Roboticists Unlock the Key to Automating Physics Discovery

Roboticists discover alternative physics
Energy, mass, velocity. This equation E=MC2 is made up of these three variables. How did Einstein come to know these concepts? To understand physics, it is important to identify relevant variables. Even Einstein would not have been able to discover relativity without the concepts of energy, mass and velocity. Can such variables be automatically discovered? This could speed up scientific discoveries.

Researchers at Columbia Engineering asked this question to a newly developed AI program. The program was created to analyze physical phenomena using a video camera and then search for the minimum set of fundamental variables to fully describe observed dynamics. The study was published in Nature Computational Science on July 25, 2009.

Researchers began by feeding raw video footage for phenomena that they already understood. They fed the video of a double pendulum swinging, which had four variables: the angle and angular speed of each arm. After a few analysis hours, the AI came up with the answer: 4.7%.


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