DarkProduced by Peter Morse and Paul Bourke
Launched at Horizon - The Planetarium, Scitech, August 2012
DARK is a fulldome movie that explains and explores the nature of Dark Matter, the missing 80% of the mass of the Universe.
The search for Dark Matter is the most pressing astrophysical problem of our time - the solution to which will help us understand why the Universe is as it is, where it came from, and how it has evolved over billions of years - the unimaginable depths of deep time, of which a human life is but a flickering instant.
The movie is presented by Dr Alan Duffy, a brilliant young astronomer from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) at the University of Western Australia - who creates simulations of Dark Matter evolution inside supercomputers. Alan introduces us to the idea of Dark Matter, why astronomers think it exists, and explains why Radio Astronomy is so well-suited to its discovery.
We explore why the new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) Telescope, currently under construction in remote Western Australia, will be so important in this scientific quest.
But this is only the beginning.
We journey through completely immersive visualisations of Dark Matter evolution calculated upon some of the world's fastest supercomputers - cosmological visions on a truly vast scale, in which galaxies themselves are but points of light, distributed across far larger intergalactic structures of Dark Matter. These visualisations, developed by Paul Bourke, demonstrate the cutting-edge of contemporary supercomputer visualisation of massive scientific datasets and astrophysical simulation.
It sounds like Science Fiction, but it's not. It's the real stuff. Real Data, seen in this way for the very first time.
Directed by Peter Morse, DARK is an adventure to the very edges of contemporary cosmology and data visualisation, telling a complex scientific story with a touch of humanity - for an intelligent audience.
Directed by Peter Morse
Written by Alan Duffy, Peter Morse, and Carley Tillett
Visualisation by Paul Bourke
Music by Cathie Travers
Audio Production by Trevor Hilton
Parkes Panorama by Alex Cherney
Visualisation is the process of applying computer graphics and algorithms to research data in order provide insight for the researcher. In the case of DARK, the data consists of simulations of galaxy formation and the large scale structure of the Universe, simulations that employ and indeed rely on the concept of Dark Matter. The visualisations shown in the Dark fulldome movie are the result of sophisticated simulations run by Alan Duffy and his collaborators on some of the most powerful computers available, including those managed by iVEC in Western Australia.
While visualisation is often initially geared towards the researcher, the visual outcomes are often informative, visually stunning and engaging and thus find applications in conveying the underlying scientific concepts to the wider community. This is the goal behind the visualisation scenes in the Dark production.
Generating high resolution imagery for modern digital planetariums is challenging, the image resolution is often many times the so called “high-def” of current digital television. Dark was made possible by special high resolution wide field of view video cameras owned by iVEC@UWA. Perhaps more importantly it was possible because of the supercomputers managed by iVEC that were used not only to run the simulations but also to render the huge data sets that result.
512x512 pixels -- 1024x1024 pixels
DARK is available as a fulldome movie (20 minutes duration at 30fps) as a sequence of PNG (inscribed fisheye) frames at a resolution of 4096×4096 pixels. DARK is distributed on a postage and handling recovery basis, the 4K frames are sent by external USB drive (drive included), cost US$250.
Filming with the LadyBug-3 360 video camera (2011).