Actuality of the matter, for Probabilities are deemed just as good, at least until something better comes along.
Dark Matter and Dark Energy will also suffice, at least until something better comes along. But in the meantime, all must bend a knee in homage without reservation, as what is written and has been taught about DM and DE, it is sacrosanct and immutable.

There are many things that are not permitted to be discovered by humans. This is the Law.

Jun 25, 2019
There are many things that are not permitted to be discovered by humans. This is the Law.
Perhaps it is not about permission, but about discoverability. Perhaps there are some hard-core elements of Navier-Stokes phenomena that are mathematically irreducible.

Jun 25, 2019
If we believe that our World has started sometimes ago we are still in the position to decide which hypothesis, Lemaître's or Gamow's was closer to reality. There is an opinion that the problems in the standard cosmology could be solved by adjusting of details. Our suggestion is that we have to go back to the conceptions and use the observations accumulated since.
https://www.acade...osmology

Jun 25, 2019
There are many things that are not permitted to be discovered by humans. This is the Law.

The Law of Inexorable Ignorance.

Jun 25, 2019
There are many things that are not permitted to be discovered by humans. This is the Law.
Perhaps it is not about permission, but about discoverability. Perhaps there are some hard-core elements of Navier-Stokes phenomena that are mathematically irreducible.
says danR

Both. There must always be something to wonder about - the mystery that seems unsolvable and the whole process of coming to a conclusion or simply a consensus.
Humans and all other sentient, intelligent beings are given the tools to solve the puzzles/mysteries of the Cosmos. It is a game of Cosmic proportions. There is no known result of the game itself, nor if there is to be a winner. But it is the game that is the important thing.

Jun 25, 2019
General Theory of Relativity is a four dimensional theory. How can this be visualized for eyes and brains that only see three dimensions? If we look at the full theory as taught in a book like MTW's Gravitation we find that it is GR is a system of sixteen non-linear partial differential equations that cannot be solved and must be evaluated numerically or dynamics plots like stable manifold theory allow plots of derivatives vs. other derivatives or variables and under certain linearization criteria; still get things that the human eye cannot visualize. I do not see this visualization is showing us anything about the actual reality but the more like reality that the visualizer would like to see. Now we have far afield from actual reality. Mankind will never live on another planet; nor will we travel to the stars.

It is much more important we need to learn to live with each other, stop killing, stop destroying the blue jewel we call home. It is the only one we will ever get.

Jun 25, 2019
So yuo think humans are too stupid to figure it out?

OK.

Jun 26, 2019
General Theory of Relativity is a four dimensional theory. How can this be visualized for eyes and brains that only see three dimensions? If we look at the full theory as taught in a book like MTW's Gravitation we find that it is GR is a system of ..... and under certain linearization criteria; still get things that the human eye cannot visualize. I do not see this visualization is showing us anything about the actual reality but the more like reality that the visualizer would like to see. ..Mankind will never live on another planet; nor will we travel to the stars.

It is much more important we need to learn to live with each other, stop killing, stop destroying the blue jewel we call home. It is the only one we will ever get.


Knowing the human animal, that is unlikely to happen. Violence, bias, hate are too ingrained that is more of a congenital disease. Blatant.
The first 3 dimensions are spatial. The 4th dimension is of the MIND. Remember that.

Jun 26, 2019
Knowing the human animal, that is unlikely to happen. Violence, bias, hate are too ingrained that is more of a congenital disease. Blatant.
The first 3 dimensions are spatial. The 4th dimension is of the MIND. Remember that.


Literally for every negative you can assign to humanity, you can assign a positive. The fact that we exist in a condition where we can have this conversation over this medium probably suggests that the positives out weigh the negatives, at least a little, for now. Focusing on what you perceive to be the negative aspects of humanity doesn't get you any closer to fact than focusing on what you perceive to be the positive aspects, and it sure as hell doesn't help the general moral of the species.

Furthermore, saying those specific attributes you mentioned are too ingrained is probably wrong too. All are learned behaviors that propagated and reinforced by the social context, not something that spontaneously emerges from the individual in most cases.

Jun 26, 2019
Can I spell "pattern recognition"? Sure I can.
Training computers to train other computers in pattern recognition, hmmm. Could work.
Not because computers would be more perceptive than humans, but because computers would actually see only what is there.
And that could make all the difference.

Jun 27, 2019
Furthermore, saying those specific attributes you mentioned are too ingrained is probably wrong too. All are learned behaviors that propagated and reinforced by the social context, not something that spontaneously emerges from the individual in most cases.
say TT

That which is learnt can be unlearned unless it is too ingrained by the strong influence of other humans. Individualism can go either wrong or the right way. But most often, influence by others isn't always easily deflected and the right way is soon rejected and forgotten. We see it happening on a daily basis. Of course there are also good people, but they too are in danger.

Jun 27, 2019
General Theory of Relativity is a four dimensional theory. How can this be visualized for eyes and brains that only see three dimensions? ...

Funny that you say that, as we learn all about other dimensions 2 dimensionally...

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