August 3, 2007
In a view fit for the ancient gods, the buildings and monuments of Rome
sprawl across the countryside circa A.D. 320, arguably the height of the city's glory as the capital of the Roman Empire.
The scene is part of a recently completed project called Rome Reborn, a detailed digital reconstruction said to be the world's largest computer simulation.
An international team of scientists combined laser scans of a physical model with data from ancient maps to design more than 7,000 buildingsincluding seven that have been re-created inside and out. The model spans the equivalent of about 10 square miles (25 square kilometers).
Developers at the University of California, Los Angeles, are exploring ways to make Rome Reborn available to the public, offering tourists a virtual trip back in time. Right now the team uses the model in-house for research and teaching, Diane Favro, director of the UCLA Experiential Technologies Center, said in an email.
"A high-end version of the model can run on a laptop with a good graphics card using open-source software created at UCLA," Favro said. And the center is working on a new version of the software that will allow the model to be distributed on the Web and used in so-called geobrowsers such as Google Earth.
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