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Content about Images

January 13, 2010

Image - Separating the real from the fake

“Return of the Hunters,” an image known to be made by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a Dutch master active during the region’s ‘golden era’ in the 1500s. Oxford University art historian Martin Kemp described the painting in Nature as “testimony to the scientific observation of light and geographical features.” Original image in Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

Pieter Breugel the Elder was a very popular painter, with a huge body of work that was closely imitated — so, there are a lot of outright forgeries.
Now, however, researchers at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, have found a new way to separate the real from the fake, by mathematically analyzing images that are known to be genuine, such as “Return of the Hunters,” and comparing to images whose authenticity is questionable.
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Daniel Rockmore describe

January 6, 2010

Video of the week - Telejamming over the net

Head down, brow furrowed in concentration, Scott Deal plies his trade in the Supercomputing 2009 exhibition hall. As Deal rattles, rumbles, brushes, and bangs an arc of percussion instruments, band member Jordan Munson creates the tonal elements of the music – from 2200 miles away.

Deal is a professor of music at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Director of the Donald Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center. He is also a member of the band called “Big Robot.” (Michael Drews, the third member of the trio, was only present for the first half of the performance, and does not appear in the video of the week).

Despite the distance – Deal is in Portland, Oregon, while his bandmates are in Indianapolis, Indiana – the performance has a certain immediacy. The Portland audience can watch Munson on a large video screen behind Deal, thanks to ConferenceX

December 9, 2009

Image of the week - Supercomputing 2009 exhibition floor

The exhibition floor at the annual Supercomputing conference is always a sight to see, and SC09 was no exception. To make a record of it, iSGTW endeavored to snap photos of as many research-related booths as possible. Whether you were at SC09, or you missed it, we hope you will enjoy this chance to virtually explore the exhibition hall.

December 2, 2009

I see crime scenes

IC-CRIME’s laser scanner technology will allow investigators to accurately record room and object dimensions, as well as the placement of every piece of evidence in a crime scene.Image courtesy NCSU

Fighting crime with science isn’t as simple as popular TV shows like CSI would have you believe. But those shows get one thing right: science and technology have a tremendous potential for changing the way crime is investigated.
Today, investigators record crime scenes using sketches and photographs. Bullet trajectories are determined using lasers or even lengths of string. “They take a microsnapshot,” said Mitzi Montoya, a North Carolina State University researcher who specializes in knowledge and virtual team management. “You don’t really know what’s relevant in a crime scene, and you can’t go back and create it, because once it’s cleaned it’s gone forever.”
That could change if the IC-CRIME (Interdiscip

December 2, 2009

Image of the week - Facevision

Photo courtesy Geometrix FaceVision

In this era of closed-circuit televisions, surveillance cameras and cell phone cameras, the chances are great that a criminal or a terrorist has been photographed at some point while committing a crime (or shortly before or after). But it can be hard to definitely identify someone, and even eyewitness testimony can be suspect.
But authorities have a new tool: facial recognition software. Software services such as Geometrix FaceVision use quantitative means to compare two facial images, taking millions of measurements of dozens of “landmarks” and unusual features to come up with a match. It can be a numerically complex challenge, as even a small change in pose angle results in an alteration of the distances measured between facial features. Many diffent images, and many calculations, are needed to come up with a  texture-mapped, rotatable, 3-D surface of a face.

November 25, 2009

Tweet of the week – Midnight in the LHC control room

The LHC control room at CERN, just before midnight on Friday, 20 November, 2009. Photo courtesy CERN

This week, we honor . . .  the Twitter feed at CERN, which allowed us to follow the progress of the Large Hadron Collider restart from the comfort of home on an extremely dark and foggy evening last Friday, when the beam was captured at close to midnight, Geneva time. (Apparently, we weren’t the only ones paying attention to this event; the LHC “tweets” were one of the top five most popular items in Twitter-land.)
You could sense the building excitement, as the posts came in more and more frequently.  See the sequence below. (The time stamps are approximate.)
2 hours ago“Just one sector to go now!”2 hours ago“We have completed the ring!”1.5 hours ago“We will start injecting the anticlockwise beam in the second ring and then go step–by–step again. New photos w

November 18, 2009

Image of the week - What do these pictures have in common?

Photo courtesy SOHO

In answer to our question, all of these images are of our sun, and were taken by SOHO — the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a project that is an international collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA to study the sun from its deep core to its outer corona and its solar wind. Many of the images were modeled using a synthetic modeling program that allows astronomers to determine the temperature of surface layers, the sun’s chemical composition, and the relative abundance of the various elements. Known as SYNTSPEC, the modeling program is run on Baltic Grid and Lit Grid. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy SOHO 

November 11, 2009

Image of the week - Monumental modeling

Despite the monumental nature of the world’s heritage sites, they are quite vulnerable to the vicissitudes of their environment. Wind and water erosion wear them down, destroying historic features we may never be able to recapture.
To understand how the winds are changing the shape of the monuments on the Giza Plateau in Egypt, Ashraf Hussein and Hisham El-Shishiny created a three dimensional model of the region. Then they simulated the flow of the wind across the Giza Plateau to see where the wind pressure and friction is greatest.
This simulation was unusual because it had to handle large differences in scale among the various monuments on the Giza Plateau. To complicate matters, within the lower atmosphere the wind field must be resolved on very fine scales to achieve a high level of accuracy, said El-Shishiny.
To complicate matters, the problem size was much greater than the available computational resources. Ultimately, they ran the simulations on a c

November 4, 2009


Image of the week - More than a TOY

Image courtesy CU/NCAR and the TOY Geophysical Turbulence Summer School

Every year, the Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences conducts a 3-week-long Geophysical Turbulence Summer School, in which students learn how to model complex phenomena as part of a course on computational methods, scientific computing and visualization. In 2008, their Theme Of the Year, or TOY, was on gravity waves. And the above is what team of students — Jochem Floor, Neven-Stjepan Fuckar, and Dorota Jarecka — came up with, to illustrate the idea of a gravity wave.

October 28, 2009

Videos of the week - Cloud computing video contest

The term cloud computing is on everyone's lips. But what, exactly, does it mean?
To help clear up the cloud confusion, cloud solution provider Appirio is offering a meaty cash prize to the best video that can both entertain and explain cloud computing in under two minutes. The grand prize for the top video is $3000 US; the first runner up will receive $1000 US, and four honorable mentions will each get $250 US.
One contestant named Kyle Roche has already broken the two-minute limit with his DataCenter Super Heroes two-part series. In spite of the fact that each episode is five minutes long, the narrative structure and pithy humor make these videos stand out from the crowd of contestants.
Here's some of our favorite entries:

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October 21, 2009


Image of the week - Molecules CHARMM their way through

Simulation performed on the NGS of a drug permeating through a membrane. Image courtesy Brian Cheney, University of Southampton

You are looking at a computer simulation of how a drug permeates through a membrane.
The permeability of a molecule depends upon numerous physical and chemical properties. Brian Cheney and Jonathan Essex, researchers at Southampton University, UK, are investigating these properties using a modified version of the molecular dynamics software package CHARMM (Chemistry at HARvard Macromolecular Mechanics), in an attempt to quantify and estimate the permeability of molecules.
This is valuable for drug-development, because in order for a drug to be successful its active molecules must be easily absorbed through the membrane of the epithelial gastrointestinal tract.
The simulations would take several years on desktop computer for each drug studied, so the researchers rely on the processing powe

October 14, 2009

Video of the week - BEN goes multi-touch

The Breakable Experimental Network – or BEN for short – is one of several projects that fall under the umbrella of the National Science Foundation’s Global Environment for Network Innovations initiative.
BEN is a collaboration between the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), Infinera, and Duke University. So it should come as no surprise that their team has done some work on pairing BEN with RENCI’s multi-touch interface technology.
The interface between multi-touch and BEN was developed independently by RENCI. “If we find the funding to develop it further it is meant to become an option primarily for interactive network management,” said Ilia Baldine, manager of the Network Research and Innovation Group at RENCI. “This year our focus is on usability improvements of the software so that BEN can be opened up to the experimenter community by this time next year,”

Watch this video to learn a little more abou

October 7, 2009


Image of the week - Space viewed through X-ray glasses

The Kepler supernova viewed through the Chandra X-ray telescope.
The different colors represent different energy X-rays. Red indicates low energy, due to the material around the star (mainly oxygen) which is heated up during the explosion. Blue represents the highest energy X-rays, which characterize the shock front of the explosion. The yellow and green parts are the different chemical elements produced as a result of the supernova. (Click on image to enlarge.) Courtesy NASA/CXC/NCSU/S.Reynolds et al.

Ever wondered what things would look like viewed through X-ray glasses? In a sense, this is what the telescope on NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory does when pointed towards the hottest parts of space. 
At right are the remnants of the supernova created when Kepler (a star named after the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler) exploded. It is one of the youngest and brightest recorded supernovae in our Mil

September 30, 2009

Virtualizing Rome in a day

A screenshot of the 3-D model of Rome's Colosseum, generated using several thousand Flickr photos. The black points surrounding the Coliseum indicate the vantage points from which photographs were taken. Image courtesy Build Rome in a Day project

Researchers at the University of Washington generated a 3-D model of Rome’s greatest landmarks in a day — and they did it by standing on the shoulders of Flickr users.
The researchers applied their algorithms to 150,000 Flickr images of Rome. It took a computer cluster containing 496 cores 13 hours to match common points in the images, sorting them into groups based on the landmark depicted. Another eight hours of computation time, and they had 3-D models of landmarks such as the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.
The Building Rome in a Day project, which is still in progress, aims to build a parallel distributed system that can use Flickr photographs to reconstruct

September 30, 2009

Poll of the week – Frivolous scientific visualizations

Got opinions to share? Email them to iSGTW!
To read the article that prompted this week's poll, click here.

September 23, 2009

Nanoporous materials for green technology

Pictured here, a metal-organic framework with pores of approximately 1.4 nanometer in diameter.  Image courtesy of David Dubbeldam.

A new class of materials with nano-scale pores could help to improve hydrogen fuel cells or reduce auto emissions.
Using a variety of TeraGrid resources, researchers at Northwestern University and Kansas State University were able to model and evaluate metal-organic frameworks to see how these materials will perform under specific circumstances. They found that metal-organic frameworks act much like sponges, soaking up hydrogen gas and storing it in their nano-sized pores. In fact, these metal-organic frameworks are capable of soaking up far more hydrogen gas than could normally occupy the same amount of space.
To learn more about this research and its further applications, visit the research group’s website.

September 16, 2009

Video of the Week - Quantum Loop Gravity

This movie illustrates how excitations of geometry change as dictated by the Quantum Einstein Equations. Image courtesy Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

Just one of the things that supercolliders such as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab’s Tevatron might find is evidence for something called “Quantum Gravity Loops” — which we won’t even try to explain in this short space, but which theoreticians say could explain a lot about the force known as gravity.
What could such things look like?
To try to illustrate the concept, the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics made the accompanying movie of “Quantum Spin Dynamics in Loop Quantum Gravity.” It depicts the quantum evolution of geometry in Loop Quantum Gravity, with the colors of the faces of the tetrahedrals indicating where and how much area exists at any given moment.
It’s also pretty cool to

September 9, 2009

Video of the Week - Preventing bird strikes

The Bird Avoidance Model could help to cut down on collisions between birds and planes at busy airports. Video and image courtesy Virtual Laboratory for e-Science. Click on the above and go to section that begins at 2 mins 45 seconds.

Encounters between birds and planes have the potential to be disastrous — just ask Chesley Sullenberger, pilot of the US Airways flight that just barely managed to land on New York City’s Hudson River after colliding with a flock of geese on 15 January.
Such “bird strikes” are a continuing problem, with about 4,000 of them occurring in the United States alone in a single year, says the Federal Aviation Authority.
The FAA and others would like to be able to forecast when and where dangerous  concentrations of birds will form — similar to meteorologists predicting the weather.
Researchers at the Virtual Laboratory for e-Science (vl-e), The Net

September 2, 2009

Video of the Week - Earthquake simulation wins SciDAC award

The many visualizations that come out of high performance computing centers can be fantastically beautiful. This simulation of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Southern California is no exception.
That's probably why it was recognized recently at the SciDAC (Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing) Vis Night awards as one of the top ten scientific visualizations of 2009.
The simulation, which has been affectionately dubbed 'The Big One,' used resources via the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the Southern California Earthquake Center, and Teragrid.
This video of The Big One was recently posted on the WIRED Science Blog, along with the other nine award winners. Check out the rest, which are just as fantastic, at
—Miriam Boon, iSGTW

August 26, 2009

Image of the Week - Watch a tornado

Large-Eddy simulation of a tornado's interaction with the surface. Image courtesy Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Just what does the interior of a tornado look like as it swirls over the land?
To find out, researchers W.S. Lewellen, D.C. Lewellen and Aytekin Gel of West Virginia University made high resolution, fully 3-D simulations in an attempt to answer questions about the character of the turbulent eddies in this unique flow.
The following animated clip, made by Gel in close cooperation with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s (PSC) Scientific-Visualization Group, uses particle advection to represent wind direction and isosurfaces to show pressure inside a 400 m x 400 m x 400 m domain from a simulation involving approximately 100 hours of a Cray C90 supercomputer at PSC.
As a resource provider in TeraGrid, a National Science Foundation program of coordinated cyberinfrastructure for education and research, PSC works with its T

August 12, 2009


Video of the Week: Health-e-Child documentary

Athenaweb, one of the hosts for the Health-e-Child video, can be thought of as “the YouTube of science,” with hundreds of films and videos available. Image courtesy Athenaweb 

The Health-e-Child project (See iSGTW 28 May, 2008 and the 8 July, 2009 HealthGrid roundup) has video documentaries about its work that can now be seen as broadcasts on the Euronews website. (Click on the “Science-Tech” banner up on the right.) The first broadcast is entitled “New frontiers of imaging the human body.”
All European public televisions and main private ones receive the broadcasts, and some of them will be re-aired during the summer. 
They are also accesible on YouTube and other smaller, regional streaming online websites. The reports will be also broadcast on, a website specializing in Worldwide Research TV reports.
A special broadcast has also been scheduled for Friday, September

July 29, 2009

Image of the week - Red, green and blue for a new view

NGC 253 was discovered in 1783 by astronomer Caroline Herschel and is the brightest member in the Sculptor group of galaxies. This is the nearest such galaxy collection to the so-called Local Group, which includes our own Milky Way. (Click on image to enlarge.) Created with IRSA On-Demand Image Mosaic Service and Montage v3.0

By combining different images taken on different instruments and at different wavelengths, grid-enabled Montage software can create all-new views of the stars — including NGC 253, also known as the “Silver Dollar Galaxy.”
At visible wavelengths, NGC 253 appears as a very dusty spiral galaxy viewed almost edge-on to our line of sight. The blue channel of this three-color image represents the visible view using B-band images from the Digitized Sky Survey 2. At these wavelengths it is very difficult to see what the structure of the galaxy’s center looks like. Radiation at longer wavelength

July 15, 2009


Image of the week - It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s . . . 

Image courtesy Pierre Auger Observatory 

. . . it’s an artist’s conceptual simulation of two independent ways to see cosmic rays coming in from space.
At the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina, an array of surface detectors is used, as well as a collection of air fluorescence telescopes. The two systems complement each other, allowing researchers a better chance of being sure to see their rare, high-energy quarry.

July 8, 2009


Image of the week - A VAPOR-ous view

Passage of a cold front on 18 February 2008 over Georgia. The convergence of moisture ( colored flow lines with red corresponding to high moisture content and green color with low moisture content) along the front is presented using three dimensional vorticity. Image courtesy Thara Prabhakaran, University of Georgia.

The image at right shows a  3D image of a cold front, created with software from VAPOR,  the Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere, and Solar Researchers.VAPOR provides:

A visual data discovery environment tailored towards the specialized needs of the geosciences CFD community
A desktop solution capable of handling terascale size data sets
Advanced interactive 3D visualization tightly coupled with quantitative data analysis
Support for multi-variate, time-varying data
Close coupling with powerful interpretive data language,\.
Support for 3D visualization of datasets.

VAPOR runs on most

July 1, 2009


Image of the week - Sunspot close-up

The interface between a sunspot’s umbra (dark center) and penumbra (lighter outer region) shows a complex structure with narrow, almost horizontal (lighter to white) filaments embedded in a background having a more vertical (darker to black) magnetic field. Farther out, extended patches of horizontal field dominate. For the first time, NCAR scientists and colleagues have modeled this complex structure in a comprehensive 3D computer simulation, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface to understand the underlying physical processes. © UCAR, image courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR 

Using a supercomputer, an international team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany created the first-ever comprehensive computer model of sunspots. The resulting visuals capture both scientific detail and un-eart