Pretty Porous

Why do we use simulations?

Simulations are an important tool for many disciplines. Whether it is meteorology, medicine, mechanical engineering, physics and chemistry, forestry and agriculture, sports science, environmental technology, engineering science or materials research – progress today is hardly conceivable without simulations. However, simulations do not only play an important role in science and technology, but are also becoming increasingly important in business, politics and the social sciences.

Simulations are used when…

… a system is very large or very small.
Due to the size of the universe, experiments can often only be carried out at great expense. Simulations are also often used on a small scale – in the field of atoms and molecules. 

…experiments are too expensive.
Real tests, for example on the behaviour of machines, are very expensive and time-consuming. Crash test simulations save resources and a lot of effort, because in reality fewer cars have to be destroyed.

…experiments are too dangerous.
Some experiments are far too dangerous in reality. These include, for example, experiments on core meltdown or on processes in our environment such as the storage of CO2 in the soil, so-called CO2 sequestration.

…experiments are ethically unacceptable.
In some areas, experiments are prohibited for ethical reasons, for example in medicine or because they endanger others. This is why pilots in their training first train virtually on flight simulators before they actually fly.

… the system does not yet exist in reality.
Simulations also provide predictions about systems that do not yet exist. For example, the properties of new materials can be simulated before they are produced in the laboratory.

… processes run very fast or slow.
For example, when galaxies form or die, it takes many millions of years. The explosion of a supernova, on the other hand, happen very quickly. In computer simulation, you can virtually adjust the time.