Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

‘Solar Superstorms’ Combines Computational Science and Data Visualization

September 10th, 2015 / in NSF, Research News, videos / by Khari Douglas

solar superstormThe 24-minute scientific documentary that was released this summer about the dynamics of the sun may soon be coming to a planetarium near you.

Solar Superstorms” is a new documentary that features data-driven visualizations that have been computed on the giant new supercomputing initiative, Blue Waters, based at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The documentary deputed on June 30th, 2015 at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge and has since then been appearing in over a dozen planetariums around the world. “Solar Superstorms” is part of project CADENS (Centrality of Digitally Enabled Science).

CADENS is a National Science Foundation supported project to increase digital literacy and inform the general public about computational and data-enabled scientific discovery.

The documentary is narrated by actor Benedict Cumberbatch and asks the question:

What can cause our normally benign sun to erupt in such fury that it can threaten the world’s power and technological infrastructure?

To answer the question the documentary displays the inner workings of the sun. To create the documentary the NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) used the Blue Waters supercomputer to visualize solar events, such as the interaction of solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field.

 In addition to “Solar Superstorms,” CADENS will produce two more ultra-high-resolution digital documentaries for giant screen fulldome theaters and nine high-definition documentaries for online distribution via YouTube, Hulu and other outlets.

Read more about “Solar Superstorms” here and watch the trailer here.


‘Solar Superstorms’ Combines Computational Science and Data Visualization