Stephen Hawking to Unlock Secrets of Big Bang and Black Holes With Supercomputer

stephen hawking big bang map universe
Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during an event at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. Hawking wants to map the universe in order to better understand its origin Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Stephen Hawking hopes to reveal secrets of black holes and better understand the origin of the universe with a new supercomputer capable of trawling through 14 billion years worth of data.

The eminent physicist's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (COSMOS) announced a partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) that will leverage computing power to search for clues about the Big Bang hiding in massive data sets.

"The influx of new data about the most extreme events in our universe has led to dramatic progress in cosmology and relativity," said Professor Paul Shellard, head of the COSMOS group, in an emailed statement to Newsweek.

"In a fast-moving field we have the two-fold challenge of analyzing larger data sets while matching their increasing precision with our theoretical models. In-memory computing allows is to ingest all of this data and act on it immediately… [equipping] us with a powerful tool to probe the big questions about the origin of the universe."

Hawking founded the COSMOS supercomputer facility in 1997 in order to support research in particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. The Cambridge professor has previously stated his ambition of using vast computing power to find an "ultimate theory," which in principle would enable scientists to predict "everything in the universe."

Part of reaching this ultimate theory involves creating a detailed 3D map of the early universe, plotting the positions of galaxies, black holes and supernovas.

The compute power that's capable of mapping the universe—ready for business.

— HPE (@HPE) November 28, 2017

"Our COSMOS group is working to understand how space and time work, from before the first trillion trillionth of a second after the Big Bang up to today," said Professor Hawking.

"The recent discovery of gravitational waves offers amazing insights about black holes and the whole Universe. With exciting new data like this, we need flexible and powerful computer systems to keep ahead so we can test our theories and explore new concepts in fundamental physics."

Professor Stephen Hawking in his office Sarah Lee/eyevine

The HPE Superdome Flex in-memory computing platform will be used in tandem with an HPE Apollo supercomputer to enable COSMOS to address cosmological theory with data from the known universe. It will also draw from data from new sources, such as gravitational waves.

"The in-memory computing capability of HPE Superdome Flex is uniquely suited to meet the needs of the COSMOS research group," said Randy Meyer, a vice president at HPE. "The platform will enable the research team to analyze huge data sets and in real time. This means they will be able to find answers faster."