Future science: Using 3D worlds to visualize data

By Carla K. Johnson

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20 2013 10:44 a.m. MST

In his spare time during the past two years, research assistant Arthur Nishimoto has been programming the CAVE2 computer with the specifications for the fictional Starship Enterprise. He now can walk around his life-size recreation of the TV spacecraft.

The original technology, introduced in the early 1990s, was called CAVE, which stood for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment and also cleverly referred to Plato's cave, the philosopher's analogy about shadows and reality. It was named by former lab co-directors Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin.

The second generation of the CAVE, invented by Leigh and his collaborator Andy Johnson, has higher resolution. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

"It's fantastic to come to work. Every day is like getting to live a science fiction dream," Leigh said. "To do science in this kind of environment is absolutely amazing."

AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson.

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