Friday, February 09, 2007

Virtual Science in Second Life

Since my last few posts have been mainly text and since it is Friday afternoon I thought I would have some fun. Second Life (SL) is a 3 dimensional virtual world which people can join and do pretty much anything. It has its own economy and currency, has its own scripting language which you can use along with building tools. Second Life has begun attracting educators with the potential of providing an immersive and interactive experience for students.

So in the spirit of the Just Science Challenge I decided to see what SL has to offer in the way of Science. I started out at Second Life's Science Center at Info Island II (115, 204, 24). The Center has a few exhibits; my favorite being this large caffeine molecule.

SL has a physics engine which you can turn on or off for objects you create and here is a demonstration of a gravity well which exploits the physics engine to show how objects behave in a gravity well.

But the Science Center serves as a portal to other second life science sites and the one that caught my eye is the International Space Museum (ISM) and this turned out to be quite a treat and shows the potential of SL for an immersive experience.

When you teleport to the ISM, this wonderful display greets you.

"Earth is the cradle of humanity but one cannot live in a cradle forever."

The site has a huge collection of very realistic rockets and other space craft from all over the world.

The big brown rocket with the black upper stage is a Japanese Space Agency Rocket used to launch multiple satellites.

A over all view of the Space craft exhibit showing me in black chatting with another visitor.

Who else is old enough to have seen this capsule?

You can't enter this mock up but in another part of the museum is a box that you enter and find yourself inside this capsule. My picture does not do justice to being inside the capsule! This is a mock up of the inside that uses actual photos of the inside very cleverly. No, this is not the Space Shuttle.

Next is a Saturn V and its umbilical tower. Looking up from the base:

Unmanned space exploration is not ignored either as these shots show; the craft on the right is Voyager which has long left the solar system.

There is even a robotic arm you can play with. Looks like the one from the Shuttle:

And of course the latest ummm thrust toward the privatization of space is represented by this spiffy Spaceship I. This mock up actually flares and sounds like the sound of the actual engine firing was used for the audio.

Well eventually I had to teleport to my home and do some real work so here I am in my Second Life homestead...called, what else, but Mendel's Garden. By the way if you haven't visited this month's Mendel's Garden at Genetics and Health, please do so to get the best of recent genetics blogging. Also if you join Second Life, tell them Simeon Gateaux or Simone Gateaux sent you...I do get a small referral bonus in the SL currency.

Second Life links mentioned in this post: These are SLurls and clicking on them will take you to a map showing the location of the site in the SL world. If you have SL installed you can teleport to the site.

Second Life's Science Center:

The International Space Museum

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