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Computing

Basking in Big Data

New visualization software makes viewing and interacting with enormous data sets more practical.

The Morse-Smale complex allows scientists to study molecular surfaces, such as the one shown here, in useful ways. For instance, the surface of this molecule contains peaks and troughs, which are important in how it interacts with other molecules. The software algorithm developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory can identify the deepest cavities (green dots) and highest protrusions (blue dots) that fall within any boundary (yellow lines) defined by the researchers.
Here, the software determines the cavities and protrusions using a different set of boundaries.
This image shows an experiment in which aerogel, a very porous material, is bombarded by a micrometeroid traveling at five kilometers per second. Aerogels are commonly used to shield electronic equipment in satellites because they are both durable and extremely light. The Morse-Smale complex identifies the structure of the porous solid as the micrometeroid enters it, providing detailed information about the filament structure of the material (shown at right).
This image represents a simulation of the probability distribution of the electrons of a hydrogen atom sitting within a strong magnetic field.
This image represents an early moment in the simulated mixing of two fluids. Blue and red spheres and the lines between them represent the branching of pockets of fluid.

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