Theoretical physics are complicated and that is its reputation. If we can write down the natural laws in mathematical form, it means the laws are simple. This is quite different from other scientific disciplines. Sadly, solving the equations is not always simple. For instance, we have a nice theory that describes the elementary particles known as gluons and quarks, but no one is able to calculate how they can go together to create a proton. So, not all the methods we know can solve the equations. The case is the same when we talk about black holes or the flow of the mountain stream. It is quite simple to describe but it is difficult to explain the things happen.
Of course, physicists have been working to the limits to find the new mathematical strategies. But, recently there is no more sophisticated math. What we have is computing power. The first math software was available in the 1980s. It could not do many things, just to help someone searched through enormous printed lists of solved integrals. But, physicists had computers at their fingertips so they are no longer had to solve the integrals, they even could plot the solution.
Even many physicists could not go with this “just plot it” approach in the 1990s. At that time, many physicists were not trained in computer analysis. Even they could not tell the physical effects of coding the artifacts. Therefore, it can be the reason why many seminars in which are result was degraded as a numeral. Over the past two decades, this attitude has shifted. Coding becomes the natural extension for physicists.
Theoretical physics have many sub-disciplines now, especially about computer simulations of the real-world system. Computer simulations are what we use today to study the formation of galaxies and the supergalactic structures. Also, we use it to calculate the masses of particles made of several quarks. We need it to understand the solar circles and others.
The next step that shows the shift from purely mathematical modeling is on its way. Now, physicists have custom design laboratory systems that stand in for other systems for better understand. They have simulated system to observe in their lab to draw any conclusion and make a prediction.
‘Quantum Simulations’ become the best example of the system. The systems offer interacting composite objects such as clouds of atoms. Physicists then manipulate the interaction among the objects to the system to build an interaction among the more fundamental particles.
Let us talk about the circuit quantum electrodynamics. When researchers stimulate atoms, they use tiny superconducting circuits. They then study how artificial atoms interact with photons. Other than that, physicists settled the debate over whether Higgs-like particles can exist in two dimensions of the space by using a superfluid of ultra-cold atoms.
So, the simulations are useful to overcome the mathematical challenges in theories we already know. We can use them so we can explore the new theories we have never been studied before.
One of the research areas we have no good theory in it is about quantum behavior of the space and time. Based on the recent experiment, a physicist at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Raymond Laflamme, worked together with his group. They used a quantum simulation to study spin networks, structures that constitute the fundamental fabric of space-time, according to some theories. Also, there is Gia Dvali, a physicist at the University of Munich proposed a way to stimulate the information processing of black holes with ultracold atom gases.
In the field of analog gravity, the physicists run a similar idea. They then use fluids to mimic the behavior of particles in the gravitational fields. Also, they studied about the rapid expansion of the universe, known as “inflation” by using fluid analogs for gravity.
Additionally, physicists have observed stand-ins known as quasiparticles to study hypothetical fundamental particles. The quasiparticle behaves like fundamental particles but they emerge from the collective movement of other particles. By understanding their properties, they can learn more about their behavior. This way may help us to find ways of observing the real thing.
But, there are some big questions to deal with. First, if we can stimulate what we now believe to be fundamental through composite quasiparticles, then what we think of as fundamental at this time – space and time and 25 particles to make up the Standard Model of particle physics – is made up of an underlying structure, too. Also, something that makes us wonder is how we can explain the behavior of a system. How can we use a simplified version of a system to observe, measure, and make a prediction?
What makes this development sounds interesting is that it ultimately changes how we do in physics. Quantum simulations allow the mathematical models to have its secondary relevance. Currently, physicists are using the math to identify a suitable system since math tells us the properties to look for. But that is not necessary. By the time, experimentalists may learn the system maps to which other systems. One day, they are doing more than just calculations, but they may use observations of simplified systems to create predictions.
In the end, building a simplified model of a system in the laboratory is not quite different from what physicists have been working for centuries. They write down the simplified models of physical systems in the form of Mathematics.