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Big Data: these words are on the lips of researchers everywhere these days. But it’s more than a catch phrase—it’s a reality in the burgeoning world of eScience, as investigators strive to make sense of the seemingly endless flow of new information. Nowhere is the push to understand Big Data stronger than in Brazil, where scientists have been working to better understand tropical ecosystems, human impact on the environment, biogenetics, and biodiversity. These efforts are providing new opportunities to improve our capabilities in data-intensive research and strengthen Latin America’s eScience research community. To further these efforts, FAPESP—the São Paulo Research Foundation—and Microsoft Research Connections are jointly hosting a special eScience Workshop from May 13 to 15, 2013, in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The event will bring together more than 150 participants—including students and researchers from around the world—to explore collaboration and research opportunities in the environmental sciences, bioenergy, biodiversity, health, and digital humanities.
Along with informative sessions on such topics as data mining, computational ecology, the genetic basis of disease, eScience in the cloud, and computer vision, the workshop will feature tutorials on Layerscape, FetchClimate, and Filzbach, Microsoft Research’s “killer apps” for data visualization and storytelling in the earth sciences, environmental modeling, and Bayesian analysis. Keynote speakers will include Maria Cristina Ferreira de Oliveira of the University of São Paulo, who will discuss the challenges of making sense of multidimensional data, and Carole Goble of the University of Manchester, who will explore the reproducibility of experimental findings in the computational sciences.
Another keynote speaker, Drew Purves of Microsoft Research Cambridge, will talk about predicting the future of life on Earth. And apropos of that topic, the workshop will also feature a presentation on LiveANDES (Advanced Network for the Distribution of Endangered Species), the new tool designed to collect, house, and analyze data about Latin America’s threatened wildlife.
All of this, plus demos of the latest eScience tools and findings from FAPESP and Microsoft Research, are certain to make the Latin America eScience Workshop 2013 a memorable and informative event. I hope to see you there!
–Juliana Salles, Senior Research Program Manager in Brazil, Microsoft Research Connections
Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT) has brought spectacular images and engaging, informative tours of the night sky to countless personal computers—including, we hope, yours. But WorldWide Telescope also offers a powerful tool for planetariums, large and small, providing two things they never had before: views of the sky based on real imagery, and a three-dimensional perspective.
Nowhere has the link between WWT and planetariums been stronger and more mutually beneficial than with the famed Adler Planetarium on Chicago’s lakefront. The researchers at the Adler’s Space Visualization Lab—particularly Mark SubbaRao and Doug Roberts—have been testing and pushing the limits of WWT for five years now. The Adler, which has the highest resolution digital dome in the United States, has built many different exhibits using WWT, and encouraged the WWT team to create a full-dome display with 3-D stereo.
Image of Great Nebula in Orion from the Hubble Space Telescope displayed on the Adler Planetarium dome
Now the folks at the Adler have united the features of their planetarium with the imagery and storytelling capabilities of WWT to create “Cosmic Wonder,” arguably one of the most engaging and breathtaking planetarium shows ever. WWT projects images on the planetarium’s state-of-the-art, 20-projector and 81-mega-pixel dome, to bring the Crab Nebula descending toward viewers and show what happens when a star explodes. The live presentation then zooms the audience into the constellation of Orion to witness the birth of stars and takes viewers to a patch of the night sky, where Hubble images display more than 5,500 galaxies. This exciting show is more than just spectacle, it’s an immersive experience that invites the audience to ask questions and learn from experts—much as WWT on your PC does with its guided tours.
With “Cosmic Wonder,” the Adler has done a remarkable job of showing the human “power to wonder” and how that leads us to seek answers and make amazing discoveries. We are very excited to have Bing be the presenting sponsor for the show, as Bing is a powerful tool that facilitates the seeking of answers. I had the privilege of introducing the “Cosmic Wonder” shows during the launch on May 17. I could not have been prouder of how WWT and our partners at the Adler have created an incredibly rich, unbelievably engaging, and thoroughly educational experience.
If you’re in Chicago this summer, I urge you to take in this amazing show. But even if your travels don’t include the Windy City, you can experience the wonders of the universe through your PC by downloading the WorldWide Telescope.
—Dan Fay, Director of Earth, Energy, and Environment; Microsoft Research Connections