Center for Scientific Visualization
The Center for Scientific Visualization is home to an amazing facility (known as the VisWall) that consists of a high-resolution, rear-projected 14-by-8-foot seamless monitor screen and a powerful computer workstation. The VisWall allows you to immerse yourself in data, zooming in to see details you’ve never been able to see before. It lets you see the large picture as well as the detailed picture—the forest as well as the trees. It can aid in understanding large amounts of data, as generated in particle physics, for example, because you can view all the data at once on the large screen. VisWall displays have included projects on fluid dynamics, geotechnical engineering, human factors in medical systems, image reconstruction and tomography, computational geometry, and robotics. Applications of the VisWall can be as varied as its users’ imaginations.
Stereo (3D) applications broaden the VisWall’s uses. A 3D simulation of a tornado allows you to walk toward the screen and feel like you’re inside the storm. Similarly, you can walk inside a simulation of a molecule, find a particular atom, and zoom in on it to understand its relation to other atoms. The VisWall can also be used in 3D surgery simulations that enable physicians not only to see what they are doing but also to feel what they are doing through the use of haptic devices. Other stereo applications allow viewers to virtually move through buildings and landscapes. Soon to become available at the VisWall are the virtual world Second Life and a stereo client developed by the University of Michigan. Many other applications are under consideration, such as 3D viewing of magnetic resonance images (MRIs), which are generated in 3D but typically viewed in 2D.
How It Works
The VisWall computer workstation has two quad cores, 16 gigabytes of memory, and advanced graphics software. Users can currently choose from three operating systems: Linux RedHat 4 64-bit, Windows XP Professional 32-bit, and Windows XP Professional 64-bit. The Mac OS X operating system will be added in the future.
The VisWall monitor screen has a resolution of close to nine megapixels (4,096 by 2,160 pixels), about one pixel per square millimeter, that allows detailed viewing of large visual displays. One rear projector is used for normal viewing and two are used for 3D applications, which are viewed with stereo glasses.
Any visual format that works with Linux or Windows (pdf, tif, gif) will work on the VisWall. Visuals can be brought to the VisWall on laptops or external memory devices, or they can be downloaded onto the designated shared computer drive and accessed from the workstation.
The Center for Scientific Visualization provides the VisWall and related technical and administrative services to Tufts faculty and students. Teachers may reserve the VisWall for a class presentation; students may use it to defend theses. A key goal is to integrate and advance research and education, while stimulating cross-disciplinary collaboration.
University Information Technology (UIT) maintains the VisWall and facilitates its use, providing support and administrative services. UIT also maintains the center’s website and the VisWall user list and Elist. Seminars and courses on computer visualization, as well as VisWall demonstrations and training sessions, will be announced on the center’s website and through the Elist. VisWall teleconferencing will be available starting in the fall of 2008 via the Tufts AccessGrid node.
Using the VisWall
Contact VisWall manager Lionel Zupan, associate director for research technology, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (617-627-4933). He will help you get card access to the center, set up an R25 account for reserving the VisWall, and schedule a one-hour training session. Once training is completed, you will be able to use the facility at your convenience. VisWall users are automatically listed on the VisWall Elist (email@example.com) unless they request otherwise. The Elist is an online forum through which users share ideas and receive VisWall announcements. Non-users interested in joining the forum may request enrollment by emailing the Elist.
The Center for Scientific Visualization is located on the first floor of Anderson Hall, 200 College Avenue, Medford/Somerville campus.
For more information, please go to http://sciviz.tufts.edu.