Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Better Data Just Can't Wait

After cramming in all your planned experiments at a high-end facility-working night and day with brief naps and take-out meals-you return home with a massive amount of new data. But it may be months or years before you can sort through it all to find out if you really got what you came for.
March 1, 2018
Data visualization

Data visualization comparing two input parameter values, one on each axis (for example, the temperature at which an experiment is being conducted and the intensity of a laser being used), with the color scale representing uncertainty in current knowledge. Yellow regions indicate the experimental-parameter settings that would reveal the greatest amount of new information.

Here you are, your time on the fancy user facility long gone, and only now do you see what you really should have measured while you were there.

Much of modern science is so complex that it requires time-consuming supercomputer simulations to interpret the effects of adjusting experimental parameters and equally time-consuming data reduction to interpret the results. Furthermore, as experimental facilities have grown more sophisticated in their instrumentation and data collection, the volume of data they produce has grown to the point where it takes months or even years to pore through it and see what it really contains. And by then, it may be too late.