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Friday, January 26, 2007

Fractint: The Fractal Generator

Fractint is a popular freeware fractal generator. It is probably the most versatile, extensive and well-established fractal program readily available to enthusiasts who wish to roam inside the beautiful world of fractals, although many users consider it to be an art toy rather than a serious mathematical tool.

Fractint plots and manipulates images of "objects" -- actually, sets of mathematical points -- that have fractal dimension. Its originators were members of the Stone Soup Group. The group derives its name from an Eastern European folklore in which a peddler persuades startving villagers to share pieces of hoarded food to augment his 'stone soup' until all of them have a nourishing meal to share. In a similar way, the four original contributors developed Fractint by integrating by taking help and codes from other users.

You will get download-links to all versions of Fractint (and many other related useful links) by clicking here. If you wish to read a detailed introduction or to know more about the authors, click on this: Introduction .

Monday, January 15, 2007

Autodesk Maya 8.5

Autodesk has launched version 8.5 of its Maya 3D modelling, animation and rendering software. The new version can run natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs as a Universal Binary [Maya can run on 32-bit Windows®, Linux®, and Mac OS® X and 64-bit Windows and Linux].

The updated version introduces the Maya Nucleus unified simulation framework which is a linked particle system that interactively simulates a wide range of dynamic entities. It works with a variety of geometry types (curves, non-manifold geometry, meshes with holes, and so forth) within a unified framework. Fluids, cloth and rigid bodies will react and move to pressure exerted on each other, with acces to built-in systems such as an air-pressure model that allows any geometry to create an inflatable object with internal and external pressure.

The version 8.5 also adds support for Python, a powerful and accessible scripting language, which allows 3D artists familiar with the open-source programming language -- as used by other applications including NewTek LightWave -- to create scripts and plug-ins for Maya, without having to learn the suite's proprietary MEL (Maya Embedded Language) language. With its higher-level language constructs, Python supports developer productivity while providing easily maintainable code. The language is also highly extensible, with a broad collection of third-party tools and modules freely available.

For more information see the Autodesk Maya page. For a freely available Personal Learning Edition, visit this page.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Star-P for Futuristic Military Vehicles Design

Until now, running full simulations of vehicle computer models in serial mode has taken too long to be fully utilised in the acquisition process, even when running on state-of-the-art serial hardware. The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) hopes to cut the time to perform computationally intensive simulations by orders of magnitude with Interactive Supercomputing’s (ISC) Star-P software , an interactive parallel computing platform that will enable TARDEC scientists to use their existing serial models developed in C or FORTRAN languages, automatically parallelising the code run on parallel servers or clusters. Star-P lets users continue to work with their preferred tools, languages and desktop environments, shielding them from the programming complexities of parallel systems.

'Interactive Supercomputing' (ISC) received this subcontract from TARDEC to transform its internally-developed ground vehicle performance and reliability software to run on parallel computers. The initial phse of the project aims to predict the reliability of the HMMWV M-1097, the Army’s biggest ‘Humvee’-class vehicle designed to provide safe transport of troops, equipment and cargo in rugged, hostile environments. If successful, the research could contribute to future development in robotic, plug-in electric and other advanced vehicle combat systems.