cadens bannerCADENS (The Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science) is a National Science Foundation-supported project to increase digital literacy and inform the general public about computational and data-enabled scientific discovery.

It is led by Donna Cox, director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which has created data-driven visualizations seen by millions of people in productions for IMAX theaters, planetariums, museums, and science television programs. Other project team leads include veteran science producer/writer Thomas Lucas; fulldome show producer/distributor Mike Bruno, the creative media director of Spitz; and John Towns and Bill Kramer, of the NSF-supported XSEDE and Blue Waters projects, which enable thousands of people across the country to carry out computational and data-driven research.

CADENS conducted two calls for participation in 2015 and 2016, casting a wide net to find new research collaborators and we continue to draw from that database of researchers to develop data visualizations for the documentaries. During that inital call, as part of the review process, a science advisory committee was formed to ensure that the research being visualized was of the highest quality. Lucas commented on the process saying, “We hope to open people’s eyes to whole new ways of seeing the world, and to show the passion of scientists on the verge of profound discoveries.”

Over the lifetime of the project, CADENS is producing three ultra-high-resolution digital documentaries that will premiere at giant screen fulldome theaters and will be scaled for wide distribution to smaller theaters found at a growing number of museums, planetariums, science centers, and academic institutions. “Digital fulldome planetariums are the fastest-growing immersive theater format today,” said Bruno. “Demand is high for programs with AVL’s brand of dramatic, cinematic, and scientifically accurate visualizations. We expect to reach millions of viewers worldwide over the life of these films.”

The CADENS team is also producing nine high-definition documentary programs covering a wide range of science subjects. These shows are distributed online via YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, and other international media outlets.

CADENS sponsored two Broadening Participation Workshops in collaboration with Dr. Vetria Byrd.
BPViz ‘18 “Bridging Science, Technology and the Arts through Visualization”
BPViz ‘16 Workshop

All CADENS data visualizations are available for free distribution to educators and academics. Contact

Software created in collaboration with CADENS project.

Ytini is open-source middleware bridging the gap between the scientific analysis and visualization Python package, yt, and visual effects software, Houdini. Ytini allows scientists and artists to import and render many scientific data formats in a cinematic way.