Monday, May 30, 2005

The Visualization of Astrophysical Data

Wednesday-Friday of last week we hosted a Visualization of Astrophysical Data workshop at KICP and Adler. I had hoped to blog each night, but I was spent after the long days. Anyway I've rested up this weekend and can start filling you in. The workshop went really well, all the feedback I've gotten has been glowing. We had an interesting mix of people: scientists, graphics people, programmers, museum people and educators (with most people fitting in at least 3 of those catagories).

Some of the highlights:
Andrew Hamilton from the University of Colorado showed off his Black Hole Flight Simulator - really cool. Everyone always asks what goes on inside a black hole, and now you can find out. When you fly through a charged black hole (we don't expect black holes to be charged, but charged black holes behave very much like rotating black holes - and we do expect black holes to be rotating) then after you pass through the event horizon you pass through a wormhole out a white hole and into another universe -wild stuff. As you fall into the black hole you pass through a point where light has piled up, and you can view the entire history of the universe in one blinding flash (Andrew put a cool shimmering visual effert here). Creating the simulator presented some serious viz challenges. OpenGL, DirextX, or whatever, all assume that we are in Euclidian space. To create the BHFS, Andrew has to do the general relativistic ray tracing at each time step. When he was at the Univerity of Chicago six months ago, the simulator kept crashing his laptop-- now he had this giant AlienWare laptop and it ran really smoothly.

Mark Whittle presented his work on Big Bang Acoustics. All the structure in the universe was started by sound waves in the aftermath of the Big Bang. Mark has transcribed those sounds up 50 octaves so that they are in the range of human hearing. Check out his site to hear them.

Curtis Wong from Microsoft gave an insightfull talk on the role of context and narrative. He has always been interested in doing a project on Astronomy, so hopefully the workshop gave him some ideas. One thing he showed which impressed everybody was the Leonardo da Vinci CDRom he worked on at Corbis. It is currently out of print, copies are going for more than $100 on eBay.

Frank Summers talked about Scientific Visualization using Hollywood tools. He told us how he used Maya and Shake to create an IMAX short for the Space Telescope Science Institute.

John Dubinski was inspired by our GeoWall demonstration and rendered out a version of his Milky Way Andromeda collision simulation in stereo. At the end of the day Thursday we hung out in Adler's 3D theater and watched it. John seemed really convinced about the value of watching the animations stereoscopically.

Chris Mihos showed some of his viz work on galaxy collisions. One thing that I really like, and we talked about adapting for Adler, is his Galaxy Crash applet. He also shared an anecdote where the viz led to new scienific understanding (the offset of gas and stars in interacting galaxies). We all decided that collecting these anecdotes is important since much of the scientific community still is not convinced of the value of visualization.

Well there were many more highlights, but I'll stop here for now. I'm helping with putting together the website for the workshop, and one thing I plan to include is a videocast with some of the clips that have been donated. I'll blog again when it's up.

5 Comments:

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At 7:35 AM, Blogger hypnosis said...

Visualization is a tool that has been used for thousands of years by initiates of all the metaphysical schools. Today, it is incorporated into top athlete's daily routines and is used in business affairs frequently. It's use is wide-spread among highly successful people, either consciously or unconsciously, aware of its create power. So if it has stood the test of time and is still being used by high achievers we must come to the conclusion that it works! But has it ever worked for you?

If you answered 'yes' to the above question then you know how powerful this technique can be. If, on the other hand, you gave the more likely answer 'no' then take heart for I am about to reveal to you a sure fire way of reaching your objectives through this mostly misunderstood art.

The trouble with visualization is simple - its in its name!

When studying and contemplating the art of visualization most people have the impression that they must create visual images and make them real or life-like. Many people, in fact the majority, find this almost impossible to do. Even if they can formulate a solid picture of their objective they find it extremely difficult to sustain the image for any length of time. Either the image fades, changes or other intruding thoughts intervene.

This type of visualization is almost impossible to sustain and luckily it is not at all necessary. Why? Because it is in the subconscious mind that your visualization needs to be placed and there is good news. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between an imaginary event and a real one. Your visual image only needs to be a strong visually as any other imagined event. However, that is only half the story.

If all you had to do was just imagine stuff and your world automatically changed to reflect your imaginings this world would be full of chaos (not to mention all those creepy crawly bug-eyed monsters!). Therefore, there are a few more steps to complete before the visualization is passed to the subconscious for manifestation.

Let's try a little experiment. Remember a scene from your past that has a lot of good feelings around it. Any good memory will do, like the first time you heard the words "I love you" from your partner, an amazingly spectacular sunset, a great holiday event or your last birthday. Pick one and remember it. How clear is the image? Can you remember any sounds? What way did you feel? Is there any sense of touch, taste or smell? Identify how your memory works. Is it mostly visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or of a feeling nature?

Now we are going to create an imagined event in our lives that has the same strength and potency as that image. So relax and let's go.

Imagine something that you do everyday, something that you did yesterday, today and will do tomorrow. Let us take the example of waking up tomorrow morning. Don't try to add or take anything away, just think about it and analyse the scene. Is it dark or light? Are you lying next to someone in bed? Do you still feel tired? Has the alarm clock sounded? Are you irritable that you have to get up or full of joy at the dawn of a new day?

You will find that the imagined event is very similar to the memory with probably one key difference - your point of perspective. Is the memory behind you and the future event in front of you? Is one to the left and one to the right? Maybe they are both in front of you or the future seems to move in a clockwise direction. Whatever the perspective the thing to notice is that they are very similar in appearance.

Now imagine doing your future event a week from now, then a month from now, then six months from now. Where are those images placed? Are they moving further away, going clockwise, from left to right? This is your time-line and using it is important in visualization as you will see later.

Ok, let's imagine something that is very unlikely to happen and see where it differs from the last image.

Imagine you are sitting somewhere familiar which is extremely comfortable and relaxing to you. Now imagine that a person you know well comes up to where you are and says "hello". Imagine them telling you that they want to show you a new trick. All of a sudden they have three juggling balls. They throw them in the air and begin to juggle with ease. Then they begin to whistle one of your favourite tunes. You suddenly realize that there is a strong smell of flowers in the room and notice a vase of them just behind the juggler. Imagine laughing loudly at the scene and feeling joyful at the experience. Then the person juggling leans forward stands on leg and puts the other leg outstretched behind them. All the while still juggling and whistling. Then they begin to hop on their leg as a small bird flies over to perch on their head. Once you have the imagined event and stayed with it a few moments just let it fade.

Ok open your eyes. What was the difference between the two images? Can you spot any? Did you use more, less or roughly the same senses in your fantasy event as you did in the future one? Did you see them from different angles? Was the picture bigger in one than the other? Was the sound clearer, the feelings more acute or the smell stronger? Take some time and go back to each scene in your mind. How does the future event differ from the fantasy one? Are you looking at both from a different vantage point? Do you see yourself in the image of one but not the other? Analyse the scenes and see where they differ.

Have you identified how the future event differs from the fantasy one? If you have then its time to make visualization work for you! Take a goal that you have been working on or would like to achieve. Nothing too far-fetched at this point please! Pick something that is possible but at the moment seems a little impractical. Once you have it form a mental image of what it would be like to have, be or do that thing or be in that experience. Remember to form it the same way you do a memory. Give it the same strength visually, in sound, feeling, taste and touch - use your mind in its natural state. All you have to do is imagine the scene.

Ok how does it differ from the scene of waking in the morning? Can you identify the differences in perspective, sound, taste, touch, feelings and what you hear?

Now there will be one other key thing that differs in the images- it is very simple but often overlooked. You know that the future event is going to happen! This is reflected in the way we experience the image. So what we are going to do is fool your subconscious mind into thinking your goal is definitely going to happen by manipulating your goal image!

Once you know what the differences are in each image begin to change the goal image so that it is seen the same way as the future event in your imagination. Place the visualized scene in exactly the same position with the same perspective as your future event.

Place it in the correct position on your time-line. You may already begin to feel that the goal is more possible. Visualise in this way everyday and you will condition your subconscious mind to manifest the experiences necessary to make your goal attainment certain.

One more thing to remember: During the day think about your goal often. This reinforces the visualization and will begin to dispel doubt from your mind. personal development

 

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