The colored lines represent calculated particle tracks from particle collisions occurring within Brookhaven National Laboratory's STAR detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, and an illustration of a digital brain. The yellow-red glow at center shows a hydrodynamic simulation of quark-gluon plasma created in particle collisions.
Computers can beat chess champions, simulate star explosions, and forecast global climate. They are also being trained as infallible problem-solvers and fast learners. And now, physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and their collaborators have demonstrated that computers are ready to tackle the universe's greatest mysteries. The team used thousands of images from simulated high-energy particle collisions to train computer networks to identify important features. The researchers programmed powerful arrays known as neural networks to serve as a sort of hive-like digital brain in analyzing and interpreting the images of the simulated particle debris left over from the collisions.