Virtual Peace

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yesterday I caught a tweet from Friend Joshua Fouts (@josholalia) who had retweeted Yoko Ono’s tweet from eariier in the day:

@yokoono: Join us when IMAGINE PEACE TOWER lights at #SecondLife sunsets 3:20 7:20 & 11:20SLT (SLT=PT)

I attended this event last year, and I returned this year to the 7:20PM SLT lighting.

The display is simple and beautiful: luminescent blue beams, reach far into the sky from a pleasant, meadow-like island. The beams are a soft blue, but when placed together in symphony towards the sky, something wonderful happens. The tower is a reproduction of a real life exhibit in Reykjavik, Iceland, first unveiled last year.

The Imagine Peace Tower inspires people to think of peace, consider our world as one and just maybe, take some action to make it a better place. From Yoko’s manifesto:

So let’s work together to save this planet. Since destiny is created by first imaging what destiny we want for ourselves, we should IMAGINE PEACE in a big way with total conviction. In the old days, gurus sat and meditated day and night. That was pretty powerful. But we live in a different world. Time is so precious to us now. A million kids can be killed in one second as we are wondering what to do. So we can’t just sit and meditate. We should IMAGINE PEACE day and night, as we go about our daily lives.
There were not very many people there, that night on Yoko’s island. Haley and I sat quietly and awaited the lighting. As I looked at the unlit platform, I recalled the song that began the movement, Lennon’s “Imagine”, that I first heard long ago. While some may argue with its ideals, I believe it influenced me throughout my life by making me perhaps a little bit more peaceful than some, striving for something better - for everyone.

Suddenly, the lighting ceremony began as I heard Yoko’s voice. She welcomed us, and explained why the tower was made, calling it the “Light of Wisdom”. Then the familiar piano strokes of the famous song began to play as the tower lit up and it all came together for me. Amidst the peaceful scene, the towering lights, the song did its magic. As it continued, both John and Yoko spoke of their immense ideals, and challenged everyone to join their movement.

For me the experience was brief and wonderful, because it reminded me of our obligations in this troubled world. Each day we see, read or even participate in conflicts large or small, many of which are unnecessary, distracting or hurtful. Of how we must pause our conflicts and try our best to make life better not only for ourselves, but everyone. In my immersed state on that lonely island, the light of wisdom shone brightly.

Thank you John, and thank you, Yoko, for leaving us this place and these ideals, where anyone in the world can visit, and Imagine.

A Volcanic Eruption!

Saturday, April 10, 2010 Saturday, April 10, 2010

It’s been a while since I released a new product, so I wanted to make sure it was something big. And indeed, this one is huge! It’s called “Volcanic Eruption”, and it does just that.

Volcanic Eruption provides more realism to Second Life volcanoes. Most volcanoes are simply a dead mountain with a cone-shaped depression at the top, and the odd one might have smoke percolating out of it. However, I wanted to do something better.

Originally a custom build for a private estate owner but now available to all, the new Volcanic Eruption particle emitter provides a realistic twist to your virtual volcano. Simply place the emitter into your volcano’s cone and it does all the rest for you. And what, exactly, does it do?

It erupts!

To be more precise, it follows a sequence typical of real volcanoes:

  • It remains idle for a time. (You can specify how long you’d like it to remain dormant)
  • The eruption commences with a stream of smoke flowing skyward
  • Suddenly an explosion occurs, releasing flying ejecta in all directions!
  • A column of fire rises from the volcano’s cone
  • The fire collapses, resulting in a deadly pyroclastic flow that runs down the sides of the mountain
In real life, the most dangerous part of a volcanic eruption is the pyroclastic flow. It’s a superheated mix of toxic gases and dust that speeds downward at velocities far faster than you can run, cooking and choking everything in its path. That’s what kills people during eruptions.

And now you can have it for your volcano too. Just drop by Electric Pixels, where you can find the new Volcanic Eruption in the Garden and Weather departments

ArminasX has a Sexual Encounter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010 Saturday, April 03, 2010

No, it's not what you think. But it does involve sex. This week I visited a place where Second Life's virtual capabilities were used to the extreme: The Tour of the Testis.

It's one of those amazing automated tours, where you board a vehicle that takes you through interesting and usually educational displays. This tour is definitely educational, as you actually fly through a truly gigantic testis and observe the entire biological process from the inside.

The tour is presented by The Ohio State University, Second Life Campus. Specifically, it's for their Medical Center, and was built by DrDoug Pennell.

Strangely, your vehicle has a wiggly tail and is shaped like something familiar. It seats four, so bring your friends. You choose between an audio or text tour. I chose text.

The tour takes you inside the relevant body structures, as if you are cell-sized, where you can actually see cells being generated and swimming through tubules. The sperm particles are represented as fluorescent green particles! They're pretty easy to notice as you can see in this image.

The biological explanations in text are well beyond my meager medical knowledge, but they seem quite comprehensive. Here's an example:

Normally these spaces would be filled with sperm in various stages of development.
However in patients with Sertoli Cell Only Syndrome, they only have ....
Sertoli Cells :-).  They are azoospermic (have no sperm) and as you might expect, are infertile.
We are now outside the tubule.  However, we would still be INSIDE the testis.
Note that the blood vessels as well as some cell types such as the Leydig Cells (orange/brown) are OUTSIDE the tubule.
I suspect medical students would benefit from the explanations more than casual visitors such as myself. 

The display shows incredible biological detail in a massive and intricately built model. Key structures are highlighted and animated to show you precisely how things work.

The tour ends at a dramatic platform where you can examine a breathtaking overview of the tubule. Don't leave yet, because there are additional animations you can access from the platform by clicking on the signs.

This tour is very well done and provides some great educational value. But here's the key question: is this a good place to take a date? Heh, it depends. Why don't you find out? Here's the SLURL.

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