SC19 Proceedings

The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis

An Accessible Visual Narrative for the Primary Energy Source of Life from the Fulldome Show Birth of Planet Earth

Authors: Melih Sener (University of Illinois), Stuart Levy (University of Illinois), AJ Christensen (University of Illinois), Robert Patterson (University of Illinois), Kalina Borkiewicz (University of Illinois), John E. Stone (University of Illinois), Barry Isralewitz (University of Illinois), Jeffrey Carpenter (University of Illinois), Donna Cox (University of Illinois)

Abstract: Conversion of sunlight into chemical energy, namely photosynthesis, is the primary energy source of life on Earth. An explanatory visualization depicting this process is presented in the form of an excerpt from the fulldome show Birth of Planet Earth. This accessible visual narrative shows a lay audience, especially children, how the energy of sunlight is captured, converted, and stored through a chain of proteins to power living cells. The visualization is the result of a multi-year collaboration among biophysicists, visualization scientists, and artists, which, in turn, is based on a decade-long experimental-computational collaboration on structural and functional modeling that produced an atomic detail description of a bacterial bioenergetic organelle, the chromatophore. The energy conversion steps depicted feature an integration of function from electronic to cell levels, spanning nearly 12 orders of magnitude in time scales modeled with multi-scale computational approaches. This atomic detail description uniquely enables a modern retelling of one of humanity's earliest stories---the interplay between light and life.

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