Simply awesome – note to self – see if I can get a tour of this facility.
Scientists often become immersed in their data, and sometimes even lost. The AlloSphere, a unique virtual reality environment at the University of California, Santa Barbara, makes this easier by turning large data sets into immersive experiences of sight and sound. Inside its three-story metal sphere researchers can interpret and interact with their data in new and intriguing ways, including watching electrons spin from inside an atom or "flying" through an MRI scan of a patient's brain as blood density levels play as music.
Housed in a 5,760-square-meter space in the California NanoSystems Institute building, the AlloSphere is essentially a house-size digital microscope powered by a supercomputer. Its outer chamber is a cube covered with sound-absorbing material, making it one of the largest near-anechoic (nonechoing) spaces in the world. Inside are two joined hemispheres of perforated aluminum that contain a suspended bridge.