2021 Winner: Physarum Telam

Project Information
Physarum Telam
Creative Coding Lab
Short description of the project:
We have developed an interactive 3D visualization of cosmological data, rendered as a photo-realistic translucent yellow blob mimicking the appearance of Slime Mold using physically-based volumetric path tracing. We have also developed an interactive Web application to showcase the rendered images, where users can navigate the data rendered with a standard 3D volume visualization technique and reveal the corresponding pre-rendered images with the appearance model.

Physarum polycephalum is a type of slime mold with translucent bright yellow tube structures. This microorganism grows in the way that it catches as much food source as possible while minimizing the travel distance. Therefore, it is known for the ability to solve the problems of finding the shortest path, such as a maze.

Last year, a team of astronomers and computer scientists at UC Santa Cruz applied the growth patterns of this slime mold to trace the invisible filaments of the cosmic web that connects galaxies throughout the universe. Their publication “Revealing the Dark Threads of the Cosmic Web” provided the first conclusive association between the diffuse gas in the space and the structure of the cosmic web to prove the cosmological theory.

Physarum Telam is our recent artwork that combines physically based rendering of the Physarum polycephalum slime mold and an interactive 3D visualization of cosmological data, applying the translucent yellow blob appearance of Physarum polycephalum to the 3D data of the discovered cosmic web to illustrate the relationship between scientific data and the computational methods used to interpret it.
  • Issei Mori (Nine)