Building the Universe Pixel by Pixel

Three ‘mapmakers’ of the universe – Ralf Kaehler, Stuart Levy and Dylan Nelson – discuss how their dramatically intricate 3-D universes can tell important stories about the cosmos.

Recently, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics unveiled an unprecedented simulation of the universe’s development. Called the Illustris project, the simulation depicts more than 13 billion years of cosmic evolution across a cube of the universe that’s 350-million-light-years on each side. The goal was to view the formation of galaxies and other large-scale structure we see around us today, to test our understanding of what makes up the universe – including dark matter and dark energy – as well as how those components interact. It was a massive undertaking, one that took more than 5 years to complete. But why was it important to conduct such a simulation?

To better understand the science and art of astrophysics visualizations, three experts came together in late July to discuss the ways in which their work benefits both science and the public’s perception of science. The participants:
RALF KAEHLER – is a physicist and computer scientist by training who now runs the visualization facilities at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, located at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.
STUART LEVY – is a research programmer and member of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ Advanced Visualization Lab team, which creates high-resolution data-driven scientific visualizations for public outreach.
DYLAN NELSON – is a graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a member of the Illustris collaboration, which recently completed a large cosmological simulation of galaxy formation.

… you can read the whole discussion here:


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