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Scidac Visualizations Bring Science to the Senses

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convective flow visualization

The "Visualization of Convective Flow with Integral Surfaces" by the University of California, Davis, tied for third place in the visualization competition.

Credit: University of California Davis

Expressed as raw data, a simulation performed on a supercomputer would appear as a formless sea of trillion-floating-operations-per-second calculations. When the visualization researchers do their work, however, the results are often as colorful and captivating as they are revealing.

Recently researchers from the computational science community gathered at the annual Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing Program (SciDAC) conference in Chattanooga, TN. SciDAC, a program under the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, brings together the nation's top researchers to tackle challenging scientific problems by advancing computational science and developing the tool necessary to enable the use of high-performance computers of the day, as well as those envisioned in the next decade.

The SciDAC 2010 conference, hosted by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, included a visualization competition in addition to four days of presentations, poster sessions and informal networking. Attendees brought their best scientific visualizations from simulations run on high-performance computers such as those located at the DOE Leadership Computing Facilities at the Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

A clip, titled "Verification Study of Buoyancy-Driven Turbulent Nuclear Combustion for Three Different Physical Situations," a simulation of the combustion processes inside type 1a supernovae, was judged the conference favorite. View a video of the Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago Flash Center product.

Other "Viz Night" winners included animations of merging galaxies, the interiors of fusion reactors, shattering projectiles and energy moving through a particle accelerator—all illustrating the range of sciences supported by the SciDAC program.

Here are some of the animations from the Viz Night top ten (some clips may take time to load):

A visualization of a binary galaxy cluster merger from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the University of Chicago placed second.

A visualization of "Convective Flow with Integral Surfaces" from the University of California, Davis tied for third place.

The other third-place finisher was "Evolution of a Galaxy Cluster in Adaptive Mesh Refinement Cosmological Simulations" from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Michigan State University, and the University of California, San Diego.

An ORNL animation of the plasma inside the proposed ITER experimental fusion reactor came in fifth.

Another supernova simulation, "Type Ia Supernova: Turbulent Combustion on the Grandest Scale," from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Santa Cruz, tied for sixth place.

The other sixth-place animation was from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Colorado at Boulder, titled "Particle Bed Dynamics in a Fluidized Bed Reactor."

A "Hurricane Season" movie from Berkeley Lab tied for eighth place.

Finishing the top ten were the SLAC National Accelerator Facility and Sandia National Laboratories, with "Electromagnetic Wake in an Energy Recovery Linac Vacuum Chamber with Moving Simulation Window."

A listing all 10 winners is available as a PDF file.


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