Skip to Main Content
In this application paper, we describe the efforts of a multidisciplinary team toward producing a visualization of the September 11 attack on the North Tower of New York's World Trade Center. The visualization was designed to meet two requirements. First, the visualization had to depict the impact with high fidelity by closely following the laws of physics. Second, the visualization had to be eloquent to a nonexpert user. This was achieved by first designing and computing a finite-element analysis (FEA) simulation of the impact between the aircraft and the top 20 stories of the building and then by visualizing the FEA results with a state-of-the-art commercial animation system. The visualization was enabled by an automatic translator that converts the simulation data into an animation system 3D scene. We built upon a previously developed translator. The translator was substantially extended to enable and control visualization of fire and of disintegrating elements to better scale with the number of nodes and the number of states to handle beam elements with complex profiles and to handle smoothed particle hydrodynamics liquid representation. The resulting translator is a powerful automatic and scalable tool for high-quality visualization of FEA results.