“The Physical Simulation And Visual Representation of Natural Phenomena” Moderated by Craig Upson

  • ©Alan H. Barr, William (Bill) T. Reeves, Robert Sherman Wolff, and Steven Wolfram

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Entry Number: 07

Title:

    The Physical Simulation And Visual Representation of Natural Phenomena

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    Within computer graphics and animation, two major sub-disciplines have developed: graphics for entertainment or artistic purposes and graphics for scientific or technical purposes. Computer scientists working on entertainment applications have emphasized the correct visual representation of natural phenomena and have developed ad hoc physical simulations to accomplish this. Computer scientists working in the physical sciences have devoted their efforts to the underlying physics for simulating phenomena, with little emphasis on the visual presentation.
    In recent years these two approaches have begun to reach the limits of their ability to work without each other. The realism required in entertainment graphics is beyond that obtainable without physically realistic models. Similarly, numerical simulations in the physical sciences are complex to the point of being incomprehensible without visual representations. Can scientific simulations and visual representations come together, or must they forever be apart?