Hon John Day BSc BDSc MLA

Hon John Day BSc BDSc MLA

Former Minister for Health; Culture and the Arts

    WA supercomputing recreates WWII tragedy

    17/05/2016 1:45 PM
    • 3D processing of more than 550,000 images, one of WA's biggest data projects
    • Pawsey supercomputer Magnus now sifting through 50 terabytes of data
    • Complex algorithms will help WA Museum interpret fateful encounter 

    The complex task of processing more than 50 terabytes of image and video data - equal to 50 trillion bytes - taken during a deep sea expedition to investigate the historic World War II shipwrecks of HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran has moved to the next phase, and is now utilising the most powerful public research computer in the southern hemisphere.


    Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said the project, being led by the Western Australian Museum and Curtin University, had joined with the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre to manage the huge volumes of data researchers say would take more than 100 years to process using standard computing techniques.


    Mr Day recently visited Curtin University's HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch) centre to view progress on the 3D project.  While there, he met 95-year-old Tom Fisher, who served on the Sydney until just weeks before the ship and all her crew were lost.


    "It was an honour to meet Mr Fisher and to share some of his memories as we watched some of the initial 3D visualisations," he said.


    "While it can be difficult for many people to get their mind around processing more than 550,000 images and the complexity of the computing required, we should not underestimate the true public value of this work.


    "This project is exciting and promises a breathtaking and unique visual experience that is destined to become a significant visitor attraction in the WA Museum. The 3D reconstructions of these wrecks show the battle damage in such detail that they can reveal new evidence of what actually took place, providing an immersive experience of an almost inaccessible place."


    The Pawsey centre is using the supercomputer Magnus to manage the massive Sydney Kormoran data sets. One of the key technologies being used is photogrammetric 3D reconstruction, which involves comparing all images in a data set to the hundreds or thousands of other photographs in that set to find a list of matching points, which the computer then links together to create 3D images.


    The WA Museum is the delegated manager for the HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran wreck sites under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976). The museum and Curtin University are working towards releasing a new body of images complete with analysis and historical context ahead of the 75th anniversary of the battle of the Sydney Kormoran in November this year.


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