Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Website update !

Since a whole bunch of different people view my website, blog, YouTube channel and Google+ page (I could draw a Venn diagram, but I won't), here's a post to inform that particular subset who only read the blog that I've updated my website. And my YouTube channel. And my G+ page as well. Hmm. This is remarkably inefficient. Pretty soon it'll become an infinite loop of messages that I've updated the other places to tell you about the update messages...

A momentary pause leads to believe I may have unwittingly become a social networking whore, but since this has at no point involved Facebook in any way whatsoever, that's probably OK.

Anyway, this particular update mainly concerns the completion of an on-off project I've been working on for about a year - turning Blender into a FITS viewer. For the last few weeks I've decided that Paper II can gather dust while I indulge myself into making something that other people might, just possibly, actually want to use. Well, you never know.

The advantage of using Blender as a FITS viewer is that it can display full 3D-data in realtime. Having (with much help) perfected the technique of importing images mapped onto planes, and having found acceptable workarounds for all of Blender's weird, subtle nuances, I developed the script into something that may even be user-friendly. Every step* of the process can now be done within Blender via GUIs.

* Alright, ALMOST every step. If you want/need to view a subset of the data, for now you'll have to split the file with another program.

Since I already wrote about this extensively on my website (I even wrote a user guide - go, read it !) there's no point writing about it again. But by way of compensation for that subset of people who have read about this for the umpteenth time, here's another shiny video. Hopefully I'll have another 3D-data project of a tangential nature completed very soon...

The nice thing about being able to freely rotate around a cube is that no other software lets you do that, as far as I'm aware. The X-ray program dates from a time when digital watches still seemed like a pretty neat idea. It does a good job but has a hugely awkward interface, and forces you to press a "recalculate" button every time you change the view.  Which is not much fun.

The latest version of ds9 is nice (in fact it's far more advanced than my code), but doesn't use the GPU, so it has to re-render every time. It does this with impressive speed, but it's nowhere near realtime. And besides, mine has a way cooler name (thanks, Gwen !).

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