If you are part of a scientific project, chances are you work in a “lab”, one of these strange places where scientists are locked in to keep them away from regular people. Now, there are two types of labs, the first category is the one most people think of, with fancy doomsday devices or people in white coats mixing colorful liquids.
But in fact, most labs fall into the second category, where the first and foremost working tool is computers (let’s not even speak about pure theoretical research, which basically involves a white board, a marker and hours of pacing back and forth in a corridor). Computers are essential to, well… compute, and especially carry out simulations. Though they will never replace a well-prepared experiment, simulations allow us to explore many scenarios and tweak all the parameters in order to get a hold on an optimal situation. The SCRAP team doesn’t escape that rule, and while our members in the basement are busy exploding stuff and trying to make the building collapse, the other half of the team is
playing video games programming.
Particle charging, gas dynamics of a cloud expanding into vacuum, electron density fluctuations, all these processes can’t be tested in our lab so we have to rely on what the simulations tell us and make sure the models we use are accurate enough.
Will the simulation group get its final results before the testing group? The race is on.