Particle Physics Education – Belle II model

One of the new ICAT SEAD grants for 2016-2017 is a pedagogical particle physics simulation in the Cube.  One of the first steps, is to get the Belle II model working in Unity.  This is a bit of a task.

Transparency view of a small portion of the Belle II model
Transparency view of a small portion of the Belle II model

One of the PIs, Leo Piilonen from the VT Physics department, has to first export the model from an arcane format that the researchers (at KEK?) use, to a more readable format, like VRML.  VRML itself is an old open format that had some hype in the 90s but never really took off.  Thankfully, 3DS Max can import it, so I can organize and do any necessary edits to the meshes.  That’s also a task.  The meshes are all separated out into the smallest possible unit.  I’m not exactly sure at this point, but I think there might be somewhere around 500k.  3D modeling software can handle high polygon counts, but it’s not used to dealing with so many different objects.  So, I have to do some manual combination, etc, rename the materials so that they’re unique, etc.

Cutaway view of a small portion of the Belle II model
Cutaway view of a small portion of the Belle II model

Anyway, after some headache, we can import the meshes group by group into Unity.  I’ve only imported a small amount so far, just to make sure my pipeline works and to adjust as needed.  The next two issues will be

  1. Decide how to deal with transparency and depth-sorting (every object has a transparent material, so I have to make some decisions here).
  2. Write a script that allows the user to zoom in on the object by scaling up the model of the detector while seemingly keeping the user at the same position.

More to come soon!

 

Author: Zach Duer

Zach Duer is the Immersive Environment Specialist at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech. He facilitates faculty and student projects in ICAT facilities by developing interfaces and generating content. He is also an educator, artist, musician, and performer.

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