The Golden Age of Scientific Computing?

In a Friday session at the AAAS conference here in Boston, Dr. Chris Johnson of Utah’s Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute showed this short video encapsulating some of his team’s striking 3D imaging innovations. He also made what I think is a very important point: that one of the biggest challenges in his field lies not in finding new technologies to capture details, but finding new ways to generate abstractions of data – images that don’t just depict results for presentation, but help to clarify significant patterns and thus directly foster discovery. As he pointed out, half our brain is roped into visual processing – so why not exploit that analytic power? The speakers at the session were careful to maintain the distinction between scientific imaging and art, but some of the imagery would seem right at home in a gallery.

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