Visualization of an astrophysics simulation to discover the mechanism behind the violent death of short-lived, massive stars. (Image: Hongfeng Yu via Flickr)
Capturing complex visualizations, such as the above Dali-esque rendering of a supernova, don’t just produce pretty pictures ideal for desktop wallpapers. They also allow scientists to see simulations of complex physical, chemical and biological phenomena. Unfortunately generating the quadrillions of data points required for visualizations of everything from supernovas to protein structures is quickly overwhelming current computing capabilities. So scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are exploring ways to speed up the process using a technique called software-based parallel volume rendering.