Magic Matter, the Computational Æther, and the Miner’s Canary
Misner, Charles W
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Several viewpoints are proposed with the aim of promoting further approaches to the numerical integration of Einstein's equations, especially its support of attempts to detect astrophysically significant gravitational waves. Magic Matter suggests that one should instruct computer programs to ignore Einstein's equations inside the horizons of black holes, and to instead to produce computationally convenient metrics there that will not interfere with the correct solution of the equations in the physically observable regions of the simulation. The Computational Æther is the spatial grid of coordinate vertices, conceived as an imaginary substance which spreads itself conveniently over the curved space-time in ways that should simplify the computational effort. The dynamics of magic matter and the computational æther represent instances of Applied Science Fiction, where physical laws inconsistent with our knowledge of nature are used in aspects of simulations that have no observable consequences, but are expected to improve computational efficiency. The Miner’s Canary gives notice in such computations, not that the air in the mine is becoming poisoned, but that some regions of the computational grid probably lie inside apparent horizons so that one may take liberties with the Einstein equations to preserve the life of the computation. Satisfactory implementations of these three ideas are not provided here; rather some first steps toward such are proposed to stimulate further research.