Pretty Porous

How data becomes images

Making the hidden visible: How data becomes images

Visualisation of signal transduction in a cell
University of Stuttgart / VISUS

The results of computer simulations are data sets. More and more details, larger systems and longer periods of time are what experts from numerous disciplines want to look at in order to gain new insights. Finding answers in this flood of data increasingly resembles searching for the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. Pictures or graphics of the abstract information are essential for this. They make visible what would otherwise remain hidden from the human eye.

The weather map in the evening, car navigation or the election results of the current federal election – in our everyday lives, images often show us what has been compiled in elaborate measurements, extensive data collections or complicated calculations. Scientists and developers are no different. Complex information or processes are most easily examined in graphical representations. But what has to happen so that the weather map flickers across the screen or an engineer can examine his idea on the computer?

Thanks to visualization, data sets generated in computer simulations are converted into visual images. This makes the seemingly unmanageable information interpretable and analyzable.

Visualizations are mostly interactive and three-dimensional. They can be viewed from all sides, individual parameters can be shown or hidden and special features can be highlighted. The display on high-resolution large projection screens also provides a comprehensive impression of all details. With interactive real-time graphics, conceptual considerations and possible implementation variants can be experienced at an early stage.

Visualization of concrete
University of Stuttgart / VISUS
Visualization of air flow around a vehicle
University of Stuttgart / VISUS