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Modelbuilding is a fundamental human activity. For our purposes, a
model can be defined as any form of computation that
predicts the behavior of a physical object or phenomenon based
on its initial state and any ``input'' forces. Our first successful
models occurred in our heads [186]. By mentally predicting
future effects of seasonal climate change, for example, we were able
to plan for winter food supplies.
Current theories of human evolution postulate that increased brain
size came about as an adaptation to larger scale climate changes,
including centuries of drought. Mental simulation was later extended by
mathematical simulation, enabling, for example, accurate
prediction of astronomical events and physical phenomena at all
scales. A mathematical physical theory, such as Newton's laws
of motion, gives us a mathematical model that readily predicts the
outcome of any
physical experiment in the real world for which the theory is
applicable. More recently, our brains have been supplemented even
further by computer simulation, enabling formerly intractable
problems to be simulated as well, thereby further extending our
ability to predict. For example, it is now possible to predict even
the weather some days into the future with a useful degree of
accuracy.
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