“Making Of..” Behind the Scenes Mini-Documentaries

We are often asked about the science behind our visualizations, and about the visualizations themselves.


Seeing the Beginning of Time – Science Featurette

Josh Frieman, Director of the Dark Energy Survey, describes the promise that large scale surveys of the universe hold for understanding the hidden dynamic of the cosmos, including the identity and influence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. He wonders whether Albert Einstein really had it right.


Solar Superstorms – Science Featurette

Robert Stein, Michigan State University describes how he got interested in stars and used computing to uncover the secrets of our sun.


Super Tornado – Science Featurette

Dr. Leigh Orf, a scientist from the University of Wisconsin, tells us how he designed the most detailed supercomputer models of a tornadic thunderstorm ever produced.


Supercomputing ‘17 Visualization Showcase Selections

Two visualizations created for the CADENS documentary “Seeing The Beginning of Time”, have been selected for inclusion in the Supercomputing ‘17 Scientific Visualization Showcase. The showcase provides a forum for the year’s most instrumental movies in HPC. During the conference, held November 12-17, 2017, six finalists will compete for the Best Visualization Award, and each finalist will present his or her movie during a dedicated session at SC17 in a 15-minute presentation. Movies are judged based on how their movie illuminates science, by the quality of the movie, and for innovations in the process used for creating the movie.

First Light In Renaissance Simulations

This two-part visualization by the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications starts shortly after the Big Bang, and shows the evolution of the first galaxies in the universe over the first 400 million years, in increments of about 4 million years. The second part of the visualization stops time at the 400 million year mark, and flies the viewer through the data, breaking down the different variables that are being visualized - filaments of dense gas, pockets of elevated temperature, ionized gas, and ultraviolet light.

Milky Way Analogue Isolated Disk Galaxy

This visualization by the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications shows the evolution of a simulated analogue for the Milky Way galaxy over the course of 50 million years.


GODAN Summit – Science Featurette

Can supercomputers and visualization help solve the global food crisis?

The first ever Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit took place in New York in September 2016 with one major goal—to craft open data-driven solutions in the face of rising world hunger.

AJ Christensen, a presenter and a visualization programmer at NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Laboratory and Amy Marshall-Colón, an assistant professor of Plant Biology and NCSA Faculty Affiliate at the University of Illinois, presented a NCSA-produced mini-documentary during their time at the conference:

According to the UN, by 2050 the world will need a projected 70-100 percent more food, and farmers have already plowed much of the productive land on Earth. Global yields need to be increased in innovative ways—and GODAN wants to gather all the necessary supplies for that innovation in an open space.

“NCSA helps a variety of research areas experiment in digital environments. These virtual laboratories have a track record of converging disparate models and data into innovation,” said Christensen. “Visualization is a key component to an open data culture. It helps people digest key data points faster, and can reveal more.”

“We can use computer models to predict ways in which we can help plants improve yield and better use resources, but we are limited by access to global agriculture data,” Marshall-Colón said. “Open access to data will improve our current models and help achieve our goal of improve plant genetics.”

The idea is similar to NOAA’s weather database, although another example has already been started in crop sciences with the University of Illinois’ Crops in silico project—which both NCSA-affiliated presenters are part of, and Marshall-Colón co-leads. The project focuses on the U.S., and it’s highlighted in the micro-documentary.