NDQC Digital Visualization Theater Project

Kenneth Andert (LaLumiere School), Ed Fidler (New Buffalo High School), Jeff Marchant (UND QuarkNet Staff), M. Buckleitner (Lakeshore HS), N. Cramer (Trinity School), Ryan Lawlor (Elkhart Memorial HS)

The DVT (Digital Visualization Theater) is an immersion theater located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in the Jordan Hall Science.  It features a 50-foot-diameter dome that utilizes a pair of Sony SRX-S110 projectors and ten computers for real-time rendering of 3D objects.  This state of the art theater envelops the audience with a 360-degree visual experience.  The Notre Dame QuarkNet Center began the DVT project during the summer of 2008 shortly after the completion of the theater on campus.  The project has continued every summer since and into the academic year.  The first summer one high school teacher was assigned to the project.  In 2009, two high school teachers and two high school students worked on it.  It is a continuing project and has had, including summer 2015, a total of two high school teachers, 16 high school students and two undergrads contributing to it, in addition to one staff person.


The project has harnessed the DVT’s ability to display custom 3D models.  While photographs and models of the various experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are readily available, it can be difficult to envision the proper size and scale of these detectors or the overall size of the LHC itself.  This project has provided a new avenue for exploring the size and structure of the LHC and the detectors within it, using the DVT.  This was accomplished by using a professional software package called LightWave 3D by Newtek.  LightWave is a 3D modeling and rendering software package used by motion picture and television studios for creation of computer graphics and effects.  Teachers, students and staff over the years have created models of the LHC ring, detectors and size comparison objects.  The project started has a means of displaying these custom models.  It has moved beyond that with the creation of a complete show.  Because it is a “live” show it can be custom tailored for the audience.  The audience can be undergrads, high school teachers, middle/high school students or the general public.  Spoken dialogue has been written with an overview of the LHC, its particle detectors and an explanation of what particle physics is and why we do it.  New and exciting additions include the ability to display actual data from the LHC and show the structure matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.  Events from the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector have been imported into the DVT and animated inside the 3D model of it.  While the show was designed for Notre Dame’s DVT, where it has been presented numerous times over the years, it could be used in any similar facility around the world.  The show has been presented at LIPS (Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium) in 2012, 2013 and 2015.  Future plans include continual refinements, showings on campus and sharing our LHC show with other facilities.  Contact people for this project are Dan Karmgard (Karmgard.1@nd.edu) and Jeff Marchant (Marchant.1@nd.edu).