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Computer Graphics Spills From Milk To Medicine

August 10, 2007
University of California - San Diego
A new computer graphics model capable of generating realistic milk images based on the fat and protein content will likely push the field of computer graphics into the realms of diagnostic medicine, food safety and atmospheric science, according to a new study.

ATLAS in silico: Luminous geometric forms representing proteins from the Global Ocean Survey and social and environmental data from geographic regions adjacent to the sampling sites.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - San Diego

American Idol and Comic-Con have come and gone, but fun in San Diego’s summer sun has just begun. From August 4 to 9, the top computer graphics and interactive media folks from around the world will flood San Diego for the SIGGRAPH 2007 conference – and UC San Diego is part of the action.

UCSD’s Calit2 is rolling out a red, pixilated carpet and serving up video in 4K – more than four times the resolution of high-definition TV. The video program includes a short movie by Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson shot entirely with a 4K video camera. These video performances will complement digital performances and installations at UCSD that are part of SIGGRAPH, the premier computer graphics and interactive technologies conference, which will attract an estimated 25,000 people to San Diego from August 4 through 9.

Working with a handful of high-profile partners, UCSD’s Calit2 and Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) will treat visitors to demonstrations of the cutting-edge visualization technologies during SIGGRAPH. One example is the chance to take a virtual swim in the largest metagenomics data set in existence to date.  Click here for more details on when you can check out the many art-meets-technology projects at Calit2.

For the 21-and-over set interested in an off-campus concert that is so cool it’s not an official UCSD event, rock stars with day jobs as Jacobs School professors and students will be playing at Dream Street Live in Ocean Beach on Thursday 9 August. Audition Lab is going on at 8 PM and SO3 plays next, at 9 PM.

Audition Lab’s sound is “alternative and experimental, fusing effected guitar and phat bass with a beat that rushes and recedes and vocals that range from delicate and alluring to raucous rock that you have to dance to,” said guitar player, Luke Barrington, who ought to know, since his Ph.D. research involves training computers to annotate and retrieve electronic music.

On its Web site, SO3 calls itself “the hardest rocking band in Sorrento Valley.” One of those rockers is bass guitar player and vocalist Serge Belongie, who holds a day job as a computer science and engineering professor at the Jacobs School. In fact, Belongie co-authored a paper at SIGGRAPH in 2003, the last time the conference was in San Diego.

Belongie described the SO3 sound as “guitar-driven, blues-infused rock with an alternative feel” and “a mix of Third Eye Blind with the classic rock sounds of Zeppelin and Hendrix.”

SO3 and Audition Lab played a great show at UCSD’s Porter’s pub at the end of the Spring quarter. A video of the Porter’s Pub show is available here, in case you missed the show.

If you did miss the show, no big deal – there is no reason to cry over spilled milk. And if you did happen to spill some milk, take a picture of the spill. New research from the UCSD computer science department will let you determine the exact kind of milk you spilled – skimmed, 2% or whole – based on the digital picture. This work will be presented at SIGGRAPH on August 9th.

You can also go the other direction with this computer graphics advance. If you tell the new computer graphics model how much fat and protein you want in your milk, the model will spit out the information you need to create a life-like milk image by determining how light will interact with this ratio of milk fats and protein.

“Computer graphics is no longer just about pretty pictures and realism for the sake of aesthetics. We have harnessed the math and physics necessary to generate realistic images of a wide range of natural materials based on what they are made of. With our approach, computer graphics can contribute to a handful of pressing problems including food safety and climate change,” said Henrik Wann Jensen, a UC San Diego computer science professor and Academy Award winning computer graphics researcher. Jensen created the model with two colleagues from the Technical University of Denmark – Niels Jørgen Christensen, an associate professor, and Jeppe Revall Frisvad, a Ph.D. student.

Anyone in San Diego for the graphics conference will experience the marine layer at some point – the low clouds that roll in from the Pacific, block out the sun and keep things cool. New research led by UCSD computer graphics graduate student Wojciech Jarosz explores an improved way to create animations or still images that include cloudy, smoky and foggy scenes – like coastal San Diego when the marine layer moves in.

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University of California - San Diego. "Computer Graphics Spills From Milk To Medicine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2007. <>.
University of California - San Diego. (2007, August 10). Computer Graphics Spills From Milk To Medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from
University of California - San Diego. "Computer Graphics Spills From Milk To Medicine." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 23, 2017).