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Advantages Of Computer Modelling

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Category: Science

Autor: anton 20 November 2010

Words: 1958 | Pages: 8

I. Introduction

Ever since computers first developed, they have performed numerous tasks that have made life a little easier and more comfortable for us. The first computers were room-sized monstrosities that occupied several rooms. These first computers were made by the military for military applications, in particular for calculating ballistic and trajectory data. But in less than 50 years computers have undergone a remarkable change not only in its capabilities but also in its applications and use. Nowadays, the computer is viewed as a household appliance, serving a number of functions, from word processing to communicating through the internet. A great leap indeed.

And through its development the computer finally made its way into the world of geology. Here, the computer’s ability to perform tasks and calculations quickly has helped the geologists tremendously. Because of its speed it is able to perform the numerous calculations that geologists in the past were forced to do by hand. As data manipulation became simplified it gave geologists more ease in analysis of their data.

Until now, geoscientists have had to be content to view a 3-D data in the 2-D environment of a ccomputer screen, which prohibits natural interaction with the data. At the visualization facilities coming into gue today, however, supercomputers centers that are sprouting over the industry landscape, following relatively longtime usage in the automotive and space industries ( Durham, 1999).

As technology continues to evolve, the use of the computer to a geologist also continue to change. With the advancements in computer technology, computers are now capable of generating 3-D Models. But what is 3-D? 3-D, which is also called STEREOSCOPIC, is based on the fact that humans perceive depth by viewing with both eyes. In the 3-D process, two lenses, one representing the left eye and the other the right are spaced about 2 1/2 inches (6.3 cm) apart, the same as the separation between a person's eyes. The resulting images are simultaneously projected. The viewer actually sees the images separately but perceives them in three dimensions because, for all practical purposes, the two slightly different images are fused together instantly by his mind. But a 3D model is different in that the image generated is already a solid 3D model. Meaning, that it is not necessary to trick the mind into seeing something in 3D, because the image generated is already 3-dimensional (Encyclopedia Britannica 1999).

So, basically a 3-D image is picture that appears solid because our mind is tricked into perceiving it as 3-dimensional. While, a 3-D Solid Model is an actual representation of an object in 3-dimensions.

Three-dimensional modeling and reservoir visualization tools are increasingly used to add value to heavy oil prospects (Major, 1999).

Now we shall discuss several basic definitions in computer applications. This is so that some basic computer definitions can be clarified and their nature better understood. The three basic aspects of computers that are going to be discussed will namely be: computer graphics, computer simulation, and virtual reality. The primary reason that these aspects will be discussed is because these three elements are what constitute, a 3D Solid Geology Model. Although, it is to be noted that virtual reality, is an aspect of this new technology that could be said is an option. The first two elements mentioned are in by themselves capable of generating a 3D Solid Model. Virtual reality is an element that if included gives a user the ability for greater scrutiny and analysis of a model. This is because it allows a person to “immerse” himself in the system that is being analyzed. But, unless a system requires such a detailed analysis then a solid 3D model should suffice.

II. Elements of a 3-D Solid Geology Model

A. Computer Graphics

Computer graphics, is the use of computers to produce pictorial images. These images may either be printed documents or animated motion pictures, but the term computer graphics refers particularly to images displayed on a video display screen, or display monitor.

A computer-graphics system consists basically of a computer to store and manipulate images, a display screen, various input and output devices, and a graphics software package--i.e., a program that enables a computer to process graphic images by means of mathematical language. These programs enable the computer to draw, color, shade, and manipulate the images held in its memory.

Programs that enable a user to draw, color, shade, and manipulate an image on a display screen are called Graphics software programs. With its aid a picture can be drawn or redrawn onto the screen with the use of a mouse, a pressure-sensitive tablet, or a light pen. Other preexisting images on paper can be scanned into the computer through the use of scanners, digitizers, pattern-recognition devices, or digital cameras. Frames of images on videotape also can be entered into a computer. Various output devices have been developed as well; special programs send digital data from the computer's memory to a film recorder, which prints the image on paper or on photographic film. The computer can also generate hard copy by means of plotters and laser or dot-matrix printers.

Also, there are two methods by which pictures are stored and processed in a computer's memory. The two methods: raster graphics and vector graphics. Raster-type graphics maintain an image as a matrix of independently controlled dots, while vector graphics maintain it as a collection of points, lines, and arcs. Raster graphics are now the dominant computer graphics technology. But despite the dominance of raster graphics it also has a disadvantage to it, its main disadvantage is that the images are subtly staircased, meaning that diagonal lines and edges appear jagged and less distinct when viewed from a very short distance. A corollary of television technology, raster graphics emerged in the early 1970s and had largely displaced vector systems by the '90s.

B. Computer Simulations

Now we shall define what a computer simulation is. And what it contributes to the making of a 3D Solid Model. A computer simulation is the use of a computer to represent the dynamic responses of one system by the behavior of another system modeled after it. A simulation uses a mathematical description, or model, of a real system in the form of a computer program. This model is composed of equations that duplicate the functional relationships within the real system. When the program is run, the resulting mathematical dynamics form an analog of the behavior of the real system, with the results presented in the form of data. A simulation can also take the form of a computer-graphics image that represents dynamic processes in an animated sequence.

Computer simulations are used to study the dynamic behavior of objects or systems in response to conditions that cannot be easily or safely applied in real life. For example, a nuclear blast can be described by a mathematical model that incorporates such variables as heat, velocity, and radioactive emissions. Additional mathematical equations can then be used to adjust the model to changes in certain variables, such as the amount of fissionable material that produced the blast. Simulations are especially useful in enabling observers to measure and predict how the functioning of an entire system may be affected by altering individual components within that system.

The simulations performed by personal computers consist mainly of business models and geometric models. The former includes spreadsheet, financial, and statistical software programs that are used in business analysis and planning. Geometric models are used for numerous applications that require simple mathematical modeling of objects, such as buildings, industrial parts, and the molecular structures of chemicals. In geology, simulations of river systems can be manipulated to determine the potential effects of dams and irrigation networks before any actual construction has taken place. Also, simulations have been used to develop designs of the most ideal mine. This is done so that, that costs of constructions can be optimized, as well as to design a mine that will be most suited for the area and extraction of whatever deposit that is being mined.

C. Virtual Reality

The third and final element of 3D solid models that I am trying to define is Virtual Reality. But what is a Virtual Reality environment? And why do I consider an optional element in the designs of models?

Virtual reality (VR), the use of computer modeling and simulation to enable a person to interact with an artificial three-dimensional visual or other sensory environment. VR applications immerse the user in a computer-generated environment that simulates reality through the use of interactive devices, which send and receive information and are worn as goggles, headsets, gloves, or body suits. In a typical VR format, a user wearing a helmet with a stereoscopic screen for each eye views animated images of a simulated environment. The illusion of being there (telepresence) is affected by motion sensors that pick up the user's movements and adjust the view on the screens accordingly, usually in real time (the actual time during which something takes place). Thus, a user can tour a simulated suite of rooms, experiencing changing viewpoints and perspectives convincingly related to his own head turnings and steps. Wearing data-gloves equipped with force-feedback devices that provide the sensation of touch, the user can even pick up and manipulate objects that he sees in the virtual environment.

I have now given the basic definitions of the three elements that I had deemed necessary for generating a 3D geology model. It can be seen that Computer graphics is the main framework for a 3D model, while Computer Simulations give the model a dynamic feel to it, enabling the user to continuously monitor changes in the model as time progresses. And for the last piece, virtual reality; virtual reality is a relatively new tool that is being used in analyzing geology models. I have deemed it an optional element in analysis of geology models, because it is relatively expensive to create a virtual reality environment. And each virtual environment has to be custom designed for each system that is to be analyzed. As of now, there is still no program that can produce a basic virtual environment for any given system. That is why it will be necessary to contract with another to develop it. So, if you deem it a necessity to create a virtual reality simulation of your system, then it would mean that you would have to approach companies that specialize in making these simulations. Although, expensive the development of a virtual replica of your model means that you can actually view what the setup will actually look like. This could prove invaluable to geologists, who choose sites for mining and help in designing these mines as well. As it helps in visualizing what the final set-up of the mine will actually look like.

III. Discussion

Despite the angst, there’s nothing like rock bottom oil and gas prices to spur oil patch players to devise increasingly creative and esoteric methods to conduct business efficiently and economically (Durham, 1999). There has been a historical trend for the mining industry to work ever more difficult and ever more marginal deposits. There are clearly a few exceptions and major discoveries, but the industry is becoming heavily dependent, at both the exploration and mining stages, on technological innovations to retain acceptable profit margins (Hobbs and Henley, 1995).

Computing technology further allows the potential integration of a wide variety of different types of data to help the explorationist to build and test exploration strategies, or to help the miner to design and schedule mining operations.

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