Intel launches ScienceSim virtual world for education and visualization, ties in with SC09

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In a post on Intel’s Research blog late last week, John Hengeveld announced an open invitation for ScienceSim

Intel logoToday we are publically [sic] inviting others to come to ScienceSim and investigate its use for building collaborative visualization tool.. Within ScienceSim’s world you’ll find some starting buildings, templates for forums and conference centers and the like.

What is it?

ScienceSim enables customizable physics, optimizations to achieve better scalability, and can serve as a testbed for data visualization and control for science experiments like fusion reactions, biomedical applications, geophysical, intelligence analysis.. to name a few potential areas of work. As our CTO said in a previous blog, the Intel team is working with the Supercomputing 2009 conference to have folks develop academic material around this platform and have a forum to discuss these efforts and how they fit towards building a 3D internet of the future.

Intel’s CTO Justin Rattner remarked on ScienceSim and where it fits into Intel’s strategy last November (this is the post referred to above)

One year ago, at the Intel Developer Forum, I spoke about how as computing technology advances and broadband connectivity becomes ubiquitous, today’s nascent virtual worlds and online games will evolve into a “3-D Internet.” I believe that eventually these immersive connected experiences (as we call them) will become a primary mode for human interaction, ranging from simulated worlds used for collaboration, socialization, and entertainment to augmented realities like Google Earth that combine real-world imagery with the user-generated information. I’d like to share some recent progress we’ve made in this area.

Today, during a forward looking overview of next year’s Supercomputing conference, an ACM and IEEE Computer society sponsored event, Wilfred Pinfold (an Intel colleague and general chair of Supercomputing 2009) announced to the Supercomputing 2008 conference attendees plans to create a new virtual world called “ScienceSim.” Supported by Intel and the conference committee, this collaboration aims to use these immersive, connected environments to further cutting edge scientific research.

Hmmm. Call me skeptical. I gave SecondLife a whirl and was left…unstimulated…by the various pavilions and whatnot set up that had something to do with HPC and HPC vendors. There just didn’t seem to be any point, other than having a “presence” in the next big thing. But I’ll try it out. Maybe there will be something to it this time. I think the key is a) doing something in the environment that you just can’t do outside of it that b) people want to do. Otherwise, ScienceSim is just overhead for a fancier display of an experience you can get elsewhere (or don’t want anyway).


  1. john hengeveld says

    hi There..
    thought I’d just reply to this…
    As I said in my posting… I struggled with SL as to when it will be useful.. The goal in Sciencesim is enabling more tailoring by the SERVER to match the environment you are trying to create for a user experience. Instead of SL’s one experience fits all and lets play with prim’s mentality, what we strive for is region specific modules that can be used to create more dynamic visualization, and more compelling and interesting behavior of objects.

    I dont want ONE next big thing.. I want a set of rules to the road that each of us can create the compelling experience we want our users/community/customers to share.

    This is not a place to come walk around… this is a place to attach to.. More like a university, a physics department hosts one type of sim, the psych department another, economics a third… all interconnected… Objects in these sims have distinct behavior that matches the educational purpose.. students/colleagues range between them.

    With this as a starting spot, some folks might build virtual collaboration environments or experimental control. I have an interest in visual analytics.. I’m hopeful an interest group might emerge in that area.

    ITs not about the viewer… its about the servers this time… If enough people have ideas and innovation to share… there will be plenty interesting to learn and do.


  2. John – thanks for posting! Would you like to write a (short) post for us telling our readers about some of the early uses of ScienceSim and giving some examples? I think that might help folks grok the difference between SL and what you are doing.