Lots of Optimization
Since I haven't had much time recently for major coding sessions (between classes and a social life), most of my work over the past few weeks has involved optimization. After downloading Intel's Parallel Studio trial, I immediately fell in love with the large suite of optimization tools it offers. Armed with such tools, I revisited my implementation of the Marching Cubes algorithm as well as my mesh simplification algorithm which, together, take up a huge amount of CPU time. Both, however, are absolutely critical to A New Reality.
After lots of tuning, I have the isosurface extraction algorithm running about 15-20 times faster and the mesh simplification algorithm running about 5 times faster. Combined, these speed increases allow for the creation of ultra-high detail meshes in almost no time.
On a side note, I also wrote my own (simple) implementation of the STL vector that runs about 5 times faster than the STL version for typical usage. Not bad! As a bonus, it shaves 2kb off of the packed executable. And here I was thinking all along that STL was made by the Gods of optimization.