Sight is a persons primary sense, and one-third of a persons brainpower is spent processing visual images. Therefore, visualization is becoming a primary means for scientists and researchers to explore new territory and show new concepts to the general public.

Jason Leigh, director of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois Chicago, discussed advanced visualization research and collaboration in a Distinguished Lecture Series for the LSU Center for Computation & Technology, or CCT.

Leigh showed examples of the work his lab has done throughout the past 34 years. In the 1970s, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory created the computer graphics that were used in the first Star Wars films, an early visualization achievement.

The lab also created the first Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, or CAVE, in 1992. CAVE is a room-sized, immersive, virtual reality environment that has advanced scientific visualization. From CAVE came the creation of Geowall in 2000. Geowall was built using many of the principles that created CAVE, and is a low-cost, 3-D, stereoscopic display that is used primarily for geo-science research and education at more than 500 sites today. The Geowall is used to help the United State Geological Survey analyze 3-D data of high-resolution images from more than 122 U.S. cities to better plan for disasters.

Leigh discussed the labs latest research endeavors, primarily related to the OptIPuter project. The OptIPuter, so named for its use of optical networking, combines computational resources over optical networks. The OptIPuters central element is optical networking, not computers, and this new project creates "super networks." This format will enable greater research collaboration, as scientists who are generating terabytes and petabytes of data can interactively visualize, analyze and correlate their data from multiple storage sites connected to optical networks.

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