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UITS Research Technologies

Cyberinfrastructure enabling research and creative activities

Science on a Sphere


Indiana University is one of a select group of higher education institutions to be part of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Science on a Sphere (SOS) community. SOS is a six-foot sphere illuminated by high-definition projectors and capable of displaying a wide range of data, including oceanographic, atmospheric, astronomical, political, and economic data. IU’s SOS is installed in the atrium of the Cyberinfrastructure Building (CIB) and is now available for demonstrations and use by IU faculty, students, and staff. 

Activities, events, and select projects featuring SOS

Feb. 20, 2014: Visualization After Dark: Snow, Ice, and Olympic Gold

Please join the UITS Advanced Visualization Lab on Thursday, February 20 from 7pm to 9pm as we present a variety of winter-themed visualizations on IU’s Science on a Sphere (SOS) and ultra-high resolution IQ-wall. The featured visualizations will map the history of the Winter Olympics from 1924 to the present. You’ll see the Olympics as you’ve never seen them before and learn how IU’s advanced visualization displays and techniques can benefit your data presentation and analysis needs.

For more information, please see the full announcement

Feb. 7, 2014: Mapping the Winter Olympics with Science on a Sphere

This dataset was created by students and staff at the Advanced Visualization Lab  to highlight the rich history of the Winter Olympic Games. Begun in 1924, the games have grown from 20 participating countries to a record 88 in 2014. Sixteen women competed in the first Games while 1,050 did so in 2010. Norway is the all-time Winter Olympics medal leader, followed by the United States, but the Soviet Union still ranks fifth, over twenty years after its dissolution. 

Three SOS datasets will be released in this series.  The first will map historic participation by country and gender.  The second dataset will map historic medal counts along with the evolution of events.  The third dataset will contrast different ways to scale and represent participation and medal data based on population and economic factors.

For more information, please see the project page

Sep. 16-20, 2013: SOS Week with WorldProcessor

The week of September 16-20 featured a variety of talks, tutorials, and events to experience IU’s SOS and learn how it can benefit your research, scholarship, teaching, or creative activity.

Announcements and press coverage:

As a special part of its SOS roll-out activities, IU hosted internationally renowned journalist and artist Ingo Günther and artist and writer Nathan Townes-Anderson. Since 1988, Günther has combined his interests in journalism and art with the unique communicative power and interaction style afforded by physical globes to present powerful, data-driven stories. His WorldProcessor project has created more than 1,000 globes on nearly 400 diverse topics ranging from global politics, economics, weapons proliferation, and human rights to environmental impacts and social issues. His illuminated spheres were part of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; they have been shown in almost every major city around the world, and are permanently installed in Geneva. In 2010, Günther’s team, including Townes-Anderson, took the WorldProcessor workflow into the digital realm for a multi-year exhibit on Tokyo’s Geo-Cosmos globe – a 20-foot sphere built from 10,000 OLED panels.

Günther and Townes-Anderson offered presentations and tutorials throughout the week; they were also available for consultations with individuals or groups. A collection of illuminated WorldProcessor globes were on display in the CIB atrium all week, with a special showing of digital data sets on Thursday evening (SOS After Dark). All talks and tutorials were free and open to the IU community; the WorldProcessor exhibit and SOS After Dark event were free and open to the public.

Select presentations and tutorials archived for streaming:


SOS at IU is funded through the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and is supported by the Advanced Visualization Lab – a unit of UITS Research Technologies and the Pervasive Technology Institute. For questions about SOS or to request a consultation, please contact