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Videogames and Exoplanets

8 Jun 2011, 17:08 UTC
Videogames and Exoplanets
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So you've just heard that planets are more numerous than stars. That discovery is already mind-blowing by itself. But even more fascinating is how the exogasmic discovery was made. Dig deeper into the technology behind Gravitational Microlensing and you’ll find out something even more fascinating: A graphics card originally intended for videogames was used to discover the rogue planets!

A member of the astrophysics team named Joe Ling has turned his love of computer games into a way of discovering the floating planets in our galaxy. He took a $400 gaming graphics card and wired it into the team's computer, which sped up the process known as microlensing modelling.

Without the gaming card it would take hundreds of computers and cost thousands of dollars, and/or it would take one month to complete processing on a normal desktop computer. But with the graphics processing unit inside the gaming card it only takes six hours.

It's no wonder that I've found great joy in immersing myself into the virtual worlds of videogames ever more. And I often found myself realizing that there is no difference between the "virtual" and the "real". The intersection of Videogames and Exoplanet Science is just one ...

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